A deep breath of fresh ocean air fills your lungs with the salty tang of a day at the beach. The soft sand squishing between your toes is like a professional reflexology massage. Wading knee-deep into the shocking cold North Shore water energizes your blood flow. Cape Ann’s beautiful Gloucester beaches will enchant you with sweeping views and varied landscapes.
Gloucester boasts some of the best beaches on Massachusetts’ craggy northern shoreline and is desirable as a relaxing summer vacation destination.
Gloucester launched a new online non-resident beach parking reservation system beginning with the 2022 beach season. Yodel, a parking management app, allows non-resident beachgoers to reserve and pay for their parking space at Gloucester beaches up to 10 days in advance, eliminating the first come, first served parking system. Instituting this new reservation system will reduce traffic jams and wait time issues allowing you to enjoy the beach without worrying about queueing up early in the morning.
1. Good Harbor Beach
Good Harbor Beach is a popular spot for both locals and visitors. The beach is long and very wide at low tide (it might get a little blanket tight during high tide). The beach has soft sand and is perfect for napping on a blanket while soaking up some rays or under the shade of a colorful beach umbrella.
Good Harbor Beach is one of the best beaches in Gloucester. It is one of those beaches where you want to spend the entire day soaking up all the beachy goodness. The beach has a concession stand, bathroom facilities with showers, and an on-duty lifeguard during the high beach season. You will find a lot of families, couples, and day-tripper besties at Good Harbor Beach enjoying the great weather and beach fun.
Pro Tip: Good Harbor Beach has a fairly large parking lot and can accommodate a good number of vehicles.
2. Wingaersheek Beach
Wingaersheek Beach is one of those beaches that has something for everyone. Walkers will love the long beach with firm, low-tide sand. Sunbathers will love the soft, above-the-tide-line, sandy setup spots. Explorers will love climbing over the enormous rock formations that seem to grow out of the ground before your eyes as the tide recedes. Wingaersheek is a short drive out of town and away from the hubbub of downtown Gloucester’s harbor. It is a wonderful spot to spend the entire day just playing at the shoreline.
Wingaersheek is gorgeous; it is one of Gloucester’s best beaches. The beach has a concession stand, bathroom facilities with showers, and an on-duty lifeguard during the summer season.
Pro Tip: You will want to spend the day at Wingaersheek Beach. Pack a picnic lunch, beach umbrellas, sunscreen, and all the required beach toys (no surfing, inflatable objects, or flotation devices are allowed during the hours the lifeguard is on duty) you need to enjoy the entire day at this gorgeous Gloucester beach.
3. Stage Fort Park — Half Moon Beach
Half Moon Beach is a small, crescent-shaped beach accessed in Stage Fort Park. The rough sandy beach is reached by traversing carved stone steps leading down to the water. The sand and pebble beach attracts park visitors who are spending the day with family and friends.
Stage Fort Park offers picnic tables, open green spaces, and lots of rocks to climb and explore. With beautiful views and places to stretch your legs, Half Moon Beach in Stage Fort Park is a fun outing for your entire gang.
Pro Tip: Half Moon Beach is within walking distance of downtown Gloucester. If you can’t get a spot in the park’s lot, you can park downtown and enjoy a stroll to the park. The walk to the beach is just under a mile from the Fisherman’s Memorial.
4. Stage Fort Park — Cressy’s Beach
Cressy’s Beach is another pebble-strewn beach in historic Stage Fort Park and offers wonderful views of Gloucester Harbor. The beach can be rocky and not comfortable for a relaxing on-a-beach-blanket nap. This feature does, however, keep the beach traffic light. Cressy’s Beach is good for a quiet walk or to sit (bring a chair) and read a good book while the waves washing up on shore create a relaxing, rhythmic melody.
Pro Tip: Park downtown and enjoy a walk on this close-by beach if you are just passing through town and don’t have time to spend the entire day enjoying the sand and surf. You will find short-term parking along many of the main roads; this will be less expensive than a parking pass for the major beaches.
5. Pavilion Beach
Pavilion Beach is Gloucester’s no-frills beach. It is in the heart of downtown, surrounded by restaurants, hotels, and shops. The beach is wide and beautiful but does not offer any comfort amenities.
If you are visiting Gloucester in late June, join the local throngs cheering on the contenders in the “Greasy Pole Challenge” held each year during the St. Peter’s Fiesta. Brave young climbers work their way across the greased-up telephone pole to be the first to capture the flag (and the glory) affixed to the end. One by one, the climbers slip and slide their un-surefooted way across the pole only to slide off and tumble into the water below.
Pro Tip: Parking at Pavilion Beach can be a challenge. The best way to access the beach is by foot.
6. Niles Beach
Niles Beach is a charming beach perfect for families. It is primarily a residential beach where neighborhood families and vacationers enjoy a beach within walking distance. You can relax and have your own space at Niles Beach; you are not blanket to blanket with your fellow beachgoers.
Niles Beach does have lifeguard coverage. However, there is no concession stand and the restrooms are port-a-potties.
Pro Tip: A resident beach sticker is required to park at Niles. However, if you are renting a home in the area, it is a lovely beach to visit.
7. Folly Cove
Folly Cove is located in the Lanesville neighborhood of Gloucester. According to East Coast Divers, Folly Cove is one of the most popular dive spots in New England. Divers love the varied marine life visible off the Folly Cove coastline.
The rocky beach is not conducive to spending the day lounging on a blanket, but the beach is fun to explore.
Pro Tip: Parking is limited and can be a challenge at Folly Cove.
8. Plum Cove Beach
Nestled in the Lanesville neighborhood, Plum Cove Beach is a small, quiet beach enclave perfect for local families and area renters. Walking laps around Plum Cove has a familiar pattern that can reduce unnecessary stress as you relax into a repetitive loop — water, sand, water, sand… sprinkled with fresh sea air — just what the doctor ordered.
Pro Tip: A resident beach sticker is required at Plum Cove Beach.
9. Long Beach
Ahhh, Long Beach. Stretching between Gloucester and Rockport, Long Beach is just that: long.
White sand, fun-in-the-sun with a vibrant beach vibe, this is one of the beloved visitor beaches. Lined with charming summer cottages; you simply walk out your door and stroll down to the beach. Isn’t that what a summer beach getaway is all about? Close to the Gloucester and Rockport action, planning your stay within walking distance to Long Beach is a great idea.
Pro Tip: This beach is really long, find a reference when you lay down your beach blanket so it doesn’t get lost.
Gloucester Beach Necessities
You can find all the Gloucester beaches pertinent information on the Gloucester Beach website. Here you can find parking information, lifeguard hours, and individual beach regulations.
Of course, on a hot summer’s day, you don’t want to forget all your beach necessities. Check your list for sunscreen, hat, towel, blanket, cooler, etc. You can find them on sale around town, but it is better to pack them and spend your extra cash on a lobster dinner.
Many of the beaches in Gloucester have lifeguards but do not have snack shacks. Packing a picnic lunch or at least a snack will keep you out of hangry mode.
The Best Beaches In Gloucester
What are the most popular beaches in Gloucester? All of them are gorgeous. It boils down to your beach needs for a particular day. If you are looking for swaths of soft white sand where you can spend hours soaking up the sunshine, Good Harbor Beach, Wingaersheek Beach, and Long Beach are great options. When you just want to be near the water or go for a walk along the shore, Half Moon Beach, Cressy’s Beach, and Pavilion Beach are good choices.
When you are tired of all the sand and sun, stroll through downtown Gloucester and enjoy shopping, seafood at a local restaurant, or an aperitif with a water view. Save time to have your photo taken with the Fisherman’s Memorial, it is the most recognizable Gloucester landmark.
When you are planning your visit to Gloucester, check out our destination guide. If you have more free time for travel, consider a road trip down the coast from Gloucester to Boston where you can explore a wide variety of beaches, interesting communities, and wonderful seafood.
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