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To the Sea by the T

A guide to MBTA-accessible beaches

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If you’ve been dreaming of heading to a beach, but don’t have a car, you’re in luck—there are more than a dozen beaches reachable easily and cheaply by MBTA. Check out our list of Boston-area beaches (from north to south) just a hop, skip, or jump away on the T. The last four are available only by commuter rail. Getting to some requires additional bus connections and a bit of a walk, so be sure to check the map above for directions.

The Blue Line:

Nahant, Lynn, and King’s Beaches

Among the northernmost beaches accessible by T are the Nahant, Lynn, and King’s Beaches—all part of the Lynn Shore and Nahant Beach Reservations. More than four miles of public waterfront provide a welcome escape from the city’s heat. Stick to Nahant or Lynn Beach for swimming because the King’s Beach water quality often isn’t as good, and it has no lifeguard program. You’ll find ball fields and racquetball and tennis courts near the Nahant Rotary and a tot lot at Ward Bathhouse. A map of the beaches can be found here.

By the T: Take the Blue Line to Wonderland and then the #441 or #442 bus to Broad Street at Lewis Street.

Revere Beach, Revere

Established in 1896, Revere Beach is the oldest public beach in America. It’s also one of the most popular in the Boston area, so expect the crowds to swell as the summer gets hotter. There are oodles of restaurants nearby when you get hungry: try the justly famous Kelly’s Roast Beef or Antonia’s at the Beach. Be sure to check out the annual National Sand Sculpting Festival, being held from July 22 to 24.

By the T: Take the Blue Line to Wonderland and then walk or take the #441, #411, or #442 bus to North Shore Road at Oak Island Street.

Constitution Beach, East Boston

The family-friendly Constitution Beach, in Orient Heights, offers a bathhouse, a playground, tennis, handball, and basketball courts, picnic areas, and shade shelters, as well as lifeguards on duty June through Labor Day. Constitution Beach is an excellent vantage point for watching planes land and depart from Logan Airport.

By the T: Take the Blue Line to Orient Heights and walk down Bennington Street to Trident Street.

Winthrop Beach, Winthrop

From the 1600s to the 1800s, Winthrop Beach was primarily for clam digging, lobster fishing, and kelp and rock harvesting, but a commuter rail extension in the late 1800s made the beach popular with city dwellers and tourists. A $30 million restoration project recently rebuilt the beach after serious storm erosion. Often overshadowed by larger, more touristy Revere Beach, Winthrop Beach is considered by many a hidden gem. At low tide, you can walk out to the “Five Sisters,” five wave breakers completed in 1935. The beach is open year-round from dawn to dusk, with lifeguards on duty from late June to early September.

By the T: Take the Blue Line to Orient Heights, then a Paul Revere bus to Winthrop Beach.

The Red Line:

Castle Island/Pleasure Bay, South Boston

If Gilligan had gotten shipwrecked on Castle Island, he could have easily escaped—it has been connected to the mainland since the 1930s. The island is home to Fort Independence, a breathtaking pentagonal fort built between 1834 and 1851 that today shares island space with grassy areas ideal for family picnicking. The eighth fort to occupy the site, Fort Independence has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is the oldest continuously fortified fort in British North America. A small beach, which has some slightly rocky spots, along Pleasure Bay is one of the city’s most popular swimming destinations. There is also a fishing pier along the HarborWalk. Bring comfortable footwear because you’ll have to walk nearly a mile to Castle Island. A map of the beach can be found here.

By the T: Take the Red Line to Broadway, then the #9 bus to E. Broadway at Farragut Road, and walk down Head Island Causeway to the beach.

L and M Street Beaches, South Boston

The side-by-side L and M Street Beaches connect the beach at Pleasure Bay with Carson Beach. These beaches, with spots to walk, jog, inline skate, or bike along the HarborWalk, are one of the longest stretches of uninterrupted beach in Boston. If you can’t get enough of swimming, consider joining the famous L Street Brownies, a local group of swimmers who take to the ocean year-round in a tradition dating to the late 1800s. They are famous for their annual New Year’s Day plunge, first held in 1904.

By the T: Take the Red Line to Broadway, then #9 bus to E. Broadway at L Street, and walk down L Street.

Carson Beach, South Boston

Another seaside destination on the HarborWalk, Carson Beach offers excellent swimming, along with plenty of areas for strolling and biking; there are also chess tables and bocce courts. The renovated bathhouse has restrooms, changing rooms, and showers. If you forget to bring a picnic basket, consider eating at the Seaside Café, which serves delicious classic lobster rolls and fried clams. Carson Beach also has a fishing pier and great views of Boston Harbor and Logan Airport.

By the T: Take the Red Line to JFK/UMass and walk down William J. Day Boulevard.

Savin Hill and Malibu Beaches, Dorchester

They may not be in California, but just the same, Malibu and Savin Hill Beaches are great places for sunbathing. Both have protected swimming areas, and Savin Hill Beach also has a tot lot and baseball fields, although no bathhouse. Malibu Beach does have a bathhouse. From either locale you’ll have stunning views of one of Boston’s best-known landmarks and the world’s largest copyrighted artwork, the rainbow swash painted by Corita Kent on a Keyspan gas tank. Take a close look at the colorful design—it’s alleged that Kent painted the profile of former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh onto the side of the blue stripe.

By the T: Take the Red Line to Savin Hill and walk down Savin Hill Avenue to Denny Street.

Tenean Beach, Dorchester

If you’re more interested in catching an ocean breeze and great views of downtown Boston than in swimming, consider heading to this often sparsely populated beach. The beach made headlines in 2000 when a man’s remains were found buried there (rumors at the time suggested the victim might have been murdered by one of Boston’s most notorious criminals, Whitey Bulger).

By the T: Take the Red Line to Fields Corner, then the #210 bus to Neponset Circle at Walnut Street, and walk down Redfield Street to Neponset Trail.

Wollaston Beach, Quincy

If you’re looking for a beach that offers more than swimming, Wollaston may be the place for you. The area is equally popular for its jogging and bicycling trail. At one end of the beach is Caddy Park, a recreational area with over 15 acres of fields equipped with a play area, a lookout tower, and picnic tables. At the other end is Moswetuset Hummock, a mix of trails and marshland that was a summer campsite of Native Americans in the 1600s and is today a National Historic Site. Visitors will have about a mile walk to the beach.

By the T: Take the Red Line to North Quincy, then the #212 bus to Billings Road at Beach Street, and walk down Beach.

The MBTA Commuter Rail:

Crane Beach, Ipswich

This picturesque four-mile beach, run by the nonprofit Trustees of Reservationssports white sand, tidal pools, and sand bars. Nearby, more than five miles of trails wind through coastal dunes, and the area also contains the North Shore’s largest pitch pine forest. Crane Beach amenities include concessions, lifeguards, and rangers (in season), as well as picnic tables, outdoor cold showers, bathhouses, and bike racks. You can stay up-to-date on the beach’s latest happenings on Twitter. There is a $2 walk-on fee to use the beach.

By the T: From North Station, take the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line to Ipswich. On weekends, you can take a Cape Ann Transportation Authority Purple Line bus from the Ipswich station to the beach, but on weekdays, you have to hoof it—it’s an almost five-mile walk.

Front Beach and Back Beach, Rockport

Front Beach and Back Beach, nearly adjacent on Rockport’s Sandy Bay, offer different experiences. Front Beach, a quiet respite from the bustling downtown scene, features lifeguards in season, public restrooms, and a swim platform 30 feet out from shore. Its proximity to town makes it easy to get to many of Rockport’s eateries, formal restaurants, and shops. Back Beach is best known for its rocky shoreline and offers one of the North Shore’s most protected dive sites, making it a favorite of scuba divers. It’s also notable for great views and surf.

By the T: From North Station, take the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line to Rockport, then walk half a mile to the beaches.

Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

True to its name, the popular Singing Beach has sand that “sings” if you scuff or shuffle your bare feet forcefully enough through the sand when it’s dry. And if you find yourself in need of refreshment, stop for an ice cream cone at Captain Dusty’s. The beach has a $5 walk-on fee during the summer season. Note to drivers: the small parking lot often fills early in the day, especially on weekends.

By the T: From North Station, take the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line to Manchester, then walk half a mile down Beach Street.

Nantasket Beach, Hull

Nantasket Beach, which bills itself as “just one wave from Boston,” is in the seaside peninsula town of Hull and can be reached by commuter rail as long as you don’t mind a 2.5 mile walk. But it’s well worth the effort: Nantasket is one of the most fun-filled summer destinations you’re likely to find. The beach is part of Nantasket Reservation, 26 acres spread out over nearly a mile and a half of oceanfront. Take a ride on the historic Paragon Carousel, one of the nation’s few remaining grand carousels and one of the last vestiges of Paragon Park, the now-defunct amusement park that once drew thousands of tourists daily. Band concerts are a summer staple here as well.

By the T: From South Station, take the Greenbush Commuter Rail Line to Nantasket Junction and walk down Otis Street to Summer Street and onto George Washington Boulevard.

8 Comments

8 Comments on To the Sea by the T

  • S on 07.01.2013 at 10:22 am

    On the North Shore, Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea is also easily accessible from the T (commuter rail). http://www.manchester.ma.us/pages/manchesterma_recreation/singingbeach

    • M on 07.02.2013 at 7:07 pm

      ……But being in snooty, snobby Manchester-by-the Sea it can be a little uninviting at times.

      • C on 07.01.2014 at 11:52 am

        I grew up there on the wrong side of the tracks. If you (correctly) consider Smith’s Point and the beach area the right side of the tracks, the majority of the town is on the wrong side, geographically and socially. My friend used to deliver newspapers to the long driveway set for pennies, and my mother was a low payed personal secretary to one of MbtS’s “finer” citizens.

        I’m sure you have entertaining personal stories to back up your claim (and I’d actually like to hear them for fun), but as a former resident I have none from my youth playing video games at the sub shop, and certainly none from the beach, which is mostly filled with friendly out-of-towners.

        I’m not saying there aren’t snooty people in town, but if you encounter them in the .6 mi. between the train and the beach, you’re trying too hard.

  • Marcie on 07.09.2013 at 10:14 am

    Winthrop and Yirrell Beaches are accessible by the Paul Revere 712 and 713 buses that leave from Wood Island on the Blue Line. 10 minutes from the station.

  • Alison on 07.02.2014 at 8:43 am

    MBTA runs ferry service (weekday and weekend) from Long Wharf in Boston to Hull. It is about a 10 minute bike ride from the ferry drop off point to Nantasket beach. Great day trip!

  • D. O'Donnell on 07.03.2014 at 1:42 pm

    What makes beaches MUCH more accessible by the T is that you can take your bike with you on the commuter rail lines. Why walk 2.5 miles to Nantasket Beach when you can carry a bunch of stuff on a bike rack, and bike there in less than 15 minutes. Or bicycle to Cohasset beaches. or Scituate. Same on the North Shore.

    However, it was very discouraging a year or two ago when they discontinued weekend service on the GreenBush line. They say it was due to lack of ridership, and perhaps it was, but . . . . . that was for a couple of years (after two decades of clamoring) a GREAT way to get to the beach – bring your bike on the GreenBush train on the weekend, and go to Scituate, or even all the way to Plymouth.

  • mandylifeboats on 07.01.2015 at 1:50 pm

    Singing Beaching, Manchester-By-The-Sea. The beach has a $5 walk-on fee during the summer season. Note to drivers: the small parking lot often fills early in the day, especially on weekends. what they are really saying is: we do not like out-of-town’ers.

    • LiLy on 07.01.2015 at 2:47 pm

      No – the parking lot fills early because it is small and many people want to visit. The walk-on fee is typical for popular north shore beaches, such as Crane’s Beach. I’ve been to Singing Beach many, many times over the years and have never encountered unfriendly attitudes either at the beach or in town.

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