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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 you can get to easily and cheaply, courtesy of the MBTA. Check out our list of Boston beaches (heading from north to south) that are all just a hop, skip, or jump away on the T. (The last three options are available only by commuter rail). Be sure to view the map above for directions, because getting to some beaches requires additional bus connections and a bit of a walk.

Taking the Blue Line:

Nahant, Lynn, and King’s Beaches

Among the northernmost beaches accessible via the T are the Nahant, Lynn, and King’s Beaches—all part of Lynn Shore and Nahant Beach Reservation. More than four miles of public waterfront provide a perfect escape from the city’s heat. Stick to Nahant or Lynn Beach when swimming because the water quality at King’s Beach often isn’t as clean, and there is no lifeguard program there. You’ll find ball fields and racquetball and tennis courts near the Nahant Rotary and a tot lot at Ward Bathhouse.

By the T: Take the Blue Line to Wonderland Station and then take the #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 beaches in the Boston area, so expect the crowds to swell as the summer gets hotter. When you get hungry, there are oodles of restaurants nearby: try visiting the justly famous Kelly’s Roast Beef or Antonia’s at the Beach. Be sure to check out the annual National Sand Sculpting Festival, scheduled to take place there this year from July 18 to 20.

By the T: Take the Blue Line to Revere Beach Station.

Constitution Beach, East Boston

The family-friendly Constitution Beach, in Orient Heights, offers a bathhouse, playground, tennis and handball courts, picnic areas, and shade shelters, as well as lifeguards on duty throughout the summer. Constitution Beach is a fantastic vantage point from which to watch planes landing and departing from Logan Airport.

By the T: Take the Blue Line to Orient Heights Station. Walk down Bennington Street to Trident Street.

Taking the Red Line:

Castle Island/Pleasure Bay, South Boston

If only Gilligan had gotten shipwrecked on Castle Island, he could have easily escaped—the island has been connected to the mainland since the 1930s. The island is currently home to Fort Independence, a breathtaking pentagonal fort built between 1834 and 1851 that today shares island space with a plethora of 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 nearly a mile walk on foot to get to Castle Island.

By the T: Take the Red Line to Broadway Station. Then take the #9 bus to E. Broadway at Farragut Road. Walk down Head Island Causeway to the beach on Castle Island.

L and M Street Beaches, South Boston

Located side by side, the 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, provide 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 that takes to the ocean year-round. They are famous for their annual New Year’s Day plunge.

By the T: Take the Red Line to Broadway Station. Then take the #9 bus to E. Broadway at L Street. 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. The newly renovated bathhouse has restrooms, changing rooms, and showers; there are also chess tables and bocce courts. 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 Station. 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 feature protected swimming areas, and Savin Hill Beach also boasts a tot lot and baseball fields. Malibu Beach has a bathhouse, which Savin Hill Beach does not. From either locale, you’ll have stunning views of the world’s largest copyrighted artwork, the rainbow swash, painted by Corita Kent on a Keyspan gas tank, one of Boston’s best-known landmarks. Take a hard look at the colorful design—it’s alleged that Kent painted the profile of former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh into the side of the blue stripe.

By the T: Take the Red Line to Savin Hill Station. Walk down Savin Hill Avenue to Denny Street.

Tenean Beach, Dorchester

If you’re more interested in catching an ocean breeze and having great views of downtown Boston than you are in swimming, consider heading to this often sparsely populated beach. That said, you won’t want to make Tenean Beach your go-to swimming destination: the beach was closed 21 days in 2012 because of high levels of bacteria in the water. The beach made headlines in 2000 when a man’s remains were found buried there (rumors suggested that 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 Station. Then take the #201 bus to Freeport Street at Morrissey Boulevard. Walk down William T. Morrissey Boulevard to Conley Street.

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 of the beach is Moswetuset Hummock, a mix of trails and marshland that was a summer campsite of Native Americans in the 1600s and is today listed as a National Historic Site. Visitors will have about a mile walk on foot before reaching the beach.

By the T: Take the Red Line to North Quincy Station. Then take the #211 bus to E. Squantum Street at Applet Street. Walk down Bayfield Road to Quincy Shore Drive.

Taking the MBTA Commuter Rail:

Crane Beach, Ipswich

This picturesque, four-mile beach sports white sand, tidal pools, and sand bars. Nearby, over 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 also stay up to date on the beach’s latest happenings on Twitter. There is a $2 fee to use the beach.

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

Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

True to its name, this popular beach has sand that produces sound. The sand “sings” if you scuff or shuffle your bare feet with sufficient force through the sand when it’s dry. And if you find yourself overheated and in need of refreshment, stop for an ice-cold ice cream cone at Captain Dusty’s. There is a $5 walk-on fee to access the beach on the weekends. You’ll have an advantage over drivers, as 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 Station, and then walk half a mile down Beach Street to Singing Beach.

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 gorgeous and fun-filled summer destinations you’re likely to find. The beach is part of Nantasket Reservation, which includes 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 Station. Walk down Otis Street to Summer Street and continue onto George Washington Boulevard.

Check out our “To the Sea by T” list on Foursquare for more information and tips about the beaches listed above.

Irene Berman-Vaporis can be reached at imbv@bu.edu.

6 Comments

6 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.

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