Sunday, March 26, 2006

From the attic

August 1996.
One of the great American public beaches is at Manchester-by-the-sea, MA. Not because of its Coney Island-style amusement park, casino strip, t-shirt stands and wax museums, but because it has none of those things.

It is because for $7 round trip on the train , you can leave Boston, beach bag and magazine in hand, and arrive in manchester 45 minutes later. Stop at the grocery store right on the train platform and buy a sandwich, a quart of water, some fresh fruit, and hike up Beach St to the water. Don’t stop at Capt Dusty’s homemade ice cream just yet – that is for the trip back , just reward for enduring the day in the sun. Change at the beachhouse after giving up a dollar for the privilege of beaching. On weekdays it is free, and the local library will lend you a fat paperback. Then stake your spot and enjoy: families to the right, singles to the left.

Clean, quiet, calm seas and soft sand. Sometimes in the evenings there will be a concert on the town green. This may interfere with your train schedule, but can also become a spontaneous evening out. If you can get there by car, you can set out even earlier in the day, take beach chairs, and umbrella, a full cooler. No dogs in the summer, and ball playing restricted, but that is all for the common good. You’ll wish you lived there. I know I do.


  1. Is this not a description of Singing Beach, with its foot-squeaking sands of soft white music? The drive up is transformative as well, with its winding roads, outcroppings of rock, and open-pastured horse farms which put enough distance between you and the city to warrant a true vacation, if only for a day. I find myself drifting there now.

  2. You are correct. For more, see
    because every beach needs a website.

  3. I had some wonderful days at this beautiful beach when I was out of work a few years ago. I snuck up a few times before schools were out for the summer. I walked to the right even though I was practically alone on the sand....
    Another tip is the small parking lot near the gazebo - across from Captain Dusty's - there are only a few non resident spots so you have to get there early.

    Now that I live on the South Shore again - I have to do more planning - but when I lived North of the city - it could be a spontaneous trip...

    Thanks for the memories


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