Salisbury Beach

Salisbury Beach State Reservation is a 521-acre park that lies on the Atlantic Ocean in Massachusetts, just a couple miles south of the New Hampshire border. It is one of the few beaches between Boston and Maine that has such easy public access. Revere Beach (also in Massachusetts) and Hampton Beach in New Hampshire are two of the others.

Salisbury Beach stretches for almost four miles, and is part of the state parks system. It is a wide and sandy beach with a fairly gentle surf during most of the year. This makes it excellent for families with children. The town itself, founded in 1638, is a popular resort town with several other attractions and things to do, including an amusement park and video arcades.

There is camping at Salisbury Beach as wells as fishing and boating. This is the site of the mouth of the Merrimack River, which begins in the vicinity of Lake Winnipesaukee and the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. The Salisbury Beach State Reservation has two boat ramps on the river at the southern end of the campground. Across the mouth of the river as it enters the Atlantic is Plumb Island, another of the state’s popular beach resorts. A major difference between these two beautiful beach areas is that Plum Island has little public access—most of its coastline has parking only for private residences or hotel parking restricted to guests.

The Salisbury Beach State Reservation has almost 500 camping sites, and is very popular with motor homes, trailer campers, and recreational vehicles. Camping at Salisbury Beach also gives you access to bathhouses and extensive boardwalks over the sand dunes. Salisbury Beach itself boasts comfort stations, a playground, and picnic area with several covered pavilions. These are accessible to the public and available for day use by beach goers and campers alike. The public parking lots can be quite full during the summer high season. If you are not a camper, and want to avoid the crowds, you might consider some of the many vacation rentals available.

Camping at Salisbury Beach is possible throughout most of the year, with the exception of December through March. Those who spend some time here will see that it is a year round wildlife habitat. Fall and winter see harbor seals sunning themselves on jetties, rocks, and beach sand. The whaling capitals of Nantucket, Marblehead, and Gloucester are not far south, and there is fabulous whale watching offshore from April through October. Ocean and wetlands bird life is abundant, with everything from great blue herons and migrating ducks to sandpipers and teals. Numerous raptors also frequent the area, including a variety of owls, hawks, and even regal bald eagles.

In addition to the nearly four miles of the main Salisbury Beach along the ocean, there are several smaller crescent-shaped beaches along the Merrimack River. Do note there is no swimming in the river due to the amount of boat traffic, but there is great riverbank fishing here. Surf fishing is allowed on the Atlantic portion of the beach, but the seasons are variable. Check with the State Fish and Wildlife Commission. If you are hosting special events, there is a large group pavilion with barbecue grills that can accommodate as many as 200 people. You need to reserve this in advance with the park. Many individual picnic tables are nearby, and available on a first come basis.

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