South Shore Beaches in Massachusetts

The city of Boston marks the line between the North Shore and South Shore beaches in Massachusetts - in fact the northernmost South Shore beach is actually in the city. Carson Beach is an excellent city beach that is very accessible to city residents and visitors alike by public transportation and private vehicle. This is a boon in the sweltering summer months when the temperature at the beach can be fifteen degrees cooler than the city. It is also in an area full of history as Fort Independence State Park, a National Historic Landmark, is located here. This is a granite pentagonal granite fort built in the mid-nineteenth century, and the park is part of the scenic and historic Boston Harbor walk. The beach itself has restroom and shower facilities, chess tables, and bocce ball courts. It has been significantly rehabilitated in the last few years, and is an excellent urban beach for Boston day trips.

However, most people visit the South Shore beaches in Massachusetts to get away from the cities. The Horseneck Beach State Reservation is the closest of the state beaches to the Rhode Island border (less than two miles away). The drive from Boston could take between one and two hours depending on traffic (summer weekends the longest drive), and about 45 to 60 minutes from Providence. Horseneck Beach itself is about two miles long. On summer weekends, the areas closest to the parking lots are the most crowded. You can find fewer people if you're up for some hiking. Go all the way to the right as you face the water until you reach the section that is private.

The water is quite clear and the surf is generally good enough here for some wind surfing, and the 600-acre park is also an estuary habitat with dunes and salt marshes that shelter a variety of bird life. On the left side of Horseneck Beach and behind the dunes, there is camping with 100 sites. Although this can be a bit crowded during the busiest times, you do sleep with the sound of waves just a few feet away.

Nantasket Beach Reservation is a great suburban Boston beach. It is located in the community of Hull, which is set at the tip of a long, thin peninsula to the south of Boston that juts out into the islands of Boston Harbor. When to go to Nantasket Beach is an important consideration because a significant section of the beach disappears during high tide. Find out when the high tide is, and try to arrive about six hours before that. On summer weekends, it’s also good to arrive as early in the day as possible to beat the crowds. Nantasket Beach is quite long; the public beach is about 1.5 miles long, and private portions stretch for twice that length. It is possible to find a secluded space even during busy summer weekends if you're up for a bit of walk.

An alternative is to consider the Clarion Nantasket Beach Hotel and Spa, one of the best Massachusetts beach resorts. It's directly across the street from a less busy part of the beach. A fascinating piece of United States history sits on Nantasket Beach in the form of the beautiful Paragon Carousel. This magnificent 75-year-old, hand-carved carved carousel is one of only about 200 still operating in the country. In the early 1900s, there were as many as 6,000.

Other great South Shore beaches in Massachusetts include many places that aren’t on the ocean at all. This entire region if full of kettle ponds and lakes - bodies of water formed during the Ice Age when chucks of glaciers calved and melted. Myles Standish State Forest is a couple miles south of Plymouth and a couple miles inland. It’s the largest recreational area in the state, offering miles of hiking, cycling, and equestrian trails. There is canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and camping, as well as excellent beaches on several of the ponds and lakes nearby.

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