Ask any Bostonian if they are a "North Shore" or "South Shore" person and they'll adamantly sing the praises of their go to coast. I have always been a fervent South Shore girl myself, growing up in easy reach of Boston's "southern" beaches, I rarely ventured north to explore. A recent weekend spent on the North Shore has this South Shore gal singing a new tune. Drive about an hour North on 128 and a whole new world opens up. One where summer rules and folks flock to the spectacular shores of the seaside towns lining the coast to enjoy sun, swimming and seafood.
Kids enjoying the tide pools — Photo courtesy of The Birkes
There are many beaches worth a visit, but the one that has recently stolen my heart is Gloucester's Wingaersheek Beach. Parking does not come cheap ($20 on a weekday, $25 on the weekends), and the lot fills early when the weather heats ups, but an early arrival is well worth waking for because once you've crossed over the dunes and placed your feet on the soft white sand that sits before you, you'll find yourself on one breathtaking beach. With some of the warmest waters on either shore, rocks for climbing, and low tide treats like a tide pools for tikes, and a sandbar that when it appears is so inviting it beckons beach-goers to venture out, Wingaersheek is the perfect beach for pretty much anyone (the swimmer, tanner, shell collector, and even those who can't sit still). Soak up the sun, enjoy the scenery, and even grab something to decent to eat at a snack shack with one of the most extensive menus I've found on any beach (Gazpacho anyone?). and if you happen o have forgotten a particular item, you can be pretty sure they sell or rent it here. Everything from sand toys to beach chairs and be purchased here.
When the sun starts to set, and you begin your trek back to Boston, be sure to stop at one of the famous eateries one exit south on Route 128. In the town of Essex you will find delectable fried morsels of seafood delights at one of many shacks located along Route 133. You may be tempted to stop at the first one that appears, but keep driving and hope that the line at Woodman's is not more than you can handle because they are famous for their roadside shack style seafood (think fried everything, lobsters in a roll or boiled and served with drawn butter, and some of the sweetest steamers served in the state).[PHOTO_201864]
However, if you find yourself faced with lines that are crazy long and you are not willing or able to wait (which happened to me one evening when I had a tired, cranky 2 year old who spent the day in the sun and was eager to go home), Essex Seafood, the first of the seafood shacks along 133 has a fish market that sells super fresh fish you can buy and bring back to prepare yourself. I found it needing little more than a quick seasoning before being placed on the grill. And they even sell steaming hot cups of chowder to take with you, which was a life-saving solution for feeding my toddler, and keeping him happy, en-route home.