Daily Update 4/5/10: Boston Beaches!

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We don’t think about it much, but we’re lucky to live in a place with beaches. They’re lovely even if it’s too cold to swim most the year!

My favorite beach secret is Yirrell Beach, on Shirley Street in Winthrop. It’s right next to Logan Airport, and from the beach, you watch planes fly directly overhead, just 100 feet up! Seriously, you could probably throw a baseball that high. (Do not throw things at landing airplanes. The FBI doesn’t like that.) It’s also right next to a sewage treatment facility, which doesn’t smell and is fun to walk around.

Another favorite is the Singing Beach in Manchester, Massachusetts on the North Shore. It’s the best beach accessible by commuter rail, and when you scuff your feet through the sand, it makes a chirping noise, which is where the beach gets its name. I like it because at night in the summer there’s just one light and a few people off near the parking lot. So you feel safe, like you’re not alone. But if you stoll to the far end of the beach, you’ve got it to yourselves.

Speaking of nighttime adventures, one must never go into Walden Pond after dark, because it is closed. But hypothetically speaking, if you were to avoid the main parking lot and the main beach, where you’re likely to get caught, there are a lot of mini-beaches. And remember that noise travels far at night over open water. During the daytime, it’s a great place to go for a hike, and of course, there’s a literary tradition rooted there. Closer in to the city, one must never go for an evening dip in Spot Pond in Arlington. Don’t even think about it. Woops. Too late, I thought about it.

Perhaps the nicest beach I’ve been to in New England is Plum Island, in Newburyport. I went one evening with a friend as we were driving up to New Hampshire and we had the whole beach to ourselves. The sand there is smooth and makes you think of the Caribbean more than anything else. I’m also a fan of Crane Beach in Ipswich, but only because there are things to do nearby: Castle Hill, a historic home with a fantastic lawn, and Wolf Hollow, which gives two shows a week, Saturday and Sunday at 1:30pm, where you can meet and howl along with the wolves! Of course, there are tons of parks nearby, including the Ipswich River Wildlife Preserve, where you can rent a canoe. Crane Beach has an annual sandcastle sculpture festival, but the last one I went to there didn’t have much going on.

Since we’re heading North, I’ll include Old Orchard Beach, Maine, which I’ve never been to, but they have Fireworks every Thursday night in warm weather and tons of festivals. I think they have a carousel there, too. And people tell me that the Wingaersheek / Good Harbor Beach beaches in Gloucester are fantastic, but I have to admit, I’ve been twice and both times there have been a lot of sand bugs. Maybe you should just avoid swampy areas at dusk. Come to think of it, there are mosquitos at dusk at Walden Pond, too, but not later at night, um, so I’ve heard. There are always fewer flies in real daylight and real nighttime.

There sure are some great rocks in the water in Gloucester, though. Speaking of rocks, I would avoid the nearby Dogtown park in Gloucester. Yes, there are a half dozen carved rocks there and I’m sure it’s historic that bums used to live there. But essentially it’s a series of so-so trails you could find anywhere, plus gnats. They have gnats sometimes at Castle Hill, too. It’s the only place I’ve ever had a bug bite me and then a trickle of blood came out. So, stock up on bug spray and make sure to avoid dusk. Places with marshes and puddles (like Gloucester, where the rocks make lots of little puddles in shallow water) are worse with bugs than pure beaches with no forest around. Bugs are worse just after a rainfall, too, right? Somebody write and tell me.

I didn’t realize I knew so much about beaches! I’ll write more tomorrow.

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