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Cape Ann Beaches And Stickers: The Rundown

One of the best things about living on Cape Ann, aside from the food, the arts scene, and the shopping, is of course our beaches. Cape Ann boasts some of the best and most beautiful beaches and coves on the East Coast, and some would say the entire country! From broad and sandy expanses such as Wingaersheek Beach to small tucked away rocky coves like Loblolly Cove, Cape Ann has it all.

Thousands of tourists and nearby visitors pour into Cape Ann every day during the summer, coming here to bask in the sun and cool off with a dip in the North Atlantic. Competing with all those other cars for prime parking spots at some of the more popular beaches can be a little bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! 

Residents of Gloucester and Rockport are able to get a Resident Sticker for their cars. A resident sticker gets you access to not only the ‘resident only’ areas of beach parking, but some other parking lots such as at Fort Square Park, and other spots around Rockport and Gloucester as well. So just how does a resident of Gloucester or Rockport go about getting a resident parking sticker? There are a couple of options available to residents. Gloucester residents can download the beach sticker application here and either mail it to:

City of Gloucester, Beach Stickers,

 PO Box 61, 
Gloucester, MA 01931

Alternately, the application can also be taken directly to City Hall located at 9 Dale Avenue. Just head up the auditorium between the hours of:

M-T-W  8:30 - 3:30

Thurs  8:30 - 6:00

Friday   8:30 - 12:00

While there, take a moment to check out the recently renovated WPA murals, painted in the 1930s! If you have any questions, an FAQ can be found here. If you are a Rockport or Essex resident, for instance, you are able to purchase a beach sticker, but the price is $250 for the season. Seasonal renters staying in town for 60 or more days are able to purchase a sticker for $50. 

Rockport residents can purchase their stickers online here . Residents can also purchase stickers at Rockport Town Hall, located at 34 Broadway between the hours of:

M - Th  10 - 2
Friday 10 - 12

Out of town residents can buy a Rockport beach sticker for $25, but it's only good for areas marked "sticker parking" and not those marked "resident parking", so it's important to keep that in mind. So, which beach should you visit first? You have a lot of great options, all over Gloucester and Rockport. Here’s a run down of the great spots Cape Ann has to offer! 

Good Harbor Beach: Good Harbor Beach is one of the most popular in New England, and with good reason. With shining white sand stretching out into the Atlantic and the twin lighthouses of Thatcher Island on display in the distance, Good Harbor is one of the most popular beaches on Cape Ann. At low tide, you can take a leisurely stroll out to Salt Island while at high tide one can enjoy body surfing or Styrofoam boogie boards. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. 


Wingaersheek Beach:  Hugging the shore of the Annisquam River and stretching out toward Ipswich Bay, Wingaersheek Beach is a large beach with a surprisingly cozy feel. Numerous large rocks dot the beach, making for tidal pools to explore and dip into.  A long sandbar is exposed at low tide and makes for a perfect beach stroll to take in the view of the Annisquam lighthouse. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. All floatation devices and surf boards are prohibited.Concession stands are open during the summer so patrons may purchase food, drinks, toys, and other items as needed. Restrooms and showers are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.

Plum Cove Beach: This small beach is tucked in a secluded cove close to downtown Lanesville. The area is quite rocky, but the inlet is perfect for those with small children, as it is calm and shallow. Small hermit crabs run free in the clear shallows, and there are port-a-potties nearby. The parking for Plum Cove is entirely resident sticker only, which means the beach is usually not crowded. Alcohol, floatation devices, and inflatable objects are prohibited. The beach may or may not have a lifeguard, due to budgetary restrictions. 


Half Moon Beach and Cressey's Beach:  Half Moon Beach is a quiet little crescent shaped beach located at historic Stage Fort Park. A rocky hill frames this beach which looks out onto Gloucester Harbor, and provides ample shady spots, offering more seclusion from the rest of the park. Cressey's beach, also at Stage Fort Park, offers ample picnic areas and charcoal BBQs as well! Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. All floatation devices and surf boards are prohibited. Dogs are allowed in the park but are prohibited on the beach.


Niles Beach:  Niles Beach is located on Eastern Point Road in East Gloucester, happily tucked away from the crowds that can occupy the larger, more well known area beaches, and is primarily enjoyed by residents, (a resident sticker is required for beachside parking) unless you can walk from another location. Not usually crowded, you can enjoy a quiet family beach day without the typical commotion that comes with a summer beach day with breathtaking vistas over Gloucester Harbor and the Boston skyline on the horizon. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Father’s Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. 

Pavillion Beach: Known mostly for its close distance to downtown Gloucester, as well as being heavily involved in the St. Peter's Fiesta, Pavillion Beach is a staple for locals! While there is no parking for the beach, there is a small lot off Stacy Boulevard, as well as a port-a-potty there. Due to the beach's small size, it does not have lifeguards, nor any amenities. However, for those looking for a quick dip within walking distance to down, Pavillion Beach is just the spot! 


Front Beach:  Sandy Bay in Rockport acts as the beautiful backdrop for Front Beach, the perfect beach for the swimmer in your group! During high tide, the sandy beach real estate is hard to come by, but that just means more time in the water. When you are finished with the beach, dry off and enjoy the number of restaurants and shops located nearby.


Back Beach:  Back Beach is home to one of the best scuba diving areas in the region. Dive in and discover the submerged world underneath the beautiful ocean. The sandy and rocky beach is perfect for divers, swimmers, and walkers. On summer Sunday evenings, the Rockport Legion Band performs free outdoor concerts at the bandstand located just across the street from Back Beach. Metered on-street parking is available along the entire extent of Back Beach.


 Cape Hedge Beach: This is a long, secluded, rocky beach, separated from Long Beach by a short, seasonal foot bridge. Offering a perfect spot for a quiet stroll, or a place to sit back and back in the sun, Cape Hedge Beach is a great local spot. Smooth sand is minimal at high tide. Normally a quiet beach, Cape Hedge Beach is located about 2 ½ miles from Rockport’s many unique shops and restaurants. 


Pebble Beach:  Located in Rockport, mostly smooth stone popples and pebble stones blanket this long beach. This is another great find for those looking for a beach experience with more solitude.  Scour the rocks for shells or bring your binoculars for excellent opportunities to capture views of Cape Ann’s variety of sea-loving birds and even the Boston skyline to the southwest. There is a rocky reef just offshore which is a favorite for divers. Limited parking is available on Penzance Road adjacent to the beach. Please observe posted parking restrictions.

Long Beach: One of the most well-known beaches that spans both Gloucester and Rockport, Long Beach is flat, long, and has a great view of the twin lighthouses on Thatcher's Island, as well as being peppered by adorable beachside cottages. On the Gloucester end of the beach lies Long Beach Dairy Maid, a fabulous ice cream stand. However, there is no public parking on the Gloucester side, just small private lots. The Rockport end of the beach has several lots, located off 127A at Seaview Street. 

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