Located on land accessible only through the town of Lynn, Nahant is an oasis just steps from the city of Boston.
Run by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Nahant Beach Preserve is a family-friendly destination, teeming with clear, clean sand and a gradual receding tide. When the sand is revealed, there is no fall; people wading a few yards from shore are still only knee-deep.
The waves are gentle, much to the chagrin of surfers. The water is cold but refreshing.
Nahant means “the point” and is attached by an isthmus to the mainland. Indigenous peoples have fished and fished on the island for thousands of years. Settlers used the area to safely graze livestock away from predators.
A hotel built in 1858 welcomed holidaymakers until the State acquired the land in 1900 to preserve it for the enjoyment of all. Fun Fact: Nahant is the smallest municipality in the state at just one square mile in area.
A 1.5-mile paved walking path along Long Beach runs the full length of the parking lot, shared by cyclists, walkers, and runners. Beach rosehip, American beach grass, and blueberry line the path and create a natural buffer between the parking lot and the ocean. Migratory piping plovers nest in the dunes, and the area is also habitat for lesser terns and common terns.
The area is designated as priority habitat for the conservation of rare species. Common eiders, black-backed, herring and ring-billed gulls are here year-round. Other birds that visit in winter include Bufflehead, White-winged Scoter, Brant, Great Cormorants and Common Loon.
16 accessible beach trails have walkway mats that make the transition safe for everyone. The sand is hard and makes walking easier. Shells and pebbles are everywhere, guaranteeing hours of exploration for young and old.
There are several reasonably spaced bathhouses and porta pottys, and the property is clean and well-maintained. Parking can be limited with 900 spaces available, it fills up quickly on weekends.
As a mass state park, the entry fee is $10, or visitors can reserve a DCR pass through their local library. And if you’re lucky enough to drive into the town of Nahant after your day at the beach, you can catch kitesurfers flying off Doggie Beach at low tide. It’s an amazing show!