Salisbury Beach is a beautiful, expansive sandy beach that stretches for nearly 4-miles along the Atlantic Ocean. The beach begins at the southern jetty at the mouth of the Merrimack River, and continues north to the border with New Hampshire. Salisbury Beach is best known for its large waves for body surfing or boogie-boarding, as well as strong riptides. At the center of Salisbury Beach is a main amusement area, and in the south is a state reservation and campground.
The main amusement area is located at Broadway. The square contains souvenir shops, arcades, and take-out food stands where you can treat the family to pizza, cotton candy, popcorn, and other assorted goodies. There are two main arcades located in the square where you can play video games, pinball, or old-fashioned games like Ski-Ball. Joe's Playland has been in operation for many years, and hosts games of chance where you can try to win tickets for prizes. Broadway has metered parking spaces on both sides, but the spots fill up very quickly during summer, and can be expensive relative to using the main parking lot.
Salisbury Beach is bounded on its west side by private summer homes, cottages, rental properties, and condominiums. As a result, the best access to the natural, sandy beach is at the Salisbury Beach State Reservation. The Reservation covers an area of 521-acres and is very popular with beachgoers, campers, and those who enjoy boating and fishing. Boat owners can use the boat ramp situated along the Merrimack River at the southern edge of the campground. The park also has a Pavilion, a children's playground, and three comfort stations for visitor's convenience.
At the State Reservation, for a modest fee, you can leave your car for the entire day in a large parking lot. From the parking lot you walk across wooden boardwalks, over the sand dunes, to the gently sloping beach itself. Please note that you'll need to carry any beach chairs, blankets, or coolers quite a distance to reach the beach. The campground is located on the Merrimack River side of the property.
As a reminder, the waters off Salisbury Beach can be subject to strong currents and riptides, so lifeguards are stationed at five points along the State Reservation, and at four points along the beach near Broadway and the amusement area. The lifeguards patrol each day from 10 am to 4:45 pm from Memorial Day through Labor Day (weather permitting), and are responsible for deciding whether it's safe or not for the public to swim. Wave-dodging is almost as popular as body surfing atop them, or swimming under them as they approach. At high tide, it is not uncommon for 4-foot+ waves to knock people over and start to drag them into the sea, so caution should be taken at all times.
An amusing aspect of Salisbury Beach is that in some areas, the beach is somewhat sloped. If you arrive early in the morning, one's body is raised at an angle facing the sun, but if you're a night owl or hate crowds and arrive at 3 or 4 pm in the afternoon, you'll like be lying upside down to sun bathe!
Most people drive to Salisbury Beach via Route 1A. The entrance to the State Reservation can be found about one-quarter mile west of Broadway, with the main parking lot entrance located just past the Reservation driveway. People usually park on the far side of the main parking lot closer to Broadway, as the only public restroom is located there (next to a large brick building on Cable Street), and it's also that much nearer to the beach if one is carrying beach gear. From there you can walk up Broadway past the amusements to the ocean.
A trip to Salisbury Beach is a fun day for all, or you can extend your stay by booking a night at the 484-site state campground. Whichever you choose, the facilities are more than adequate and the beach is beautiful!
Salisbury Beach State Reservation
Mass Department of Conservation & Recreation
Beach Road (Route 1A), Salisbury, MA 01952