Looking for a break from chasing your little ones around in the summer heat but can’t find a babysitter? Luckily for you, beaches can keep kids entertained for hours—and Massachusetts is full of them! So pack your sunscreen and sand castle buckets, and check out our guide for some of our favorite kid-friendly beaches:

Good Harbor Beach
Gloucester’s Good Harbor Beach offers a broad stretch of soft, sandy shoreline that is largely protected from the elements by neighboring islands. It features a wealth of warm tidal pools (which are perfect for splashing in), and with its reasonably priced snack bar and excellent bathroom facilities, the aptly named Good Harbor Beach is every parent’s dream beach. Be sure to get there early, though, as the parking lot tends to fill up fast on hot summer days.

Crane Beach
Ipswich’s Crane Beach is one of New England’s most spectacular beaches. With its expanse of white sand and its mesmerizing views of sprawling, sea-grass covered hills dotted with sand dunes, the sheer beauty of Crane Beach is undeniable. Even more importantly for parents, a large sandbar (which creates the perfect wading pool at high tide) and the many lifeguards make it one of the state’s safest swimming spots as well. Kids can also experience the wonderful coastal wildlife on 5.5 miles of winding nature trails, and every August, Sandblast, the famous sand castle competition, delights children (and adults!) of all ages.

Pleasure Bay, L and M Street Beaches, and Carson Beach
The beaches that make up Dorchester Bay are perfect for those who want a beach day without actually leaving the city. Easily accessible by public transportation, the adjoining L and M Street Beaches and Carson Beach make up one of Boston’s longest stretches of uninterrupted sandy shoreline (3 miles!). And with Carson Beach’s public restrooms, showers, lifeguards, walking trails, chess tables, and bocce ball courts, the beaches are the definition of family-friendly. Stroll to the neighboring Pleasure Bay Beach—an area fully enclosed by the man-made Head Island Causeway—and kids can safely splash in tranquil waters for hours. And while you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out Boston’s historic Castle Island, which used to be an actual island but which now anchors Pleasure Bay Beach.

Looking for more kid-friendly beaches and other ways to have fun in the sun? Check out Boston Baby: A Field Guide for Urban Parents and North Shore Baby: A Field Guide

for Parents North of Boston, the perfect diaper bag companion books for all your summer activities.

Photo credits: Good Harbor Beach image courtesy of Dendroica Cerulea. Head Island image courtesy of Aaron Knox.