Revere Beach

Boston, Massachusetts (MA)

Revere Beach in Boston was the first public beach in the United States.

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Revere Beach 7
- Bill Ilott

Discover Revere Beach in Boston

Revere Beach is a coastal destination located just five miles north of Boston. It includes a three-mile-long beach, known as "the people's beach," providing opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and boating. Accessible by a rail link constructed in 1875, Revere Beach is perfect for escaping the city’s summer heat.

The Revere Beach Reservation, under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, includes a mix of commercial and residential spaces along the coastline. The community’s layout facing Massachusetts Bay, with views of Nahant and Winthrop beaches and distant lighthouses, add to its character. The cool breeze off the Atlantic Ocean and warm sand underfoot makes it a great place for Bostonian families looking for a weekend staycation.

Today, Revere Beach hosts a variety of annual events including sand castle competitions, kite festivals, fireworks, outdoor movies, and music festivals. These activities can attract up to one million visitors and give Revere Beach its lively reputation.

Revere Beach 3
- Bill Ilott

Creating Revere Beach

In 1895, the Massachusetts legislature seized nearly three miles of private seacoast land, which became part of the Metropolitan Park System the following year. Landscape architect Charles Eliot, trained by Frederick Law Olmsted, was commissioned to design Revere Beach on this land.

“We must not conceal from visitors the long sweep of the open beach which is the best thing about the reservation.”

Charles Eliot.

Eliot's vision focussed on keeping the natural contours and sweeping views of the beach, which involved existing railroads and buildings obstructing the ocean view and adding a new boulevard to increase public access.

Growing Popularity of Revere Beach

The Boston, Revere Beach, and Lynn Railroad, established in 1875, played a crucial role in the development and popularity of Revere Beach. The train, originally running along what is now Revere Beach Boulevard, made the beach easily accessible for visitors. As a result Revere Beach quickly became a vacation hotspot, earning the nickname "Coney Island of the East." By 1896, the beach itself officially opened with a grand celebration attended by 45,000 people.

Revere Beach
The Boston, Revere Beach, and Lynn Train - Trainiac

Revere Beach in the Mid-20th Century

From the early 1900s to the 1980s, Revere Beach thrived as New England's leading entertainment destination as many attractions were built in the area. These included dance halls, hotels, cinemas, and amusement parks. The boulevard was lined with a variety of attractions such as Bluebeard’s Palace, Nautical Gardens, The Whip, Ferris Wheel, and The Pit.

Prominent dance pavilions like the Ocean Pier Ballroom, Oceanview Ballroom, and Wonderland, which hosted bands and musicians like the Dorsey brothers and Guy Lombardo, along with roller coasters and other rides, drew large crowds. Wonderland Park, opened in 1906, was a popular amusement park inspired by Disney theme parks. It included rides like "Shoot The Chute", “The Cyclone”, built in 1925, and “The Lightning”. “The Cyclone” was especially famous for its 100-foot drop and high speeds.

Revere Beach was also home to two roller skating rinks, two bowling alleys, numerous seafood restaurants like The Driftwood and The General Edwards Inn, and fishing piers. Families from across New England would stay in cottages, hotels, or even tents on Beachmont Hill to enjoy these attractions.

Late 20th Century Decline of Revere Beach

Following World War II, Revere Beach experienced a decline as locals moved to the suburbs and the infrastructure aged. The original bathhouse from Eliot’s plan was demolished in 1962 and replaced with a modern structure, which itself was demolished in the early 1990s. By this period, most of the historic amusement parks, dance halls, and restaurants were gone, leaving only a few remnants like Kelley’s Roast Beef. However, efforts in the 1980s and 1990s aimed to restore the beach, using Eliot’s original design for the configuration of the beach, roadway, promenade, and architecture.

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- Boston Public Library

Revere Beach Today

Despite its period of 20th century decline, Revere Beach has been reinvigorated and continues to draw visitors once more. Today, the beach is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Revere Beach Reservation Historic District, which helps to keep it protected and thriving.

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Revere Beach Pavillion - Liz West

Environmental Efforts and the Piping Plover

Since the passing of the BEACH Act in 2000, efforts have been made to improve the water quality at Revere Beach. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority conducts routine testing for Enterococcus bacteria from June to August at four sites: Oak Island, Revere Beach Bathhouse, Beach Street, and Point of Pines. This ongoing effort ensures the safety and enjoyment of beachgoers.

Revere Beach is also a habitat for the endangered Piping Plover, a small shorebird that nests along the beach. During their nesting season in spring, sections of the beach are closed off with string and fence enclosures to protect the birds and their eggs. Visitors are encouraged to be mindful of these protected areas to support the conservation of these rare birds.

Events and Things to do at Revere Beach

Revere Beach offers a variety of activities for visitors. The primary attraction is, of course, enjoying the beach itself, by swimming, fishing, and sunbathing. The beach also features athletic fields, a bandstand, historic sites, and a pavilion for events and weddings.

Walking along Revere Boulevard is another popular activity, with numerous restaurants and scenic views along the way. Revere Beach staples like Kelley's Roast Beef, opened in 1951, provide a taste of local cuisine, offering everything from roast beef sandwiches to lobster rolls.

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- Joe Passe

Beyond the beach itself, Revere offers several attractions worth exploring. Visitors can enjoy bird watching and hiking at the nearby Belle Isle Marsh Reservation and the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation operates a small museum with exhibits on the beach's history. Revere Beach's proximity to the MBTA Blue Line also allows for easy trips into Boston. Visitors can explore the city's waterfront, the North End, Fort Point neighbourhoods, and the Faneuil Hall Marketplace by getting off at the Aquarium stop.

Since 2004, Revere Beach has hosted the New England Sand Sculpting Festival each July. This event transforms part of the beach into a temporary art gallery, dotted with intricate sand sculptures. The festival is the largest sand-sculpting contest in New England, drawing approximately one million visitors annually. In 2010, the event offered $15,000 in prize money, attracting talented sculptors from across the state.

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- Don Kelloway

Visiting Revere Beach

How to Get There and Parking

If driving, head to 600 Ocean Avenue for the southern section or 400 Revere Beach Boulevard for the northern section. From points north of the city, take I-93 S towards Boston, then Exit 24B-A to merge onto MA-1A, followed by a left onto MA-16 and a right onto Beach Street. If you're coming from the south, take I-93 N towards Boston, merge onto I-90 E, and continue on MA-1A, then turn left onto MA-16 and continue onto Beach Street.

Parking is available along Revere Beach Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, with free 4-hour bays offered on a first-come, first-served basis. For those who prefer public transportation, the MBTA Blue Line provides easy access to the beach with stops at Wonderland and Revere Beach stations. MBTA parking lots are also available at nearby stations, including Suffolk Downs and Beachmont.

Beach Facilities

Revere Beach Reservation is well-equipped to cater to visitors' needs, offering amenities such as lifeguard stands, restrooms, athletic fields, and a playground. Lifeguards are on duty on weekends from late May to mid-June and daily from mid-June through Labor Day. Additionally, the beach provides accessibility features, including beach mats, beach wheelchairs, paved walkways, and accessible restrooms.

Restrictions and Guidelines

To ensure a pleasant experience for all, Revere Beach enforces several restrictions. During the Piping Plover nesting season, some beach areas may be closed. Additionally, from April to mid-September, dogs are not allowed on the beach. Other restrictions include no alcohol, no littering, and no fires.

By following these guidelines, visitors can help maintain the cleanliness and safety of Revere Beach.

Revere Beach 6
- Bill Ilott

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What you need to know

Revere Beach
410 Revere Beach Blvd, Revere, MA 02151
42.422222, -70.984795
Official Website
Tips before you visit

Nearby places