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With the sun setting somewhere between 7:00 and 8:30 p.m. all summer long, the Bay State beckons you to take advantage of the lingering illumination with some coastal exploration. Check out these seven suggestions for enjoying the summer seaside as the sun goes down and see if night time is the right time for you.
Castles Made of Sand with Music, Food, and Ferris Wheels - Revere Beach holds the distinction of being America’s oldest public beach. It is also the site of the annual International Sand Sculpting Festival where sand sculptors from around the globe create masterpieces. The evening hours bring music, food, and Ferris wheel rides along Revere Beach Boulevard, and the beach stays open ‘til 10 p.m. on specified nights. (As a bonus, there’s even a firework display!) See the Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival Calendar for a full listing of events.
Cruise into the Sunset - Being out on the water as the sun sets and the moon rises is magical, and there are many ways to enjoy a coastal evening by boat. If you want to steer yourself into the sunset, or sit back and have someone else do the steering, there are many options (including kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, sailing on a tall ship, and cruise ships with themed nights). To find one that work for you, navigate the “sunset search” from Visit Massachusetts for specific ideas.
Fireworks - Free Fun for Everyone - Celebrating American independence by simulating the rocket’s red glare with spectacular pyrotechnic displays is a July 4 tradition. In Massachusetts, there are many opportunities to see fireworks over the water. Of course, there is the world-renowned Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade, with some prime viewing from Boston Harbor (see these suggestions at Boston.com). Seaside displays in other communities include those hosted by Barnstable, Harwich, Marblehead, Marion, Mattapoisett, Nahant, Nantucket, New Bedford, Provincetown, Weymouth, and Winthrop. To find the fireworks for you, check out Mass Vacation’s 4th of July Holiday page, which includes the yearly fireworks roster.
Get into the Groove - Get your groove on, or back, or just sit back and enjoy an outdoor picnic with a sea breeze. Starting in July, The Trustees of Reservations serves up everything from 80s cover tunes, to bluegrass, funk, and more during their Thursday Night Picnic Concerts on the Grand Allee of the Crane Estate in Ipswich. Pilgrim Memorial State Park also hosts evening concerts along Plymouth Harbor through the Project Arts of Plymouth Summer Concert Series.
Let There Be Light - For lighthouse enthusiasts and history buffs, these Martha’s Vineyard lighthouses can be toured in the evening hours: Gay Head Lighthouse (in operation for more than 200 years); Edgartown Lighthouse (famous for its supporting role in the movie Jaws); and East Chop Lighthouse (open for Sunday sunset tours). For a rundown on the behind-the-scenes history of these maritime marvels, check out Martha’s Vineyard magazine’s Illuminating Lighthouses.
Movies by Moonlight, Harbor Style - When the sun sets on Friday nights, a variety of movies can be viewed outside on Rowes Wharf on Atlantic Avenue in Boston. Music and Movie Fridays has the full schedule (including sunset times).
See a Spectacular Sunset by the Sea - Nothing says “picture perfect” like the colors nature paints over the sky while the sun sets. And Massachusetts has some primo places to watch these fleeting masterpieces. On Cape Cod, a variety of quintessential sunset scenes can be seen. Herring Cove Beach (at the very tip of Cape Cod), Coast Guard Beach (which regularly ranks on Dr. Beach's annual list of the Top 10 Beaches in America), and Nauset Light Beach (the longest beach on Cape Cod) are three prime examples. For other suggestions for public beaches where the salted wind and sand serve as the perfect backdrop for the end of a summer’s day, see the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s Cape Cod Beaches and Cape Cod National Seashore page, Frommer’s Martha’s Vineyard Beaches, and the Insider’s Guide to Nantucket Beaches from Fathomaway. For viewing sunsets at beaches in other regions of the state, check out VisitNewEngland.com’s Massachusetts Beaches or Mass Vacation’s Beaches page, and if you are looking to enjoy a sunset with a furry friend, see Dog-Friendly Beaches in Massachusetts by New England Dog Travel. For other coastal spots in Massachusetts, check out CZM’s Public Access Program, and in particular Coast Guide Online, which includes 1,800 sites along the Massachusetts coast that are owned by government agencies and nonprofits and open to the public.