For the uninitiated, Beverly Farms is not a farm. It’s the northeastern-most section of the town of Beverly, MA. Travel just a mile or two to the north and you are in idyllic Manchester-by-the-Sea. And really, this part of Beverly is more Manchester than its namesake. As you drive along the twisting path of Rte. 127 you’ll spy towering iron gates to mansions that may make you feel a little cold on the inside. These are the kind of residences where sleds are named Rosebud and where Judge Smails might invite you to mow his lawn while he’s christening his boat, The Flying Wasp. But don’t let the hand full of opulent houses scare you away; Beverly Farms has a lot to offer, and we’ve got the lowdown for you.
As you round the bend on Rte. 127 and enter the tiny town center, you will be greeted by a handful of interesting shops. This is where you should park and fuel up. Plan to arrive early enough for breakfast. Park on-street or at the Beverly Farms MBTA station (another convenient way to get there) and head directly to newly opened Half Baked Cafe.
Half Baked is the newborn baby of John and Sarah Thibodeau. Not only do they make the kind of breakfast sandwich that is so entirely from scratch even the english muffins are baked daily in house each morning, but they also make the ever-coveted but seldom found, fresh donut. You could buy an old fashioned, sure, you could do that…that might be the mood you are in. Of course, you might be in the mood for a maple-bacon donut, because, you know…bacon. Here’s what we suggest: order that breakfast sandwich (or one of the other breakfast options) but get a donut with your coffee as well. You can enjoy the donut as a breakfast appetizer. Don’t fret about the calories, you’ll be walking it off in a few minutes.
After you finish eating, hit the bathroom (this will be your last opportunity for a while) and then hit the road. If you follow Rte.127 north out of town in half a mile you will arrive at spacious West Beach. The entire walk has sidewalks and is smooth enough to deal with stroller wheels as well. Along the walk you’ll get a chance to peek at some pretty amazing houses and it’s that perfect family walk length–Long enough to be a legitimate walk while short enough to actually get there before the world starts to cave in.
When you get to West Beach you’ll notice one of two things: huge surf or lots of flats. We’ve been there at both high and low tide and each have their benefits. If you arrive during high tide the beach will be limited in size, but your kids will have a blast daring the waves to reach their feet as they dart back and forth like undersized halfbacks. If you are lucky, you may even see a few surfers.
During low tide, the water backs off quite a bit, leaving weathered pylons from a defunct pier safe to explore.
Assuming you visit during the offseason, there will be enough space for kids to run rampant so bring a ball and some gloves for a catch, a frisbee, a kite, you know the drill. If it’s warm out and the tide is low, this beach is perfect for long walks or settling in and building a high end sandcastle to match the homes you’ll see along the water. You’ll be amazed you found such a beautiful, quiet beach you’d never been to before.
Once you’ve had your fill, you can head back into town and grab some lunch at either Half Baked or Vidalia’s before hitting the road.
Alternate Plan: If your visit happens to begin closer to lunch-time, stop into either restaurant and order sandwiches to bring to the beach with you. During your walk you’ll pass a liquor store on your right (The Cork and Cask) with a good wine selection. They also carry multiple offerings of Ipswich’s truly excellent Privateer Rum. And if you are in the mood to stay the night and watch the sunset over the ocean while sipping said rum, there’s a unique house for rent via Airbnb that is literally across the street from the beach. It’s convenient, has multiple decks with big beach views and there’s even a pizza oven in the kitchen.