Miles from downtown Boston:
Settle in at Crane Beach
(pictured) (400 Argilla Road,
Ipswich, 978-356-4354, parking is $15 weekdays, $22
weekends). Arrive early to get prime towel real
estate and the best parking spots, then kick back
on the soft, white sand dunes and watch the tykes
frolic in the warm tidal pools.
Take off for Woodmans
(121 Main St., Essex,
978-768-2559) and beat the lunch line for an early
dose of fried clams. Or grab some at the lesscrowded
(88 Eastern Ave., Essex, 978-
768-6643), and dig in while sitting at one of the
picnic tables overlooking the salt marsh.
John Blanding/Globe Staff