New England Travel

Trustees to phase out Crane Beach parking permits

Permits will not be sold or renewed after April 30.

Crane Beach
Crane Beach in Ipswich. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The Trustees of Reservations is phasing out parking permits for Crane Beach in Ipswich in favor of member discounts, the organization announced on Tuesday.

The popularity of Crane Beach parking permits “skyrocketed” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Trustees, the nonprofit conservation organization that maintains the beach.

Crane Beach visits do not require a permit, but advance ticket reservations are required from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Previously, parking cost $25 per car for Trustees members and $40 for nonmembers during the week, and $30 for members and $45 for nonmembers on the weekend.

The permit system allowed Trustees members to purchase Crane Beach parking for $85 with membership and reserve multiple tickets each week at no additional cost. However, “no shows” meant as much as 30% of beach passes went unused, according to the organization, and the new “pay as you go” system is designed to alleviate that.


“With thousands more permits in circulation than parking spaces at the beach, the availability of tickets has become too limited, and the beachgoing experience has suffered,” the organization wrote on its website. “Our new approach is designed to address these issues. “

More than 350,000 people visit Crane Beach annually, according to the Trustees. The beach, which offers more than 1,200 acres of beachfront, maritime forest, hiking trails, and dunes, is billed as “the Northeast’s most spectacular beach” and was named the best beach in Massachusetts by readers.

Permits, phasing out over the next year, will not be sold or renewed after April 30. Therefore, permit holders have until April 30 to renew for the 2023 beach season. However, permits will not be used for the 2024 beach season, as all permits will expire by May 1, 2024.

“Participation in the permit program has grown significantly in recent years, so we don’t want to phase it out too abruptly,” Peter Pinciaro, director of the Crane Estate, said in a statement. “There are now so many more permits than parking spaces at the Beach that it has become too hard to reserve a ticket. The program is no longer working well for anyone. The deep discounts we plan to offer will continue to provide a Member benefit while also making it a little easier for people to reserve tickets to visit Crane Beach.”


Some Twitter users expressed their objection to the new system on the Crane Beach Twitter page, offering suggestions such as a fee for “no shows” and a higher annual cost for the permits.

“I think most would be willing to pay more for the parking permit annually than have to pay a subsidized rate at the gate with each visit,” wrote BNS87. “It’s hard to spin this as a positive for loyal members/permit holders.”

“We do not expect to make more money under this system, and we are not doing this for financial reasons,” wrote the Trustees on its website. “The new system will allow us to continue to generate the revenue we need to operate Crane Beach with the level of quality you have come to expect. However, our primary reason for making this change is to improve the beachgoing experience for visitors.” 

Beachgoers without a valid permit may reserve a ticket for admission at the following new rate (tickets are per car, not per person):

  • Non-members: $40 in-season (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day) on weekdays; $45 in-season weekends/holidays; $10 in the off season
  • Individual, family, and contributing members: 50% off non-member rate all year.
  • Supporting-level members: $10 in season; free after 4 p.m.; free off-season.
  • Sustaining and sponsor-level members: free all year.
  • Motorcycle: $5 for individual, family, contributing and supporting members; $10 for non-members
  • Bicycle or foot: members free; non-members $5

For beachgoers who arrive on Cape Ann Transportation Authority (CATA) buses, which run between the Ipswich commuter rail station and Crane Beach during summer weekends, members are free and non-members pay $5.


Admission fees go toward maintaining the beach and its historic buildings and structures, public safety, and dune and wildlife protection programs, according to the Trustees.

Guests interested in membership can check out the Trustees membership levels.


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