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Beaches should be free. That’s all there is too it. Beachgoers work hard for that blissful feeling that comes when the sun hits their face and their toes hit the sand, and the dues have been paid. Yet at many of the hottest public beaches, a fee stands between the beachgoer and the waves. Sometimes those fees are necessary, used to clean and sanitize the beaches, but other times they can get in the way of a carefully-crafted budget. Here is a list of beaches near those high-priced destinations that will help deserving sunbathers navigate fees and soak up some rays — for free.

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Salisbury Beach

Salisbury Beach and Plum Island, Massachusetts

Cape Cod National Beach Shore draws thousands of people every year. Sure, the beaches there are beautiful and you might spot the occasional whale, but they are also expensive. The Cape Cod powers that be operate six beaches around the area, and each has a daily fee of $15 a vehicle. Hint: The beaches in northern Massachusetts aren’t that different, and they’re certainly less crowded. Head about an hour north of Boston to Salisbury Beach or Plum Island. Salisbury Beach is part of SalisburyBeach State Reservation. The beach starts at the southern end of the park and extends north for about four miles. It is open every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is a parking lot that charges $9 a day, but there are lots and meters in town that charge much less. The walk down to the park will warm you up enough to take a plunge in the ocean when you reach the beach. The parking situation at Plum Island, which is an 11-mile barrier island across the Merrimack River from Salisbury. Just find a free or cheap parking lot nearby, and save a load of cash.

Wildwood Beach

Wildwood Beach

Wildwood Beach, New Jersey

Jersey Shore visitors are not looking for pristine sand and an escape from the masses. They are looking to have a good time, but at most of New Jersey’s beaches, that good time won’t come cheap (unless you are under 12, over 65 or an active military member). Atlantic City Beach is free, but that is almost as famous for its uncleanliness as the city is its gambling. Head south to Wildwood Beach. It is usually crowded, but the beach extends far back from the shoreline, leaving plenty of room for everyone along its five-mile shore. Wildwood also plays host to slew of festivities, for those who prefer the more active beach trip. There is a national marbles championship, and international kite festival, hockey, soccer and lacrosse tournaments, concerts and monster truck races, among other things. Its boardwalkis also filled with an impressive lineup of roller coasters.

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Seal Beach

Seal Beach, California

California’s hundreds of miles of beaches are diverse and beautiful, some with jagged cliffs, others with seemingly flawless sand. But many are maintained by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, which means there are fees involved. Zeroing in on Orange County, some of its most famous beaches— such as Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach — are free, but they also draw tourists from around the world, and can be a little overcrowded. For a less traversed free spot of sand, check out Seal Beach, which is accessible off the Pacific Coast Highway at Main Street and Ocean Avenue. Parking is free at the beach and in the nearby town. There is a grassy area nearby for picnics, and a pier for fishing. Locals say the waves aren’t half bad there, either.

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St. Pete Beach

 St. Pete Beach, Florida

Finding a free public beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida is not as tall of a hurdle as in other areas where the country, where beach miles are more scarce. The challenge, however, is in finding a beach that has not been invaded by local riff raff. In the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay area, St. Pete Beach is the clear winner. It is far enough south in Florida that the weather is at least bearable through the winter, drawing visitors year round. The undertow is usually calmer on the Gulf side of Florida than the Atlantic, lending for easy swimming conditions. Although you will have to pay a couple bucks to park, the meter in the lot has a maximum limit, so it will not be a problem if you decide to camp out at the beach all day and wait for sunset. There are plenty of beach chairs to rent and if not, there’s even more sand to spread out your towel. Alcohol andglass are prohibited on the beach, which keeps it clean. If hunger strikes, there are several very reasonably-priced beach bars to the north and south. Smiley’s Snack Shack delivers, but watch out for the sea gulls. They are aggressive.

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Westward Beach

Westward Beach, California

Malibu. The name is practically synonymous with beach. There are 21 miles of coastline in Malibu, and dozens of beaches. Some of them are private and some are private with limited public access. But even the public ones are hard to reach if you are on a budget. Most of them are operated by either the state or the county, and there is a fee to get in. Westward Beach (also known as “Free Zumba,” but not to be confused with nearby Zumba Beach) does not charge a fee. Westward Beach Road runs along the base of cliffs that jut out into the ocean. The narrow beach joins the road and the parking lot, sandwiched by the cliffs and the Pacific. The boardwalk overlooks a nearby state preserve.

Post by Ally Marotti.

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Tagged: Beach, California, Family, Florida, FREE!

2 thoughts on “Skip the fee and hit the beach for free”

  1. Thanks to sharing a very important information to us and its very helpful.It’s nice to see some interesting info in this blog.The content is so fresh with crispy information.

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