North of Boston/Merrimack Valley boasts state and local parks with fun activities all year

Halibut Point State Park

Gott Avenue Rockport, MA Phone: 508-546-2997

Beautiful sea views; birdwatching; good for walking and picnicking

On a promontory beyond Rockport Between Ipswich Bay and the Atlantic, Halibut Point is a beautiful place for viewing the seascape, walking, birdwatching, and picnicking. It is a former granite quarry and is now run the Trustees for Reservations . On summer weekends tours of the quarry are offered. There are wildflower walks and tide pool education programs in the summer and bird tours in the winter. Most of the park is wheelchair accessible.
Season and Hours: Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, daily, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Parking lot is available.
Lowell Heritage State Park - Lowell, MA
Lowell Heritage State Park

160 Pawtucket Boulevard Lowell, MA, 01854 Phone: 978-458-8750

This park illustrates the life of Lowell’s 19th-centry textile mills. Among the things to see here are a network of canals that furnished power to the textile mills along the water. The park includes two miles of landscaped esplanade where summer concerts take place, and a Victorian garden in the downtown. To get access to the walking paths, park at Rynne Bathhouse.
The park offers swimming and boating in the Merrimack River. Boating access to the Merrimack River is at the Rourke Brothers State Boat Ramp on Route 113. It has 44 trailer lots and 20 car-top lots. The entrance to the ramp is across from 1011 Pawtucket Blvd. and one-half mile west of the Rourke Bridge. There is an easy walking trail of 1.5 miles in length along the Lowell Esplanade. Park at Rynne Bathouse located at 160 Pawtucket Blvd.
Note that Lowell National Historical Park, operated by the National Park Service, is a similar but separate entity from Lowell Heritage State Park.
Salisbury Beach State Reservation - Salisbury, MA - Photo Credit Gary Miles
Salisbury Beach State Reservation

1 Beach Road - Route 1A Salisbury, MA, 01952 Phone: 508-462-4481

This beautiful ocean beach stretches almost 4 miles along the Atlantic. Activities include ocean swimming, boating, fishing, and camping. It is very popular for trailer camping, offering 484 trailer sites. The property has bathhouses, parking for day visitors, boardwalks, a pavilion and a playground. Two boat ramps are on the Merrimack River.
Camping is done from May to October. Off-season camping on weekends is October to late November. Hunters may use the island and Sandy Point State Reservation. See park website for rules about hunting. - Camping Area Map
Minute Man National Historical Park

210 North Great Road Lincoln, MA, 01773 Phone: 508-369-6993

The starting point for the American Revolution happened here. Visitors will enjoy tours, exhibits and talks. Sites include the Minute Man statue and the North Bridge, site of the first shot fired in the Revolution.
Hours: The park itself and Hartwell Tavern are open year-round, sunrise to sunset. Visitor Centers are open early May thru the end of October, 9am - 5pm.
Foliage View - Bradley Palmer State Park - Topsfield, MA
Bradley Palmer State Park

40 Asbury Street Topsfield, MA, 01983 Phone: 508-887-5931

This former estate has many pleasant, shaded walking trails and old carriage roads. Lots of rhododendron bushes blaze in June. The park/estate is bordered on its north end by the Ipswich River, and a kayak and canoe rental business is located just east of the park, on Ipswich Road. There is a wading pool for young children and areas for picnicking. Hunting is allowed at Cleveland Farm. Archery hunting only at Prospect Hill. Horseback riding is allowed on trails, but there are no rentals of horses or equestrian equipment. - Trail Map (PDF)
Breakheart Reservation – Pearce Lake

177 Forest Street Saugus, MA Phone: 781-233-0834

Forest with two lakes; swimming; fishing; walking trails; views

Breakheart Reservation is a 640-acre hardwood forest with a supervised swimming area at Pearce Lake, one of the few freshwater swimming spots north of Boston. An extensive trail system through the forest touches many remote areas of the reservation. Popular activities are fishing in Silver and Pearce Lakes, hiking the trails, and wildlife watching by the Saugus River. Open year-round, dawn to dusk.
Lawrence Heritage State Park - Lawrence, MA
Lawrence Heritage State Park

1 Jackson Street Lawrence, MA, 01840 Phone: 978-794-1655

This is the place to learn about this city’s industrial history. Interactive exhibits in a genuine and restored mill workers’ boarding house describe life in this early planned city. The Visitors Center includes a replicas of the mills and boarding houses, telling the life histories of the three dozen immigrant groups who settled in Lawrence. A video of the Great Strike of 1912 describes a piece of this country’s labor history. The Bread and Roses Festival on Labor Day is an annual highlight. Guided tours are offered. Pemberton Park, off Canal Street near the Central Bridge, offers views of the mills and dam, along with places to fish. The area has walking trails and benches. Open daily 9am – 4pm.
Harold Parker State Forest

305 Middleton Road North Andover, MA, 01845 Phone: 508-686-3391

In-the-forest camping; miles of logging roads for hiking and mountain biking; fishing and paddling (no motor boats)

Harold Parker State Forest is a large property of hardwood and pine forests just 20 miles from Boston. Camping at Lorraine Park campground, at 133 Jenkins Road, is a real in-the-forest experience. There are 89 spread-out camp sites with picnic tables and grills and bathrooms with hot showers. No electrical hookups. Camping is done from late May to early September.
More than 35 miles of logging roads are available to hikers and off-road bikers. Horseback riding is allowed. Fishing and paddling with canoes and kayaks (no motor boats) are allowed on the forest’s eleven ponds. The property does not offer boat or bike rentals.
Campground map.
Trail map.