Last weekend, I made the long overdue discovery of Singing Beach, located just 45 minutes north of Boston in Manchester-by-the-Sea. For the past few years I have been a devotee of Crane Beach in Ipswich. I had heard of Singing Beach several times but only checked it out two weekends ago, and I’ve already been twice. It is much smaller and more intimate than Crane. Crane extends out for what seems like miles and the dunes are lined with various seagrasses and plants. Conversely, you can walk the length of Singing in about ten minutes. The ends are flanked by rock formations that lead up to houses overlooking the beach. I’d heard that Singing Beach was accessible by the commuter rail, but it wasn’t until I finally went that I realized just how accessible. The Newburyport/ Rockport line leaves from North Station and arrives at the Manchester station in 50 minutes. The beach is a ten minute walk from the station, and it is quite a pleasant walk with a good amount of shade.
Even if you have a car, you might want to consider taking the train. On weekends, the beach parking lot only has parking for residents. There is some parking in town but it is mostly 2-hour parking and so you risk getting a ticket if you are there for longer. If you do take the commuter rail, there is a treat waiting for you on your walk back from the beach.
It is impossible to miss Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream, the charming little canteen on the side of the road just before the train station. My friend Leah and I stopped in yesterday after several hours on the beach. She has long been a fan both Singing Beach and Captain Dusty’s. Inside, the shop is bright and cheerful and the teenage employees run an efficient operation. The stream of beach goers coming in for ice cream never stops and occasionally the line extends out the front door.
All ice cream is housemade and freshly churned in five gallon batches. Leah ordered a flavor she’d gotten previously called frozen pudding, which is the same as rum raisin.
I took my time weighing my options and eventually settled on a flavor combination that I was thrilled with: Mississippi mud and butter crunch. The Mississippi mud was coffee ice cream with oreo and fudge swirl. Buttercrunch was a butterscotch ice cream with bits of toffee mixed in. Both were phenomenal. The ice cream tasted freshly churned, with bold, sweet flavors and a delightfully smooth and rich texture. It softened quickly in yesterday’s heat and I loved mixing the sweet toffee flavor into the coffee ice cream. Leah and I sat inside for quite a while afterwards salivating over every treat we saw pass by and dreaming up what we would get on our next visit.
In addition to the more than two dozen flavors of ice cream, Dusty’s offers several other frozen treats: frappes, floats, sundaes, brownie sundaes, banana splits, soft serve, flurries, and something that intrigued me, a Flavor Burst. You choose any of eight flavored syrups like creamsicle, strawberry, or coffee n cream. They syrup goes into the ice cream dispenser and your soft serve comes out with the flavor swirled right in.
The painted front door had a cute illustration of the sizes offered at Dusty’s. I didn’t see a anyone order a large, but I imagine it would actually resemble the drawing in the upper right corner of the door. Leah and I both ordered the kiddie size, which was more than enough for one person. It only cost $2.80 with tax, an especially good price for that quality and quantity of ice cream. The employee shirt says it all. I am already dreaming of my next visit to both Singing Beach and Dusty’s this summer.
60 Beach St
Manchester By-the-Sea, MA