What To Do at Salisbury Beach in the Winter?

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Winter is a great time to visit Salisbury Beach because there aren’t any crowds, the parking is free and there are no green heads or mosquitoes to bother you.

Although it may seem like there is not much to do at the beach in winter, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, there are many things you can only do at the beach in the wintertime.

Check out this list of what to do at the beach in the winter:

A car buried under snow in the James Hunt Memorial parking lot at Salisbury Beach in 2014

Look for Snowy Owls:

Snowy owls from the Arctic Circle have been known to frequent the Salisbury Beach State Reservation during the winter months.

These beautiful birds are often spotted in the marsh along the main road of the reservation so it’s even possible to spot them from your car, if it’s too cold to get out and look at them.

Bring some binoculars and a camera and some warm clothing, especially hats and gloves, so you can enjoy watching these beautiful birds comfortably.

Watch the Seals on the Merrimack River:

The mouth of the Merrimack River is located on the Salisbury Beach State Reservation and is home to a colony of harbor seals and occasionally gray seals.

The winter and spring months offer prime viewing for these seals who love to haul out on Badgers Rock in the river during low tide in order to rest and regulate their body temperature.

They can also be spotted swimming around in the river and poking their heads out of the water as they come up for air and even occasionally come up on the river bank to rest in the sand.

Since Badgers Rock is in the middle of the river and these animals tend to keep their distance from humans, bring some binoculars so you can get a good look at these adorable animals up close.

Walk Your Dog on the Beach:

The fall and winter months are the only time dogs are actually allowed on the beach so it’s a great time to bring them for a beach day.

From September 16 through April 30, dogs are allowed on leash on the public beach at Salisbury Beach and also on the beach at the Salisbury Beach State Reservation.

Most dogs can tolerate the cold better than humans so as long as you bundle up and stay dry, you and your dog can have a great walk on the beach.

Go Surfing:

As most surfers know, winter is the best time of year for surfing because frequent winter storms create large waves and more swells this time of year.

Salisbury Beach is actually considered to be one of the best surfing spots on the North Shore due to its long exposed beach break, groundswells, clean surfable waves and offshore winds.

Since the water and air temps are quite cold this time of year, you’ll obviously need a thick winter wet suit with gloves, boots and a hood to keep warm.

Look for Beach Glass:

Winter is prime time to look for beach glass. The frequent winter storms and large waves bring more sea glass up onto the beach than other times of the year.

Since Salisbury Beach has almost four miles of sandy beach to search it’s highly likely you’ll be able to find some of this beautiful glass.

Play Arcade Games at Joe’s Playland:

Joe’s Playland is the only arcade on Salisbury Beach that is actually open during the winter months.

Winter is a great time to visit Joe’s because it’s the slow season so you often have the arcade to yourself and don’t have to wait for any of the games.

Although the second floor of the arcade is usually closed during the winter months, the first floor remains open but with reduced hours so check their website for details.

Eat Beach Pizza:

Nothing will warm you up like a hot slice of beach pizza in the winter time.

Cristy’s and Tripoli Pizza are the only fast food places at the beach that are open during winter, solely because they are so popular that they can still draw customers in the winter, so if you want to grab a quick bite to eat that’s the place to go.

Since there is nowhere you can eat the pizza indoors during the winter, most people take the pizza to their car to eat it.

In fact, it’s a common sight in the wintertime to see a line of idling cars parked on Broadway with people sitting inside them eating pizza.

Attend an Event at the Blue Ocean Music Hall:

The Blue Ocean Music Hall hosts fun events year round, including a number of holiday events in the winter months, such as the Sea Festival of Trees, holiday-themed concerts, brunches and parties and the annual New Year Bash.

Go to a Bar:

Many of the bars at Salisbury Beach actually stay open during the winter and they are a great place to grab a drink, sing some karaoke and play some pool on a cold winter day or night.

The bars that remain open in the winter are the Dolphin Bar and Grill, Carousel Lounge, Uncle Eddie’s Oceanside Tavern, the Hideaway Pub and Ten’s Showclub.

Go Out to Dinner:

You can always warm up on a cold winter night at one of Salisbury Beach’s great restaurants, such as Capri or the Seaglass.

These restaurants are open year round and have great food and great seasonal drinks you can only get in the winter such as the Poinsettia at Capri or the S’mores Winter Whoopie or the Eggnog Espresso Martini at the Seaglass.