A Summer Day at Crane

The long days of summer are finally here, giving everyone the well-deserved opportunity to get outside and explore. Thanks to the annual support of Founders Circle members like you, there is no shortage of activities and experiences awaiting you at all our special places, especially the Crane Estate. Whether you want to hike across the dunes, tour an historic estate, or take in an outdoor concert, it’s hard to find a place with more natural, cultural, and historic charm than Crane.

This year, we hope you can take advantage of our brand-new benefit being offered to Founders Circle members—free anytime access to Crane Beach, no parking permit or timed ticket necessary! For you, Crane Beach access will be as easy as showing up to the entrance and showing your membership card at the gate.

Read on to take a photo tour of a summer day at Crane and learn about some of the incredible property improvements and programs that have been supported by our Founders Circle, as well as a calendar of upcoming events at the Crane Estate.

What better way to start the day than at one of New England’s most spectacular beaches, Crane Beach? Given to The Trustees by the Crane family in 1945, the beloved Ipswich beach sees more than 350,000 visitors annually.

crane beach dune

If you’re looking for an active adventure after soaking up some sun, there are miles of hiking trails directly next to the beach, offering breathtaking views across the dunes. Through our Crane Outdoors program, you can find guided hikes, kayak adventures, and more.

We offer everything from peaceful guided kayak adventures along Castle Neck River, to long kayaking and hiking trips around Choate Island if you’re looking for a challenge.

In addition to Crane Beach and Crane Wildlife Refuge, there are other places on the property to take in magnificent seaside views, including the more secluded Steep Hill Beach. Located behind the estate, a trip out to Steep Hill Beach might include bumping into a group of our SummerQuest summer campers!

SummerQuest’s goal is to get kids outside using creativity and curiosity to foster individual development, community, and personal connection to nature.

If you’ve had your fun at the beach, or an arduous hike isn’t your cup of tea, take a leisurely stroll through our gardens, including the Italian Garden and Rose Garden—which was recently renovated and revitalized as part of our organization-wide Momentum campaign, supported in large part by Founders Circle members.

After a walk in the gardens, you can take one of the many guided tours through the Great House. Inspired by 17th century English country houses, the mansion is an incredible journey back in time to the early 20th century when it served as the Crane family’s summer home.

Chicago industrialist and plumbing magnate Richard T. Crane and his wife Florence Crane purchased the Ipswich property in 1910. By 1928, they completed building the Great House, the 59-room Stuart-style mansion we see today. The house became the centerpiece of an estate that encompassed 3,500 acres, emphasizing the natural landscapes and their protection. After bequeathing this astounding property to The Trustees, we now steward over 2,100 of the family’s 3,500 acres.

A particularly unique and popular tour at Castle Hill is the “Cupola with a View” tour, which brings visitors up to the cupola on the roof of the Great House, offering unparalleled panoramic views miles in every direction.

After spending some time at the beach, on a kayak, or walking through the rose garden, what’s a better way to end a warm summer day then with some live music at one of Crane’s outdoor summer concerts on the Grand Allee!

Summer concerts are returning to Castle Hill later this month! The season will kick off on June 29 with a celebration of Ipswich homegrown talent, featuring two bands, The Far Out and Guess Method. Bands will take the stage on the back terrace of the house every Thursday night until Aug. 31 , playing to hundreds of visitors enjoying an idyllic summer evening.

You can also visit our “Things To Do” page to learn more about all the upcoming events and programs happening at Castle Hill and Crane Beach this summer. We hope you can visit us soon! Thank you again for your support of The Trustees as a member of the Founders Circle!