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Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. On Plum Island, this 4,662-acre refuge of salt marsh, freshwater marsh, beaches, and dunes is one of the few natural barrier beach–dune–salt marsh complexes left on the Northeast coast. Here you can bird-watch, fish, swim, and pick plums and cranberries. The refuge is a popular place in summer, especially on weekends; cars begin to line up at the gate before 7 am. There's no restriction on the number of people using the beach, but only a limited number of cars are let in; no pets are allowed in the refuge. 6 Plum Island Tpke., Newburyport, MA, 01950. 978/465–5753. www.fws.gov/refuge/parker_river. $5 per car, bicycles and walk-ins $2. Daily dawn–dusk. Beach usually closed during nesting season in spring and early summer.