Welcome to Massachusetts - North of Boston / Merrimack Valley / Cape Ann

Cape Ann & North Shore: magnificent coast, fine art, & dining

Great Things to Do in Cape Ann and North of Boston MA

Motif number one in Rockport MA The North of Boston region consists of two different faces. One is the North Shore -- including Cape Ann -- with a string of seaside towns like Marblehead, Salem, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Gloucester, and Essex. Visitors love the art galleries in Gloucester, Rockport, and Newburyport; whale watching trips out of Gloucester; and great gift shopping.

The other face of the region is the inland Merrimack Valley area, where Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill preserve the story of America’s Industrial Revolution in the early textile mills. Visitors feel a kinship with earlier generations of American workers during tours of historic mills and museums. And there is outdoor fun like hiking and biking at great state parks.

Things to See

Along the shore, visit Rockport for shopping and seaside vistas, including the famous red fish shack known as Motif #1 in innumerable pictures. Marblehead has probably the most majestic and beautiful harbor on the Eastern seaboard. People take home lifelong memories of the thrills of spotting a whale during whale watch trips out of Gloucester or Newburyport. Newburyport is a delightful resort town with a spacious brick square flanked on all sides with neat shops and restaurants and a busy arts center. Castle Hill, overlooking the vast marshes and shoreline of Crane Beach in Ipswich, is a delightful expedition.

What to Do

Crane Beach in Rockport MA Excellent museums in almost all towns tell stories of art, history, and human works. Salem has the Peabody Essex Museum of art and, nearby, the Salem Witch Museum, which describes the witch trials of the 1600s. Also in Salem is the House of the Seven Gables, immortalized by author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Further inland, the Lowell National Historical Park and the Lowell Heritage State Park display the canals and mills that sustained the city's manufacturing work. The DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln is a sweeping, park-like property dotted with sculpture. Families with kids will love a getaway at any time of the year at CoCo Key Water Park\\ in Danvers.

Where to Stay

The inns and hotels of the North Shore, Cape Ann, and Merrimack Valley offer luxury and comfort unrivaled anywhere. Some are on the shore, with beautiful ocean vistas. The town of Newburyport, located at the mouth of Merrimack River as it enters the Atlantic, has elegant and historic bed-and-breakfasts within the brick-faced center of town. In fact, historic B&Bs are a tucked throughout the region. Hawthorne Hotel in the heart of Salem is a historic place and the epicenter of many Salem Haunted Happenings events. This beautiful region is ideal for romantic getaways, for instance at gorgeous lodgings like the Inns of Rockport.

Wining and Dining

Nathaniel’s Restaurant in Salem MA Like much of New England, the North Shore, Cape Ann, and Merrimack region is seafood country. Seafood -- think lobster in particular -- can be eaten in the rough or in white-tablecloth surroundings. One of the top places for fine waterfront dining is The Grand Café at the Emerson Inn By The Sea . Another great dining room -- this at an in-town historic hotel -- is Nathaniel’s Restaurant at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem. Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead offer intimate dining in the historic harbor district. It is one center of action during the town's over-the-top Fourth of July fireworks festival and display.