It doesn’t get much better than summer on the North Shore. The season is winding down, but there’s still time to get out and enjoy some last minute excursions. In no particular order, we’ve put together a list of our favorite local spots to visit. This post is packed with places the entire family can enjoy – from top beaches and restaurants, to parks and nature trails. Get out there and make a day of it!
Fort Sewall: You’ll find this historic park on a rocky promontory overlooking the entrance to Marblehead Harbor. As one of the oldest forts in the United States, not only is the site full of history, but the views are spectacular. It’s a wonderful place for a short coastal walk and to learn about the role of Marblehead during the Revolution.
Gerry Island: Time your day right to walk out to Gerry Island during low tide. Accessible via Gashouse Lane, you can trek this special island on foot and take in the picturesque views.
Jeremiah Lee Mansion: Take the opportunity to tour this stunning mansion, built for Jeremiah Lee, the wealthiest merchant in Colonial Massachusetts. You will be amazed by the property’s craftsmanship and collection of early American furniture and decorative displays.
Secret Public Walkways: Everyone loves a good secret and your family will have a blast uncovering all of these little known public passages around town.
Little Harbor Lobster Company: Treat yourself to fresh lobster rolls from this family-owned seafood market. No tables, no waitress, but a few chairs outside with views of the Marblehead Lighthouse and some of the best New England seafood
Bearskin Neck: Jutting out into Rockport Harbor, Bearskin Neck is dotted with shops, restaurants, and art studios and offers something for every visitor. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the famous, old red fish house known as Motif #1.
Halibut Point State Park: Learn about the history of Cape Ann’s granite industry while exploring park trails, quarries, and rocky ledge at Halibut Point State Park. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and find a spot with views of Mount Agamenticus.
The Paper House: In 1922, Mr. Elis F Stenman, designer of the machine that makes paperclips, built his Rockport summer home out of newspaper. This unique attraction is open to public spring through fall.
Emerson Inn: This historic oceanfront hotel maintains the charm and grace of yesteryear and offers on-site dining. Grab a rocking chair on the front porch and soak in views of scenic Pigeon Cove.
The Lobster Pool: It’s hard to beat the ocean view and sunsets from the Lobster Pool. Choose an outdoor picnic table and BYOB to this casual eatery with fresh seafood that is made to order.
Long Beach: There are many beaches to choose from in Gloucester, but Long Beach is our favorite. This beautifully sandy beach is known for good surf, a lovely sunrise and views of the twin lighthouses. Spanning both Gloucester and Rockport, it’s the perfect spot for a long walk on the beach.
Schooner Thomas E Lannon: Get a taste for what it was like to sail on a fishing schooner a hundred years ago in this 65-foot ship. Book a two-hour sail to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the Gloucester coastline.
Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial: Don’t miss this iconic memorial to the thousands of fisherman who never returned home from sea. Overlooking Gloucester Harbor, the memorial has become a symbol for the city, honoring Gloucester’s connection to the sea.
Ravenswood Park: This nature reserve offers 600 acres, with plenty of space to picnic, bird-watch and relax. Make sure to scope out the Ledge Hill Trail, a 2-mile trail lined with fern covered boulders that kids love.
Singing Beach: The perfect blend of scenery, calm waters, and soft sand makes Singing Beach one of our favorites on the entire North Shore. You can’t help but notice the singing sound your footsteps make as you walk across the dry sand, a sound that inspired the beach’s name.
Captain Dusty’s: After a long day at the beach, grab yourself an ice-cream cone at this local shop known for its homemade treats.
Surfari Stand Up Paddle & Surf: Whether you’re a first-timer or looking to brush up your skills, Surfari has you covered with lessons and rentals.
Lynch Park: Featuring lush gardens, playground, and beaches, Lynch Park has plenty of space for summertime fun.
The Cabot: This old fashion theatre offers live performances and entertainment. Ideally located in downtown Beverly, you can catch a show and then grab a bite to eat at one of the local café’s or small eateries.
House of Seven Gables: Designated a National Historic Landmark District in 2007, the 1668 colonial mansion was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The House of Seven Gables. You can learn about this prominent home and Salem’s history on a guided tour.
Peabody Essex Museum: Centrally located on the Essex Street pedestrian walkway, the Peabody Essex Museum holds thousands of carefully curated and coveted pieces from all around the world.
Salem Willows: This beloved seaside park is open to the public and packed with vintage fun including two arcades, tennis and basketball courts, and some of the best popcorn around.
Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie: Satisfy your sweet tooth at America’s oldest and continuously operated candy company. Famous for its Salem Gibraltar and Blackjacks, you won’t be disappointed by the wide selection of nostalgic treats.
Pickering Wharf: Whether you’re looking for lunch, shopping, or to see some historical landmarks, Pickering Wharf has you covered. Grab lunch at one of the many restaurants and explore Salem’s maritime. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the Friendship, the replica merchant ship seasonally docked at the port.
The Witch House: There are countless museums and historic sites in Salem where you can learn about the city’s unique past. As the last remaining structure with ties to the Witchcraft trials, we put The Witch House high on our list of must-see places.
Wolf Hollow: Observe gray wolves in their natural environment at this nonprofit wolf sanctuary.
Clam Box: The name says it all! This counter-serve restaurant is actually shaped like a clam box, and is most known for you – you guessed it…clams! Make no mistake; this is your destination if you’re in the mood for fried seafood on the North Shore.
Castle Hill on Crane Estate: Take a self-guided tour and experience the grandeur of this seaside estate, once owned by one of the wealthiest families in America. The landscaped grounds and period details are breathtaking.
Beach Bluff Park: This small oceanfront park on the Swampscott/Marblehead line features a sun circle installation of stone columns. Part of the greater Preston Beach area, this park is well maintained and cared for.
Mary Baker Eddy Historic House: Stand in the home of Mrs. Eddy, one of the most noted women of her day, and appreciate its beautifully restored rooms and nineteenth century style furnishings.
Sup East Coast Style: Sign up for a glow in the dark paddleboard adventure and head out to Fishermans Beach for a special Friday or Saturday night.
Salisbury Beach and State Reservation: It’s worth the drive all the way up the North Shore to experience this sandy beach, which is almost four miles long. Pack your burgers and dogs because there are plenty of grills on site and open to the public.
Joe’s Playland: Arcade, ice cream, pinball, prizes – need we say more? Established over 100 years ago, Joe’s Playland has food, fun and games for the entire family.
Plum Island: Summer isn’t complete without a trip to Plum Island. You’ll feel like you’re on vacation surrounded by the beach dunes. If time allows, plan to visit the Plum Island Light House.
Newburyport Whale Watch: Climb aboard the spacious vessel and travel out the Merrimack River and into the Gulf of Maine for a whale-watching voyage. You may even spot a Humpack, Finback or Minke Whale.
The Grog: Multi-time winner of the Best of North Shore BONS Award, the Grog is a pub with tons of comfort food and live local music.
Custom House Maritime Museum: Did you know that Newburyport was the eastern seacoast’s first major commercial port? Learn all about the city’s maritime heritage and see a collection of model ships, shipwreck displays and more.
Old Town Hill: Grab your hiking boots and climb this 168-foot hilltop for panoramic views of the Great Marsh and New Hampshire’s Isles of Shoals.
Mad Martha’s Café: Stop into this homey nook right across from the beach for a classic breakfast or lunch, all made with delicious local ingredients.
Main Street Antiques: A trip to Essex calls for antiquing and thrifting. Find yourself some quirky treasures at Main Street Antiques.
Essex Shipbuilding Museum: Learn about the intricacies of the wooden shipbuilding industry through semi-permanent displays and machinery exhibits.
Woodman’s of Essex: The first fried clam was fried here in 1916 and they’ve been serving up some of the best North Shore seafood ever since. For those with gluten allergies, you’ll be pleased to learn that almost every item on the menu is gluten free.
Good Lickin’: This authentic 1950’s ice cream parlor is sure to hit the spot with all of your favorite frozen treats from premium Gifford’s ice cream to frappes, frozen drinks and sorbets.
CoCo Key Water Park: Escape to the tropics at this 65,000 square foot indoor water park where you’ll find a cozy cabana, colorful waterslides, and a fun island vibe.
Endicott Park: Plan a leisurely day of hiking, fishing, and bird watching at this 165-acre park, complete with a small petting zoo.
Brooksby Farm: Beat the apple-picking rush and visit Brooksby Farms during the summer months for fresh fruit and veggies. After time out in the fields picking blueberries or raspberries, take a rest at the play yard or pet the barnyard animals.
Treadwell’s Ice Cream: This small, landmark ice cream shop has been dishing out massively portioned sundaes and floats since 1946. The perfect end cap to any summer night, it’s hard to pass up Treadwell’s world famous ice cream.
Lynn Woods: Founded in 1881, the Lynn Woods Reservation is the second largest municipal park in the US. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore 30 miles of trails with views of Boston. Try and find Dungeon Rock, an underground tunnel with a history of pirate lore and hidden treasures.
High Rock Park, Tower and Observatory: The commanding views of the ocean and Boston skyline are worth the climb to the top of the High Rock Tower.
Deer Island Harborwalk: The 2.6 mile harborwalk on Deer Island offers scenic views of the revived Boston Harbor. A beacon of environmental stewardship, it is also home to one of the most technologically advanced wastewater treatment plants. You can book a tour and learn how the facility helped transform the polluted eyesore to the clean, swimmable harbor we know today.