Category Archives: Family

Gloucester Summer Checklist

2016 Gloucester Summer Checklist

By Katie Bassett, Trulia

Gloucester’s summers are definitely not a season to skip out on. If warm, white sand and a salty breeze drifting off the ocean doesn’t sound intriguing, the endless activities Gloucester offers in the summer will most definitely capture your interest. In fact, spending just one summer in the area may just convince you to move to Gloucester indefinitely.

How should you to spend your summer in Gloucester? With a plethora of events and activities happening each day of the week, it’s hard to decide on what to do. For the full Gloucester experience, check out a few of these summer events and activities:Veggies at Farmers Market in Newburyport

  • The Magnolia Farmers Market. Check out what all of the local Magnolia residents are doing each Monday at the Magnolia Farmers Market. Shoppers and taste-testers flood the street of Lexington to sample local produce, check out small boutiques, and support the community.
  • Harbor Loop Concert Series. Every Thursday bands from all over come together at the Harbor Loop to perform a variety of shows. At this free event, you can lay out a blanket, set up a picnic, and sit back and relax to live tunes.
  • Gloucester Waterfront Festival. Clear your calendars, the Waterfront Festival comes to Gloucester Augusts 20th-21st. The family friendly festival hosts a collection of art and entertainment that is impossible not to enjoy.7 Seas Whale Watch
  • Whale watching. Cape Ann Whale Watch in Gloucester offers whale watching tours all summer that are unforgettable.
  • Local Gloucester Restaurants. No trip to Gloucester is complete without experiencing a lobster roll at Seaport Grill or a dozen oysters at Pigeon Cove Tavern. Splurge on all of the dining options Gloucester has to offer!
  • Beach Day. If you’re in the mood to lounge around the beach or possibly set up a volleyball court, the Wingaersheek Beach off of Atlantic street is a must see in Gloucester that families gather at for some fun in the sun.Gloucester harbor
  • Catch Up on History. The town of Gloucester glows with historic architecture and homes that date back to the 1700s. If you’re a history buff, check out the Sargent House Museum, built in 1782 for Judith Sargent Stevens Murray, a philosopher and early advocated for women’s equality.

Convinced to become a resident yet? After hearing about the variety of options that are fit for any family, it’s hard not to think about buying a place in Gloucester. If that is the case, Trulia can help you find the perfect, quaint Gloucester home to fit any family’s needs. Regardless of your intention, get out to Gloucester and experience a summer your family won’t forget.

Beaches North of Boston

Planning a trip to the North of Boston area? It wouldn’t be right if you didn’t visit at least one of our beautiful beaches. Whether it’s on the ocean or a lake our beaches are a top destination for tourists and locals alike.

Back Beach, Rockport

On Beach Street.  Toilet facilities available, but no bathhouses.  Limited parking for visitors.  Parking stickers are required.

Black and White Beaches, Manchester-by-the-Sea

On Ocean Street, off Route 127.  Resident parking only.  No lifeguards or restrooms.

Brackenbury Beach, Beverly

Brackenbury Lane off Hale Street (Route 127).  Small beach with boat ramp.  No lifeguards.  No parking.  Dogs on leashes allowed before 8 AM and after 7:30 PM between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Cape Hedge Beach, Rockport

South Street.  Limited parking for visitors.  Parking stickers are required.

Chebacco Lake, Essex

Off Western Avenue (Route 22) in Centennial Grove, fresh water swimming.

Clammer’s Beach, Essex

Conomo Point Road.  Parking is by sticker, available to Essex residents.  No bathhouse or snack bar.

Collins Cove Beach, Salem

Collins Street.  On-street parking.  Lifeguard on duty during high tide.

Long view of Crane Beach in Winter SAPearson

Crane Beach, Ipswich

At the end of Argilla Road.  Open daily year-round from 8 AM to sunset.  Non-residential parking fee from Memorial Day to Labor Day is $20 per car on weekends and holidays and $15 on weekdays.  Motorcycles are charged $4.  Those arriving by bicycle or foot pay $2 anytime.  All fees are half-price after 3 PM.  Annual memberships are available starting at $40.  Ipswich residents can obtain beach stickers at Ipswich Town Hall.  Lifeguards, rangers, bathhouses, outside showers, picnic tables, Crane Beach store, information kiosk, transportation for physically challenged visitors.  Greenhead fly season is late July early August.  Owned by the Trustees of Reservations.

Dane Street Beach, Beverly

Lothrop Street, off Route 127.  Limited on-street parking.  Lifeguard on duty 10 AM to 5 PM.  Kids’ play area.  Bathhouse opens June through August.  Dogs on leashes allowed before 8 AM and after 7:30 PM between Memorial and Labor Day.

Devereux Beach, Marblehead

On Ocean Avenue.  Parking for nonresidents is $5, on both weekdays and weekends.  Annual parking stickers available to residents for $25 at the town treasurer’s office or the transfer station.  Lifeguards on duty Wednesday through Sunday.  Restrooms and concession stand available.  Dogs prohibited May through September.

Fisherman’s Beach, Swampscott

Humphrey Street, farther north.  Fish house and docks.  Some swimming but no lifeguard.  Some parking on Humphrey Street.  Residents can obtain $12 parking permits ($6 for senior citizens) from Recreation Department Office.

Forest River Park, Salem

Off Clinton Avenue.  Two beaches.  Fresh-water swimming pool for residents only from 11 AM to 5 PM.  Park is closed to non-residents on weekends and holidays.  Parking is free for residents.  Parking for non-residents is $10 per vehicle, $20 per van and $100 per bus.  Lifeguards, restrooms, bathhouse and playground.  Dogs prohibited without a leash.

Front Beach, Rockport

On Beach Street.  Toilet facilities but no bathhouses.  Limited parking for visitors.  Parking stickers are required.

good harbor beach 2

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester

Thatcher Road, Route 127A.  Parking is $15 weekdays, $20 on weekends and holidays.  Parking is limited so arrive early.  Concession stand, restroom, showers.

Independence Park, Beverly

Lothrop Street, just south of Dane Street Beach.  Limited on-street parking.  No lifeguards.  Dogs on leashes allowed before 8 AM and after 7:30 PM between Memorial and Labor Day.

King’s Beach, Swampscott

Humphrey Street, Swampscott/Lynn.  Public Beach with no lifeguard on duty.

Long Beach, Rockport

Off Thatcher Road.  Toilet facilities available, but no bathhouses.  Limited parking for visitors.  Parking stickers are required.

Lynch Park, Beverly

55 Ober Street off Route 127.  Parking for non-residents is $5 weekdays, $12 weekends.  Free sticker parking for residents.  Concession stand, play area, rose garden, bathhouse with restrooms accessible to the handicapped.  Ocean kayaks for rent.  Dogs on leashes allowed before 8 AM and after 7:30 PM between Memorial and Labor Day.

Misery Island, Salem

In Salem Sound.  Transportation available via Sun Line Cruises from Salem Willows Park.  Call 978-741-1900 for schedules and fares.  Recreational opportunities include bird watching, boating/sailing, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, hiking, nature study, picnicking, swimming and tours.  Facility is owned and maintained by the Trustees of Reservations.

Niles Beach, Gloucester

Located on Eastern Point Road.  Parking is available for residents only, summer residents with stickers, or tourists with motel courtesy stickers.

Obear Park, Beverly

Off Kernwood Avenue and Upland Road, on the Danvers River in the Ryal Side neighborhood.  Kids’ play area.  Parking is free.  No lifeguard.  Dogs on leashes allowed before 8 AM and after 7:30 PM between Memorial and Labor Day.

Old Garden Beach, Rockport

Off Old Garden Road.  Limited parking for visitors.  Parking stickers are required.

Pavilion Beach, Ipswich

At the end of Jeffreys Neck Road.  Limited free parking.  No lifeguards.  No bathhouse or restrooms.  Greenhead fly season early to mid-August.  Dogs prohibited Memorial to Labor Day.

Pebble Beach, Rockport

Penzance Road.  Limited parking for visitors.  Parking stickers are required.

Phillips Beach, Swampscott

Lifeguard on duty.  Resident parking on Ocean Avenue.  Resident can obtain $12 parking permit ($6 for senior citizens) from the Recreation Department office.

Pleasant View Beach, Beverly

Porter Street on the Bass River in the Goat Hill neighborhood.  Limited parking.  No lifeguard.  Dogs on leashes allowed before 8 AM and after 7:30 PM between Memorial and Labor Day.

Plum Cove Beach, Gloucester

Located on Washington Street.  Parking is available for residents only, summer residents with stickers, or tourists with motel courtesy stickers.


Island, Newburyport

4,600 acres of wildlife trails, fresh water marshes and miles of quiet roadway will remain open year round.  Take a long walk, jog or ride your bicycle down the refuge’s six miles of roadway.  Parking lot 1, the largest lot inside the refuge gate, also offers restroom for all visitors.  Visitors can wander the winding paths of Hellcat trails.  The two trails run off parking lot 4.  Two restrooms, which are accessible to visitors with handicaps, also stand nearby.  The refuge charges $5 for cars, trucks and motorcycles, $2 for bicycles and pedestrians over 16 and free for those younger.  A $15 Duck Stamp can be purchased for unlimited entry after July 1 to national wildlife refuges for a year from that date.

Preston Beach, Swampscott

Lifeguard on duty.  Resident parking off Atlantic.  Residents can obtain $12 parking permits ($6 for senior citizens) from the Recreation Department office.

Rice’s Beach, Beverly

Off Ober Street next to Lynch Park.  Parking available at Lynch Park.  Lifeguard on duty from 10 AM to 5 PM.  Dogs on leashes allowed before 8 AM and after 7:30 PM between Memorial and Labor Day.

Salem Willows Park, Salem

Off Fort Avenue.  Two sandy beaches.  Free on-street parking and parking lot.  Restrooms, play area and concession stands.  Lifeguard on duty at high tide at Willows Beach.  Dogs prohibited without a leash.

large Salisbury Beach_031_credit Gary Miles

Salisbury Beach, Salisbury

Offers six miles of sandy beach arcades, batting cages, miniature golf courses, go-cart tracks, amusement parks and fast-food booths.  Salisbury Beach State Reservation features a playground for children, nature trails and a ramp for boaters.  Three modern bathhouses are open to the public, two of them featuring outdoor showers.  All are handicap-accessible.  Lifeguards will be on duty daily from 10 AM to 4:45 PM on the three-quarter mile of beach from the rocks near the Merrimack River to the Pavilion.  Parking costs $7 per day, with season passes available for $35 for Massachusetts residents and $45 for non-residents.

Sandy Beach, Danvers

Off River Street on the Danvers River, directly across from John George Park.  Free Parking, restrooms available to the handicapped, outside shower, play area.  Lifeguard on duty three hours before and after high tide from June 21 to Labor Day.

Singing Beach in Manchester by the Sea by Ann Marie Casey

Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

At the end of Beach Street.  Parking at beach for residents only, but non-residents can park, for a fee, at a private parking lot a half-mile away.  Lifeguard on duty on weekends starting Memorial Day weekend, then every day from mid-June until Labor Day.  Food and restrooms available.

Cressy Beach and Half Moon Beach at Stage Fort Park, Gloucester

Hough Avenue at end of Route 133.  Parking is $10 at all times.  Small Beach with lifeguard, larger beach without lifeguard.  Bathrooms, showers, concession stand.

Tuck’s Point, Manchester-by-the-Sea

Tuck’s Point Road, off Bridge Street to Harbor Road.  Resident parking only.  Restrooms available.  No lifeguards.

Whale’s Beach and Eisman’s Beach, Swampscott

Both off Puritan Avenue.  Parking lot for residents near both beaches, accessible by Humphrey  Street.  Both beaches have lifeguards.  Residents can obtain $12 parking permits ($ for senior citizens) from Recreation Department Office.

White Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

On Ocean Street, open to the public, but parking, with stickers, is for residents only.

Child at Beverly Beach

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester

Atlantic Road, off Route 133 and Concord Street, along Annisquam River and Ipswich Bay.  Parking is $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends and holidays.  Parking is limited so arrive early.  Concession stand, rest rooms, showers.

Winter Island, Salem

Winter Island Road off Fort Avenue.  Facilities for swimming, picnicking, RVs, camping and more.  Bathhouse available.  Camp store with sandwiches, ice cream, gifts and camping supplies.  Parking free for Salem residents.  Parking for non-residents is $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends and holidays.  Boat launch is $5 or $150 for the season.  Dogs prohibited without a leash.  Function hall and picnic areas available for rentals.


If any information is incorrect people e-mail

Plan a Dog Friendly Vacation North of Boston

If you’re like me, having your dog with you puts you in a better mood. That’s why I love to bring him with me wherever I go. Going on a vacation is so exciting until you realize you are not going to be able to see little Fido for a while. That look on his face as you drive out of the driveway is heart wrenching. Thankfully North of Boston has a fix for that.  I have compiled a vacation planner for you and your furry friend.

beach, salisbury, dog, friendly, reservation, boardwalk


You have so many options with places to stay, they all range from different parts of the budget and location. Best Western in Haverhill is a great budget friendly hotel with convenient access to 495. If you are looking for something more historic Salem Inn and Hawthorne Hotel both except dogs and are in the heart of famous Salem MA. Garrison Hotel in Newburyport is also a great option. If you are visiting during summer I would recommend staying at Salisbury Reservation Campground. It offers spots for campers of all sizes as well as tents. They offer leashed dogs all over the campground and beach.

bearskin, neck, rockport, dog, friendly, shopping


Once you settle into a hotel the next thing you want to do is find something to eat. The restaurants in Newburyport and Rockport there are your best shot, because most offer deck seating which dogs are allowed. Make sure you call ahead to confirm they allow dogs and their deck is open. Top Dog is a great restaurant in Rockport that has a casual vibe and is very dog friendly. There is bound to be a restaurant that you want to go to that isn’t dog friendly so if that happens you could always drop your dog off at a day care if you don’t want to leave your dog at the hotel so you can enjoy a stress free evening.



Things to do:

Newburyport is a great place to walk around with your furry friend because a lot of the stores are dog friendly. Stores like Marco Polo and Oldies Marketplace are very dog friendly and little Fido might even get a treat.  You can get your Dog a gourmet treat at Just Dogs bakery also located in downtown Newburyport. Rockport follows suit with Newburyport in letting dogs enter most of the stores on historic Bearskin Neck. Rockport offers a great off-lease Dog Park to get some energy out. The Sea Shuttle out of Salem gives tours of the harbor and misery island and leashed dogs are allowed on the boat and on the Island.

Overall, North of Boston is a great place for the whole family including your furry friend. The things you can do with your pet by your side are endless when you visit our beautiful seaside towns.

Splash Into Summer with the North of Boston!

There’s so much to do this summer in the North of Boston region!  From open studios and classic car shows to 1920s lawn parties and numerous festivals, there’s something for everyone!   The only problem is fitting it all into your schedule – but don’t worry, you have all summer to explore, navigate and play!

Click here to check out our awesome summer newsletter, which includes great events, restaurant deals, hotel packages, and more!

Salisbury Beach_017_credit Gary Miles

Salisbury Beach. Photo by Gary Miles

April “Staycation”

Why spend April vacation in front of the TV when there’s so much to do and to explore?  The North of Boston region offers a myriad of awesome Vacation Week activities for kids of all ages – here are just a few of the fun things to do during April vacation (to check out more events, visit our school vacation calendar of events).

lil' cow - Appleton Farms, IpswichDig In! Farmer for a Week at Appleton Farms
April 21-23
Perfect for ages 9-12

Dig into the farm and roll up your sleeves in the kitchen! Discover how delicious food grows on the farm and ends up on your plate every day. Follow the life cycle of a plant from seed to harvest, learn how a cow can turn green grass into creamy milk, meet our farmers and much more. Get a taste of our Appleton Cooks! program as we take our fresh ingredients and prepare a scrumptious and healthy lunch in our farm kitchen every day.  Please call 978-356- 5728 ext.18 for more details.

earth-day-1024x450April Vacation Week Fun at the Wenham Museum
April 22-26

The Wenham Museum has week of April Vacation Fun planned for kids of all ages. Learn about reuse and recycling while creating recycled art and engaging in other outdoor activities during the Earth Day Celebration. Have your silhouette created by artist Carol Lebeaux or make your own art as you create your own character in your very own four-page story. Don’t miss their Frozen: The Real Story of Ice on Wenham Lake exhibit – from a sock-skating rink, fun, child-size ice house, and costumes too dress up like your favorite “Frozen” characters, this exhibit is too cool to miss!

Waterslide-cocokeySplash into vacation at CoCo Key!

Many deals and packages available for families to enjoy a fun day of swimming, slides, and more at Massachusetts’ largest indoor water park, CoCo Key.  With the “Family Four Pack,” families save up to $30 on day passes.  Or, buy one pass, get one free on “Thrifty Thursdays” (offer valid 4-9pm).

owl_birchbarkLet it Grow – School Vacation Week at the Peabody Essex Museum
April 21-23

Spread your branches to celebrate the return of spring and join the Peabody Essex Museum’s Earth Day festivities!  Enjoy art-making, demonstrations, and so much more!  Make your own paper or even learn to “leaves”drop on the inner (secret!) life of trees!

UntitledApril Vacation at the Cape Ann Museum
April 21-25
Ages 3-12

Join the Cape Ann Museum Activity Center for a great week of programs for kids of all ages!  Explore poetry and painting, learn about the many types of fish native to Cape Ann, make your own stamps,  and much, much more!  Click here for an event flyer and more information.  These programs are FREE for children (with the purchase of adult admission).

Easter’s on its way!

Though it barely feels like spring, Easter is just a few days away!  Grab your best hat and celebrate the season with one of the many marvelous regional events hop-pening in the next week (we hear that the Easter Bunny himself will be making a few special appearances!).

downloadAndover Easter Egg Hunt
Saturday, March 28 | 10-11:30am

Children ages 2-10 will enjoy games, prizes, arts & crafts, pictures, with the Easter Bunny, and egg-decorating at the Andover Easter Egg hunt!  An egg hunt will conclude the festivities.  Pre-registration required at

egg-cellent adventursEgg-cellent Easter Adventure at Appleton Farms
Saturday, April 4 | 10am-12pm

Go on the “Egg-cellent” Quest around the farm and learn about the journey from egg to chicken, collecting Easter eggs at each station to complete the Quest! Enjoy homemade refreshments in our Carriage Barn, visit with the calves, and play games in the stone paddock!

EggHuntRockport Community Egg Hunt
Saturday, April 4 | 2pm

The Rockport Division of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce sponsors an Annual Rockport Community Egg Hunt the Saturday before Easter for the children of the town each year. In addition to an appearance by the Easter Bunny, an assortment of candies and chocolates are distributed and the hunt also features a number of special eggs to be redeemed for prizes.

colorful easter eggs and branch with flowersEaster Brunch at the Salem Waterfront Hotel
Sunday, April 5 | 10am-3pm

Our entire staff invites you and your family to one of the most celebrated dining experiences on the North Shore – Easter Brunch at Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites! The Easter Bunny will be visiting all day for photos.  Complimentary dining for children 3 and under.
For reservations, call 978 619-1120.

Easter-Sunday-Grand-BuffetEaster Sunday Grand Buffet at the Hawthorne Hotel
Sunday, April 5 | 10:30am-7pm

Enjoy delicious food and meet the Easter bunny at Salem’s historic Hawthorne Hotel. For reservations, please call 978-825-4311.

anniversaries3Danversport Yacht Club’s Bountiful Easter Dinner Buffet
Sunday, April 5 | 12-5pm

Easter Dinner Buffet in the Garden Terrace-Featuring Carving Stations, Pasta Stations, Salad Stations and Delicious Desserts!

tEaster Brunch Jazz Cruise on the Beauport Princess
Sunday, April 5 | 1-4pm

Join us for live jazz, a gourmet buffet brunch, a cruise around our lovely harbor and even an appearance from the Easter Bunny himself! It’s a perfect way to enjoy Easter with your family!  Call early for reservations, this cruise always sells out – 978-865-3210

Massachusetts Must-Trys – Candlepin Bowling


This looks inherently wrong to us… (

The internet has introduced us to a world of unknowns – we’ve learned some great things and even more scary ones.  Most importantly, though, the internet has taught us that there is a big, wide world out there where people bowl rather strangely.  This is something we learned first-hand on our first trip to Kings in Lynnfield- alongside the fantastic food and fun atmosphere is a version of bowling not well-known in Massachusetts.

You see, bowling is a little different here…

In post-Civil War America, bowling became very popular  There were many different pin types and shapes to suit a bowler’s preferences.  Shockingly, most bowlers preferred the fatter, bottle-shaped pins which were easier to knock down.  Easier bowling meant that the game easily became boring, so around 1885 billiard room-owner Justin White (of Worcester, MA) sought to make the game a little more interesting by using thinner “candlestick” pins (pictured below) and a smaller, 4-inch ball.

Another Worcester man, John J. Monsey loved the idea and ran with it.  He upped the ball size to 4.5 inches (today’s standard ball size) and popularized the new “version” of bowling throughout the city.  Candlepin bowling quickly spread throughout New England.  According to one source, candlepin bowling tended to be confined to dark basements of buildings.  In the 1950s, a 12-lane alley (with a rollers skating rink) opened in Newburyport.  It was bright, fun, and utilized the new automated pin setting technology.  Other bowling proprietors saw this bowling alley and used it as a model for building similar establishments.  Today, candlepin is played throughout Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Canada’s Maritime Provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.  It’s a Northeast thing.




So what makes candlepin bowling different from “big ball” (as we call “tenpin”) bowling?  Well, for one, it’s harder. Much, much harder.  The game is played with a smaller, solid ball (a little larger than a softball) and the tall, thin pins are spaced farther apart.  “Wood,” or pins that have been knocked down during your frame, is not removed between each time you bowl (they’re quite helpful in knocking down more pins).  The player bowls 3 times per frame, not 2 as in tenpin, and the maximum score is 300.  The highest recorded score in candlepin bowling is 245 (set in 1984 and matched in 2011).  We average a 60. On a good day.

So, if you are visiting the North of Boston region and are up for a challenge, we highly recommend you try your hand at candlepin bowling. It’s a lot of fun and, in our opinion, one of those hidden gems in the treasure chest of Yankee tradition.


Ol’ Sam Appleton had a farm…

DSC_0415The oldest continuously-operating farm in the United States, Appleton Farms was established in 1636 by Samuel Appleton.  Nearly 400 years (and many generations of Appletons) later, the farm stands as both an Ipswich landmark and a wonderful CSA providing shares to more than 800 families and donating more than 10,000 pounds of food annually to local food pantries.  But, as we learned on our field trip last week, Appleton Farms is so much more than the 200 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers grown and produced.

Perhaps the not-so-hidden gem of Appleton Farms is the Old House.  The oldest part of the house dates back to the late-18th century (there were some later additions in the mid-19th century) but, unfortunately, the house had fallen into disrepair when the farm was gifted to the Trustees of the Reservation.  The house has undergone many renovations and, using many of the Appleton family’s photographs (on view in the exhibition Of Farm & Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits), was restored to resemble how it looked when the Appleton family lived there.  Perhaps most exciting is the latest renovation.  In October 2009, the Trustees set out on a “green” renovation and update which included a biomass boiler, 2 solar panels on the roof, and much, much more.  Typically, we associate “going green” with stark, “modern” design.  The Old House renovation has defied this notion by “going green” but retaining the look and character of the original homestead.  Today, the house is LEED Gold-Certified.


The Old House is not the only “green” thing at Appleton Farms.  The farm utilizes organic farming methods, grass-based livestock production, renewable energy production, composting, and so much more.

Appleton Farms also offers 5+ miles of trails known as the Appleton Farms Grass Rides.  From fun summer hikes to winter snowshoeing, the Grass Rides are a wonderful way to explore the natural beauty of Ipswich and Hamilton.  This network of trails consists of forest, wetlands, and open fields.  Horses are welcome on designated trails as is mountain biking.  Dogs are also welcome (but a Green Dogs permit is required to walk dogs).


The cows alone are worth a visit!

There’s so much more we could write about Appleton Farms (from cheese-making to visits with the friendly cows),  but experiencing something is so much better than reading about it (in our opinion).  Now through April 30th, their Visitor Center is open on weekends from 11am-3pm.  The Center is handicapped-accessible and is a great starting point o learning more about the farm through their classroom, research library, and family museum.  While you’re there, do not miss out on a trip to the Farm Store (open Monday-Friday, 11am-6pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm) to pick up some of Appleton Farms’ milk, cheese, and beef as well as other locally-produced foodstuffs, art, and crafts.


Did we mention how delicious the cheese (seen here being made on-site) is?


   This learning space is a fun, educational environment for little farmers

We regret to say that our time at Appleton Farms was not nearly long enough – it would take at least a weekend to fully explore and enjoy all that the farm has to offer.  Even that weekend would not be enough as each season brings with it new crops, events, scenery, and activities.  Whatever time of year you plan to visit (and we highly recommend that you do!) be sure to check out their event calendar for great activities for all ages.

DSC_0475Upcoming events include:

Farmstead & Old House Tour – October 19, 11am-12:30pm

Mini Moos – October 25, 10-11am

Pasture to Plate: Cheese Making Tour – October 26, 2:30-4:30pm

Be sure not to miss their Appleton Cooks program!  They offer everything from cooking classes and workshops, to harvest-to-table dinners in the field, Friday night farm dinners, and other (incredibly delicious) events throughout the year!

(Did we mention that Appleton Farms is one of the best spots in the area for fall foliage?  A mid-October visit will  reveal a terrific landscape of yellows, reds, and oranges).


Row, row, row your boat (or kayak)

DSC_0353If there’s one thing we all seem to love most about summer, it’s being on the water.  In the North of Boston region, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy a myriad of aquatic adventures from good ole’ swimming to whale watches, schooner sails, and dinner cruises.  And, of course, kayaking.

For all of the kayak enthusiasts, both experts and novices alike, Marblehead MA, known for its maritime contributions and endeavors, is home to an aquatic gem – the Little Harbor Boathouse. If you’re out and about on the North Shore, taking in the last days of summer, we recommend you head out there immediately!

Little Harbor Boathouse is open 7 days a week through Labor Day (Thursdays through Sundays in September; including single & tandem Kayak & Standup Paddle Board Rentals) and they welcome paddlers of all levels of experience.  If you are looking to enjoy anywhere from an hour to a day on the water, their rental prices are considerably fair and staff are extremely helpful.  For beginners, Little Harbor Boathouse’s kayak, stand-up paddle board, and rowing coaches are fantastic and will create a program around your ability level, goals, and personal schedule.

They also offer rentals for groups with up to 40 people and see many corporate outings throughout the summer months (we are going to start making unsubtle hints around the CVB offices in regards to Summer 2015).

DSC_0361The Boathouse’s Water Sports Store is open year-round and is the Boston/North Shore authorized Hobie Kayak and Standup Paddle Board Dealer.  They offer many different types of quality boards and boats that look great out of the water and work great while in.  We were especially impressed with the extremely versatile Hobie Mirage Sport, a bit of a kayak/paddle boat hybrid (that will give your legs the best workout of your life!).  For a bit of relaxation and fishing, the Mirage Sport also has a sail package that lets you take advantage of a breezy day and transform the kayak into a sort of a sailboat.

The Water Sports Store is currently offering their Annual Blow-Out Sale now through Labor Day. Don’t miss on big savings and the best prices of the year right now on limited stock of Hobie pedal and paddle kayaks & stand-up paddle boards! Their Annual YMCA Consignment Benefit Sale is also coming up on August 31st!


Perhaps most exciting at Little Harbor Boathouse are their guided kayak fishing excursions which run through September.  These ~2 hour guided excursions of the “best fishing town in New England” are held on Thursday-Sunday mornings from 7-9am for groups of 3 (minimum).  Little Harbor’s guides will introduce you to the versatile, hands-free Hobie Mirage as you enjoy a wonderful morning of fishing for striped bass, blue fish, and anything else that happens to come along!

DSC_0352“This all sounds great,” you must be thinking.  “But what about those of us who are easily seasick?”  Well, Little Harbor Boathouse let us in onto a Little Harbor Secret – ginger.  If that does not work for you, then they also recommend a motion-sickness bracelet.  No one should have to miss out on a terrific kayak excursion because of a little seasickness!

Whether you live on the North Shore or are just here for a visit, we encourage you to stop by Little Harbor Boathouse.  Don’t forget to check out their website to keep up with their many programs, sales, rental information, and their fabulous blog (with great tips on kayaking spots, care, water fitness, and more!).  While you’re online, check out their awesome Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.


Trains, dolls, and toys – Oh my!

Every year, thousands of elementary school students flock to Wenham for an exciting field trip.  Unlike other field trips full of “No touching” rules, buddy systems, soggy boxed lunches, and the dreaded trip-related homework assignment, this trip is one to look forward to.  It’s to the Wenham Museum, a North Shore gem whose amazing collection features an array of toys, dolls, games, and so much more.

DSC_0357This week, we made our own field trip to the Wenham Museum.  The museum strives to “protect, preserve and interpret the artifacts of childhood, domestic life, and the history and culture of Boston’s North Shore” and does so in a way that’s interactive and fun for kids of all ages.  The museum fosters and encourages every child’s desire to touch and play with their surroundings while managing to protect their priceless collection.  The museum’s current exhibit, The Art of the Artifact: Art Inspired by the Wenham Museum Collection (on view through August 24th), which features art by local artists inspired by the museum’s collections, features fun games for kids to play.  Families are also encouraged to make their own art inspired by the exhibit right in the gallery! 

Another exhibit, Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days: Summer Fashions (on view through September 14th), features a costume trunk full of dress-up clothes for children to make their own crazy summer fashions.


DSC_0368The Museum’s gallery space also features a world-renown doll collection featuring fashion, baby, and mechanical dolls from around the world.  At the center of the doll displays is the International Doll Collection, home to a collection donated by Elizabeth Richards Horton in 1922.  A former resident of the Museum’s Claflin-Richards House, Mrs. Horton would write to various celebrities, heads of state, and officials for donations to her growing doll collection.  Mrs. Horton’s dolls traveled around the world as a traveling exhibition (proceeds from which were donated to charity).  The collection, on permanent view in the Museum’s Osgood Gallery, features dolls from Queen Victoria, Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra, and many more notables from the 19th/20th centuries.  

DSC_0384The biggest piece in the Museum’s historical collection is the Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House, one of the earliest-built homes on the North Shore and the former home of Mrs. Horton.  The house features 4 rooms decorated to showcase how families lived from the First Period (1625-1725) to the Victorian Era.  We took a tour of the house and it was fascinating to see how family life changed throughout America’s early history as well as see the centuries-old architectural details.  Guided  tours of the Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House are available weekdays at 11am and 2pm and weekends at 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm.  The House is also open for 17th Century Saturdays (the first Saturday of the month, June through October).

DSC_0375  DSC_0379

wefrgPerhaps most exciting at the Museum is the train room.  Located downstairs, the Bennett E. Merry Train Gallery features numerous miniature towns – all with trains that run through the towns at the push of a button.  The detail put into these model towns is astounding.  Every time we visit the Wenham Museum, we find a new little scene that we had never seen before: house fires, weddings, a little movie theater showing the Bogart/Hepburn classic “The African Queen.”  What scenes will you find when you visit?

Also located downstairs at the Museum is the Family Discovery Gallery, another interactive space for families.  Currently, the gallery features the exhibit Our Amazing Brains: How We Learn Our Whole Lives Through (on view through September 28th) which explores the different parts of the brain and how our brains develop through various games, puzzles, and activities.

A day at the Wenham Museum is not a day of looking at untouchables behind glass – it’s a day of adventure and play.  This play teaches children in a fun and interactive way while fostering a future interest in museums and history.  So what are you waiting for?  The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm* (6pm on Thursdays) through September 16th.  Be sure to check out their event calendar to learn more about the Museum’s fantastic events and programs.


Cooking with Woodman’s

cooking_collageWoodman’s of Essex is known for a lot of things – being the birthplace of the fried clam, their delicious menu, beautiful wedding venue, and their numerous accolades.  But did you know that Woodman’s also offers an ongoing series of cooking demonstrations at the Essex Room?  Every month, you can enjoy a demonstration by Woodmans’ award-winning chef, Ned Grieg, followed by a tasting.  From sophisticated French dinners to Woodman family recipes to holiday treats, there’s something for everyone at Woodman’s Cooking Series.

August 6th – An Ode to Julia
Bring out your inner French Chef with a classic French dinner in honor of Julia Child’s birthday!  Don’t forget your pearls (and your best Julia impression!).

September 10th – A Seafood Selection
Woodman’s is known for their unparalleled seafood – now you can enjoy a seafood selection from the Woodman’s Family Cookbook: Five Generations of Stories, 100 Years of Recipes. 

October 15th – Soups & Stews
What better way to warm up this fall than with a nice cup of soup? Watch as Chef Ned creates scrumptious seasonal soups and stews.

November 5th – Family Cookbook
What are some of the Woodman family’s favorite recipes? Come try out some more family recipes with elections from the Woodman’s Family Cookbook!

December 13th – Santa’s Bake Shop
Big and small elves alike will delight in these holiday treats! Bring along your little helper for some holiday baking fun!

productimage-picture-100-years-of-recipes-87_jpg_280x280_q85Classes fill up quickly – be sure to sign up today!  Questions? Call 978-768-7335 or e-mail

Can’t make it to Essex for the classes? No problem!  In honor of their centennial anniversary, Woodman’s has published a fantastic book featuring 5 generations of family stories and 100 years of delicious recipes.


cooking class poster

The Secret Case of the Village Theatre Company

ABBphoto-4330 (2)Arthur Conan Doyle’s new detective manuscript is missing and young H.G. Wells only has an hour and a half to find it – what is he going to do? It’s up to novice detectives, Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson to find it.  Unfortunately, thanks to Wells’ new time machine, Holmes and Watson accidentally end up in the 21st century!

To make matters worse, our duo are not only two fish-out-of-water, but they end up in the Freudly Institute among fellow patients Marilyn Monroe, Tarzan, Lizzie Borden, Queen Victoria, Count Dracula, and George Washington!  There’s just one problem – the Institute is for people with grandiose delusions and the doctors think Sherlock is their newest patient (and Watson his personal doctor just playing along!).

As if that was not enough, a mysterious dead body is found outside and it’s up to Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery, find the manuscript, and prove that he really is the famous Sherlock Holmes in the Village Theatre Company’s hilarious new production, “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes.”

ABBphoto-4171 (2)The Village Theatre Company began in 2009 with the goal to create a fun, creative, and positive environment for actors and crew alike to come together and feel comfortable and welcome.  Village Theatre lives by the proverb that “it takes a village” and successfully strives to put the community back into community theater.  Have a budding (or experienced) actor in the family?  All are invited and encouraged to audition for Village Theatre’s upcoming shows.  It’s a great experience for actors young and old alike.  Village Theatre Company is more than a theater group – they are a friendly, welcoming, tight-knit theater family always eager to assist each other, encourage individual expression, and help each other to grow.

“Sherlock” is a fun, witty show featuring a talented, clever cast.  Part of what makes the show so enjoyable is that the actors on stage are having as must fun performing as the audience does watching.  The show runs this Friday, July 18th through Sunday, July 20th.  There are two shows on Saturday, July 19th; a 2pm matinee and a 7pm evening show.  The shows are performed at the Laurel Grange (21 Garden Street, West Newbury, MA).  It’s the perfect show for the whole family to attend!

ABBphoto-4228 (2)We eagerly look forward to Village Theatre upcoming production “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” the hilarious musical “[lovingly] ripped off from the motion picture ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail'” which is set to hit the stage this winter.  Being familiar with the show and knowing Village Theatre’s excellent quality, we can say that this is one musical you don’t want to miss!

In the meantime, keep up with the Village Theatre Company on Twitter @VTCvillage or visit their website – and sign up for their e-mail list.


ABB LogoAll photos in the blog are courtesy of Amy Brogna Baione Photography – you can see more of Amy’s excellent photos at

Let freedom ring (or sparkle brightly)

The 4th of July is a very important holiday in the North of Boston region.  The history of the North Shore is deeply entwined with that of the United States – many of the first settlers made this area home (and left us with a wealth of “First Period” architecture), George Washington slept here, the US Coast Guard was formed in Newburyport, and the US Navy began in Beverly/Marblehead.  Even one of our most beloved patriotic songs, “America” (also known as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”), was written in Andover in 1831.  Thus, it’s only fitting that the North of Boston region goes all out when it  comes to July 4th celebrations.  If you live here or plan on visiting the region, you can’t miss…


Fireworks Over Gloucester Harbor
Experience Gloucester’s annual fireworks display from the terrace and lawn of Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann house and enjoy an abridged evening tour as the house transforms at night. Bring blankets, chairs, picnics, and mosquito spray.

Glover-Side-450x335Mahi Mahi Fireworks Cruises
July 5 & 6 (**NEW DATE**)
Party like it’s Independence Day aboard the Hannah Glover or Finback! You’ll get your oohs and ahhs as the annual 4th of July fireworks shoot across the sky above us. Enjoy unobstructed views out on the water as we cruise through Salem Sound. Great for all ages, this cruise is the perfect way to spend your holiday with family or friends. After celebrating a 4th of July with Mahi Cruises, we’re sure that you’ll be back next year!


8509243-sparkler-and-usa-flag-showing-4th-of-july4th of July Weekend at Salisbury Beach
July 3-5
This Independence Day weekend, join us at Salisbury Beach! On Thursday, July 3, enjoy Rhythm Coalition (9-piece band with horns) on the beachfront stage. RB Entertainment will provide music to celebrate the 4th in style! Spend the day on the beach. Our kid-friendly activities start at 5pm – Hula Hoops, Karaoke, Line Dancing and Sing-along with DJ Ralphie B, and so much more!

July 4_fireworks5_scottlanes_web

Salem Celebrates the 4th!
July 6 (**NEW DATE**)
Bring your beach blankets and folding chairs to enjoy the 42-piece Hillyer Festival Orchestra on Derby Wharf at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site for a grand celebration of our nation’s Independence Day. Featuring a Pops concert, a Kid Space play area, and fireworks launched over Salem Harbor, this is a quintessential celebration of the 4th of July. Fireworks begin at 9:15pm.

fireworks-stock857-largeAmesbury’s 4th of July Fireworks and Music
July 5 (**NEW DATE**)
The Annual Fourth of July Fireworks display at Woodsom Farm starts on Friday July 4th 2014 at sunset. Bring your friends and family and join us for music, fireworks and tons of fun!

dsc02649.jpg__840x460_q85_crop_upscale4th of July Fireworks Aboard the Sea Shuttle’s Endeavour 
July 4
Welcome aboard for an unforgettable tour with coastal fireworks galore.  We will see fireworks from Lynn to Gloucester. There will be snacks and thirst-quenching libations for purchase on board. The Endeavor will depart from the Salem Willows Park Pier at 7:45PM and will return at 10:30. 

CruiseShipDockEvening4th of July on the Beauport Princess
July 4
Cruise with us on the fourth of July! Great buffet, watch fireworks all around and enjoy some great music on Cruiseport Gloucester’s newest cruise line, the Beauport Princess! 



Photo by Jeff Folger

Marblehead Fireworks & Harbor Illumination
July 5 (**NEW DATE**)
The Marblehead Fireworks & Harbor Illumination happens every year on July Fourth in the Town of Marblehead, Massachusetts to celebrate Independence Day!  The Fireworks are scheduled for Thursday, July 4th, 2013 approximately 9:00 p.m. The Harbor Illumination will begin at 8:45 p.m. and immediately following we will light this fuse in this year’s fireworks! 

Wednesday in the Park with the CVB

DSC_0187On Wednesday, we visited Maudslay State Park in Newburyport on a quest for springtime photos of the region.  A beautiful, 480 acre estate on the Merrimack River, the park was the homestead of the Moseley family at the turn-of-the-century.  Where once stood two mansions, barns, greenhouses, gardens, and so much more is now a picturesque property with stunning views of the river and numerous trails.  

There are still remnants of the park’s grand past – a root cellar, the gates to the original Moseley Estate, and the foundations of buildings long gone (all of which have provided fodder for a slew of ghost stories and purported hauntings throughout the years – and, while fun, are completely unfounded).

Today, the park is a fantastic space of hikers of all levels, picnics, kite-flying, horseback riding, biking, and casual walkers.  They offer many programs for hiking enthusiasts and, in the spring and summer months, Newburyport’s Theatre in the Open  puts on free plays and shows.  If you are not familiar with the park, we recommend looking over a map beforehand – there are a few twists, turns, and dead ends and one could get lost easily.


Click on the photo for a larger view of the map.

For more information, visit the Maudslay State Park Association’s webiste –

For a brief history on the park and the Moseley estate, visit

Hippity Hoppity, Easter’s on its way!

Even if you don’t find yourself in the rotogravure or have a sonnet written about your bonnet, there is still a lot to do this Easter on the North Shore!  Here are just a few hop-pening events and delicious treats on the way…

erChococoa Baking Company
50 Water Street
The Tannery, Mill Building #1
Newburyport, MA 01950

Chococoa’s to-die-for Whoopies are getting all dressed up for Easter!  Chococoa is partnering with Jenny’s Wedding Cakes to bring you special Easter-inspired designs which look almost too good to eat!  Designs are available for their scrumptious chocolate/vanilla whoopies and lemon/lemon whoopies.  Supplies are limited, so order yours today at 978-499-8889 or e-mail (we can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to make them last until Easter!).

Easter Brunch 2014Easter Bunny Brunch
April 20, 2014
DoubleTree by Hilton – Boston/North Shore
50 Ferncroft Road
Danvers, MA 01923

Join us the DoubleTree for an Easter Brunch. It’s a family affair, including live entertainment, an Easter Egg Hunt and pictures with the Easter Bunny! Brunch Buffet will feature Chef’s Carving Stations, an Omelet Station and Waffle Station. Adults $38, Children $18, Children 5 and under free. Sunday, April 20th. Seatings at 11:00am, 11:30am, 12:00pm, and 12:30pm. Reservations required, please call 978-750-7990.

TupperEaster Brunch at Tupper Manor
April 20, 2014
295 Hale Street
Beverly, MA 01915

Hop, hop over to Tupper Manor and celebrate this special holiday! Enjoy a bountiful brunch buffet while enjoying the historic atmosphere of Tupper Manor and ocean views. Entertainment for the kids including the Easter Bunny & Easter egg hunt at Noon & 2:30pm. Seatings are at 11am and 1:30pm. Adults – $39.95, Seniors – $33.95, Children (3-12) – $15.95 and Chicks (2 & under) eat free!

4811_4812Rabbits_2014_WebHarbor Sweets
85 Leavitt Street
Salem, MA 01970

Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth this Easter?  From peanut butter eggs and milk chocolate moon bunnies to Sweet Sloops packaged in festive Easter and spring gift boxes, Harbor Sweets has something for you!  We recommend the Robert L Strohecker Assorted Rabbits – solid chocolate and filled to the brim with almond butter crunch, caramel, pecans and whole toasted almonds.


downloadRockport Easter Egg Hunt
April 19, 2014

The Rockport Division of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce sponsors an Annual Rockport Community Egg Hunt for the children of the town each year.  In addition to an appearance by the Easter Bunny, an assortment of candies and chocolates are distributed and the hunt also features a number of special eggs to be redeemed for prizes.

deck2Victoria Station’s Easter Sunday Buffet
April 20, 2014
11am – 6pm
86 Wharf Street
Salem, MA 01970

Have a memorable Easter with you family at Victoria Station & Vic’s Boathouse!  Enjoy their well-known, outstanding Easter Buffet with beautiful panoramic views of Salem Harbor.  The fabulous menu features carving stations, banana-Nutella french toast, seafood stuffed sole, a dessert and pastry buffet, and so much more!  Make your reservation today by calling 978-745-3400.


For the Birds…

After the December hype of the holiday season dies down, things get pretty quiet in the North of Boston region (with the exception of the occasional blizzard – but even those become rather tedious after awhile).  The rest of winter is for the birds.

Literally.  For dedicated ornithologists and casual birdwatchers alike, the end of January/beginning of February bring two of the biggest birding events in the area- the Cape Ann Birding Weekend and Merrimack River Eagle Festival.

CapeAnnWinterBirdingWeekend2014-1024x623Cape Ann Birding Weekend
January 31-February 2, 2014
Bird watchers of all skill levels from all around flock to Cape Ann for the Cape Ann Birding Weekend.  Organized by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and Massachusetts Audubon Society, this event birding enthusiasts to join expert guides on tours of birding hotspots, attend birding workshops, and more.  Artists will also be in attendance giving live demonstrations and showing off bird-related pieces.  Explore Cape Ann’s scenic coastline and see winter seabirds, grebes, Harlequin Duck, Purple Sandpiper, and more!

eagle-festival-logo_mediumMerrimack River Eagle Festival
February 8, 2014
The Bald Eagle makes it return to the Merrimack Valley this February!  Celebrate its return at the Merrimack River Eagle Festival and join the Mass Audubon at Joppa Flats and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge for a day full of free activities including an Eagle Tour, eagle magnet, mask or button-making, and so much more!  This year, Festival is pleased to debut the Eagle Festival Eagle Eye Scavenger Hunt!  Now through February 8, visit participating Newburyport merchants and find hidden eagle facts in their stores. You can download a scavenger hunt form or pick one up at the Joppa Flats Education Center or at Newburyport Public Library.

‘Tis the season… be completely and utterly stumped when it comes to buying holiday gifts for friends and family.  You want to get them the perfect gift that they will love, use, and not re-gift to a vague acquaintance who unexpectedly hands them a gift.  Well, fret no more: we’re here to help you find the perfect holiday gifts for your loved ones.  From farmstands and local wines to museum shops and chocolate, the North of Boston region has something for everyone this holiday season!

2677Newburyport Gift Card
The Newburyport gift card is redeemable at a myriad of local businesses, including retail shops, restaurants, salons, inns, toy stores, and so much more!  The gift card can be purchased at the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry or over the phone (your card will be mailed to you) at (978) 462-6680.


Peabody Essex Museum gift shop
The Peabody Essex Museum offers, both online and within the museum gift shop, a wide variety of jewelry, home décor, apparel, toys, books and more.  They have something for everyone on your list.  Looking for a little something to accompany the gift?  Include a pass to the museum and give the gift of exotic cultures, art, special exhibitions, weekend festivals and family art-making programs.


Unique gifts from the Cape Ann Artisans
The Cape Ann Artisans are part of a vibrant arts community.  For the past two years Gloucester has been named one of the country’s top ten Art Destinations by American Style Magazine.  The works by the artisans include jewelry, pottery, mosaics, paintings, and so much more – the perfect gift for the art-lover or someone who collects unique, one-of-a-kind items.


Kits, certificates, and gifts from Woodman’s of Essex
Woodman’s of Essex offers a terrific assortment of gifts for the foodie or seafood-lover on your list.  You can never go wrong with a Woodman’s gift certificate, but what about the friend or family member who lives outside of the region?  Woodman’s offers Chubby’s Friend Clam Kit and Authentic Clambake kits so you can bring a delicious bit of New England history into your home.



Appleton Farms gift basket
Appleton Farms has a fabulous on-site dairy farm store which offers farm-fresh milk, unbelievably delicious cheese, yogurt, beef, butter, and eggs along with a myriad of other fresh, locally-made foodstuffs and crafts.  We recommend putting together a gift basket for the foodie on your list.



Salem Witch Museum gift shop
Bewitch your friends and family this holiday season with a gift from the Salem Witch Museum.  The gift shop at the Salem Witch Museum offers a wide assortment of books, jewelry, home decor, souvenirs, games, novelties, accessories, and handcrafted local items.  Passes to the museum also make for excellent gifts!


North Shore Music Theatre gift certificate
Get the gift that’s “Always the right size. Always the right color. Always appreciated” for the theater lover on your list!  Surprise them with a night of a lavish musical spectacular.  Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make their holiday season merry and bright!


Confections from the New England Chocolate Company
The New England Chocolate Company creates, handcrafts, and markets deliciously sweet Belgian chocolate confections at its retail location.  They offer many chocolatey delights from caramels to creams and truffles.  Visitors are welcome to see and learn how the candy is made.  If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the sweet tooth on your list, we recommend the divine peanut butter cups.


ShopView2WEBSITEWenham Museum Gift Shop
The Wenham Museum offers a terrific assortment of toys, dolls, trains, books and more for the children on your list.  We suggest putting a pass to the museum in their stocking as well – a visit to see the museum’s collection (which includes rooms full of dolls, antique dollhouses, and an incredible model train room) can be more fun than the toys themselves!


Mill River Winery_Pinot Noir_Lo Res1Wines and gifts from Mill River Winery
For the wine-lover on your list, you cannot go wrong with a locally-made wine from Mill River Winery.  Mill River Winery produces handcrafted wines using the finest grapes from Massachusetts and other notable wine regions.  Don’t know which wine to buy?  A subscription to the Mill River Wine Club makes a wonderful gift!

Get into the ho-ho-holiday spirit

Be prepared to be shocked: We’re daring to break the taboo and discuss the holiday season before Thanksgiving.  Actually, we did that a week ago when we put up holiday decorations, but that’s another story for another time.

Please don’t be upset with us – we just love the holiday season  in the North of Boston region.  And at least we’re not starting our holiday shopping on Thanksgiving (we have the decency to wait until after midnight, when it’s officially Friday).  So, get into the spirit with us and check out these great holiday events!  (For more holiday events, visit

SleighBell2013ImagecopyWenham Museum’s Sleigh Bell Artisan Fair
November 22 – 23, 10am-4pm
Shop local and support your community this holiday season at the Sleigh Bell Artisan Craft Fair this Friday and Saturday. Silhouette artist Carol Lebeaux will be at the museum all weekend creating keepsake hand-cut portraits. Reservations are recommended and walk-ins are welcome. Pulitzer Prize author Paul Harding will be signing copies of his newest novel, Enon on Saturday at 1:00pm. Donate an unwrapped toy to Northshore 104.9’s 18th Annual Holiday Toy Drive. Artisans will be generously donating 20% of their sales to Wenham Museum.

samanthatreeSalem Holiday Happenings
November 29 – January 1, 2014
Celebrate, shop, and dine in Salem during the holiday season. Festival highlights include the annual Christmas in Salem Historic Home Tour, Christmas at the Gables, and Santa’s arrival atop the Hawthorne Hotel!


Sea Festival of Trees
November 30 – December 1
From trees filled with up to $1,000 in retail gift cards and concert tickets, to those decorated with original oil paintings, polar bears, angels, trains, music, beach and recycle themes, 85 sparkling trees will delight the senses at the 1st Annual Sea Festival of Trees at Blue Ocean Music Hall on Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1.  Presented by The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, the holiday wonderland fundraiser features Santa’s arrival by fire truck, a winter wonderland electric train display, music and dance performances, strolling characters, a candy shoppe, café and giant 10 foot high x 8 foot X 8 foot whimsical gingerbread house.  Proceeds from the event will benefit Anna Jaques Hospital and the Salisbury Beach Partnership.  All of the 6 foot to 10 foot high lighted trees are being donated by local businesses, organizations, elected officials, student groups and families.  Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets and enter to win the themed trees of their choosing.   Tree winners will be drawn on Sunday, December 1 at 5:00pm.


Christmas Tree Market SquareSanta Parade and Tree Lighting
December 1, 3:30-5pm
As the holiday season approaches, Santa & Mrs. Claus arrive in the most fitting way for this seaport town… by US Coast Guard boat! Welcome Santa on the Sunday after Thanksgiving as he and Mrs. Claus dock at the boardwalk and begin to parade through downtown Newburyport, then gather in Market Square for the annual Christmas tree lighting and carols.

You’ve got to pick a pumpkin or two…

pumpkin pinterest

Animals have (albeit savagely) caught on to our time-honored pumpkin traditions.

Pumpkins are an essential part of autumn.  We pick them, cook them, vaguely flavor our coffee like them, and painstakingly carve spooky, whimsical, or funny faces or scenes on them and illuminate them on our front steps.  Even after they are no longer “good,” we find uses for pumpkins, à la “Pumpkin Chunkin” (or hurling overripe pumpkins at great distances.  We don’t quite get it either…).




In the North of Boston, we love to celebrate the autumn’s favorite orange gourd.  Here are two pumpkin-related events happening this weekend:


Pumpkin Day at Cogswell’s Grant
Saturday, October 19th 11am-4pm
Cogswell’s Grant
60 Spring Street, Essex MA

Celebrate all things autumn at Cogswell’s Grant.  Take a hay wagon ride through the fields to choose a jack-o’-lantern from our pumpkin patch. There will be many great activities and events for the whole family including arts and crafts, games, face painting, and more!  Try your hand at pressing apple cider and warm up with a cup of hot mulled apple cider and pumpkin pie (save room for the pumpkin pie-eating contest!).  Decorate and carve pumpkins, compete in a pumpkin pie-eating contest, make crafts, play games, have your face painted, and try cider pressing.  Afterwards, tour the house and see one of the most celebrated collections of American antiques and folk art.

pumpkin-624x468Newburyport’s Great Pumpkin Lighting & Stroll
Saturday, October 19th 5-8pm
Market Square, Newburyport MA

An evening for the whole family, you are encouraged to bring a carved pumpkin to be lit and placed with other pumpkins on the stage in Market Square.  Each family will receive a votive candle – the candles will all be lit at once at dusk.  Watch as all of the pumpkins are illuminated and stroll downtown Newburyport and the Tannery to admire the pumpkins designed and carved by local businesses.

Pick a Peck of Pretty Apples

There’s just something special about apples.  Between eating them right off the tree or making them into pies, cider, juice, apple crisp, strudel, using them as stamps, or finally “discovering” gravity because one fell on your head (allegedly), they’re probably the most versatile fruit.

We don’t know what you’re supposed to do with vaguely Venn Diagram-esque stamps either. (Photo from

The best thing about apples, though? Picking them.  But where should you go?

Russell Orchards – 143 Argilla Road, Ipswich MA. Open Daily – 9am to 6pm

The best thing about apples, though? Picking them.  But where should you go?

Russell Orchards – 143 Argilla Road, Ipswich MA. Open Daily – 9am to 6pm

Russell Orchards in the fall

Apple picking at Russell Orchards runs approximately from September through October (it can, depending on the season, begin as early as August).  They offer Cortland (a crisp apple great for cooking), Gala (juicy and thus great for making juices and ciders), and McIntosh (sweet and tender, also great for cooking).

It’s a scenic, ~5 minute walk to the apple orchards, but during peak times, Russell Orchards offers hayrides out to the orchards.

Russell Orchards apples. Photo from:

While you’re there, check out the store and bakery.  Russell Orchards is known for their delicious cider donuts and pies.  They also stock books by local authors and other assorted goods from around the world (like baskets from Ghana, handbags from Thailand, and more!).

Don’t forget to visit the rabbits, sheep, pigs, horses, goats, and other barnyard animals.  For a quarter, you can even buy a handful of feed to give to the animals.

Cider Hill Farm –  45 Fern Avenue, Amesbury MA. Open Daily – 8am to 6pm

View from the hill

Cider Hill also offers scenic hayrides and Cortland, McIntosh, and Gala apples, among many sorts of summer apples earlier in the picking season.

After picking your peck of apples, stop by Cider Hill’s store.  Located in a minimally-renovated dairy barn, the store offers baked goods (watch them make cider donuts right in front of you!), specialty meats and cheeses, produce, Cider Hill Farm Brand jams, jellies, apple butter and crisp mixes, the best chocolate milk (ever!) and so much more

Cider Hill Farm store produce section

When you visit the store, be sure to check out their observation beehive!  Watch the nurse bees tend to the queen, bees caring for and feeding the babies, and bees that fan the honeycomb cells with their wings to condense the nectar into honey.  The delicious honey (made from nectar gathered from the farm’s many flowers) is available in the store.