Category Archives: Tips

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.

Plum

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 Info@northofboston.org

10 Family-Friendly Things to Do on Cape Ann

Halibut Point Gloucester, ma

Halibut Point Gloucester, ma

Cape Ann is filled with fabulous places to go and things to do and see.  Made up of the wonderful coastal communities of Essex, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Rockport, Cape Ann certainly offers a variety of fun things to experience both indoors and outside.  Though it can be hard to narrow it down, today we have a list of 10 family-friendly things to do in the area.

  1. Cape Ann Cinema & Stage in Gloucester – A great after dinner or rainy day activity. Families can relax and enjoy a film in a cozy atmosphere with couches and armchairs. You can even bring in food from local restaurants.
  2. Cape Ann Lanes in Gloucester – This bowling alley is fun for all ages! There is even an option for bumpers for small children and an area with arcade games.
  3. Coolidge Reservation in Manchester-by-the-Sea – This is a beautiful spot for families who love spending time outdoors. A Gorgeous setting along the water with wide-open stretches for kids to run and play.
  4. Essex Shipbuilding Museum in Essex – Learn about the history of wooden boat building. Stop in this museum on the Essex River and see how boats are put together piece by piece.
  5. Maritime Gloucester in Gloucester – Families can spend time indoors and outside at Maritime Gloucester. Families can see local sea critters in the “touch tanks” and experience the interactive exhibits to understand what Gloucester is all about!
  6. The Get Outside Center in Gloucester – During the Summer months drop-in programs are offered that take kids on adventures throughout Cape Ann.
  7. Halibut Point State Park & Atlantic Path – If your family enjoys hiking and exploring, this is a wonderful place to visit. Beautiful vista views in every direction and a quarry smack dab in the middle.  Pack a lunch for the family and enjoy the day!
  8. Harbor Tours, Inc. in Gloucester – If you’d prefer to spend the day on the water with your family, this is a great option! There are different options for tours around Cape Ann.
  9. North Shore Kayak Outdoor Center in Rockport – You can also get out on the water and explore on your own! Families often enjoy renting kayaks for the day.
  10. Tompson Street Reservation in Gloucester – Another great option for a family hike. Many different paths to explore and quiet areas for picnics. Dogs are even welcome!

Visit capeannvacations.com for more information about the area and great ideas for activities and where to shop, eat stay.

 

Blog written by Michelle Budrow from Capeannchamber.com

NEWBURYPORT ITINERARY

As Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and Massachusetts native son and  Tip O’Neil  once said “All politics are local” and in the tourism world one might say that “all facets of tourism are local” as well. Newburyport is one of those friendly and comfy destinations north of Boston tucked along the shores of the beautiful and wandering Merrimack River that is indeed a locals and visitors paradise. Known as a very walkable and easy small City to navigate one does not have to be a local to get a sense of what it is like to visit or live here.

newburyport guide

Inn St Christmas time

Located conveniently 2.5 miles off Route 95 in the North of Boston region, Newburyport is a visitor’s delight. Arrive in the downtown, park your car, get your walking shoes on and start with a visit at the Chamber of Commerce office right on the meandering boardwalk on the edge of the river. If you want to be a real local, grab a cup of coffee and your dog too and stroll along the boardwalk to the green, lush grass of Waterfront Park. Sit for a moment taking in the amazing, quintessential seaside views with sailboats, whale watch boats and kayaks in abundance. As you make your way to the downtown you will pass by the working and active fish pier nestled in the corner of the Custom House way to the water. Pass by or stop in to see the Custom House Maritime Museum to learn of Newburyport’s maritime history. Decide to go left or right as you get to Water Street and you will find amazing and historic architecture, fine dining, yummy ice cream or gelato and distinctive and one of a kind shopping hot spots for all. Walk a couple of streets over and feast your eyes upon some of the most unique federal homes and architecture all saved by urban renewal. Why not join us in Newburyport soon. I’ll meet you for a cup of coffee and we can walk. I don’t have a dog yet so please bring yours along! Welcome to Newburyport!

Sailboat newburyport

Sailboat by Donna O’Neil

Ann Ormond

President

Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce

www.newburyportchamber.org

Valentine’s Day at North of Boston

Valentine’s day is upon us, you either hate it or you love it. I think that usually depends on your relationship status. No matter what your relationship status is there are so many enjoyable things you can do. Here is a guide with some suggestions on how you can celebrate valentine’s day in the North of Boston Region.

box of chocolates harbor sweets gloucesterGifts:

If you usually buy the typical valentine’s day gift of Chocolates and a stuffed bear, maybe step your game up a little bit this year by buying some unique gourmet chocolate. There are multiple candy houses’ in the area that sell decadent chocolate. There’s one in Andover, Danvers, Gloucester,  Newburyport, Rockport, Salem, and Salisbury. Basically, you are bound to find one in your area. Some great gift ideas also include experiences. Why not mix it up and go with tickets to a museum or a show. There are plenty of options for those in our region including: Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Witch Museum, Lynn Museum and many others. Check out the schedule of shows at the Village Theater Company, Northshore Music Theater, Blue Ocean Music Hall, Shalin Lui theater and more.

 

lighthouse preservation dinner

Dinner:

If you are looking for a sit down dinner here is a list of restaurants having a special valentine’s day dinner:

Davio’s Lynnfield Valentines Day Menu

Seaglass Big Band Bash

Seaglass Restaurant Valentine’s Day Menu

Victoria Station Salem Special Menu and live acoustic music

Capri Seaside Valentine’s day event

Seaport Grille Valentine’s Day Menu

  Beauport princess

Lighthouse Preservation

If you want to do something a little more relaxed Davio’s Lynnfield is one of many area restaurants that offers takeout of their full menu. Also, Century House in Peabody offers a wide variety oven ready take home meals.

the merchant hotel

Accommoations: 

If you are interested in making Valentine’s day a weekend check out our hotels for historic mansions, luxurious large hotels, or quaint bed and breakfasts.

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

Accommodations:

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

Restaurants:

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.

newburyport

 

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.

North of Boston Fall Events & Happenings

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Fall is a terrific time to visit the North of Boston region!  There’s so much to do during your visit –  come explore the changing of the leaves, apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides, festivals, and more during this wonderful time of year!

Click here to view our Fall Newsletter and get information on upcoming events, lodging and dining deals, activities, and more!

Shine Bright: The Lighthouses of the North of Boston Part III

This month, we’ve introduced you to a few of the North of Boston region’s 12 lighthouses – Salem’s three structures and the lighthouses of Rockport.  This week we bring you three more lighthouses from the southern part of the region – “the ugly duckling” lighthouse, “the heartbreaker,” and the “Lost Light of the North of Boston.”

Marblehead Light (1896)
Chandler Hovey Park (Follett Street) | Marblehead, MA
http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=482http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net/marblehead.html

Marblehead LightIn 1834, four acres of Marblehead Neck were purchased for $375 and were to serve as the location for a new lighthouse to signal the town’s increasingly busy harbor.  This 23-foot brick (or stone, depending on your source) tower was first lit up in October 1835 and was a great asset.  In 1889 alone, the lighthouse keeper was credited with saving 17 lives.

This success, however, was diminished by Marblehead’s affluent residents who started building large houses on the land around the lighthouse.  These tall mansions blocked the flashes of light from the station and a lantern hoisted up a tall mast planted into the ground was a poor substitute.  In 1895, a 100-foot structure was in order and the town could choose between a $8,700 skeletal structure and a $45,000 brick tower.  At nearly $40,000 cheaper, the town went with the skeletal structure (which was completed in 1896).  This current structure was equipped with electricity in 1922 and then fully automated in 1960. Today, the town of Marblehead receives sporadic requests to paint the structure a more becoming white.

Marblehead Light is one of the lighthouses in the region that visitors are welcome to walk right up to.  Chandler Hovey donated the land around the lighthouse in 1947 to Marblehead with the understanding that it would be turned into a public park.  Today, Chandler Hovey Park bears its donor’s name and is a wonderful spot to visit the lighthouse and look over the water.

Hospital Point Light Station (1872)
Bayview Avenue | Beverly, MA
http://www.essexheritage.org/attractions/beverlys-hospital-point-light-station-1872 | http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=480

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Beverly’s Hospital Point Light Station was the third lighthouse built in a series of three structures erected to light Salem Harbor.  The Derby Wharf and Fort Pickering Light Stations were completed in 1871 and Beverly’s lighthouse came the following year.  Hospital Point’s light itself was pulled from a temporary station erected during construction (which includes one of five original Fresnel Lenses still active in Massachusetts).

Hospital Point Light Station probably rivals the Thacher Island Twin Lights for the most unfortunate naming circumstances – it was originally named for a smallpox hospital located on the site that the lighthouse was built.  According to LighthouseFriends.com, it is often speculated that:

“Many a Beverly maid’s heart was lost and found on the rocks beneath the faithful light.” But whether this was because Hospital Point was a local lovers’ lane or because women waved goodbye and waited there for their men to return home from sea is unclear.

As the light station is an active Coast Guard navigation aid, it is not readily accessible to the public.  However, during certain events such as Beverly Homecoming (August) and Trails and Sails (September), the station is open for tours.  The light station can be seen in from Bayview Avenue or in the distance from the Salem Willows pier.  The best way to see it, though, is by boat (Mahi Mahi Cruises offers a great Lighthouse and Foliage tour which features Hopital Point Light).

Egg Rock Light (1856/1897)
Egg Rock | Nahant, MA
http://www.lynn-nahantbeach.org/history.html | http://myweb.northshore.edu/users/ccarlsen/poetry/lynn/egghistory.html

There aren't a whole lot of photos available of a lost lighthouse...

There aren’t a whole lot of photos available of a lost lighthouse…

The “Lost Lighthouse” of the North of Boston region, Egg Rock Lighthouse was constructed at the request of Swampscott fishermen to guide them in and out of the Swampscott/Lynn harbor.  This first lighthouse, built in 1856, was burned down in 1897.  A  new one (pictured) was a keeper’s house/light station hybrid built in its place.  For unknown reasons, the light was discontinued and this lighthouse was abandoned in 1922.  It had served as a training site during World War I and was even outfitted with a telephone at the turn of the century, making it seem even stranger that the lighthouse would simply be abandoned.

The lighthouse and cottage were sold for a whopping $5, under the condition that they had to be removed from the island.  Unfortunately, during the move, one of the ropes that was to lower the building onto a barge gave way and the structure crashed into the water.  Apparently, the second Egg Rock Light was just as unlucky as the first.

Bad luck aside, Egg Rock Light did have some lighter, more adventurous moments.  Milo, a dog owned by the first lighthouse keeper, would bark warnings to passing fishermen and even rescued several children during his time at Egg Rock.  The second lighthouse keeper, whose wife was in labor, managed to navigate from Egg Rock to the mainland Nahant during a storm to pick up a midwife.  On the way back, their boat capsized but even then, the expectant father and midwife of them made it back in time to deliver the baby.  A third, most likely apocryphal tale, is of a keeper whose wife died during bad weather.  Unable to leave the island, he put her in cold storage until he was later able to bring her to Nahant for burial.  While in Nahant, he managed to pick up a second wife and bring her back with him.

Shine Bright – The Lighthouses of the North of Boston Part II

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The lighthouses of Rockport. Photo via http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=605.

Dotted along the coast of the North of Boston region are 12 wonderful lighthouses.  We recently introduced you to Salem’s three structures.  This week, we’re bringing you the lighthouses of Rockport.

Straitsmouth Island Light (1896)
Straitsmouth Island | Rockport, MA
http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/maritime/str.htm | http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=605

Straitsmouth Island Light. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Straitsmouth Island Light. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Overseeing Rockport’s Straitsmouth Island is the Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse.  A 37-foot stone structure, the lighthouse is the third in a series of unlucky light stations to be built on the island to mark the entrance into Rockport Harbor.  The first lighthouse, built in 1834, was a 19-foot structure erected in the wrong spot.  The location picked was more convenient for the contractor, but was misleading for sailors and other navigators.  The second lighthouse, built in 1851, was an octagonal structure built 87-yards from the first location, was further away from the light keeper’s house, but better-placed for accuracy.  Unfortunately, this one fell into disrepair and was torn down.  The current, third installment, was built upon its foundation. (*Fun Fact: In 1932, the color of the light was converted from white to green.  The current green light flashes approximately every six seconds).

While the lighthouse itself is owned by the town of Rockport, Straitsmouth Island is a bird sanctuary owned by the Mass Audubon Society.  Both the island and the lighthouse are closed to the public, but the lighthouse can easily be seen from Bearskin Neck.

Thacher Island Twin Lights (1861)
Thacher Island | Rockport, MA
http://www.thacherisland.org/index.html

398px-Thacher_Island_twin_lighthouses

Thacher Island Twin Lights. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The only operating twin lighthouses in the United States, the Thacher Island twin lights are a unique feature in Rockport.  Originally sighted by the likes of Champlain and Capt. John Smith, Thacher Island itself got its name from a shipwreck on the island in 1635.  The only survivors were Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Thacher who were “awarded” the island by the General Court as consolation for having lost their children and friends in the wreck (…we don’t know why that was considered a good idea either…).

In 1771, the Island was sold back to the government and two 45-foot lighthouses were erected (the last lighthouses to be built under British rule in the US).  These lighthouses were replaced by the current 123-foot structures in 1861.   An aid to sailors, the structures point to “true north,” allowing navigators to check/adjust their compasses.

Today, Thacher Island is owned by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and is protected wildlife refuge.  However, the island is open to the public June through mid-September and you are welcome to visit via the Thacher Island Association’s launch or your own kayak or boat (there are three guest moorings available).  Depending on the weather, the North tower itself is open to explore.  Camping is also available during “operating” months (amenities are basic as there are no showers, fireplaces, or electricity available).  Be sure to take a tour of the Thacher Island Museum during your visit!

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

A Day in Salem

Every year, Destination Salem hosts Salem Tourism Day, a day to celebrate all that makes Salem wonderful and unique for visitors.  We were delighted to join our fellow tourism colleagues for a day dedicated to exploring the spooky, glamorous, literary, nautical, and delicious sides of this multifaceted city

TrolleyEssexStChauffeured by the Salem Trolley, the day began with a step back in time aboard one of the Trolley’s special tours.  After dark, the spirits of Salem come alive for the Salem Trolley’s “Tales & Tombstones” tour. This hour-long, narrated tour takes you through scenes of murders, ghosts, secrets, curses, and legends.  Spooky and often silly, this tour is a must for visitors interested in Salem’s colorful history (just make sure that one of the tour’s many spirits didn’t hitch a ride on the trolley with you!).  “Tales and Tombstones” is available on Fridays and Saturdays, July-August, and Thursdays-Sundays in October.  Be sure to reserve your tickets today – this popular tour sells out quickly!

After looking back at Salem’s scarier history, we were treated to trip aboard the Friendship, the National Park Service’s replica of the 1797 Salem East Indiaman Friendship.  A fascinating look into the mercantile shipping and trading, the Friendship is a great place to start exploring Salem’s history as a bustling port.  The Friendship is open for tours year-round (please schedule your tour in advance November through April).

Friendship of Salem - Krsitina Smith

Once we were finished roaming the high seas, we were treated to lunch at Salem’s newest restaurant, the Sea Level Oyster Bar.  With unparalleled views of Pickering Wharf, Sea Level offers the freshest seafood, incredible gourmet pizzas, and so much more.  The menu is a can’t-miss – everything is great (Sea Level’s chef, aside from being crazy-talented, was a contestant on TV’s “Hell’s Kitchen”).  Did we mention the amazing indoor/outdoor bar on the second floor?

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After lunch, it was time to explore Salem’s glamorous side.  A city of infamous history, scenic waterfront, and gorgeous architecture, it’s no wonder that several movie and television productions have used the city as a backdrop.  Salem Historical Tours’ TV & Movie Sites Tour takes you around to various locations featured in such films as “Bride Wars,” “Hocus Pocus,” “American Hustle,” and more.

to play withOur day in Salem ended with a trip to the House of the Seven Gables.  The inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name (Hawthorne’s cousin, Susanna Ingersoll owned the house), it is immensely appealing for bibliophiles, history buffs, and fans of architecture.  A tour of the house gives you an insight into life in the 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century Salem, marking structural and cosmetic changes to the house.  This 359-year-old landmark does not disappoint.  Also located on the property are the Retire Beckett House (1655), Hooper-Hathaway House (1682), Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace (1750), and The Counting House (1830).  During your visit, be sure to meander through the gorgeous Seaside Gardens which encompass four centuries of planting schemes.

For more information on Salem (including upcoming events, itineraries, and a terrific blog), visit www.salem.org.

April Showers and May Flowers: The Gardens of the North of Boston (Part III)

DanversGlen Magnaformal garden_credit Heather King

Glen Magna Formal Garden – photo by Heather King

The first blossoms have arrived and the air is fragrant with sweet aromas – the garden season is just about here in the North of Boston region!  Throughout this spring we have brought you a series of blogs on the region’s many gorgeous gardens and are wrapping up with three more wonderful places to visit.  Yes. we know that we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to these hidden gems, but we don’t want to spoil the fun in discovering a new garden to explore.  Along your journey, though, you should definitely visit..

Beauport garden sundial - gloucesterBeauport, the Sleeper-McCann House Gardens
75 Eastern Point Boulevard
Gloucester, MA

The summer home of Henry Davis Sleeper, one of the first professional interior designers in the United States, Beauport is an Arts and Crafts-style mansion housing a curious and fascinating collections of colored glass, china, folk art, and more.  No two rooms are similar and each room is uniquely spectacular.  This spectacular attention to design and detail continues outside in the immaculate garden “rooms” which overlook Gloucester’s scenic waterfront.  These Arts and Crafts-style gardens were recently restored to reflect their original 1920s-30s appearance.  Beauport’s grounds are open Tuesday – Saturday, May 23-October 17.  Visitors are welcome to visit the grounds and gardens, bring picnics, or rent them for small gatherings/weddings.  For those especially interested in learning more about Beauport’s gardens, we recommend their Creating Beauport’s Historic Landscape event on May 21.  Learn how the landscape evolved over time, the philosophy behind the 2011 landscape restoration, and how the exterior of the house and the landscape play together.

Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Marbleheadmuseum

Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Marbleheadmuseum

Lee Mansion Gardens
161 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA

The Jeremiah Lee Mansion, owned and operated by the Marblehead Museum, is a marvelous example of Georgian architecture.  Built in 1768 by the wealthiest merchant and ship owner in Massachusetts, Jeremiah Lee, the spectacular and imposing mansion hides a wonderful secret – its historically-inspired gardens.  Maintained by the Marblehead Garden Club, the Lee Mansion Gardens are set out in a series of outdoor “rooms” (a configuration that we’ve come to see in many gardens while researching this blog).  The perennial border surrounds the large upper terrace, which overlooks the sundial garden with its octagonal-pattern of boxwood bushes.  The herb garden features a wide array of herbs authentic to the 18th century and a pea-stone path navigates through the lower garden with its native trees, wildflowers, and shade plants.  The beauty of the outdoors continues in the mansion where visitors are greeted with beautiful floral arrangements in the entry hall.  The Lee Mansion is open Tuesday through Saturday, June-October and visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the gardens with a new brochure the Marblehead Garden Club has put together.

Derby Summer House, Glen Magna. Photo by Amanda Levy, courtesy of Essex Heritage

Derby Summer House, Glen Magna. Photo by Amanda Levy, courtesy of Essex Heritage

Glen Magna Farms
Ingersoll Street
Danvers, MA

Much like Beauport, Glen Magna stands as a prime example of early 20th century summer living in the North of Boston region.  The property, anchored by a Colonial Revival house, encompasses eleven acres of scenic grounds and award-winning gardens.  In the late 1800s, Ellen Peabody Endicott, granddaughter of the property’s original owner Joseph Peabody, expanded and enhanced the grounds; work that paid off handsomely when she was awarded the Hunnewell Gold Medal from the MA Horticultural Society.  This prestigious award is given to the owner of an estate whose grounds are adorned with “rare and desirable ornamental trees and shrubs in a tasteful and effective manner so as to present successful examples of science, skill and good judgement as applied to the embellishment of the country residence.”  Most noted in the gardens is the Derby Summer House, a 1789 two-story “summer house” moved to the property in the early 20th century.   Glen Magna Farms is  currently owned by the Danvers Historical Society, who restored the gardens to their Ellen Peabody Endicott-era appearance and continue to uphold their noted (and beautiful) reputation.  Check out the Glen Magna Farms Gardens blog for photos and information on upcoming events.

Exploring the North of Boston Region

Now that spring is here, why not go out and discover all that the North of Boston region has to offer? Our itineraries page features four fantastic self-guided itineraries to help you explore every nook and cranny of the region, discovering hidden gems, historical treasures, and much more on your journey.  These itineraries are great for first-time visitors wanting to soak in as much as the region as possible or seasoned natives who want to seasoned natives eager to delve into the treasures of their own back yards.

Schooner Lannon credit SAPearson

Schooner Lannon, Gloucester

Cape Ann – Sandy beaches, picturesque lighthouses, whale watches, great seafood, a thriving arts community, and historic harbors are waiting for you on Cape Ann.  Explore its four communities – Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Manchester-by-the-Sea – as you navigate up routes 128 or 133.

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GauntSquare - Methuen

Gaunt Square, Methuen

Merrimack Valley – This western part of the region is rich with industrial history – from the humming mills of Lawrence to the former “Shoe Queen City of the World,” Haverhill – and bursting with creativity, great shopping, numerous festivals, and fantastic food.

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House of the 7 Gables - Salem. Photo by Brand USA

House of the 7 Gables, Salem. (Photo by Brand USA)

Greater Salem – From the Salem Witch Trials to the birth of the US Navy, National Guard, and marshmallow fluff, history is just one jewel in the crown of the Greater Salem area.  See a Broadway-style show, explore a 200-year-old Chinese house, view an expansive toy and doll collection, or spend your day at the country’s oldest agricultural fair as you tour this rich, multifaceted area.

Newburyport_MG_6193 MOTT

Market Square, Newburyport. (Photo by MOTT)

Greater Newburyport – Just a hop over the New Hampshire border, the Greater Newburyport area welcomes you with.  Enjoy beachfront dining and arcades, unique shopping, ample birding opportunities, numerous orchards and seasonal picking, historic harbors, and more historic homes than anywhere else in the country.

April Showers and May Flowers: The Gardens of the North of Boston (Part I)

AOJ-GablesGarden

Visiting the North of Boston region this spring and summer?  We’ll let you in on a little-known secret – one of the region’s best hidden treasures may be right under your feet.  And now that spring is (finally) here, and the snow is melting away, we can once again enjoy these beautiful, scenic, and incredibly photogenic gems – gardens!  Scattered throughout the North of Boston, these gardens reflect the history and beauty of the region.  Each garden has a unique story to tell, so while you’re in the region this spring, why not visit…

Willowdale garden - Topsfield, MA. Photo by Kristina SmithWillowdale Estate
24 Asbury Street, Topsfield MA

Set in the center of the North of Boston region, the Willowdale Estate is a 4-acre estate located in the spacious Bradley Palmer State Park.  Constructed in 1901 as the summer home of Bradley Palmer, Willowdale is a gem of subtle elegance and great charm.  It is a marvelous venue for weddings and its beautiful garden makes for the perfect backdrop for your outdoor event.   Maintained by the extremely talented Kim, the garden is a picturesque butterfly-attracting wonderland.  Willowdale offers a series of great events; including cooking classes, a Halloween party, and free house tours; throughout the year.  While you are visiting the estate, be sure to take a walk through the garden

Gables flowersSeaside Gardens – The House of the Seven Gables
115 Derby Street, Salem MA
Open year-round

The House of the Seven Gables is a literary and historical landmark that attracts visitors from around the world, but it’s the Gables’ Seaside Gardens that invites visitors to stay a little longer after their tour.  The Gardens reflect four centuries of planting schemes and hearken back to plantings of the Colonial era.  The garden beds were laid out by a landscape architect, Joseph Chandler, hired by the Gables’ founder Caroline Emmerton in 1909.  Emmerton wanted the gardens to be an “oasis of beauty” enjoyed by all and was fastidious in regards to the gardens’ maintenance (these high standards are still in practice today).  The gardens feature a rose trellis, delphinium, sweet William, chrysanthemums, impatiens, lavender, santolina, a Wisteria Arbor, and many more beautiful plants, herbs, and flowers.  Most prominent are the lilacs whose unobtrusive color and lilting scent set the serene environment of the garden.

Gate in Long Hill garden - BeverlySedgwick Gardens – Long Hill
572 Essex Street, Beverly MA
Open daily, year-round, 8am-5pm.  Guided tours offered in the spring, summer, and fall.

Long Hill is a 114-acre property purchased by publisher Ellery Sedgwick in 1916.  Sedgwick’s wife, Mabel, was a talented gardener and horticulturist with an ambitious green thumb who designed a whimsical landscape which continues to inspire 100 years later.  The Sedgwick Gardens are laid out very much like a house – each section is a separate “room,” if you will, with its own distinct features and decoration.  After Mabel Sedgwick’s death in 1937, the gardens were enhanced by the second Mrs. Sedgwick who had an extensive knowledge of rare and exotic plants (Mr. Sedgwick had a thing for green thumbs, apparently…).  Fun Fact: Does the last name sound a little familiar?  Ellery Sedgwick’s older brother’s (Henry Dwight Sedgwick) great-granddaughter is actress Kyra Sedgwick.  And thus, Long Hill is only a few degrees away from Kevin Bacon.

lynch park garden-CH-SUMMER OF 2008 007Rose Garden – Lynch Park
Beverly, MA
Open daily, Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8am-10pm

The 16 acres known today as David S. Lynch Memorial Park were originally known as Woodbury’s Point.  With its seven-gun battery, the fort at Woodbury’s Point was an important location to keep Beverly’s port safe and secure – after the British troops closed Boston Harbor, the coastal town of Beverly had become an important port from which to cut off British supply lines.  By the 20th century, Beverly had become a posh location for Boston’s wealthy to spend their summers.  Many luxurious summer homes were built and Woodbury’s Point became Burgess Point.  The Evans family built one of the finest summer estates on the North Shore on Burgess Point and one of their cottages was rented by none other than President Taft during the summers of 1909 and 1910.  Apparently, Mrs. Evans was not fond of the hoopla and bustle surrounding her celebrity tenant and informed the President that the summer of 1910 would be his last on her property as she was taking down the cottage and putting an Italian rose garden in its place.  President Taft moved to a summer home on Corning Street, the cottage was moved to Marblehead, and the rose garden, with its gorgeous imported plants and shrubs, still stands today.

But wait, you may ask, who was David S. Lynch and where does he come into this story?  Lynch never actually lived at Burgess Point – he was the owner of a leather factory who wanted to make sure that everyone in Beverly had a beautiful outdoor place to visit and enjoy.  When he died in 1942, he left $400,000 to the Lynch Park Board of Trustees to buy and maintain a public park.  At that time, Burgess Point was owned by Beverly Hospital, who found the land expensive to keep up and happily sold it to the LPBoT for $50,000.  The hospital was happy to have the land off its hands and the city of Beverly had a splendid piece of land for everyone to enjoy.

 

Massachusetts Must-Trys – Candlepin Bowling

bowling-4

This looks inherently wrong to us… (http://woodlandstringband.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/bowling-4.jpg)

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.

Candlepin-bowling-usa-lane25-rs

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Candlepin-bowling-usa-lane25-rs.jpg)

 

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.

Sources:

http://www.bowlimperial.com/history.php
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2012/07/17/candlepin-bowling-bids-keep-rolling/hGYtuDF8z817Zb6fPGZw6L/story.html
http://www.candlepinbowling.com/#!history/c15t9
http://www.vikingrecreationcenter.com/candlepin_history.htm
http://www.mainecandlepinbowling.com/history.htm
http://www.masscandlepin.com/history.html

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!

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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.

 

Wind in the Willowdale

Nestled near Topsfield’s Bradley Palmer State Park along the Ipswich River is the Willowdale Estate, a stone mansion whose understated, unpretentious elegance is evident even as you proceed up the driveway.  This week, were very lucky to go on an incredible tour of Willowdale.  Despite the cloudy weather, the property still emanated its classic charm and grace.

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Constructed in 1901, Willowdale was the summer home of Bradley Palmer.  Seeking to create a personal oasis, Palmer bought up as much land around Willowdale as possible (even walking up to random farmers and offering to buy their properties on the spot, as we learned on our tour of the estate.  We admire his gumption).  Today, Bradley Palmer State Park encompasses 720 acres.  Willowdale itself sits on 4 acres.  We assume there were many happy farmers in Topsfield at the turn of the century.

gardenUpon his death in 1944, Palmer left the house and land to the state so that they may be turned into a park.  The mansion, unfortunately, fell into disrepair over the years.  An eight-year renovation began in 1999 under the mansion’s new curator, Boston architect Gerald Fandetti and his wife Charlotte Forsythe who were awarded the lease from the Massachusetts Historic Curatorship Program to ensure that Willowdale’s historic charm be preserved and maintained. Their daughter Briar Forsythe opened Willowdale Estate for business in 2007 as a venue for weddings and events in all seasons.

………………………………detail………….. wd chandelier………….. glass

Today, Willowdale is a gem in the crown of the North of Boston.  It serves as a beautiful backdrop for weddings and other special occasions.  Inside, the mansion reflects the Arts and Crafts style with its odes to medieval and Gothic Revival and recalls the English countryside.  The house features stained glass and beautiful decorative tiles (not to mention, in our opinion, some of the prettiest bathrooms on the North Shore).  Outside is an ethereal wonderland with glorious butterfly-attracting gardens (maintained by the amazingly talented Kim, who we met on our tour) , a spacious tented patio, and the nearby Ipswich River (which serves as a beautiful backdrop for wedding photos).

broom

We weren’t kidding about the bathrooms…

Planning your event at Willowdale could not be easier.  Their warm and helpful staff will assist you in planning your event or celebration, ensuring that everything runs smoothly.  They hold themselves to the highest standard of hospitality and will help to make your dream event into reality   Willowdale also offers on-site catering – their expert Executive Chef and catering team, dedicated to creating the best meals, will create a delicious spread to perfectly complement your special event.

The team at Willowdale manages the estate under three core principles: dedication, passion, and spirit.  These principles are evident as you wander through the house, enjoying the unspoiled beauty and details of your surroundings and meeting the friendly and helpful staff.

flowersLooking to visit Willowdale?  Check out one of their fantastic upcoming events:

June 17 – 6-7pm – Historic House Tour
Enjoy a free tour of Willowdale, including notes on architecture, history, and use of the estate in the past and today

July 8 – 7-9m – Entertaining 101: Becoming the Perfect Host
Try new cocktails, get tips on decorating, and start to think about what your guests need to have a good time at your party.  Free event.

August 12 – 6-8pm – Wedding Open House
The perfect event for recently-engaged couples!  RSVP and receive a gift bag to help you get started with your planning.  Free event

September 18 – 7:30-10pm – Tuscany Under the Stars (Italian Farm to Table Dinner)
Have an unforgettable 3-course dinner in the Garden Courtyard at Willowdale Estate. Sixty-Five Dollars – Tickets Required.

For more information on Willowdale, please visit www.willowdaleestate.com

 

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.

MaudslayMap

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

For more information, visit the Maudslay State Park Association’s webiste – http://www.maudslayassociation.org/index.html

For a brief history on the park and the Moseley estate, visit http://historyofmassachusetts.org/maudslay-park-in-newburyport-mass/

Just roll with it…

If there’s anything we love, it’s sharing information and alliteration.  In the spirit of both, we bring you “Traveler Tip Tuesdays.”

Between forgotten essentials, lost luggage, and cancelled flights, traveling can be a pain.  We’re here to bring you the occasional tip or tidbit to help make traveling less stressful.  So, keep a lookout on Tuesdays for a helpful (and often fun) traveler tip!

5-tips-for-avoiding-overpacking-1For today’s “Traveler Tip Tuesday” we broach the subject of packing.  For lack of more eloquent phrasing, packing is awful.  If you’re lucky, you get 1 free piece of checked luggage on your flight and refuse to pay for a second.  Everything must fit in that one bag.  And once you do manage to get everything from toiletries to clothes, shoes, and “essentials” you’ll never use but feel obligated to bring “just in case”, you find that your suitcase is literally coming apart at the seams (which probably says more about buying discount department store luggage on Black Friday than it does over packing).

rolled-clothes-pack-tight-and-fit-snugly-into-any-size-or-shape-luggage

Isn’t organization grand?

But there is a solution to ease the burden of fitting everything into your suitcase: rolling.  There are many instructional videos online on the art of rolling clothes, but the nub and the gist is, rolling articles of clothing saves space in your luggage.  If done properly (and not too tightly), it also saves your clothes from getting wrinkled in transit.  Perhaps more importantly, it looks super neat and organized.

Some travelers even take rolling a step further, layering a shirt, pants, and undergarments, and then making one big outfit-roll. The only drawback is that the outfit-roll tends to be bulky and take up a little extra space.

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Here’s a great instructional video on clothes rolling from eHow:

**Rolling clothes isn’t just limited to travel, though.  It’s also very practical if you don’t have a lot of drawer space at home.  And besides, what’s easier; opening a drawer and searching through a stack of t-shirts trying to find the one you want (and messing up said stack when you try to take the desired shirt from the bottom) or searching through a drawer of rolled t-shirts, each roll easy to take out without disturbing the others?