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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
In 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.
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:
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.
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. 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!
The North of Boston region is home to 12 lighthouses. Each of these structures offer wonderful photo opportunities and each has a unique story behind it. This week, we’re featuring Salem’s three lighthouses…
Salem’s Bakers Island has a colorful history leading up to the 47-foot lighthouse we know today. Legend has it that the 55-acre Bakers Island was named after a man who was killed by a falling tree. While there is no evidence that said fatal accident occurred on the island, a man named Baker was killed by falling lumber in Salem in 1640. If legend is to be believed, the island was thus (morbidly) named in his memory. Which, in hindsight, probably wasn’t the best of ideas.
In the late 1700’s, a lighthouse was erected on the island. Call it “the curse of Baker,” but this light station wasn’t terribly effective and there were a number of shipwrecks attributed to the lighthouse. The Salem Marine Society, believing that two lighthouses would be more effective, lobbied to have a second lighthouse built on the island in 1820 and the lighthouse we know today was erected. The two lighhouses were referred to as “Ma and Pa Baker.” In the 1920’s, however, “Ma Baker” (the original lighthouse) was discontinued and torn down.
Meanwhile, Bakers Island had become a posh summer getaway and visitors flocked to the hotel on the island during the summer months…which burned down in 1906 (the “curse of Baker” strikes again!). Even without the large hotel, Bakers Island, with its 55 cottages remains a popular summer destination.
However, as Bakers Island is private property, lighthouse enthusiasts were not allowed to visit the light station until very recently when the Bakers Island Light Station was transferred from the US government to Essex Heritage. With money raised via Kickstarter, Essex Heritage restored the lighthouse and is now inviting the public to access the island and visit the light station via their new landing craft, the Naumkeag. This two-hour trip includes an hour-long tour of the 10-acre light station and ample photo opportunities. You can learn more about visiting Bakers Island Light on Essex Heritage’s website.
In the mid-1800’s, $30,000 was allocated for the construction of three lighthouses in the Greater Salem area – Derby Wharf Light Station (Salem), Hospital Point Light Station (Beverly), and the Fort Pickering Lighthouse. These small lighthouses were strategically placed to allow ships to enter Salem Harbor at all times of the day. Today, visitors are welcome to visit Winter Island Lighthouse. Winter Island, with its public beach, campsites, gift shop, picnic and recreation areas, and events, is a popular Salem destination. Compared to the larger Baker’s Island Light, Fort Pickering Light appears rather underwhelming but the beautiful scenery of Salem Harbor and Winter Island make for great backdrops for photos of the light station. Fun fact – for most of it’s “life,” Fort Pickering Light was painted a brown or red color, not the white color we see today.
A “sister lighthouse,” if you will, to Fort Pickering Light, the Derby Wharf Light Station was one of the three light stations built in the 1870’s to aid merchant ships pulling into Salem Harbor. This uniquely square-shaped station is also, much like Fort Pickering, easily accessible to visitors. Originally lit via an oil lamp, Derby Wharf Light is completely solar-powered today and flashes a red light approximately every six seconds.
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!
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
Chauffeured 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).
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?
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.
Our 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.
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..
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.
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
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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
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.
Sedgwick 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.
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.
Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d bring you a little something sweet to celebrate (we admit it – we’re notorious procrastinators when it comes to Valentine’s gifts). Last year, we brought you on a delicious field trip to Harbor Sweets. This year, we took another field trip to Salem to explore Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate and Ice Sculpture Festival, an annual event that celebrates February’s defining characteristics: cold weather and chocolate.
Every year, just as love starts to warm up the chilly February air, Salem shows off its sweet side. Kicking off with a Chocolate & Wine Tasting event, Salem’s So Sweet brings 2 weeks of sweet, savory fun to help you fight off the harsh winter weather. The Golden Ticket, available at many participating businesses, is your key to special discounts and offerings throughout Salem. Receive 15% off your purchase at Harbor Sweets, fabulous discounts in the Salem Witch Museum’s gift shop, or try the delicious Salem’s So Sweet Special at Finz. Don’t forget to have your ticket validated – you can enter to win the wonderful Salem’s So Sweet gift basket. Could it get any sweeter than that?
Well, yes, it can! As you walk around the city, enjoy the ice sculptures placed around downtown. Sponsored by local businesses and attractions, these sculptures range from the whimsical to the humorous, thought-provoking, adorable, and fun.
Unfortunately for us, the frequent snowstorms this year had delayed our trip to the festival. This cloud has a silver lining, however; thanks to the extremely cold weather, the ice sculptures have been wonderfully preserved throughout the event. So, why not spend Valentine’s with your sweetheart and explore all that Salem has to offer this winter? The Festival runs through this Sunday, February 15th. For more information, please click here.
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.
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.
Now that we’re moving into the colder fall and winter months, a trip to the beach seems out of the question. But why not bring the beach home to you? The Lynn Museum is making this possible at the Artists at the Atlantic Auction this Saturday, November 15th!
“Lynn Beach” by G. H. Gay
Artists at the Atlantic is the newest exhibition at the Lynn Museum, a thriving time capsule at the heart of Lynn’s Cultural District that collects, preserves, and celebrates the city’s unique and fascinating history. The exhibit features work by the Lynn Beach Painters of the past and present. The Painters were inspired by the scenic Lynn coastline and Atlantic Ocean and the exhibit focuses on and explores their individual techniques, views, and interpretation of the coast.
You are able to take home a piece of Artists at the Atlantic at the auction this weekend. Contemporary pieces from the exhibit will be available alongside museum memberships, tickets and gift certificates from local businesses, and so much more. So why not brighten up your home this winter with a beautiful piece of Lynn Beach?
Another one of our favorite pieces – the giant boot! (Photo courtesy of Essex Heritage)
Can’t make it to Lynn in time for the auction? You can still enjoy Artists at the Atlantic through December and check out the museum’s other fantastic exhibits. Learn about Lynn’s history as shoe-making hub and enjoy a wonderful array of textiles and vintage-shoe fashion in Shoes: A Step Back in Time or get to know some of Lynn’s notable historic residents such as Lydia Pinkham, Mary Baker Eddy, and Frederick Douglass in Lynn Legends. The Lynn Museum has an outstanding collection that includes one of our favorite local historic pieces – a poster from an ill-fated Rolling Stones concert in the late 60’s (ecstatic fans, unable to control their excitement to see the band, rioted, causing the police to shut the concert down. Did we mention that this was to be the Stones’ first stop on a huge American tour? Not a great way to begin a tour…).
To learn more about the Lynn Museum and to find out more about their fantastic year-round programs and exhibits, visit their website – http://lynnmuseum.org/.
The 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.
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).
If 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).
The 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!
“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.
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.
This 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!
The 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.
The 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).
Perhaps 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.
Marblehead is a small coastal town with a lot of charm and personality. Its rich history (which includes, among its numerous maritime feats, the birth of the US Navy), scenic coast (which has inspired artists for centuries) and beautiful homes are all brought together at the Marblehead Museum & Historical Society. This week, we took a trip to Marblehead to visit the Museum and learn a bit of our region’s fascinating history.
Marblehead is known for its historic maritime contributions and fishing industries but did you know that it was also once a hub for shoe-making? We usually associate shoes with the Merrimack Valley area of our region – Haverhill was even once known as the “Shoe Queen City” – but as the fishing industry waned a bit in the 19th century, Marbleheaders turned to making shoes for additional income – an industry that was soon to thrive. This fascinating bit of history is the subject of the Museum’s current exhibit , “Fishing and Shoemaking in Marblehead” (on view through September) at their Washington Street gallery. This exhibit is part of the Museum’s Marblehead 101 series which was created to introduce and showcase’s Marblehead’s unique history.
Housed in the Museum’s main location is also the J.O.J Frost Folk Art Gallery, a permanent collection of paintings and sculptures by Marblehead native J.O.J Frost. A fascinating figure, Frost did not begin his artistic career until he was 70. He was inspired by Marblehead and his boyhood memories of the town after the Civil War and, untrained as an artist, used materials he had on hand (such as house paint and found wood scraps) to create his pieces. What Frost lacked in training, he more than made up for in talent – his pieces are a lovely glimpse into history, perhaps a bit idealized, but nevertheless portraying the beautiful simplicity of Marblehead at the end of the 19th century. The Gallery is open year-round – Tuesday-Saturday, 10-4 June through October, and Tuesday-Friday, 10-4 November through May.
Many jewels decorate the Marblehead Museum’s crown but, in our opinion, the brightest is the Jeremiah Lee Mansion, a breathtaking Georgian home located across the street from the Museum’s main building. Built in 1768 for Marblehead’s wealthiest merchant and ship owner, Jeremiah Lee, the Mansion is a grand piece of architecture with a lovely summer garden in the back. And, spectacularly, the mansion stands in a near-original state, a testament to the expert craftsmen and artists whose original work (which includes gorgeous handpainted wallpaper) has lasted for centuries and the careful care of the mansion’s 3 owners in the past ~250 years. Unlike most historic homes, the entire Jeremiah Lee Mansion (all 17 rooms) is on view for visitors. Tours of the Mansion are available June through October, Tuesday-Saturday 10-4.
No trip to Marblehead would be complete without a tour of the Mansion – we cannot recommend it enough! The historic significance and careful preservation make the Mansion a North Shore must-see for historians and architecture enthusiasts alike. The Mansion is so perfectly and wonderfully decorated that walking through the doors is like stepping back in time. The lavish entry alone, with its beautifully hand-painted wallpaper and meticulously hand-carved stair railings, is enough to make your jaw drop.
Fun Fact – George Washington may not have slept at the Lee Mansion, but he did pay a visit to Marblehead’s wealthiest citizen. Washington visited Marblehead to thank the people for their contributions to the Revolutionary War. And he was certainly not the first famous figure to visit the Mansion. A shipping merchant, it was likely that Lee was involved in transporting arms for the Colonial army. He met with several Revolutionary War leaders and it was after one of these meetings in Lexington that Lee died. Strangely enough, none of Jeremiah Lee’s personal papers exist – it is believed that he instructed his wife to burn them upon his death as they contained information about some of these secret dealings and incriminating evidence that Lee was involved with the Colonial rebellion against the British.
The Marblehead Museum is also preserving history dated to another important American war, the Civil War. The G.A.R & Civil War Museum is also open for visitors on select dates throughout the year. The G.A.R (Grand Army of the Republic) was an organization formed to provide support for Civil War veterans and their families – an important early step in supporting our veterans. The G.A.R. room is preserved just as it was when it last held a meeting in the 1930s and the Museum features uniforms, weapons, and period images on display.
Nestled on a quiet street in Rockport is the Emerson Inn by the Sea. As the name suggests, this historic inn is an oasis of relaxation and tranquility with unparalleled clear views of the ocean.
The Inn is named after transcendentalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson who visited Rockport in the the mid-1800s with friend Henry David Thoreau (on an apparent vacation from Walden Pond) when it was known as the Pigeon Cove House. The House itself was a tavern before Hannah Jumper and her teetotalling Hatchet Gang raided Rockport, crusading against the “demon rum” and leaving the small town “dry” until 2005. In the wake of Ms. Jumper, owner William Norwood turned the popular Pigeon Cove tavern into a boarding house. After Norwood’s death, the Inn was sold to a Mrs. Robinson (no, not that Mrs. Robinson) who had the building moved from Pigeon Cove to its current location where it was extensively renovated and reopened as the Hotel Edward a name that stuck until 1964 when the new owners, the Wemyss family, renamed it after Emerson’s visit nearly 100 years prior. We were lucky to get a first-hand tour of the Inn from current owner Bruce Coates.
Open year-round, the Emerson Inn by the Sea features 36 rooms and suites, each carefully and brightly decorated with antiques and clever reproductions which recall the simple elegance of the turn-of-the-century. Each room is appointed a private bathroom, air conditioning, telephone, data port, wireless high-speed internet, cable television, and more – all modern luxuries that, along with the relaxing environment, help make your stay comfortable and serene.
Part of what sets the Emerson Inn apart from similar accommodations is the environment. From the moment you walk through the front doors, you are greeted by the friendly staff (all eager to help make your stay memorable and serene). Nothing at the Emerson Inn is rushed or hectic – the atmosphere is very laid back and casual.
Feeling stressed and unable to lay back and relax on your trip? Be sure to make an appointment at Le Petite Spa (located at the Inn) and enjoy a soothing massage from one of their wonderful massage therapists.
Whether you’re planning a cozy romantic getaway or a wedding, conference, or special event, the Emerson Inn, with its comfortable rooms and unparalleled views, is the perfect place to stay and take in the beauty and culture of Rockport and Cape Ann.
For a list of their wonderful vacation packages, click here.
View from the Emerson Inn rooftop
Fun Fact! Remember the Hatchet Gang? While Rockport remained a dry town for over a century, this prohibition was repealed in 2005. The Emerson Inn was actually the first Rockport business to receive a liquor license – a funny turn of events, seeing as the property started out as a tavern!
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 CANCELLED Website 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.
Mahi Mahi Fireworks Cruises July 5 & 6 (**NEW DATE**) Website 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!
4th of July Weekend at Salisbury Beach July 3-5 Website 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!
Salem Celebrates the 4th! July 6 (**NEW DATE**) Website 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.
Amesbury’s 4th of July Fireworks and Music July 5 (**NEW DATE**) Website 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!
4th of July Fireworks Aboard the Sea Shuttle’s Endeavour
July 4 Website 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.
4th of July on the Beauport Princess
July 4 Website 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**) Website 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!
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.
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.
Upon 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.
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). …
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.
Looking 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
Wandering though Massachusetts, there are probably more claims that “George Washington slept here” than there are dropped r’s and Red Sox hats combined. And while a good number of these claims are accurate and truthful, many of them turn out to be wishful thinking (or deceptively honest: there had to have been more than one “George Washington” traveling about in the 18th century). Nevertheless, George Washington really did sleep here. And by “here,” we mean in the North of Boston region.
John Cabot’s house. (Photo: Beverly Historical Society)
In 1789, the newly-elected President seems to have been on a good will tour of New England. October found him in Lynn and Salem where he was guided by Andover native, Captain Peter Osgood. From Salem, Washington crossed the bridge into Beverly where he was the guest of George Cabot. Unfortunately, Cabot’s house no longer stands – however, his brother John’s house, located diagonally across the street, is still there and currently houses the Beverly Historical Society (it’s a beautiful house and warrants a tour!). There is still, though, a stone marker in Beverly commemorating Washington’s visit to Cabot’s cotton mill (which, like his house, is no longer there. We’re guessing Cabot wasn’t a lucky man…).
After Beverly came Ipswich where Washington purchased some lace for his wife. The lace was used to decorate a cape of Martha’s (the cape is currently kept at Mount Vernon but is too frail for display. Had it been owned by George Cabot, it would have fallen apart). George Washington continued northward on his tour after Ipswich. On the final leg of his North Shore tour, Mr. Washington went to Newburyport.
Washington statue. Photo: http://www.gotsaga.com/index.php/Media/showPhoto/filename/ca96741cff208c41ef0a28d24e1ad73c.jpg
After much pomp and circumstance, Washington spent the night at the State Street home of the Tracy family. The spacious house was built in 1771 and currently houses the Newburyport Public Library. “Say what?” you must be thinking. The library has gone through a few additions in the past few centuries but the older, main part of the library was, in fact, the Tracy House. And thankfully, wasn’t owned by George Cabot. So, to make a long story short, George Washington slept in the Newburyport Library. Today, there’s even a statue of Washington close to the Bartlett Mall (on the corner of High Street and Pond Street) to commemorate this historic visit.
“In visiting the Town of Newburyport,” Washington wrote. “I have obeyed a favorite inclination, and I am much gratified by the indulgence. In expressing a sincere wish for its prosperity, and the happiness of its inhabitants, I do justice to my own sentiments, and their merit.”
There is no record to verify that the purple trees were there when Washington was… (Photo: http://www.nobomagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Newburyport-Public-Library.jpg)
Additional factoid – Washington wasn’t the only President to visit the Tracy House: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were also guests of the Tracy family. (http://www.newburyportpl.org/about_us/)
The Huffington Post recently named Newburyport and Gloucester among 15 of New England’s most picturesque towns. We certainly agree and thought the article rather timely as we had just done 2 photography field trips to both towns and got some beautiful photos. Which North of Boston towns do you think are the most picturesque? Visit us over at our Facebook page – we’d love to hear what you think and see your photos!
Many of the 34 cities and towns of the North of Boston region were once known by different names: Salisbury was once “Colchester,” Danvers was “Salem Village,” and Lynn was, in a confusing turn of events, incorporated as “Saugus.” The beautiful coastal town of Manchester-by-the-Sea was once called…”Manchester.”
Okay, so originally, Manchester-by-the-Sea was known as “Jeoffereyes Creeke”. That name did not last long and the town was renamed “Manchester” in 1645. But why the addition of “by the sea”?
Aside from Rhode Island, each New England state has a town called “Manchester.” During the days of railroad travel, this became a little confusing (especially since Manchesters New Hampshire and Massachusetts are only 65 miles apart). Railroad conductors thus began to call Manchester, MA “Manchester-by-the-Sea.” This visually descriptive name helped to differentiate Manchester, MA from the others.
Singing Beach – Dale Blank
The people of Manchester liked the descriptive name and took a fancy to it. Manchester was a popular seaside resort town frequented by everyone from presidents and politicians to actors at the turn of the 20th century and the new name seemed to suit the town well in everyone’s opinion.
By “everyone” we mean “everyone but Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes.” Holmes thought the name pretentious and would address letters to Manchester friends from “Boston-by-the-Charles.”
Manchester officially became Manchester-by-the-Sea in 1989 – so today, only Massachusetts and Rhode Island are the only two New England states without a town called “Manchester.”
(Additional Fun Fact: each New England state does have a town called “Warren”)
Coffin House (1678), Newbury. Photo from historicnewengland.org
For today’s “Fun Fact Friday” on our Facebook page, we did a post on how Ipswich has the most “First Period” homes in the country. But, does “First Period home” mean?
“First Period” generally refers to the first period of settlement in the United States – the early 1600’s-early 1700’s. Due to this early time period in American history, “First Period” architecture is only found in the areas of the United States settled before 1700 and most of these structures are found in coastal New England
Historic New England has a fantastic Architectural Style Guide which covers the style and characteristics of the “First Period” (or “Post-Medieval English”). The structures are wood-framed and covered with clapboard or shingles (due to the abundance of wood). The homes are typically two stories tall and have chimneys located in the center of the home (the best and most efficient location to heat the entire home). The homes also feature steep roofs and small windows with diamond panes. …
Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House, Wenham. Photo from wenhammuseum.org
Historic New England also has a fantastic slideshow on their website, featuring great examples of “First Period” homes. Many of these homes in Essex County are open to the public on “17th Century Saturdays”, the first Saturday of the month from June-October.
Throughout the North of Boston region, there are numerous treasure troves known as antique shops. A fun weekend activity is to go “antiquing” along Route 133/1-A where the majority of the antique shops are located. This week, we made our way down Route I-A and visited Salt Marsh Antiques in Rowley. More than a treasure trove, Salt Marsh Antiques is like stepping into a time machine. Situated in a historic barn, the store is a place where the past becomes tangible.
The barn itself was built in the early 1800s. By the 1980s, the barn was in rough shape and was to be burned down, if not for Robert Cianfrocca intervening. He purchased the house and the barn and set to raising the barn (by himself!) and opened Salt Marsh Antiques in 1986.
(The barn before and after being raised and renovated)
I was lucky to meet with Bobby (who, besides being an antiques expert is also a photography ace) and get a first-hand tour of the shop. He explained that there are two levels of antiques: “real antiques” which are 100+ years old and “period antiques” which date to the 18th century. More modern pieces are “period” pieces – retro, vintage, and other assorted synonyms. The store itself is full of amazing pieces; all beautiful to look at and fascinating with the stories they have to tell.
During my visit, I learned a bit about antiques and the antique market. It’s hard to predict whether an item will be incredibly valuable or not – the antiques market is constantly flip-flopping and ever-changing. Bobby explained that high-end pieces, such as jewelry, paintings, and antique furniture, sell better and quickly, but the demand and prices for certain pieces are greatly influenced by the electronic media. For example, when Martha Stewart shared her affinity for jadeite, jadeite products became highly sought-after and prices skyrocketed. After the fad faded away, prices depreciated and collectors, who had stocked up on jadeite thinking they could make a fortune, were left in the dust.
With a shop full of wonderful pieces ranging from sparkling jewelry and delicate glassware to sturdy, finely-crafted furniture, one wonder’s what Bobby’s favorite piece is. He personally collects bog shoes (which are worn by horses in the salt fields and are very rare) and clocks, but has a special affinity for paintings from the mid-1800s and earlier.
After careful thought, he showed me a wonderful painting of ballerinas and explained that it was an oil painting by Peter Malkin. Malkin was a Mossad agent undercover in Paris in the 1950s-60s (his cover was that of an artist). Malkin is best-known for capturing Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking Nazi official who was wanted for war crimes. The painting itself is beautiful but the history behind the artist makes it an incredibly fascinating and special piece.
if you’re going to be in the North of Boston region, you must stop by Salt Marsh Antiques. It’s impossible to visit without falling in love with at least one piece. They are open Monday-Friday 9:30am-4:30pm and Saturday-Sunday 10am-5pm. On Fridays, they even do free appraisals on small items.
On 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.
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…
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 Getwhoopie@Chococoabaking.com (we can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to make them last until Easter!).
Easter 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
For 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).
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.
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?
The area from Boston, Massachusetts' doorstep extending to the New Hampshire border is a diverse and beautiful place with historical and cultural significance. Distances are short, prices are reasonable, and the people are friendly and welcoming. Known for cozy hotels and inns, delicious restaurants, fascinating museums and great beaches, North of Boston, MA is the ideal vacation destination. The North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau proudly promotes the thirty-four cities and towns of Essex County as a tourism destination.