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A Day on the Road in Ipswich and Essex

November 12, 2020

Written by Rebecca Shackford, Communications & Sales Coordinator, North of Boston CVB

Road trips have always been one of my favorite ways to get away and relax. I love getting in the car and driving for a day, a weekend, or longer. There is something magical about hitting the open road and discovering new places. We recently hit the road for a day trip to Ipswich and Essex, Massachusetts, and as always, a day on the road did not disappoint.

Photo: Argilla Road, Ipwich by Rebecca Shackford

We headed southeast down the Essex Coastal Byway, which is a beautiful 90-mile roadway linking 14 coastal communities from Salisbury to Lynn. The route features scenic views, period architecture, historic sites, and recreational opportunities.  For this trip we drove the Byway through Ipswich and Essex and took side roads for adventure stops along the way.

First stop Russell Orchards (143 Argilla Road, Ipswich). This is a great farm and store any time of year, but on a cool fall day it is especially magical. We were able to walk around visiting with the farm animals and picking out the perfect pumpkin. On the way out we stopped in the store to pick up warm apple cider donuts, a special treat for our next stop.

Photo: (Left) Russell Orchards by Rebecca Shackford (Right) Russell Orchards by Steve Shackford

Back in the car for a quick drive down the road to Castle Hill on Crane Estate (290 Argilla Road, Ipswich). The grandeur and beauty of this 2,100-acre seaside estate, its marvelously landscaped grounds, restored Grand Allee, gardens and casino complex is truly breath-taking. We parked up by the Great House and were able to walk the grounds taking in views of the ocean, marshes, architecture, and beautiful landscaping. The house was not open for tours due to the pandamic, but once it reopens, and if time allows, I highly recommend taking a tour. If you are unable to walk the property there is road access winding around the estate, which gives you an opportunity to see most of the property.

Photos: Crane Estate by Rebecca Shackford

Back in the car for a drive around the property then a short drive to Crane Beach just down the road from the estate. This is where I planned to let our 2 year old run free and have his apple cider donut, but as two old’s do, he had other plans. He was sound asleep when we pulled into the parking lot. I have learned not to wake a sleeping toddler. So, change in plans, a quick walk for me to see the beauty of the ocean, while my husband stayed in the car with our son. I just can’t miss an opportunity to see the waves crash onto the beach. It is wide sprawling beach, perfect for walking and even horse back riding during this off season day at the beach. I turned around and could see the Great House up on the hill in the distance…just as magnificent as close up!

Photos: Crane Beach by Rebecca Shackford

Now that the boys had gotten their rest it was time to head to lunch at Woodman’s of Essex (119 Main Street, Essex). The legendary home of the fried clam is a must stop. It is said over 100 year’s ago Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman invented the fried clam and ever since the Woodman’s seafood restaurant has been serving up hearty portions of seafood for generations. Luckily it was a warm fall day so we found a perfect picnic table outside by the marsh. We had to try the fried clams seeing they are legendary, but also got fried scallops, which were just as delicious. My son thought the french fries were pretty unforgettable too.

Photos: Woodman’s of Essex by Rebecca Shackford

After we were full from lunch it was time to head home. We drove back through Essex and into Ipswich. I couldn’t resist one more stop at the Ipswich Ale Brewery to pick up some of their famous beer to take home. If you have time to stay longer I suggest heading inside to the Brewers Table for appitizers and a beer sampler. Since we had a two year old to get home we decided to get “to go” beers to enjoy later that night. Beers of choice were the 1620 IPA and Blueberry Shandy. We each enjoyed a delicious beverage once we were back home. A great end to a perfect day on the road.

Photos: Ipswich Ale Brewery by Rebecca Shackford

*Note: Advance passes for Castle Hill and Crane Beach are suggested, but not required. However, if you have advance passes, you are guaranteed admission for the day and time of your visit, even if passes sell out.

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