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Take the designated scenic byway of Route 133 West to Route 1A North, which winds its way through beautiful landscapes from Cape Ann north to Newburyport. In Ipswich, stop and explore one of the 58 First Period homes including the Whipple and Heard Houses. Ipswich has more First Period, or circa-1626 to circa-1725, homes than any other town in the country. Don’t miss the new pedestrian Riverwalk that connects parts of downtown to the Ipswich River. Along the Riverwalk is a 1,700-square-foot “History of Ipswich” mural where the faces of present-day townspeople appear in scenes depicting local history and famous residents, including artist Arthur Wesley Dow and poet Anne Bradstreet. Minutes down the road, you’ll find the Great House of the grand 1928 summer estate at Castle Hill open for tours as well as the adjacent Crane Beach, owned by the Trustees of the Reservations. Heading north, you will see the country’s first keystone arch bridge in Rowley and at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, learn what life was really like for settlers from Newbury, England.
Park the car and walk around the historic waterfront community of Newburyport through bookstores, cafés, and unique shops. Accessible by commuter rail, this city celebrates all year long with festivals, including the burgeoning Newburyport Literary Festival, and live music at Bartlett Mall and the park at Ferry Wharf. The active Newburyport Arts Association promotes all manner of local creative endeavors and sponsors events and gallery openings year-round. Birding enthusiasts will find pristine Plum Island minutes outside the downtown area.
Beach lovers will want to catch some rays at Salisbury Beach, a local summertime favorite. A great spot both day and night, the beach offers swimming, arcades at Joe’s Playland, and camping at Salisbury Beach Reservation. Neighboring Amesbury was once the thriving home of Amesbury Carriages; now, converted mill buildings house artist’s studios and a welcome center. The newly renovated downtown square offers trendy dining and shopping. Biking trails, a visit to Cider Hill Farms, and a visit to Lowell’s Boat shop on the Merimack River complete the day.
This uppermost section of the North of Boston region is not to be missed and makes a vibrant and convenient home base for an extended trip farther north to New Hampshire or Maine.