About a 45-minute drive north of Boston and just 5 miles south of the New Hampshire border is Newburyport, Massachusetts. It's known for being a beautiful coastal city to visit any time of the year because of its old-time charm with a twist; new shops and restaurants are constantly opening, but old-time allure persists in this scenic area.
First settled in 1635, the city dubbed "The Port" has evolved immensely since then. Newburyport is most popular during the summer because of its nearby beaches, but there are nice parks, shopping areas, restaurants, and day spas to visit any time of the year. The city offers plenty of activities to keep travelers entertained, from a can't-miss summer Yankee Homecoming event to a restaurant with the best authentic Italian food around and a park for winter sledding and snowshoeing.
If you're visiting Newburyport and hunger strikes, head to some local favorite dining spots. Abraham's Bagels and Pizza offers nearly 20 flavors of bagels and is a must in the morning, even though the line might be out the door. Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant, located a few minutes from the downtown waterfront, is where you can find the most authentic Italian cuisine north of Boston. There are also several seafood restaurants along the Merrimack River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean roughly 3 miles downstream.
For those of you who would rather spend the day shopping, State Street is the heart of Newburyport's fashion center, with more shops on streets and squares that branch off from this retail thoroughfare. With everything from bookstores to boutiques, this city offers an eclectic array of merchandise. For the latest fashion trends, women can check out Bobbles & Lace. Men may like Farley's of Newburyport.
If your passion is vintage goods, there are many antique shops scattered throughout the city. One of the best places to browse is the indoor/outdoor Oldies Marketplace right by the boardwalk, which sells everything from clocks to furniture and fine art.
The biggest summer happening in Newburyport is the annual Yankee Homecoming celebration. This is a family-friendly event that runs throughout the day and evening for about a week from late July to early August. Visitors can enjoy everything from arts and crafts to an endless lineup of food vendors and even a Lighted Boat Parade and a waiter/waitress race. Live music performances draw crowds, and the fireworks by the waterfront at the end of the festivities are always a highlight.
Beaches are, of course, the main summer attraction in the North Shore area of Massachusetts. Plum Island, only 11 miles long, is where Newburyport locals spend summer days and nights, and it's only about a 20-minute car ride away. Check out the Plum Island Lighthouse (Newburyport Harbor Lighthouse), which was built in 1898, and catch a beautiful coastal sunset.
Also, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is 15 minutes by car from downtown Newburyport, but this popular beach and birding spot feels a world away. More than 300 species of birds, plus mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians make this river their home; you may get to see the federally threatened piping plover shorebird.
Maudslay State Park in Newburyport is another perfect place to spend a day outdoors, away from the center of the city. Go for a relaxing walk or bike ride along the trails or pack a picnic and enjoy the fresh air. If you happen to be in the Newburyport area during the month of October, be sure to check out Maudslay is Haunted, a series of skits performed along the marked trails by Theater in the Open. In the winter, the park is a favorite place for locals to snowshoe along the trails or sled down the hills.
If you are a theater fan, get tickets to a show presented by The Actors Studio of Newburyport, which was established in 1991 and is located in The Tannery downtown. This intimate, 50-seat theater hosts cultural events, concerts, and interactive performances throughout the year, ranging from stage dramas to storytelling slams and book signings. For locals or visitors staying in town for a while, the theater also has improvisation comedy and daytime scene study classes.
Pamper Yourself at the Best Day Spas
If you are planning to spend more than a day or two in town, be sure to treat yourself to a soothing service at one of the many day spas. Locals like Interlocks, named as one of the top salons and spas on Boston’s north shore. The salon does everything from hair treatments to facials and makeup to bridal services along with their specialty MedSpa, which focuses on reducing the signs of aging. Another favorite is Shānti, which offers luxurious services for hair, skin, waxing, and nails with an Eastern beauty philosophy and within a peaceful environment.
Cape Ann Foodie Tours will guide you through a Taste of Newburyport on a tour lasting about 2.5 to 3 hours. Sample everything from clam chowder and scallops to whoopie pies and tea. This tour not only provides you with a satisfying array of local treats, but it offers an overview of Newburyport's history as you're walking the streets and enjoying yourself.