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The North Shore Region


Beaches on the North Shore


The North Shore has many wonderful beaches.

The North Shore is a beautiful, historic area located just 20 minutes north of Boston. The region features the "Witch City" of Salem, the fishing port of Gloucester, plus Rockport, Newburyport, Salisbury Beach, Ipswich and many other interesting cities and towns. The North Shore has more than 30 miles of coastline, dotted with fishing ports, harbors beaches, and inland with scenic winding roads and forests for hiking. There are many hotels and inns, from large chains you'll recognize to quaint B&B's. There's much to see and do here: museums and historic exhibits, whale watching and boat tours, many great restaurants, polo, shopping, historic and scenic walking tours, drives, antiques, and art galleries. And, it only takes about 45 minutes to travel the North Shore from end to end.

There's also whale watching in Gloucester, Salem or Rockport; Salem's witchcraft and seafaring exhibits; Cape Ann, featuring Gloucester, Rockport and Essex; Newburyport, Massachusetts' smallest city. Newburyport is a beautiful, elegant coastal port town, which is a joy to stroll around.

North Shore beaches include Salisbury Beach, Crane Reservation in Ipswich, several Gloucester beaches, Plum Island, and others. In addition, the region boasts many restaurants, stores, art galleries and antiques shops.

Salem — The Witch City
Salem is most famous to outsiders as the home of the 1692 Salem witch trials. Salem has a number of exhibits about witchcraft, in general and the witch trials, in particular, but it's a great place to visit for a number of other reasons as well. Salem is definitely a walking city. So, instead of getting in your car to drive to the next attraction, you can walk. Don't expect to see witches walking the streets in full regalia. Witchcraft is practiced, but it's different than the perception created by Halloween and the Wizard of Oz.

We recommend the Salem Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Street as one of your first stops. The center is run by the National Park Service, and features a free, well-produced 27-minute film presentation, "A 400-Year History of Essex Country". This will help you get oriented. At the Visitor Center you can also pick up maps, brochures and talk to the park rangers, who are well trained and very helpful.

Salem's Seafaring History
Salem's history is actually much more about seafaring and the East India trade than it is about witchcraft. It's a fascinating part of American history and enterprise.

From the Revolutionary War to about 1830, merchant sailors from Salem began seeking trade routes for the valuable spices and other goods from the East. Great risks were taken, huge ships were built, fortunes were made and lost, all here in Salem. In fact, the first American trade ships to reach India and Australia embarked from Salem. During this time, Salem became the 5th largest port in America with over 50 wharves.

This extraordinary story of the East India trade is best exhibited at two of Salem's major attractions, the Peabody-Essex Museum, and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site . The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is the first historic site in the National Park Service. Here, you can walk down into the actual wharf areas where the trade vessels berthed. A reproduction of the 1779 trade vessel "Friendship" can be viewed from the outside this year.

Salem also has a number of specialty, gift and antique shops, some dealing in witchcraft and new age interests, which are always entertaining to visit. Another great area where browsing, dining, and shopping are the order of the day or evening is Pickering Wharf. In addition, the entire city offers many great restaurants, including many ethnic restaurants. Whale watching and boat tours are also very popular in Salem.

INSIDER TIP: Salem has quality lodgings, but they're relatively few in number for a city with so many visitors. In the event you can't get a room in Salem, there are a number nearby alternatives, and you won't be disappointed either way. Lodging alternatives include:

  • Danvers/Peabody/Woburn area, where you'll find many quality chain and independent hotels along Routes 1 and 128. This area is an easy 15-20 minute ride to Salem.
  • Cape Ann area, where you'll find about 80 inns and hotels, with many along the coast. This area is an easy 20-25 minute ride to Salem, and train service is available from three of the towns.
  • Other small North Shore towns where lodgings in the form of small inns are available are Marblehead, Ipswich, Beverly, Rowley, Newburyport. All are within 15-30 minutes of Salem. Train service is available from most of these towns as well.

If you're staying in Boston, Salem is an easy 20-minute train ride from North Station, and only about 45 minutes by car. There's also a scenic water shuttle that leaves from Rose Wharf in Boston and takes you right to the heart of Salem.

To quickly find attractions, restaurants and shops in the North Shore Region, use the Find Attractions search engine. To quickly locate lodgings, use the  Find Lodgings search engine.

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