Discover Massachusetts’ historic communities, New England cuisine and water adventure on a fun North of Boston vacation.
Located just 30 short minutes from Boston, the picturesque area of Essex County in Massachusetts, otherwise known as the North of Boston region, is rife with scenic natural beauty and rich maritime culture. And with a multitude of quaint historic communities to explore, I’m prepared for a fun-filled seaside vacation in the North of Boston region.
American History in Salem
Essex County has the unique distinction of having more homes built in America’s First Period than anywhere else in the country. Given this fact, it only seems fitting to take a trip to Salem to check out New England’s oldest-surviving wooden mansion. The House of the Seven Gables, built in 1668, is both incredibly beautiful and mysterious, with its dark wood exterior in stark contrast to its enchanting and colourful gardens. It’s easy to see why Nathanial Hawthorne was inspired to write his novel of the same name after his many visits to the historic seaside mansion.
No visit to Salem would be complete without a trip to The Salem Witch Museum. The impressive museum recreates the incredible Salem witch trials with life-size stage sets and emotional narration – a creative and helpful approach to teach visitors all about the infamous trials of 1692.
America’s Oldest Seaport
The North of Boston region is also known for its charming maritime heritage. In Gloucester, I discover a rich seaside history that has continued well into the present. The morning I arrive, the waterfront is a flurry of activity, with locals and tourists alike reveling in the beautiful blue waters under sunny skies. Gloucester Harbor is dotted with ships of all sizes; sailboats, fishing schooners and rowboats can be seen in every direction. Nearby, a whale-watching tour prepares to leave port with the guide sharing her extensive knowledge of marine life to the excited passengers on board.
Along the harbor, I check out The Fishermen’s Memorial, also called the Man at the Wheel, built in 1923 to commemorate the town’s 300th anniversary. The impressive statue is quite the draw, and many visitors pause to read the lengthy cenotaph, memorializing the thousands of local fisherman lost at sea. In 2001, the Fishermen’s Wives Memorial was unveiled nearby, honoring the devoted wives and families of those brave fishermen.
Historic Woodman’s of Essex
After working up quite an appetite, I head to the legendary Woodman’s of Essex to grab lunch. Celebrating 100 years in business, the award-winning seafood restaurant is famous for inventing the fried clam back in 1916. Ordering up a plate of fried clams, I grab a seat outside to soak in the stunning views of the Essex River and salt marshes. Five generations later, Woodman’s is still frying up some of the best clams I’ve ever tasted. Smiling to myself, I realize it’s a fitting end to my fun-filled Massachusetts vacation – a little taste of history with a side of natural beauty in the North of Boston region.
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