Just about 30 miles northeast of Boston, Cape Ann is a rocky peninsula hosting some of the most beautiful local beach towns in all of New England. Summertime brings tourists and locals to their great seafood restaurants and their stunning shorelines in towns such as Manchester-By-The-Sea, Gloucester, Rockport, and more. Of course, there is also rich history from towns like Salem, Beverly, and Peabody, all containing interesting museums, art galleries, and more.
Two of the most popular areas to stay in are Rockport and Gloucester. Both neighbor each other at the absolute end of Route 128. Rockport is famous for its downtown and Bed and Breakfast, while Gloucester hosts a beautiful award-winning hotel, The Beauport. Gloucester is also known for its incredible Whale Watching and Big Tuna fishing. If you want to stay around Halloween and the fall, then there is simply no better choice than checking out the Salem area, famous for the Witch Trials. Peabody and Danvers are great alternatives for staying closer to Boston.
One area of Cape Ann that can’t be forgotten is Newburyport. It’s the best of both worlds, offering a lot of fun during all seasons. Known for its local boutique downtown shopping and Plum Island. Plum Island is great for a family beach day or a stroll through its State Park.
Rockport is just shy of an hour from Boston but is one of the most popular New England destinations to visit in the summer. This is thanks to Bear Skin Neck, which is home to 100’s of local shops and eateries. The Bearskin Neck Motor Lodge is popular as the hotel sits on the water for amazing sunrises and great diners on their porch. It’s also in the middle of downtown, which makes it perfect for walking anywhere. Ideal for families and couples looking to get away from city life.
The Emerson Inn is another great choice with ocean views but a little closer to a hotel vibe as they offer a fairly sizable pool for kids and families. It’s also popular for its event hosting, including weddings in the fall, summer, and spring months. Consider Rockport to be a stay away from the North Shore for rest and respite while not too far away.
Gloucester is home to many things. Famous for The Perfect Storm and the fisherman of Gloucester, here is where you can go whale watching or catch big tuna. It’s also home to a luxurious hotel called The Beauport. The Beauport is a waterfront hotel with a pool, amazing restaurant, and hosts plenty of events for guests and locals to take part in. You also will be thrilled to be within walking distance of summer’s annual Fiesta! Fiesta is a carnival celebrating St. Peter.
Gloucester has a cute downtown filled with great local seafood and other amazing restaurants like Tonno. Whether you want to eat Italian, Mexican, or American, it’s all there. You also can find yourself stumbling into a lot of great local boutiques.
Newburyport is the place to be in the summer because it has something for everyone. The downtown area is filled with fun shopping, local bars, and great food. The seafood here and in other coastal towns of Cape Ann is simply incredible. Newburyport falls on the pricier side for the summer months but has few options. The Inn at Newburyport, The Compass Inn, Essex Street Inn, and Suites are middle-tier family options. Top-of-the-line boarding is Blue Inn on the Beach, which features a hotel straight on the beach with luxurious amenities and cabins to stay in.
All hotels are within either walking distance or a short drive to the center of the town where the action is. However, families can find themselves renting bikes, kayaks, or water toys to play at any beach on the mainland or Plum Island. The State Park on Plum Island costs $10 for cars but well worth the visit with about 8 miles of coastline.
Salem differentiates itself from any other Cape Ann town because it has a long history. The best time of the year to go is undoubtedly the fall, thanks to its spooky aura from The Salem Witch trials. You will find local inns and chain hotels here, as it is also home to Salem State University. Families can enjoy great breweries, gastropubs, and coffee shops while exploring several museums and historical landmarks, such as The House of Seven and The Salem Witch Museum.
Salem is home to a number of great hotels, such as The Merchant, Salem Waterfront Hotel and Suites, and The Hawthorne. Some boast beautiful views of Salem Harbor. They are also quick drives and some walking distance to The Willows, a family-friendly park featuring an arcade for kids. Best of all, Salem has direct train access to Boston along with Newburyport, Rockport, and Beverly!
Beverly is an easy stay that is off the beaten path when visitors fly into Boston. It is nestled between Beverly Farms/Manchester and Danvers. While there aren’t a lot of well-known things to do in Beverly, locals would recommend staying here with families for its affordable rates and beautiful landscapes. For instance, walking or biking along Route 127 will keep your water from being lined with parks for a good section of Beverly.
In terms of staying, you’ll find great rates at tiny inns and lodges. This may be the most affordable place to stay in Cape Ann. And it is located even closer to the beaches and coastal towns than Peabody. But it is still not all the way down in Rockport, so access to Boston is not as difficult. Major hint: one of the best breakfast sandwiches and coffee shops sit on Rantoul Street called Crave. You will also find a love of vintage shopping along Cabot and Rantoul.
Danvers is a great stay in Cape Ann for the businessman or for a family that wants to take advantage of affordable rates while close to all the local attractions. Depending on where in Danvers you stay, you can take a quick 20-minute ride into Boston up Route 1 during non-traffic times. You can head the opposite way for 10-20 minutes to hit up all the beach towns like Manchester, Gloucester, and Rockport.
Danvers has a great location and offers a number of chains at great prices. You can find Hilton, Marriott, Days Inn, and many more hotels. Many locals head to this commercial area for shopping and food. The North Shore Mall in Peabody is just five minutes away. You also have the movies and The Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers itself!
Peabody is home to the biggest commercial area of the North Shore. It has the North Shore Mall and plenty of hotel chains and restaurants to choose from. It has a little more going on than cities down the road like Beverly and has easy access to Route 1 to go into Boston. Peabody is the go-to in case you forgot something in your suitcase or have business meetings in the area. You will get what you expect since it’s many brand name companies.
However, there is one important attraction to definitely go see. PEM, or the Peabody Essex Museum, is an amazing site to visit with artifacts and history from both all over the world and locally! Learning about the entire history of Cape Ann can be done here, as PEM is award-winning for preserving its items!