Top photo: Motif No. 1 in Rockport by Tony Paglia

North of Boston CVB Top Stops 12-2020 LB

There’s a story in every mile in the 34 cities and towns that make up the North of Boston region. Art, culture, history, natural beauty, fun activities, shopping, dining and a range of lodging options combine to offer something unforgettable for every group — all within an easy ride from Boston. Here are a few popular options for your next tour. We are happy to assist groups in finding accommodations. To download a sample one-day itinerary, visit northofboston.org/itineraries.

Murals set the scene

Mural in Salem by Holly Perry
Mural in Salem by Holly Perry, NBCVB

Take a ride around the region on a street art scavenger hunt that celebrates diversity. The Mural Map is accessible online, with a grid or map view, and filterable by town or city so you can plan ahead. It’s a safe and fun way to explore public art created by local, regional, national and international artists. Highlights include Lynn’s colorful art-filled urban transformation led by Beyond Walls, and Salem’s El Punto (“The Point”) neighborhood, home to the open-air Punto Urban Art Museum, showcasing 75-plus large-scale murals in a three-block radius.

Maritime marvels

Whale breaching by 7 Seas Whale Watch in Gloucester
Whale breaching by 7 Seas Whale Watch in Gloucester

The sea is a big part of our character North of Boston. Learn about boatbuilding and the fishing industry at Maritime Gloucester, the Cape Ann Museum and the National Park Service Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Tour the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, the birthplace of the Coast Guard. See the sights by water on a cruise (Mahi  Cruises, Essex River Cruises & Charters), raise the sails on a schooner (Schooner Adventure, Schooner Ardelle, Schooner Fame, Schooner Thomas E. Lannon), or venture further out for a memorable whale watch (Cape Ann Whale Watch, 7 Seas Whale Watch). Landlubbers can seek out the lighthouses that dot the coast and watch yachts glide by in Marblehead, Beverly & Manchester by the Sea.

History comes to life

The House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables in Salem courtesy photo

A visit to Salem and Danvers brings you back to the time of sea captains and witches. Learn about the Witch Trials of 1692 at Salem Witch Museum and Witch Dungeon Museum. The expanded Peabody Essex Museum hosts art and culture from New England and the world. The House of the Seven Gables, made famous by author Nathaniel Hawthorne, offers gardens, history, and unique programs. Tour historic structures and farms at Historic New England and see 17th Century houses in Ipswich. The Industrial Revolution got its start in Lawrence, and Haverhill’s Museum of Printing is chockful of interesting surprises. Don’t miss the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover and the Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts.

Get outside!

Annisquam Light by Tim Grafft
Annisquam Light by Tim Grafft, MOTT

The 64-mile Essex Heritage Scenic Byway winds through 14 coastal communities, offering captivating views, period architecture and recreational opportunities. Birding enthusiasts flock to pristine Plum Island to see migrating species at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. Biking trails crisscross the region including new extensions by Coastal Trails Coalition connecting Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury and beyond. Wander the grounds of a grand 1928 estate at Castle Hill, then relax on Crane Beach. Cape Ann beaches feature tide pools, rocky coasts, surfable waves, and even sand that “sings.” Appleton Farms Grass Rides offers miles of wide carriage paths for walking and nature watching.

Eat, drink & be merry

Lobster rolls by Holly Perry
Lobster rolls by Holly Perry, NBCVB

From traditional summer favorites like lobster rolls to upscale dining featuring farm to table cuisine, we’ve got something for all tastes. Dig into fried clams where they were invented, at Woodman’s of Essex. Enjoy seafood fresh off the boat at Gloucester House Restaurant, Mile Marker One, Finz in Salem, Sea Level Newburyport, The Landing Restaurant in Marblehead, and Seaglass Restaurant overlooking Salisbury Beach. MarketStreet Lynnfield welcomes groups at Davio’s Lynnfield, The Yard House and King’s Dining & Entertainment. Sample delicious locally crafted spirits at Ryan & Wood Distilleries, mead at 1634 Meadery, and award-winning beer at Gentile Brewing in Beverly, Ipswich Ale Brewery, and The Tap in Haverhill.