Historic brick buildings stand like soldiers on the narrow, angled streets. The smell of the sea mingles with the sweet yeasty fragrance of freshly baked dough and the heady aroma of savory cooking.
Newburyport, only 40 minutes from Boston, is a quaint coastal town that is perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
What To Do In Newburyport
Whether you are searching for that beachy nirvana or an elusive bird sighting, Newburyport has something to offer you. Fishing, boating, bird-watching, beachgoing, shopping, and seafood will fill up your day.
Relax On Plum Island
Cool and serene, Plum Island is an 11-mile-long barrier island and an integral part of Newburyport’s charm. Bring your flip-flops, sun hat, and binoculars. The island is a great place to play in the sand, float on the water, and observe the local wildlife.
Whether you visit for a day or stay for the week, this island’s laid-back vibe and fresh salty air will transport you to a vacation state of mind.
See this piece for a full rundown on everything the island has to offer.
Hike Maudslay State Park
Maudslay State Park offers 16 miles of hiking trails through scenic seaside vistas.
A moderately rated loop trail is Moulton’s Hill via Pine Trail and Main Road. This 3.2-mile hike is a great spot for bird-watching, since you’ll pass through a pine grove and skirt the Merrimack River.
Tour The Crane Estate
Castle Hill on the Crane Estate is a massive, magnificent home with sweeping lawns and statue-lined grounds.
For a peek inside, join a tour led by a costumed docent and get a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous. Events at the estate include biergartens, lawn parties, Christmas celebrations, and more.
Learn About Birding At The Joppa Flats Education Center
Originally a fishing village for clammers who supplied the shore delicacy to Bostonians, Joppa Flats is now home to the Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center. The center offers guided tours and programs for adults and youth. Birding trips around the North Shore region and projects like salt marsh restoration and bird banding are just some of the events they sponsor. More than just a bird-watching organization, the Joppa Flats Education Center is a working arm of the Mass Audubon Society that invites you to join them in their quest to explore birding and natural history.
One unique program the center offers is the Mass Audubon Birder’s Certificate Program. You can register for this 11-month program to bring your bird-watching skills from simple field identification to a deep understanding of birds and their habitats.
Escape To Salisbury Beach State Reservation
Salisbury Beach State Reservation has everything you would want out of a seaside getaway: swimming and sunning opportunities, a motorboat ramp, canoeing and kayaking, and much more. There are 480 campsites for tents, trailers, and RVs.
Stroll along the boardwalk to view the dunes, find the playground, or have a picnic in the pavilion area.
You can apply for a parking pass for Massachusetts State Parks, and if you are over 62 and a Massachusetts resident, you are eligible for a discounted Massachusetts Senior Lifetime ParksPass.
Take To The Water
When you visit a city that is steeped in boating history, spending time out on the water is almost a requirement. Yankee Clipper Harbor Tours allows you to leave the driving to them so that you can sit back and enjoy the water, scenery, and wildlife. They offer several tours, including a Narrated Scenic Harbor Tour, a Sunset Cocktail Cruise, and a Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Tour.
Where To Eat In Newburyport
In Newburyport, you can enjoy some of the best seafood the East Coast has to offer, explore the craft beer culture, or find a fun spot to hang out and watch the world go by.
You will encounter locals and visitors alike in the long line at Bob Lobster, but don’t worry -- the line moves quickly. Take a seat at one of the picnic tables to munch on fried clams, fried oysters, and lobster rolls, including the Fat Lobster. The ultimate in lobster rolls, the Fat Lobster is a buttered brioche roll stuffed with lobster salad and topped with fried clams and thin, crispy onion rings. It is served with a side of perfectly crispy fries. It’s enough for two, but you certainly don’t have to share if you don’t want to!
Look for the large, weathered ice cream cone on the sign. The shack is shared by Richardson’s Ice Cream. Their root beer float will bring you back to your childhood.
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Craft beer joints are everywhere in Newburyport, so make time to kick back and relax with a great beer. Smuttynose Brewing Co. offers gastropub fare in their restaurant and on their large patio. Pair a Whole Lotta Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with the Common Man Ale, or a plate of Trailer Park Nachos with an Old Brown Dog draft. Try your hand at disc golf or karaoke, and make sure to visit the Airstream converted into an outdoor bar -- very cool.
RiverWalk Brewing Company
RiverWalk Brewing Company is the local pub where everybody knows everybody else, but visitors are always welcomed into the fold. If you are a wheat beer aficionado, try the Yacht Rocker with its light and smooth finish. The Purple Label is a unique porter with a hint of blackberry. The brewery offers pizza to chase down your brews.
Brick & Ash
The Brick & Ash restaurant and beer garden is centrally located in historic downtown Newburyport. With more than 15 beers on tap, you will find a draft to suit your taste. You can pair that perfect brew with one of their tacos, burgers, or sandwiches. It's a fun spot to watch Newburyport pass by.
Where To Shop In Newburyport
The beautifully restored brick buildings near the harbor house wonderful, one-of-a-kind shops.
The handcrafted, custom jewelry at Pam Older Designs would make a fantastic memento of your visit.
Pop into Port Plums for a regularly scheduled cooking class. For a real treat, the staff will work with you to design your perfect olive oil or balsamic vinegar -- the ultimate souvenir for you or gift for your friends and family. They will even help you design a custom label. Understandably, reservations are required for this service.
Head to Piper & Chloe for those rustic, elegant treasures you can only find near the sea.
Where To Stay In Newburyport
A country inn, a downtown bed and breakfast, an RV camp surfside -- you have a multitude of accommodation options in Newburyport.
Compass Rose Inn
The newly constructed six-room Compass Rose Inn boasts the beauty of the old Federal style married with modern-day appointments. Just a few blocks from the harbor and nestled in the historic shopping district, this inn is perfectly situated in the center of Newburyport.
The Inn At Castle Hill On The Crane Estate
Tea on the veranda with the glorious coastline as a backdrop… A stay at The Inn at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate is like stepping back in time to when sweeping porches, refined elegance, and retreating to the country were all the rage. A “cottage” for the Richard T. Crane family while their grand estate was being constructed, the inn is dripping with class.
Camping options abound in the Newburyport area. If you want to be right on the beach to enjoy nighttime campfires, moonlit beach walks, and chats with like-minded beachgoers, Hampton Beach State Park is a fun state campground where you can enjoy all the beach has to offer. Whether you own or rent an RV, you can’t go wrong with this overnight stay.
Newburyport is a beautiful city, and the area is chock-full of fun adventures to occupy your day. You might want to consider spending a long weekend here to experience everything this quintessential coastal New England town has to offer.