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As Thanksgiving looms, many of us are taking a few minutes off from menu-planning and turkey-shopping to consider what we’re thankful for. Here on the North Shore, we’re lucky to be immersed in plenty of natural beauty and surround by people and places that stir our hearts with gratitude.

So we asked Northshore readers, staff, and contributors to share their favorite parts of living here. And here are a dozen of the best reasons to be thankful for the North Shore this season:

The natural beauty

The sea and the sky and everything in between were the most common joys respondents cited. One reader noted her gratitude for, “sunset over Conomo Point” in Essex, while another praised, “All the local farms and trails, especially Trustees properties.” Others mentioned the pleasure of strolling Halibut Point State Park in Rockport and visiting the beautiful beach at Sandy Point State reservation on the southern tip of Plum Island.

Ravenswood Park in Gloucester

For Rockport resident Katie Mazzeo, the North Shore is an experience for all the senses. “I’m grateful that because I live in New England, I can smell fire pits and wood stoves when I’m out walking my dog,” she says. “Even more grateful that because I live in Rockport, I can smell the salty ocean at the same time. It’s so beautiful.”

Other readers appreciate the work that has been put into protecting the area’s natural lands. “I’m grateful for all the beautiful open spaces that have been preserved on the North Shore,” the reader writes. “Each season is wonderful. The views, the fresh air, and the connection with nature is irreplaceable.

The food

From sandwich shops to fine dining (with lots of bakeries, burger joints, and breakfast spots in between), the North Shore is abundant with places that please the palate.

One reader, embraces it all, sharing her thankfulness for, “All the amazing restaurants in the area.” (So many, in fact, that it was a no easy feat to choose our Top 40 Restaurants North of Boston.

Hannah Selinger, who grew up in Newburyport, is grateful for “warm donuts at Russell Orchards,” a seasonal delight that inspires hungry locals to line up by the dozens in the fall.

Another reader expresses gratitude for DownRiver Ice Cream in Essex. Why? The creative flavors? The quality ingredients? The charming marshside seating area? Well yes, he says, but mostly, “Because the ice cream is really, really good.”

The people and experiences

The natural beauty of the area and the tasty foods are undeniable, but for some the wonder of the North Shore is about the people, the experience, the overall vibe.

New café Olive’s Coffee and Bakehouse gives a shoutout to the customers who have made the young business a success: “We are so grateful to the Newburyport community for supporting this new business! We are excited to celebrate the holiday season with all of you!”

Reader Gabriella Ferrara is excited for the off-season opportunities for her dogs to run unleashed on Gloucester beaches. (Each beach has a rotating schedule of off-leash days, so be sure to check out – and follow – the city regulations before any canine cavorting.)

And thought this reader didn’t tell us where they live, this sentiment holds true for so much of our wonderful region. They are grateful, “to live in a community that feels like a village.”