You don't have to spend much time wandering Essex County before you start to notice something: It's absolutely gorgeous here. We have lush formal gardens and elegant historic homes right up the street from rugged woodlands and sweeping marshes teeming with wildlife. Whether you're looking for the perfect shot for social media or simply want to bask in the beauty of it all. there are new vistas around every bend. We've gathered seven of our favorite ways to soak it all in.
The iconic Crane Estate in Ipswich spans 2,100 coastal acres, including the pristine four-mile Crane Beach on the Atlantic, hiking trails throughout the Crane Wildlife Refuge, and Castle Hill, an opulent European-style manor from the early 1900s with beautiful gardens and a Grand Allée leading to the coast.
Established in 1638, Appleton Farms is one of the oldest continually operating farms in the country. Located on a picturesque 1,000-acre plot between Hamilton and Ipswich, the farm hosts tons of community events and produces dairy, beef, and produce, all sold at its year-round farm store.
The Great Marsh in Essex and beyond is the largest salt marsh in New England, providing essential breeding habitat for more than 60 bird species. The marsh, designated as a state Area of Critical Environmental Concern, is vital for its 25,000 acres of barrier beaches, dunes, saltwater marsh, and mudflats—and its importance to the region’s fishing, recreation, and species diversity.
Gloucester is home to two of the best beaches north of Boston—Good Harbor Beach and Wingaersheek Beach. They’re two of the busiest beaches in the region, with small parking lots that fill up quickly in the summer months. Both beaches have expansive space for walking through soft sand, sandbars, and tidal pools at low tide; restrooms; and concession stands.
Ravenswood, a 600-acre park in Gloucester, has 10 miles of carriage roads for easy walking through its pastures, woods, and wetlands. Free and open to all and originally owned by 19th century philanthropist Samuel Sawyer, the expansive space is perfect for picnicking, bird-watching, or just enjoying the weather.
Garden State Park
Maudslay State Park in Newburyport features historic 19th-century gardens, stunning stone arch bridges, 16 miles of walking and biking trails through pastures and forests, loads of spring and summer blooms, and one of the largest naturally occurring stands of mountain laurel in Massachusetts.
Rise & Shine
The Massachusetts coastline has no shortage of historic lighthouses. Three of the most recognizable on the North Shore are Bakers Island Light, a stately lighthouse on Bakers Island off the coast of Manchester; Derby Wharf Light Station in Salem Harbor; and Marblehead Light, a skeletal structure on Marblehead Neck.