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Here on the North Shore, it’s often hard to discover someplace new, a place that fills you with that wonderful, secretive feeling of having found something that others don’t know about. Yet that happens frequently in Amesbury.

“We’ve always felt like a hidden gem. People often even vocalize that they truly stumbled upon Amesbury,” says the city’s mayor, Kassandra Gove. “They were perhaps looking at neighboring communities and actually got lost. Or they were looking for a place to eat and drove into town and felt like they discovered something new. They found this vibrant downtown that had so much going on and was so personable and safe.”

Amesbury has been described as “up and coming” for years, but according to Gove, that’s no longer the case. Amesbury has arrived.

Tucked next to Salisbury and across the Merrimack River from Newburyport, Amesbury is a former mill town, where the Powwow River powered a thriving industry of textiles, nails, hats, and, perhaps most prominently, carriages throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Those brick mill buildings still stand downtown today, and they’ve been reimagined into restaurants, shops, art spaces, cafés, and much more.

Today, there are countless hidden gem spots within the hidden gem town.

Take, for instance, Amesbury’s incredible brewery scene. Each of the four breweries—Brewery Silvaticus, BareWolf Brewing, Mill 77 Brewing, and Outrider Beer Company—has a different style and vibe.

It’s all part of the renaissance that Amesbury’s downtown has experienced in recent years. Jason Bullen, Brewery Silvaticus’s president and head of brewhouse operations, noted that when they opened in 2017, there were a lot of vacancies in available business locations. That’s changing.

“Now, we’re seeing all these younger entrepreneurs come in,” he says. “It has such a great, small-town feel. It’s only gotten better since we’ve been here.”

Stevie Bareford, co-owner of BareWolf Brewing | Photograph by Anthony Tieuli

Local businesses frequently band together, too. For instance, BareWolf Brewing hosts MarketDaze, a farmers market–style event featuring local artisans, musicians, chefs, farmers, and other makers. The weekly markets—which take place monthly during the summer season, starting May 11—create a space for community togetherness and for small commerce to thrive, says Stevie Bareford, BareWolf’s co-owner and one of its brewers.

There are other hidden jewels, too. Amesbury boasts not one but two chocolate shops, Ovedia and M. Cacao, the latter of which also offers classes. There’s Old Newbury Crafters, which makes hand-forged sterling silver flatware using tools and techniques from the 1700s, and Sincere Metal Works, a professional fine art foundry that’s worked on pieces that include the Boston Marathon memorial.

Sally Nutt, cochair of the Amesbury Cultural Council, also points to the incredible artist community, which visitors can explore during the annual Amesbury Open Studios (held this year November 9–10).

“It’s fun,” Nutt says. “It opens people’s eyes to what’s out there.”

Graham McKay of Lowell’s Boat Shop | Photograph by Anthony Tieuli

Beyond downtown, Lowell’s Boat Shop—the oldest operating boat shop in America—has been building wooden boats along the Merrimack River since 1793, but even some locals don’t know about its tours, boatmaking classes, boating, special events, apprenticeships, and kids’ programs.

“I had a guy come in the other day and say, ‘I’ve lived in town for 70 years and never been in here,’” says Graham McKay, master boatbuilder and Lowell’s executive director.

Across town, Cider Hill Farm boasts not only a farm and farm store, but also festivals, including the annual Tulip Fest (scheduled this year for May 4–5 and May 11–12), hard cider tastings, a food truck, fitness classes, farm walks, and other activities.

Amesbury might be a hidden gem, but the community connection is strong for people in the know.

“We all feel it here,” says Valerie Rosenberg, Cider Hill Farm’s program director. “We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”