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Sandwiched between the spooky glories of Salem, the overwhelming quaintness of Manchester, and the commercial allure of Danvers, Beverly was long a modest, easily overlooked city. In recent years, though, an infusion of commuter-friendly new apartment buildings, charming independent retail shops, and ambitious restaurants has started to draw attention from people across the region. 

“Beverly has come a long way,” says Leslie Gould, executive director of the Greater Beverly Chamber of Commerce. “The North shore has taken note.”

Today, the small, coastal city is a great place to spend the day, says Gin Wallace, executive director of Beverly Main Streets. It’s also the perfect destination for a lively night out, Gould adds. After listening to their recommendations, it’s clear that they’re both right.

The Daytrip Destination

Straddling Route 128 and easily accessible by train, Beverly is an ideal choice for daytrippers who want to spend more time at their destination than getting there. 

If your goal is shopping or eating (or both), your first stop should be downtown Beverly. Running parallel through the area, the two main thoroughfares, Cabot St. and Rantoul St., are home to a collection of independent shops worth browsing and an eclectic slate of dining options. Though COVID was a struggle for many, Beverly locals stepped up to support their local businesses, and there were very few closures, Wallace says. Indeed, a few new shops —including Purr Beauty Parlor, home and apparel store WKND, and Fig balloon sculptures—even opened during the pandemic. 

Photograph by Miranda Young

“We actually had a net gain of businesses on the first floor of downtown Beverly,” Wallace says. “What saved them was not the tourists—it was the loyal customers that these businesses have developed that saved them.”

Bibliophiles will fall in love with Copper Dog Books’ light and airy space and well-stocked shelves, but even those who are not literarily inclined will find something to love in the shop’s collection of toys, gifts, and art supplies. Next door, consignment boutique Worthy Girl offers a curated selection of fun and modern pre-owned clothes for high-value, high-impact outfits.

Read: 22 Essential Shops, Sights, and Snacks in Beverly

When shopping makes you hungry, the lunch and snack options are plentiful. For a casual option, try Lolo Poke, where fresh, sushi-grade fish is layered with rice, seaweed salad, veggies, crunchy toppings, and savory sauces for a one-bowl lunch packed with irresistible umami. The Atomic Café serves up sandwiches and locally roasted coffee that could have you swearing off chain cafés for good. 

For some fresh air after lunch, follow Route 22 up to the Long Hill Estate, where lush, meandering gardens invite endless exploration and wooded trails allow longer strolls. Or, drive just a bit east of downtown to visit Lynch Park, where two beaches, a formal rose garden, a kids’ splash pad, and acres of lawn create the perfect spot for whiling away an afternoon. 

Photograph by Elise Sinagra

The Big Night Out

If you’re interested in a vibrant night out without trekking to Boston, Beverly is your spot. 

“It’s not stodgy, it’s not old-fashioned,” Gould says. “This place is really cool—everyone has a really youthful vibe.”

Three performance venues—the Larcom Theatre and The Cabot downtown and the North Shore Music Theatre next to the Route 128—offer a wide range of entertainment including nostalgic favorite rock acts, improv comedy, movies new and classic, and even Broadway-caliber musical theater. 

After the show, there are many options to keep the fun rolling. Reserve a table at Ellis Sq. Social, which has recently returned to its inventive gastropub roots after a pandemic-era stint as a BBQ joint. Or enjoy farm-to-table fine dining and a conscientious curated wine list at FRANK, the bistro and gourmet market owned by Frank McClelland, former owner of Boston’s famed L’Espalier.

For beer-lovers, a cluster of fairly new breweries—Channel Marker Brewing, Backbeat Brewing Co., Gentile Brewing Co., and Old Planters Brewing Co.—makes it easy to indulge in a tasting tour of local lagers and ales. Backbeat offers a menu of bar snacks and sandwiches, Old Planters regularly hosts trivia nights and food trucks, and Gentile serves up fare in partnership with neighbor Nacho Tacos (where the corn tortillas are made from scratch daily). 

Whether you visit for a daytime jaunt or an evening of fun, Beverly will always greet you with open arms, Wallace says. 

“Even though we’re a city, it doesn’t feel like a city,” she says. “It still feels like a small town that anyone is welcome in.”