Outdoor addicts answer the call of Swampscott’s oceanside attractions.
By Karen Sackowitz
The sun warms your face. the sea air fills your lungs. You hear laughter at the ice cream stand and the buzz of wave runners out on the water. It’s going to be a good dayÂ…you’re in Swampscott. With seven public beaches, a lively seaside downtown, and great choices for indoor and outdoor dining, Swampscott is the place to be when the sun is shining and you’re ready to have fun. Ask anyone who grew up there, and they’ll tell you that it has always been this way.
“As a kid, I loved to rollerblade up and down King’s Beach,” says Swampscott native Stephanie Theo. “On any nice day, there were always people out biking, running, sailing, or heading to the beaches.”
The same scene plays out in Swampscott today, thanks to an invigorating coastline, pristine beaches, and a fabulous view of the Boston skyline. In the evenings, folks flock to the ever-popular Red Rock Bistro and Lime Rickey’s for sit-down meals or lighter fare, as well as patio seating. When the sun starts to set, the party heats up as live bands kick in to keep the vacation mood going.
Swampscott’s lively town center is its biggest draw on any given day, and for special occasions, like the town’s huge Fourth of July event or Annual Strawberry Festival, it provides the perfect backdrop for seaside celebration. Town Administrator Andrew Maylor says Swampscott is unique in that the center of town is located along the water, as opposed to further inland.
“The area surrounding Town Hall and stretching down to the shore keeps the center of the community connected to the water, which is in line with the town’s rich maritime history,” Maylor says.
In addition to preserving historical structures, Swampscott has demonstrated true innovation in some of its newer buildings, most notably Swampscott High School and Swampscott Senior Center, which overlap through shared space, allowing seniors to have access to the school’s weight rooms, art rooms, and computer labs. Maylor says the combination has forged a great relationship within the community.
“It was the best money the town ever spent,” he says, “I would love to see other communities look into these types of options.”
Swampscott’s educational system is also top notch, and residents collectively consider it the centerpiece of the community. WCVB sports anchor and Swampscott native Mike Lynch
says that focus has been solid for decades.
“The parents, teachers, and coaches cared about all the kids in town,” Lynch says, “Everyone was dedicated to helping us stay safe, learn, behave, and be successful.”
Now living in Winchester, Lynch still heads up to Swampscott on Sundays during the summer to visit his parents and to enjoy the beaches with his own family.
As a strong community in which to raise a family, or as the perfect spot for a sunny afternoon, Swampscott makes perfect sense for just about everyone.
Date of settlement: 1629
Date of incorporation: 1852
Zip code: 01907
Total Area: 3.58 square miles
Median Household Income: $81,550
Schools: Stanley Elementary, Hadley Elementary, Clarke Elementary, Swampscott Middle and High Schools, Marion Court College
Notable Residents: Mary Baker Eddy (founder of Christian Science), Mike Lynch, Johnny Pesky, David Lee Roth, Leslie Stahl, Elihu Thomson (founder of General Electric)
FOX25’s Kim Carrigan soaks up the good vibes of Swampscott.
Fox25 morning news co-host Kim Carrigan is an Emmy-winning journalist and one of Boston’s most trusted newscasters. She’s also a proud Swampscott resident who says she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. We spoke about what makes her town the perfect place to call home.
What made you choose to live in Swampscott? My husband and I are both originally from the Midwest, so when we came to this area, we just loved going to the beach. We lived in Boston, but found ourselves continually coming up to Preston Beach here in town. Finally, we thought, why not move here? We love it. It’s an easy commute to Boston, and every time we come home it feels like vacation.
What makes Swampscott a good choice for families? We have two kids, and the schools are very good. It also has a wonderful small town atmosphere. It sounds cliche, but it really is a place where everybody knows your name; as Midwesterners, we really enjoy that aspect. It’s funny-my parents and in-laws will visit from St. Louis, and comment on the small-town atmosphere they feel here.
What are some of the highlights here in town? All of the great beaches! We love Phillips Beach and Preston Beach. Preston is a real hidden gem; it’s beautiful and never crowded. We have some great restaurants here, too. Red Rock Bistro has beautiful views of the water and the city; G Bar and Kitchen has a big-city bistro feel, but we can still walk to get ice cream after dinner.
What is a typical Saturday for you and your family? We are outdoor people, so we love to bike and walk; On an average Saturday, all four of us might ride our bikes to Lincoln’s Landing for breakfast, then to the beaches for the day. It’s wonderful; we can stay in Swampscott all weekend and have everything we need.
Reach the Beach
Fill up, then set sail, on Swampscott’s shoreline.
Red Rock Bistro/Lime Rickey’s
Currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, Red Rock is an oceanfront hot spot and the top draw for folks who love great food and a can’t-be-beat atmosphere. Whether sitting inside or on one of the beachside patios (dogs are welcome), diners are treated to a fabulous view of both the ocean and the Boston skyline. Lighter fare, wraps, and ice cream are up for grabs at the attached Lime Rickey’s. 141 Humphrey St., 781-595-1414, redrockbistro.com.
G Bar and Kitchen
For the freshest local ingredients and an ever-changing menu, you’ve got to try G Bar. The dining area seats about 30, with another eight seats at the bar, so calling ahead is a good idea, especially on weekends. Although not directly on the water, G Bar is only a short walk away, allowing for a perfect before- or after-dinner stroll along the beach. 256 Humphrey St., 781- 596-2228, gbarandkitchen.com.
Sometimes, even folks in Seafood City, USA, just want to eat great Thai food. Thankfully, Swampscott has Thai Thani, noted for its top-notch pad thai as
well as its stir fries. 408 Humphrey St., 781-596-1820, thaithanibythesea.com.
Forget heading to Barney’s or Saks for exclusive cosmetic and spa products. At Luxe Beautique, you can sample products within a dazzling array of facial, massage, and makeup services. Owner Amy DePerrior hand picks every product, bringing only the best services, cosmetics, and home care items to her North Shore clientele. 222 Humphrey St., 781-598-1777, luxebeautique.com.
Vinnin Square Liquors
A liquor store doesn’t become a destination shopping spot without a reason. With over 25 years of expertise, Vinnin offers a huge selection, terrific personal service, and fair pricing that puts it above area competitors. Trying to find that beer you enjoyed while traveling abroad last summer? Vinnin probably has it. Same goes for that organic wine you’ve been craving. 371 Paradise Rd. (Route 1A), 781-598-4111, vinninliquors.com.
Yep, you read it correctly but this isn’t just any Marshall’s. Locals swear by the monstrous shoe selection and higher-end offerings at this discount haven. First-time Marshall’s shoppers come from several towns away to browse. Go ahead, try it out; frugality is chic these days. 1005 Paradise Rd., 781-581-5330, marshallsonline.com.
Self-Guided Olmsted District Walking Tours
Get a feel for Swampscott’s original design by walking this tour, which encompasses the town center. Town Hall, 22 Monument Ave., essexheritage.org/walksandtours.
Adult Sailing Programs
Don’t know your tack from your jibe? This four-week adult program runs on weekday evenings and covers everything from knot tying to sail handling. Soon you’ll be sailing like a pro. 22 Monument Ave., 781-596-8854, swampscottsailing.org.