As some of you may know, for years we schedule our fun around other commitments; Sarah has a great side hustle dog sitting for friends and clients, while Phil attends local Farmers Dinner events to shoot the behind the scenes and candid moments of the festivities. Typically, these commitments are mutually-exclusive, or unable to happen at the same time due to only having one car and/or a lack of interest on the other’s part. Luckily, all of this changed this weekend when Sarah had to chance to dog sit for a friend on the North Shore of Massachusetts.
This region of Massachusetts was culturally known as the wealthy New Englander’s summertime playground; towns like Manchester-by-the-Sea, Beverly, Marblehead, and Newburyport contain dozens of affluent neighborhoods with massive old-money homes. Juxtapositionally, towns like Gloucester, Rockport, Newburyport, and Salem were historically home to fishing villages and were known for their tough, hard working, blue collar economy. Today, this area is most known for its rocky coastline, marshes, and picturesque sand dunes and is still a top destination for lounging on beaches in the humid and hot weather.
This past weekend, we got to experience all that the notable town of Newburyport has to offer, during a season that feels just right in a quaint, New England town. Only a 20 minute drive from Groveland, our home base for the weekend, we enjoyed walking around the small businesses and shops on State Street, eating and drinking the local creations near The Tannery, and even drove up to the summer hotspot, Plum Island.
We are officially in the Christmas spirit now, thanks to Downtown Newburyport. All of their shops were in holiday mode with festive home decor and cozy winter knits filling their shelves, window displays adorning firs and cold-weather animals, and Christmas music blasting through their speakers. They even had their town Christmas tree in Market Square shining bright and standing tall.
Keep reading for our itinerary of how to spend 24 Hours in Newburyport – Winter on Massachusetts’ North Shore. You won’t be disappointed!
24 Hours in Newburyport – Winter on Massachusetts’ North Shore
- If visiting in winter, a seasonal jacket is a must. Newburyport sits on the Merrimack River and the Atlantic Ocean, which translates to ocean breezes and raw air. A winter coat, preferably with a windbreaker shell, will be welcome if gusts begin to pick up. If you get too chilly, you can always support the local merchants by buying an original hat and a pair of gloves to warm your hands if visiting after sunset.
- The best part about visiting this North Shore town is its accessibility from Boston; a convenient stop on the commuter rail makes Newburyport a perfect day trip destination. If we didn’t drive to for additional commitments, the train would have been our mode of transportation. Not to mention that downtown is extremely walkwable, and if Plum Island is a must-do on your North Shore bucket list, it’s a simple cab or uber ride away.
- Talk to the shop owners. Many of the smaller store ownerss have great establishment stories, know the history of the building they reside, and are extremely informed about the product they sell. This is part of the charm of these smaller towns, so don’t be afraid to start a conversation.
Where to eat, drink, and be merry:
- Brick & Ash: Located in one of the many Federal period buildings in town, this establishment gives off an industrial, laid-back vibe that is only hightended by the pool tables, dart boards, and inside shuffleboard tables. You have to try the Nashville Fried Chicken Plate and the Joppa Landing (if you’re a fellow tequila lover).
- The Poynt: The sister restaurant to Brick & Ash, this eatery is the opposite of its industrial sibling; bright, modern, and hip, The Poynt has some of the most creative flatbreads in Newburyport. If you’re looking for a bit of a fancier destination, this place is for you. Don’t let your night pass you by without trying the “Wooster Street” White Clam Flatbread and Bad Intentions (one of the best tequila drinks ever, hands down).
What to do:
- Head to Plum Island for some Nature Spotting: Having lived in New England all our lives, this was our first time on the island and we must admit, it stole our hearts. The rolling beach grass growing over the majestic sand dunes made us feel like we were in sacred territory. With conservation land surrounding this beach, wildlife is everywhere; from otters and mink to gulls, terns, and hawks, this island has something for everyone.
- Window Shop in Downtown: If you’re still itching to get your shop on after hitting up The Tannery, head back downtown to Market Square to look at the amazing window displays. Be sure to head into favorites like Soak, Partridge in a Bear Tree, Ireland on the Square, Urban Elements, and Vaalbara Supply.
- Support Local Businesses at The Tannery Marketplace: With over 50 stores and shops in this part of town, The Tannery has everything you could need or want. From flowers at Beach Plum Too to some of the most unique home decor you could ever want at Wishlist, these stores could keep you occupied for hours. Not to worry if you get hungry, the amazing fooderies, like Joppa Fine Foods, got your covered. One of the best locations to check out during your time in Newburyport.
- Walk the Riverfront: Some of the best views are along the Waterfront Park. In the summer you can kayak, canoe, or even go on a whale watching trip from this location. But in the winter, some of the most stunning views of the river and harbor open up before you. Head here for a little break from shopping and to truly take in your surroundings in this historical town.