Not only does the coastal city of Newburyport MA have picture perfect looks but also plenty of fun entertainment options. The best things to do in Newburyport MA include city activities like strolling charming downtown Newburyport. Between the shops in Newburyport MA and the places to eat in Newburyport MA, you can easily wile away the hours. Rest and relax in the great outdoors on the extensive beaches in Newburyport MA or the Newburyport parks like Newburyport Waterfront Park and Maudslay State Park. You will not be at a loss for what to do in Newburyport MA!
Where is Newburyport MA?
Newburyport MA is located on the North Shore of Massachusetts in Essex County nearly at the border with New Hampshire which is only a few miles away.
Newburyport is across the Merrimack River from the town of Amesbury to which it is connected by the Chain Bridge, the first suspension bridge built in the USA in 1810. Don’t worry the Chain Bridge currently in place is a 20th century reconstruction of the original Chain Bridge.
Newburyport MA History
Located 35 miles northeast of Boston, Newburyport is a historic seaport recognised as the founding place of the US Coast Guard.
Newburyport was cleaved off from the town of Newbury in 1764 to become its own entity. The salt marshes lying between Newburyport and Plum Island make it one of the best places to view wildlife and migratory birds in the area.
With its great location on the Merrimack River, Newburyport became a major port for fishing and shipping by the 18th century. It also had its fair share of privateering (e.g., government sanctioned pirates) during this time.
By the 19th century, Newburyport was a whaling center and also built clipper ships. Like the rest of the nearby towns, Newburyport went into a decline in the 20th century before finding a new purpose again in the 21st century.
Getting To Newburyport MA
The Boston to Newburyport train is on the Newburyport/Rockport line and takes approximately an hour from North Station in Boston. It’s an easy day trip from Boston but also a great weekend trip in Massachusetts.
Things To Do in Newburyport MA
A beautiful coastal town, Newburyport belongs on your New England bucket list. For a small city, there are plenty of things to do in Newburyport making it a great place to explore.
Newburyport Whale Watching
New England was once the site of a massive whaling industry but these communities have since turned their sights on conservation efforts. Now you can experience these gentle giants in their natural habitat from the safety of a responsible whale watching boat.
Unlike the whale watching cruises from nearby Cape Ann which goes to the Stellenbank Marine Reserve, the Newburyport whale watching boat cruises into the Gulf of Maine. You may be lucky enough to see Humpback, Finback, and Minke Whales (or even porpoise, seal, and shark sightings) along with lots of marine birds.
Seeing these animals living free in the wild is by far one of the best Newburyport MA things to do. Whale watching season runs from May to October.
Address: 54 Merrimac St, Newburyport, MA 01950
Waterfront Park Newburyport
In the heart of Newburyport’s downtown waterfront is the lively 4.4 acre Waterfront Park. Along the Merrimack River, you can stroll on the 1100 ft. boardwalk with memorial benches along the way to stop at and take in the scenery.
The park also attracts culture lovers with its sculpture park, as well as the grassy lawn where concerts and performances are held. It’s a popular spot to sit and watch the world go by. The historic downtown area is easily accessible from Newburyport Waterfront Park.
Address: 36 Merrimac St, Newburyport, MA 01950
Tannery Marketplace Newburyport
Tannery Marketplace Newburyport has been called the best shopping destination on Boston’s north shore. Having visited many a shopping destination, we have to agree that Tannery Marketplace is one of our favorite places to shop!!
More than 50 small businesses and eateries fill the space with unique crafts and curated gifts as well as world-class cuisine. Some of our favourite places:
- Get great coffee and giant whoopie pies at Cococoa Baking Company.
- Quinn’s Canine Cafe has lots of treats for your best friend.
- We love spending time at independent bookstore Jabborwocky Bookstore.
- Home store Red Bird Trading is beautifully presented and will have you swooning over the Coastal Grandma look.
There are also salons and beauty shops that can keep you looking at your best or just provide some much-needed R&R on your trip.
Several of the outlets are devoted to the Arts, such as The Actors Studio of Newburyport (a small theater), Blochaus Art Gallery and the Newburyport Art Association.
Keep an eye on their social calendar as there are often live music, book readings, and other events happening at the Tannery Marketplace. In the summer, a farmer’s market provides locally sourced fresh produce and artisanal treats and crafts.
Address: 75 Water St, Newburyport, MA 01950
Custom House Maritime Museum
Located between downtown Newburyport and the Newburyport Waterfront Park, Custom House Maritime Museum is a former customs house turned museum. Learn about the maritime history of the area as well as the history of the US Coast Guard.
The US Coast Guard was established in 1915 with the merging of the U.S. Life Saving Service and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (which went after the customs duty evaders).
Address: 25 Water St, Newburyport, MA 01950
Clipper Heritage Trail
The free, self-guided Clipper heritage trail of Newburyport is a fascinating thing to do in Newburyport if you are interested in the city’s history.
The Clipper Heritage Trail is easy to use via either a website or a smartphone app. For those without access to technology, you can get a paper trail guide. To help with navigation on the way, granite signs have been inserted in the brickwork of sidewalks where the Clipper Heritage trail goes.
The red brick buildings lining the streets of downtown Newburyport MA are one of its most charming features. These historic buildings of this beautiful city are quintessentially New England and are begging to be photographed.
This historic downtown Newburyport charm almost didn’t exist! Scheduled to be demolished in the 1970’s and replaced with modern buildings, the city of Newburyport had a change of heart. Nowadays, it is recognised as one of the best ways of conserving and repurposing historic building for new uses.
The downtown area of this historic city is very walkable and the best part of your trip will be exploring all the hidden shops and alleyways around this area.
One of our favourite places is pretty little Brown Square, a green space which features a statue of William Garrison, a renowned abolitionist. Several charming inns in Newburyport are located in this area, such as the Garrison Inn.
State Street is a bricked road that is lined with exclusive boutiques, homey craft shops, and welcoming cafés. When you are shopping Newburyport MA, you will come across lots of independently owned small businesses which means you can find things you won’t find everywhere else.
The shopping Newburyport district spins off from Market Square which is where Merrimac, Water and State Street meet. Market Square historic district has plenty of stores to browse.
Right on that corner you will find one of my favourite stores, Partridge in a Bear Tree which has pretty and vintage-looking homeware. Nearby Vaalbaara Supply Store (which also has an Edgartown Martha’s Vineyard store) is a treasure trove of clothes and accessories.
Check out Sea Bags, a Rockland Maine store that has cool bags made from recycled sails. Of course, there is that old Martha’s Vineyard favorite, The Black Dog, here too.
If you are a foodie who likes to shop, check out the large Stonewall Kitchen located on State Street.
For gifts, Simply Sweet on Inn Street has great selection of homemade candy and chocolate. And, while you are there thinking of others, you can treat yourself to some of the best ice cream in Massachusetts, Richardson’s Ice Cream.
Art Galleries Newburyport
In a pretty little wealthy town like Newburyport, along with the gorgeous home stores, you get art galleries… because Home Goods art will never do.
The Firehouse Center for the Arts is conveniently located in downtown Newburyport at Market Square. Here you can enjoy plays, musicals, and performances of all sorts from the gifted local performers.
Check out the art galleries in Newburyport located at The Tannery Marketplace including the sister gallery for the Firehouse Center, The Newburyport Art Association which holds regular exhibitions.
Antiques Newburyport MA
If you like vintage and antiques shopping, Newburyport has some great places to browse. My favourites places are Green Plum Vintage Goods on Market Square.
Oldies Marketplace is in a giant red barn space that you can spend hours poking around looking for unique things and, even occasionally, cheap things.
Address: 27 Rear Water St, Newburyport, MA 01950
Cushing House Museum and Garden
Built in 1808, the Cushing House is a National Historic Landmark which belonged to the Cushing family for 132 years before being given to the Museum of Old Newbury.
The Cushing House has lots of decorative interiors similar to other historic landmarks and a pretty garden. Thanks to the China connect, there is an interesting collection of artefacts related to the China trade.
There are guided tours available during the summer months.
Address: 98 High St, Newburyport, MA 01950
Clipper City Rail Trail
Clipper City Rail Trail is a nearly 4 mile trail that runs from the Newburyport MBTA train station. This path is lined with sculptures which makes for an interesting ride (or walk!) that connect to the Harborwalk area on the Merrimack River.
Eventually the Clipper City Rail Trail will be a complete loop but currently you will need to do about a half mile on a road in order to make it a loop ride. Another planned improvement is to make the Clipper City Rail Trail connect with other rail trails so that it will be a 28 mile bike trail that runs from Salisbury on the New Hampshire border all the way to Boston.
Maudslay State Park Newburyport
Explore Maudslay State Park with its nearly 500 acres and 16 miles of hiking trails. This Massachusetts state park was created from the estate of a prominent Newburyport family. The pretty 19th century gardens are a relic of its past as a family home.
As the seasons change, the parks’ greenery bursts into vibrant red, orange, and yellow hues and the fall foliage becomes the main attraction. The spring flowers are also a marvel to behold with rhododendrons and azaleas adorning the walkways.
Address: 74 Curzon Mill Rd, Newburyport, MA 01950
One of the Newburyport parks, the 16 acre Moseley Woods has hiking trails, picnic spots and a playground for children. Lying near Maudslay State Park, Moseley Woods lies on the shores of the Merrimac River and offers views of the John Greenleaf Whittier Bridge.
Address: Spofford Street at Merrimac Street Newburyport, MA 01950
Newburyport Plum Island
A short drive away, Newburyport MA Plum island is easy to reach from the mainland. On the way out to Plum Island, keep an eye out for the fabulous Joppa Flats Education Center.
Plum Island Newburyport MA has plenty of beaches, such as beautiful Plum Island beach, as well as the Sandy Point State Reservation. Some properties on Plum Island even have private beaches.
Keep an eye out for the marvelous birdlife that calls the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge home. Hiking trails will lead you to see the enormous sand dunes that lie between the salt marshes and the Atlantic Ocean.
The northern part of the island is home to pretty little Plum Island Lighthouse (aka The Newburyport Harbor Lighthouse). Plum Island also has Pink House, another of the spite houses built in Massachusetts by bitter people.
Events Newburyport MA
In terms of events, Newburyport MA leans into its New England past with the second oldest homecoming festival in the USA – Yankee Homecoming.
Yankee Homecoming is an annual event lasting one week. The Yankee Homecoming in 2022 will be its 66th year running. There is an art show, a car show, fireworks and a full-blown parade. Numerous street vendors set up shop and add to the festive atmosphere.
Throughout the year, other events Newburyport MA holds are designed to promote its local arts, culture and shops. During the last week of April, Newburyport holds a book festival, Newburyport Literary Festival. Every May, Newburyport holds Spring Fest celebrating arts, culture and music. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, there is an annual Santa Parade and tree lighting in Newburyport.
Places To Eat in Newburyport
There are plenty of places to eat in Newburyport that range from fine dining options to cozy little cafes.
The folks at Cape Ann Foodie Tours runs the Taste Newburyport Food Tour if you want to munch your way around town sampling nibbles over a 3 hour period. We find food tours a great way to discover a foodie area.
As part of my clam chowder tour of New England, we had to try the clam chowder at The Grog, a pub which is known for its clam chowder. Yep, two thumbs up from me… because I am thorough like that.
Acclaimed Thai restaurant, Brown Sugar By The Sea, is located in the Tannery Marketplace (see above). Also located at Tannery Marketplace, in the parking lot, every Sunday in the summer there is the Newburyport Farmer’s Market.
Check out the craft beer scene which you may have seen in other parts of Massachusetts like Boston and Plymouth. Riverwalk Brewing Co serves locally brewed craft beer as well as casual food in their tap room and beer garden. Riverwalk Brewing Co. have fire pit rental which is such a great idea for when the sun sets but the party keeps going.
Ready to just imbibe your calories in liquid form only?
Check out Newburyport Brewing Co which has been winning awards for years with is local craft beer served at its tap room and beer garden. They also regularly schedule free live concerts.
Address: Riverwalk Brewing Co. (40 Parker St, Newburyport); Newburyport Brewing ( 4 New Pasture Rd Newburyport)
Things to Do Near Newburyport MA
There are also plenty of things to do near Newburyport MA with its fabulous location near Boston and New Hampshire.
The city next door, Amesbury MA was settled by people moving westward from Newburyport. Among the cool things to do in Amesbury are visiting Lowell’s Boat Shop, the oldest working wooden boat store in the USA and beautiful Lake Gardner with its swimming beach and water sports.
Cape Ann provides more charming coastal communities similar to Newburyport. There’s Rockport (a pretty town which combines art and tourism), more maritime history at Gloucester, Manchester-By-The-Sea (made famous in the 2016 film of the same name) and Essex (known for its fried clams and antique shops).
There are fabulous beaches all along Cape Ann such as Crane Beach and Wingaersheek Beach.
Halibut Point State Park
A former granite quarry, Halibut Point State Park is a Trustees of Reservations property with hiking trails, shady picnic spots and fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Along with Maudslay State Park, you will have your choice of state parks in this area. Check out Salisbury Beach State Reservation for another gorgeous sandy beach.
Salem is one of the most famous towns in New England, thanks to people’s curiosity about the 17th century witch trials which has been immortalised in film and books.
Salem has beautiful architecture, interesting museums, great food, and lots of shopping opportunities. Salem is famously one of Massachusetts’ haunted places and also has a national historic site run by the National Park Service.
New Hampshire Coastline
New Hampshire is only a few miles from Newburyport and the neighboring state has a quaint 13 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.
Visit for the beaches in New Hampshire, e.g., Hampton Beach is a family-friendly beach town. There are many a great seafood restaurant as well – we loved Ray’s Lobster Pound at Rye! Going further along the New Hampshire coastline will get you to the charming city of Portsmouth New Hampshire. After that, next stop is Southern Maine!
Map of Newburyport MA
Here’s a map of Newburyport MA that will help you plan your trip. It shows you things to do in Newburyport, including places in downtown Newburyport and the Newburyport parks.
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We did not receive compensation of any form, monetary or otherwise, from any of the products, services, hotels etc mentioned in this article.
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