|Rockport, Massachusetts Travel Guide|
|North of Gloucester is the small seacoast town of Rockport, famed as an artists' colony and, well, just as a very picturesque place.|
Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, and Fitz Henry Lane came to Rockport MA to paint the fishermen working on their vessels and the quarrymen cutting and moving granite for building.
It's been a long time since Rockport was a village of hearty, independent fishermen and their wives, living by their daily struggle with the sea, and today you're likely to see 100 times as many day-trippers from Boston, 41 miles southwest (map) as you are to see colorful village types.
Rockport = Art
But the Rockport Art Association is active—the town is dotted with boutiques and galleries holding paintings and crafts both pleasing and awkward, and amateur daubers test their skill at capturing daily life all over town.
Rockport = Music
The Rockport Chamber Music Festival is renowned for the quality of its performers and performances, and its superb Shalin Liu Performance Center is the perfect venue for them. The back of the stage is actually a giant picture window overlooking Rockport Harbor. providing a memorable visual as well as musical experience.
Free band concerts take place at the bandstand by the beach on most Sunday evenings in summer, and the Fourth of July parade and the evening huge bonfire (topped by an outhouse) is a significantly fun event, especially for kids.
Beaches & Boutiques
The town also has its simple summer pleasures, like several good beaches, two within a few minutes' walk of the town center. The rustic, historical fishers' cottages on Bearskin Neck have been converted to shops, boutiques, art galleries and eateries, and a stroll along the Neck to its tip for a view of the harbor is an essential Rockport activity.
Here's more on what to see and do in Rockport.
If you arrive in Rockport by MBTA Commuter Rail train from Boston's North Station, you'll be happy to know that the Rockport Chamber of Commerce information office is right at the station (1 Whistlestop Mall), and that the center of town, with most of Rockport's inns, is only 10 minutes' walk from the train station.
If you come by car, parking places are sure to be scarce any time in summer, so find a nice back street, or use the town-supported parking lot on the outskirts rather than getting snarled in the press of traffic downtown. The town lots charge several dollars per day for parking, but they offer a free shuttle bus from the lot to downtown Rockport. This isn't a bad deal, considering the frustration you'll endure to find a legal spot to park downtown.
Rockport's popularity means there are lots of charming inns, B&Bs, and even some good motels to stay in, and good restaurants in which to dine, and if you decide to remain overnight here, you'll notice that as the evening wears on, the streets become calmer and the village resumes something of its slow, antique pace.
—by Tom Brosnahan