|What to See & Do in Rockport MA|
|Art, music & beach time are major activities in Rockport, but strolling, shopping, dining on clams, lobsters & ice cream are popular as well.|
First thing every visitor does upon arriving in Rockport, Massachusetts, is to take a stroll down Bearskin Neck, the narrow peninsula jutting into the water off Dock Square, the town's main square (map).
On Bearskin Neck you'll find lots of quaint shops and art galleries to draw your attention, and many good views of the sea and of the town.
Motif No. 1
Other strolls in town are also rewarding, and local brochures will urge you to take a photograph of the red fisherman's shack called Motif No. 1, apparently named for its popularity among the first picture painters who moved to Rockport.
Actually it should now be named Motif No. 2, as the original shack was swept away in the great storm of 1978 and a new one was built from scratch.
In the interest of originality, I suggest that you try to be the first person to visit Rockport without seeing this unimportant landmark. Take my word for it, Motif No. 1 is now famous because it's famous.
Rather, spend your time admiring buildings made from the local granite. It was cut at the town's Swan Quarry (now flooded), and shipped out, giving Rockport its name.
Curbstones, markers, pavements, foundations, piers, even whole buildings were made of the durable stone during the town's quarrying heyday.
For swimming, walk along Beach Street north to Front Beach and Back Beach, or wander (in your car or on your bike) about two miles north along the coast on MA Route 127 to Pigeon Cove, about a half-hour walk.
You can go farther than Pigeon Cove by car or bike. In fact, you can make a loop of Cape Ann on MA Route 127 via Pigeon Cove, Folly Cove, Plum Cove, Annisquam, and Lobster Cove, ending in Gloucester (map).
The Rockport Chamber Music Festival , staged from early June through early July, 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.
Recitals and concerts are staged Thursday through Sunday during the festival.
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.
For a look at a dramatic portion of the Cape Ann coastline, spend some time wandering around Halibut Point State Park.
—by Tom Brosnahan