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Cape Ann, Massachusetts

Cape Ann north of Boston, Massachusetts's "other cape" (the first being Cape Cod) is much less well known, but busy with summer visitors all the same. Beaches, lobsters, clams, art, history and picturesque towns are the attractions.

It's easy to reach the North Shore and Cape Ann, north of Boston, by car or train, possible by ferryboat and bus.

Rainbow on church in Rockport, Massachusetts

Rainbow's end at the First Congregational Church in Rockport MA.

About an hour's drive north of Boston, the Massachusetts seacoast's other cape, Cape Ann, is actually an island (map), separated from the rest of Massachusetts by the Annisquam River, a short salt water channel between Gloucester harbor and Ipswich Bay.

A bridge connects the cape to the mainland and carries MA Route 128 across the river.

The towns of Gloucester, Rockport and Manchester-by-the-Sea cover the cape, with other historic towns such as Essex, Ipswich, Marblehead and Salem nearby (map).


Gloucester, famous for its fishing fleet for four centuries, is the larger town, with the best beaches, art, commerce and industry. It is historic and interesting rather than charming, though it does have its quaint corners. It's a great place to eat a lobster or board a whale watch cruise.

Hammond Castle, just outside Gloucester, is a rich man's eccentric tribute to Europe's great medieval homes. More...


Rockport, once a granite quarrying port, became a renowned artists' colony in the latter part of the 19th century. It still has lots of artists' studios and art galleries, and even a narrow but enjoyable beach, but many more tourist attractions, restaurants, boutiques and gift shoppes. Twice each year the artists and artisans open their studios for the Cape Ann Artisans Tour. More...

Halibut Point State Park, just outside of Rockport, is a great place to go for a walk to admire the dramatic granite-bound shoreline.


Manchester-by-the-Sea, not to be confused with the much larger, land-locked Manchester to the north in New Hampshire, is a small, neat coastal suburban community. Besides the town's charming New England ambience, its major attraction in summer is Singing Beach, an appealing expanse of sand. More...


A day-trip to Essex MA, 34 miles northeast of Boston, includes a pleasant ride through pretty country, an hour or two browsing in the town's dozens of shops selling antiques and collectibles, a boat cruise, and a lunch or dinner of traditional seafood: clams and lobsters. More...


Famous for the manor-house-like Crane Estate and broad Crane Beach, Ipswich is a historic New England town famous as the home of the late author John Updike. More...


MBTA Commuter Rail trains and ferries from Boston (map) serve towns on the Massachusetts North Shore and Cape Ann. CATA local buses and Ipswich-Essex Explorer buses connect these towns.


Follow Interstate 93 (I-93) north from Boston to I-95 North, the MA Route 128 North to reach Manchester-by-the-Sea, Essex, Ipswich, Gloucester and Rockport (map).

If you tire of the highway, exit MA Route 128 for Manchester-by-the-Sea and follow the scenic alternative: MA Route 127 north.


MBTA Commuter Rail trains run from Boston's North Station to Salem, Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gloucester and Rockport. (At Beverly, some trains go north via Ipswich to Newburyport. MBTA Commuter Rail trains do not go to Essex.)

The trip from Boston's North Station to Salem takes about 30 minutes, to Manchester-by-the-Sea less than an hour, to Gloucester or Rockport slightly more than an hour. Trains run about every 20 minutes during rush hours, every half-hour during the day, every hour at night and on weekends. More...


The Salem Fast Ferry operated by Boston Harbor Cruises speeds between Boston's Long Wharf (map) and the historic Salem waterfront (map) from mid-May through October, with five voyages daily in each direction. The voyage takes about 55 minutes. More...

Cape Ann Transportation

CATA, the Cape Ann Transportation Authority (Tel 978-283-7916), runs local buses among the towns and villages of Cape Ann. Here's a route map. The buses can get you to most attractions on Cape Ann. More...

Ipswich Essex Explorer Bus Lines

On summer weekends from mid-June through early September (Labor Day weekend), the Cape Ann Transportation Authority (CATA) operates the Ipswich-Essex Explorer, two local bus routes connecting the Ipswich Commuter Rail train station with Wolf Hollow, Russel Orchards Farm & Winery, Crane Beach, Essex's Main Street Antique Shops, the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, and Woodman's Seafood Restaurant, famous for its lobsters and clams. More...