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A retreat to the Greater Cape Ann Region promises a return to the simple pleasures of life and travel. The idyllic coastal town of Ipswich may surprise you as the perfect getaway destination. For locals, it’s no surprise at all. Paired with its neighbors Essex and Gloucester, Ipswich makes for a fun day trip as part of your Cape Ann vacation. It’s also deserving of a long weekend on its own, any time of year.

Boasting lush, wooded trails and popular roadside farms, Ipswich asks you to press the pause button and enjoy a slower pace. Looking for exercise in the great outdoors? Enjoy awe-inspiring natural beauty in vast open spaces while boating in Ipswich Bay or canoeing on the Ipswich River and salt marsh estuaries. Ipswich’s trails and state parks offer meditative places for biking, hiking and walking. Ipswich is also home to Crane Beach, featuring more than 1,200 acres of pristine beachfront, dunes and maritime forest. Colloquially referred to as “Crane’s Beach,” it is also a vital nesting site for the piping plover, a threatened shorebird. Even in the off-season, Crane Beach attracts daily visitors, both on foot and on horseback.

After all that activity, you’ll be ready to dine out. Ipswich’s restaurants span from pizza to pub food to Greek, Italian and Asian fare. And of course clams! Ipswich clams are famous for their great taste and tender bellies. For beer lovers, try tastings at one (or both) of the area’s breweries. To satisfy shop-ping cravings, visit the boutiques offering jewelry, antiques, clothing, collectables and toys. You’ll always be welcomed by friendly owners and staff, and made to feel at home.

Ipswich also holds numerous events for the whole family. From July to September, the Crane Estate hosts an outdoor concert series every Thursday with pre-show pic-nicking. Summertime’s Olde Ipswich Days offers artisans a venue to display their creations. On Tuesday evenings in July, head to the riverwalk for a night of music and dancing at Ipswich Downtown Tuesdays. In October, the Ipswich Chowder Fest features tastings from local restaurants plus live entertainment. Ipswich Illumination spans several weekends in autumn and includes performance and visual art, bonfires on the river and music. The year ends with Santa’s arrival by boat to the town wharf, complete with caroling, a Jingle Bell walk to the Town Hall and more.

After checking in at a gracious local inn, peruse the museums or journey into the past on a walking tour of the historic district. Some of the oldest homes in America are found here. Even Hollywood has been lured by the town’s charms. Ipswich has been the setting for numerous films and you’ll understand why upon arrival in this classic New England coastal community.

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