Maritime Gloucester was established back in 2000 by a group of almost 300 locals with a strong vision and a love for this community. Located on Harbor Loop, Maritime Gloucester is a non-profit organization created to serve this wonderful community as well as the greater Boston area. The organization caters mainly to schools and children’s programs through hands-on education in a number of areas.
Visitors to Maritime Gloucester can expect to be immersed into four centuries of nautical history. They operate with a philosophy of “looking to the past to inform the future.” There are many programs offering a diverse array of educational experiences like sailing and ship building. They also offer exhibits on local maritime history and the development of fishing vessels over the years. Not many people know that Maritime Gloucester and the rest of the community act as working harbors. At the heart of this community is Maritime Gloucester’s marine railway. This is the oldest operating marine railway in the country. To this day the railway still sets ships and schooners off to sea.
Maritime Gloucester isn’t just about history; they also look towards the future. From the robotics program to the wet lab, Maritime Gloucester is involved in finding new ways to study, learn and educate others in all aspects of sea life. One of the coolest exhibits is the Sea Pocket Aquarium. Visitors can explore the aquarium and its touch tanks as well as participate in the Creature of the Week Program. In the Coastal explorers program visitors can board the Schooner Ardelle and sail to a variety of destinations while observing a wonderful array of sea life.
Whether you have a passion for history of science, there is fun to be had at Maritime Gloucester. Maritime Gloucester offers a diverse selection of programs for kids of varying ages. Programs can be a week-long or you can drop in for a short but educational activity.
Open Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day
Hours of operation: Monday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm, Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm.
Location: 23 Harbor Loop, Gloucester, MA, 01930
Phone Number: (978) 281 0470
Article and photos by Joe Codrington
Half Moon Beach at Stage Fort Park
Route 127 (Western Avenue) to Hough Avenue
Half Moon Beach is a quiet, intimate, crescent-shaped beach located at historic Stage Fort Park. Surrounded by a rocky hill and ample shady spots, it offers more seclusion from the rest of the park. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. All flotation devices and surf boards are prohibited. The beach is handicapped accessible.
- Dogs are allowed in the park but are prohibited on the beach.
- Restrooms are located within the park.
- Parking is available at Stage Fort Park at a rate of $10 per vehicle weekdays and $15 on the weekends and holidays.
- Alcohol is prohibited.
- Directions: Take Exit 14 off Route 128 North. At the bottom of the ramp, bear right onto Route 133 toward Gloucester. Follow to the end with the Harbor in front of you. Bear right onto Western Avenue (Route 127) and then take an immediate left on Hough Avenue into Stage Fort Park.
Eastern Point Road, East Gloucester
Tucked away from the busy crowds, Niles Beach is located on Eastern Point Road in East Gloucester. It is primarily enjoyed by residents (a resident sticker is required for beachside parking), unless you can walk from another location. Not usually crowded, you can enjoy a quiet family beach day without the expected commotion that comes along with a summer beach day. Enjoy breathtaking vistas over Gloucester Harbor and the Boston skyline on the horizon.
- Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Father’s Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. All floatation devices and surf boards are prohibited.
- Portable restrooms are available seasonally.
- Alcohol is prohibited.
- Directions: Follow Route 128 North to its terminus at the Route 127A traffic lights in Gloucester. Proceed through the light and follow East Main Street through East Gloucester for approximately 2 miles. Niles Beach is located on Eastern Point Blvd., approximately 1/3 mile beyond the junction with Rocky Neck Boulevard and on the way to Eastern Point. A public parking lot is located along Rocky Neck Boulevard, offering easy access to Rocky Neck and a short hike to Niles Beach.
Western Avenue (Route 127) at the eastern end of Stacy Boulevard
Near Gloucester’s famous Fishermen’s Memorial Statue (The Man at the Wheel), Pavilion Beach on Gloucester Harbor is the perfect site for beachcombing and for gazing upon the plethora of watercraft as they head out to the channel. Located a short walk from downtown Gloucester, the beach is perfect for a quick dip before a trip to many of the nearby restaurants and shops just waiting for you to explore. The beach, a mix of sand and stone, does not have lifeguards on duty.
- Alcohol is prohibited.
- Limited public parking is available along Stacy Boulevard. Free public parking is also available at the nearby Saint Peter’s parking lot, located at the intersection of Rogers and Commercial Streets and adjacent to the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center located at 33 Commercial Street.
(Thatcher Road to Rockport Road; this beach is shared by Gloucester and Rockport)
About a mile long (hence the name), this beach offers one of the best views of Thacher Island’s twin lighthouses. Investigate the tide pools or take a casual stroll, soaking in the sun. The beach is lined with quaint New England beach houses and inns. Alcohol is prohibited. Enjoy the day at Long Beach and then head into town for a fresh lobster dinner.
- Directions from Gloucester: Continue past Good Harbor Beach on Thatcher Road (Route 127A north) for approximately 300 yards to the fork at Rockport Road. Continue straight on Rockport Road past the ice stand toward Cape Ann Motor Inn. Parking is available at privately operated parking lots (rates vary) located off Rockport Road, a short walk to the beach.
- Directions from downtown Rockport: Follow Route 127A south for approximately 5 miles to just beyond the Gloucester line, and then take a sharp left onto Rockport Road at the ice cream stand. Then follow directions above.
White light flashing every 5 seconds.
Directions: Eastern Point Light is easily reached by following Eastern Point Boulevard to its end.
Eastern Point Lighthouse was erected on Gloucester’s Eastern Point to mark the harbor entrance in 1832. The current brick tower was built in 1890 and is 36 feet tall with a focal plane of 56 feet. In addition to the light, there is a large lighthouse station, which continues to serve as housing for the U.S. Coast Guard. One of the station’s more famous occupants was Winslow Homer. The noted artist spent a year living at the light in 1880.
Checkout some of the different sailing opportunities on Cape Ann! Companies below vary from educational and historic sails to private charters. There’s no better way to take advantage of Cape Ann’s beautiful location than to get out on the water!
Frayed Knot Sailing
Ashland Ave, Manchester
23 Harbor Loop, Gloucester
33 Harbor Loop at Maritime Gloucester
Defiance Sail Charters
211 East Main Street-Beacon Marine Basin, Gloucester
Schooner Thomas E. Lannon
63-R Rogers Street
Good Harbor Beach
Route 127A (Thatcher Road)
With shining white sand stretching out into the Atlantic and picturesque views of Thacher Island’s twin lights, beautiful Good Harbor is one of the most popular beaches on Cape Ann. At low tide, one can take a leisurely stroll out to Salt Island while at high tide one can enjoy body surfing or styrofoam boogie boards (all other floatation devices and surf boards are prohibited). Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
- Carry In – Carry Out policy for trash, so all visitors should bring
a trash bag with them.
- Alcohol is prohibited. Concession stands are open during the summer so patrons may purchase food, drinks, toys and other items as needed.
- Restrooms and showers are open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.
- Parking (buses prohibited) is available during the week at a rate of $25 per vehicle, and on the weekends and holidays at $30 per vehicle. Non-resident parking is limited so arrive early in order to get a parking space, especially during the summer months. Gates open at 8:00 am and are locked at 9:00 pm. The beach is handicapped accessible.
- Directions: Take Route 128 North into Gloucester. Follow the signs for East Gloucester/Rockport, and continue on through two rotaries. At the first traffic light take a left onto Eastern Avenue (Route 127 N) and follow for approximately ½ mile to the Shaw’s Plaza on your right. Turn right at the end of the plaza onto Barn Lane. At the end of Barn Lane turn left onto Thatcher Road and the beach lot will be approximately ¼ mile on your right.
#1 WATCH THE BIGGEST MAMMALS ON THE PLANET
Make sure whale watching goes on your bucket list. People say: “It’s a lifelong dream fulfilled,” “It’s the best thing I ever did,” and “It made me cry,” reports Paul Frontierro of Gloucester, who has never tired of running whale watches for almost 30 years. Every single day is different. You might see mothers and calves, or whales breaching, flipper slapping, blowing or tail lobbing. On an extraordinary day, you could see 40 or 50 whales. Seasoned whale watchers go out several times a year.
#2 SOAK UP CULTURE AT THE SHALIN LIU
Like a fairytale palace with perfect acoustics, the Shalin Liu Performance Center rises from the Rockport waterfront. Its huge oceanfront windows let you watch the sun set over the harbor behind the performers while enjoying concerts of all stripes, plays, high def Met simulcasts and film festivals. What’s not to love?
#3 DIG DOGTOWN
A wild, mysterious wood blankets Cape Ann’s vast middle, a place of storied ghosts, pirates and murder. All that’s left are cellar holes and words painted on boulders: “Courage,” “Never try, never win.” So you don’t get lost, join a tour (contact the Chamber), or park on Cherry Street at Dogtown Road in Gloucester and follow the fire roads in and back. Don’t go late in the day. Bring your cell.
#4 VISIT “THE ANTIQUES CAPITAL OF AMERICA”
So many antiques shops crowd Essex’s waterfront on Rt. 133 that you’ll have to pick and choose: Americana, white elephants, fine art, European imports, something for everyone’s collection. When you weary of shopping, sample the seafood establishments also lining Rt. 133.
#5 BEACH IT UP
We have them all: spectacular barrier beaches like Wingaersheek and Good Harbor; shallow, child-friendly beaches like Rockport’s Front Beach; a beach with a dune made entirely of rocks, and even a beach that sings. Take your pick. Just don’t forget your camera.
#6 DINE WITH A VIEW
If you love seafood the way we do, you’ll love it even more with a view. You can have lobster in the rough at a rocky cove, elegant linen service overlooking the ocean, and everything in between. Bon appétit.
#7 COME FOR CHRISTMAS, STAY FOR WINTER
Nothing stops Rockport’s town tree lighting, not even a nor’easter. Santa comes by lobster boat, you can watch candy canes being made by hand, and see a live nativity with real animals, a torchlight procession, and a community carol sing. In Gloucester, Santa parades from the State Fish Pier all the way down Main Street to Stacy Boulevard for their tree lighting, and the Middle Street Walk shows off period houses. A Christmas tree made entirely of lobster traps glows above Main Street.
Essex has a Toy Land Parade, Santa’s arrival at the town landing, and breakfast with Santa.
Christmas by the Sea in Manchester finds open houses in the shops, the Jingle Bell Walk,
and the lighting of the Friendship Tree.
Rockport hosts an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration throughout downtown, with clowns and puppets for children, and every kind of musical concert imaginable, from jazz, rock and roll and country and western to classical, Cajun and sea chanteys.
Between New Year’s and spring, you can enjoy some spectacular winter birding, snowshoeing, and walks in the woods. Others enjoy mountain biking in the snow, surfing the winter waves, or just plain storm watching. The less adventurous might prefer to book an inn and curl up in front of a toasty fire, hot mulled cider in hand.
Author: Patricia Mandell
King Charles I named our Cape about 400 years ago in honor of his Mother, Ann. Today Cape Ann is quickly becoming recognized as a not-so- hidden gem whose qualities and attractions improve every year. Cape Ann uniquely possesses all the best of what New England has to offer, in a compact and easily traversed area. From its expansive green saltmarshes in Essex and Gloucester and incredibly beautiful and historic harbors of Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Rockport, to its wide, pristine beaches, and amazing rocky coastline, Cape Ann truly has it all.
Savor a relaxing porch-front view of the Atlantic Ocean at an historic inn or upscale hotel along the Gloucester and Rockport shores, walk along beautiful, wide open beaches, find unique and fun shopping, and experience a vast array of dining experiences in all four Cape Ann communities. Cape Ann is famed for the best fried and steamed clams in the region, and visitors have an array of dining options from eat-in-the rough lobsters and clams to fine dining establishments. Shop at unique boutique stores, cast-off from a dock and sail around spectacular harbors and travel farther out to the famed Stellwagen Bank for incredible whale watching and deep sea fishing. See world class art, dig into history and enjoy the stories of our earliest settlers whose homes remain intact to this day.
(Photo Credit: Arlene Taliadoros)
As the birthplace of the fried clam, this picturesque community yields some of the finest seafood on Cape Ann. Whether you care for a cup of clam chowder or a plate full of steamed clams, you will not be disappointed. But the quiet town of just over 3,000 residents has much more to offer than great seafood. Antiquing, a premier Essex attraction for generations, remains a favorite pastime for the locals as well as visitors. Shipbuilding has been part of Essex’s heritage for more than 400 years, and draws people from far and wide to admire what it takes to build the beautiful watercraft, some still sailing Cape Ann’s harbors and waterways today! The Essex Shipbuilding Museum is one stop that is a must see to truly appreciate the incredible ship building heritage of this small community. Kayaking or taking a cruise down the Essex River will surely give you a unique view of the tidal salt marsh as you meander with the river out toward Conomo Point and Ipswich Bay.
(Photo Credit: Cape Ann Chamber)
America’s oldest Seaport, this city of nearly 30,000 residents has a storied history that in the late 19th Century was the fishing center for North America. . Fishing is still a way of life for many in Gloucester and a majority of the local restaurants relying on the hard work done at sea and the fresh catch that comes in daily. Like its neighbor Essex, many of Cape Ann’s historic fishing vessels and schooners were built in Gloucester, where reputedly the first one was assembled in 1713. Take a stroll along the HarborWalk and Gloucester’s authentic working waterfront, visit the panoramic vistas of Gloucester Harbor at the Fishermen’s Memorial Statue (The Man at the Wheel) on Stacey Boulevard or from Stage Fort Park, tour Rocky Neck and its art colony and cultural district, and take to the water with a fun sail or motor tour around Gloucester’s historic and beautiful Harbor, or venture farther off shore and experience the best whale watching and deep sea fishing in New England, All this and more provide a varied taste of Gloucester’s amazing history, incredible beauty, and abundant attractions.
(Photo Credit: David Stotzer)
Founded as Jeffrey’s Creek in the mid-1800s, this town is located at the southern end of Cape Ann. In 1989 the state legislature made the name official as a means to differentiate the town from its larger neighbor to the North. A trip to Singing Beach, aptly named because of how the sand resonates when you walk on it, or Tuck’s Point is worth your time and then some. Beautiful retail shops, restaurants and galleries fill the town of just over 5,000 residents. The Manchester Historical Museum’s Trask House is a must-see to get the complete story of this town known for its beautiful historic architecture.
This picturesque seaside village, located at the most northeasterly part of Cape Ann, features beautiful beaches, historic lighthouses and galleries galore. Rockport’s downtown area is filled with quaint shops that include bookstores, candy-making, cafés and ice cream shops as well as art galleries, specialty shops, jewelers and many places to dine. A leisurely stroll along the ever-changing Bearskin Neck will give visitors every imaginable opportunity to buy that perfect keepsake to remember and cherish their time on Cape Ann. Visit Halibut Point State Park or walk along Rockport’s scenic shores in the footsteps of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and be captivated as they were by Rockport’s special places and unique charm.