North Shore, MA (North of Boston) Recommendations

I grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts and I’m so happy to be living there now as an adult. I often drive home from a busy day in Downtown Boston and feel like I’m heading to a vacation home since I’m a short drive from all of my favorite beaches and I have beautiful horse farms around me. I’m still close enough to a highway that takes me straight into the city so I don’t feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere.

Many of the North Shore towns make great day trips for people in Boston or the South Shore and Metro West. I’ve been compiling my “best of” list for awhile now since I often get asked for recommendations on the area. Below are all of my picks, including everything from local farms to garden centers and ice cream stands. If you see a category that includes a short list, it’s probably because I thought long and hard about what to include and went with only the places that I want to visit over and over again. If I missed a place that you love, please share in the comments section!

North Shore, MA (North of Boston) Favorites

Shops: Clothing/Accessories/Beauty/Kids

Hip Baby Gear (Marblehead) – Jami and her husband, Michael, have done such a good job with the selection in their store and have the highest-quality items for kids (and all the best parent must-haves!). This is the store to go when you need an honest stroller or car seat review and recommendation, nursery and children’s room furniture, unique gifts, clothing items and more. Many of the products are from independent and/or eco-friendly/safer brands too.

Curtsy (Salem) – Owner Courtney is so warm and welcoming…her boutique on Front Street has an array of really cute gift-y items, such as jewelry, tops, home décor pieces, adorable baby clothes and more.

Soak Shoreline (Newburyport) – Loungewear, pjs, beach cover-ups, hats and bags…everything in there gives you full vacation vibes.

Style Snoop by the Sea (Manchester-by-the-Sea) – This boho meets coastal boutique opened downtown at the end of June 2018. The owner, Amy, has curated an assortment of affordable pieces that you don’t see everywhere like embroidered cover-ups, Ipanema sandals, Bando items (e.g., the “Wish You Were Here” towel) graphic tees, tassel totes, and more.

Wheat (Newburyport) – This small boutique feels like the ones on MV or Nantucket. I really like the selection of gift items, women’s clothing and indie perfume and candle brands.

Face / Food (Newburyport) – A new holistic beauty shop and spa in downtown…the owner sells her own line of products that she created, as well as a mix of natural lines and some Massachusetts-based indie ones, such as Thorn & Bloom botanical perfume. The owner’s skin glows too – this is the place I’m booking my next facial.

Home Décor/Florals

Les Fleurs (Andover) – A French-themed dream land curated by owner Sandra, featuring home décor items (pots, topiaries, candles, etc.) up front and a full floral design team out back, working on the most gorgeous arrangements. Go there for a beautiful accent piece for the house or for jaw-dropping flowers.

Lulu’s Pantry (Rockport) – Such good kitchenware, linens and food items in this joint!

Sage Market + Design Newburyport

Sage Market + Design (Newburyport) – I will not go to Newburyport without stopping into Sage to drool over the textile pillows and planters. Owned by the nicest mother and daughter duo, this place has all the modern coastal things I want in my own home (they offer interior design services and floral/greenery arrangements too).

Savior Faire (Andover) – This interior design studio delivers amazing coastal-looking makeovers for clients and sells beautiful pieces on-site.

Cafes

Honeycomb Hamilton

Honeycomb (Hamilton) – Walk into this popular bakery/café and you’ll fall in love. Delicious coffee, great baked goods (made fresh daily), salads, sandwiches, etc. The modern farm house atmosphere is perfection too. My regular morning order is a chocolate croissant and an iced honey latte with cashew milk.

Tartine Kitchen & Eatery (Beverly) – The French owner has created a cool modern space for lunch, offering delicious plates (go for the tartines and quiches).

Restaurants

Bancroft & Co. (Peabody) – Love the upscale industrial atmosphere and the meal presentations.

Alto Forno (Peabody) – Italian food, white tablecloths and great for date night.

Tonno (Gloucester & Wakefield) – Another upscale Italian spot in Downtown Gloucester that came highly recommended by @livingnorthshore. People love this place!

Woodman’s of Essex (Essex) – The quintessential seafood shack with the best fried batter. Super rustic and it’s totally OK to stop there in your bathing suit bottoms and flip flops to grab dinner or lunch after the beach.

The Market Restaurant (Annisquam) – A beloved farm-to-table restaurant in a little gray house situated over the water. No walk-ins for dinner – you must book a reservation in advance!

Lots of Eats Thai Kitchen (North Andover) – I’ve never eaten at a better Thai restaurant! Try the Kanom Krok appetizer, which are sweet coconut rice cakes.

Ice Cream Stands

White Farms Ice Cream (Ipswich) – My go-to spot for homemade ice cream all summer long. It has the largest selection of flavors. I love the Coconut Chip and Cherry Vanilla.

Cherry Farm Creamery (Danvers) – This is a cute little spot very close to Rt. 128 and it has a driving range on site.

Pizza

The Riverview (Ipswich) – No frills here but the pizza is on-point and it’s open ‘til 11:30pm, 6 days of the week.

Evviva Cucina (Beverly) – The pizza and pasta dishes are solid and the service has always been really good.

Farms

Tendercrop Farms (Wenham & Newbury) – The marinated meats and fruits from this farm are excellent and they plant new sunflower plants every year, which are huge and start blooming at the end of July. Another Instagram photo opp (check out mine)!

Marini Farms (Ipswich) – One of the only places that carries 8-10+’ blue spruce Christmas trees! The seasonal children’s play area that they set up is amazing and the kids could spend hours there.

Russell Orchards – This farm is fairly small but it has such a pretty setting and we enjoy going to see their huge resident pig named “Daryl.” If you are looking for a farm that offers cherry picking, this is one of them!

Smolak Farms (North Andover) – Huge fields with so many activities all year-long. Go in the fall for apple and pumpkin picking. Try the apple cider donuts and pies too.

Garden Centers

Kane’s Flower World (Danvers) – Great value (you can get fig trees of all sizes here for a good price) and I love their selection of annuals and succulents.

Corliss Brothers (Ipswich) – The selection of trees, bushes and flowers can’t be beat (I’ve tried everywhere!) and is actually worth the slightly higher price. We got all of our small plants from here, as well as all of our rose bushes.  Staff is very knowledgeable too.

Hotels/Inns

Beauport Hotel (Gloucester) – We were invited to stay overnight and experience this nautical-themed hotel as guests and had a wonderful time (thank you, Beauport!). There are special perks for guests, such as access to the rooftop pool and bar (so awesome!), bikes you can borrow to cruise around town and a bright blue VW bus that can take you to the beaches nearby. We had an excellent breakfast and dinner at the 1606 Restaurant on-site too. If you are looking for a staycation or have a wedding to attend on the North Shore, look into the Beauport.

Blue (Plum Island/Newburyport), The Hotel Salem (Salem) and The Merchant (Salem) – I have not stayed at these inns but they’re the only three Lark Hotels on the North Shore and Lark is known for their amazing interiors and high-end customer service.

Beaches

Crane Beach (Ipswich) – This beach has a large stretch of sand once you walk up the large wooden boardwalk entrances. Beautifully maintained and it’s a great place to enjoy at sunset.

Wingaersheek Beach Gloucester

Wingaersheek (West Gloucester) – This is my favorite beach on the North Shore because of it’s white, soft sand, spots of warm water, sandbars and rocks for the kids to explore.

Plum Island Beach (Newburyport) – You truly feel like you’re on vacation taking the road from Newburyport over to Plum Island. Walk the wooden boardwalks through the dunes straight to the dark tan sand and dark blue waters.

Singing Beach Manchester-by-the-Sea

Singing Beach (Manchester-by-the-Sea) – I frequent this tiny, curved beach more at dusk than during the day just to catch the beautiful sunset! Worth a drive on a clear day…park down the road near the ice cream place and it’s about an 8-10 minute walk.

Museums & Other Afternoon Activities

Peabody Essex Museum (Salem) – I’m so impressed with all of the unique traveling exhibitions that this museum brings in on a regular basis. The temporary “Playtime” exhibit, featuring a room filled with pink balloons, was quite the Instagram photo opp that spring.

Wenham Museum – A small museum but great for kids. There are many North Shore artifacts and history lessons to be learned, as well as a bunch of vintage dolls, toys and an entire room of operating model train sets.

Downtown Newburyport – So many shopping and eating options…downtown is looking really good right now and it’s my favorite North Shore day-trip out of all of the coastal towns.

Polo Match at Myopia – Taking place on Sundays at 3pm, from June through September, the polo matches at the Myopia Club are one of my favorite things to do in the summer. Myopia Polo is the oldest active polo club in America and the best players and their horses come here for games.

Wenham Tea House (Wenham) – I like to sit outside for brunch and a pot of tea on a nice day! Not many places offer tea service, which is really fun with friends or family.

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A brand marketing/PR exec and new mom based in Boston; sharing my thoughts on fave destinations, gift ideas, décor, style, beauty and more. Read More

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