What are some of the best things to do in Rockport, Massachusetts?
After all, when you think about the town of Rockport in Massachusetts, what typically comes to mind?
Well first of all, the town of Rockport is a seaside town located in Essex County of Massachusetts. The town is located approximately 40 miles northeast of Boston at the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula. It also borders Gloucester to its west, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean in all other corners. And as of 2010, the population here was estimated to be about 6,952 people living here.
The town of Rockport is also primarily known as a suburban residential area as well as being a tourist town. It’s rocky beaches and seaside parks are a favorite among locals and tourists alike who come from all over the country to see its sights.
But aside from all of that, what else do we really know about the town of Rockport?
Well for starters, the town of Rockport, Massachusetts offers quite a bit of things for visitors to see and do. For instance, because it is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, visitors can find miles and miles of beautiful beaches for them to explore. There are also many boulder-strewn paths that leads through woods and glades as you’ll be able to see some of the most beautiful scenic views available.
Rockport is also a popular place for romantic getaways as inside this town you can find an abundance of fine dining restaurants, shopping experiences, entertainment and more which will rock your world.
And if you love art, then this place should certainly be up your alley. As you will soon notice that Rockport’s art colony is one of the oldest in America, and is home to over thirty galleries and the “Rockport Art Association and Museum”. You can even find maany world-class shows and festivals happening all year round.
So if you’re wondering what exactly are some of the best things to do here in the town of Rockport, Massachusetts, then we got you covered.
In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Rockport, Massachusetts.
So if you’re ready, lets get started!
- Things To Do In Rockport, Massachusetts
- Visit Halibut Point State Park
- Roam Around Bearskin Neck
- Visit The Shalin Liu Performance Center
- Motif Number 1
- Have Fun At The Beach
- Visit The Paper House
- Visit The Rockport Art Association & Museum
- Visit Thacher Island
- Eat Some Delicious Lobster Rolls
- Go On A Scenic Bike Ride
- Go Kayaking In The Ocean
- Go Scuba Diving
- Go Whale Watching
- Explore The Amazing Rockport Quarries
- Visit The Local Brewery
- Enjoy the Views At The Headlands
- Enjoy Some Ice Cream At Bearskin Neck
- Get A Relaxing Massage
- Take A Day Trip To Salem, Ma
- Visit The Famous Hammond Castle
Things To Do In Rockport, Massachusetts
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Rockport, Massachusetts.
Visit Halibut Point State Park
Located about a 7 minute drive from the center of Rockport, you will reach a park that is considered to be one of the best places to visit here in the town of Rockport.
Halibut Point State Park is a very beautiful coastal seascape that offers so much for you to see and do.
This park was formerly a granite quarry, but has since changed to allow the public to free roam around and explore all that is has to offer. For instance, it is here where you can explore the park’s many trails and tidepools, have picnics on a rocky ledge, enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding area, as well as learn all about Cape Ann’s historic granite industry.
Plus if you happen to come on a clear day, you can even see that the view stretches from Crane Beach in Ipswich to Mount Agamenticus in Maine and the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire.
One of the more interesting things about this park is that on Saturdays during Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend, tours of the quarry will usually be offered which includes a granite-cutting demonstration. There will also be a variety of other programs happening as well that highlights the park’s natural history. Including wildflower walks, tidepool programs, seabird walks and more all for you to enjoy.
The park is open all year round from sunrise to sunset and is absolutely one of the best places to visit in terms of fun and entertainment.
Roam Around Bearskin Neck
If you are interested in doing some shopping or just exploring the many shops that are in this town, then one of the best places to visit here in Rockport is at a place called Bearskin Neck.
No there isn’t really any bearskin hanging around the place. It is actually the name of a shopping area where you can find all sorts of different shops for you to shop at. It’s located at the very tip of the peninsula that stretches out to surround the harbor.
It is here where you can find all kinds of quaint shops, art galleries, restaurants, cafes, ice cream shops (tons of them), and is overall a very fun place to roam around and explore. These are all small locally-owned businesses where you’ll be greeted with warmth and care.
It’s a very popular place as many locals and tourists alike will come here to do their shopping or to eat some delicious foods. In fact, you can find one of the most popular restaurants to eat at called “Roy Moore Lobster Co” here in this area.
Some of the shops you can find here include ones like Seabags, The Pewter Shop, Bearskin Neck Leathers, Carol Lee’s Cottage, Strut Boutique, One Ocean One Love, and many others that are waiting for you to visit.
In addition to all of these things, you’ll also notice that there are an abundance of art galleries right on the neck. Some of which includes Lauri Kaihlanen Gallery, Scot Tubby Fine Art, The Art Nook, and more.
There is simply so much for you to see and explore here in Bearskin Neck. From clothes to food or even souvenir and gifts, Bearskin Neck is truly the place to be for all your shopping needs. This is one place you definitely have to visit if you are ever here in the town of Rockport, Massachusetts.
Visit The Shalin Liu Performance Center
One of the best things to do in Rockport, Massachusetts is to simply go watch a performance or show at the Shalin Liu Performance Center.
After all, the Shalin Liu Performance Center is a major music and theatre center that is well known throughout the region for its impressive performances and shows.
Visitors who come to the Shalin Liu Performance Center will find that it features a floor to ceiling glass backdrop overlooking Sandy Bay and has a seating capacity of over 300 for people to enjoy. It is here where you’ll be able to enjoy things like folk, pop, rock, blues, classical, jazz and more.
In fact, this performance center draws some impressive acts with performers like Livingston Taylor, Arlo Guthrie, Grammy winner Paula Cole, Wynton Marsalis, and more who come here all throughout the year to give performances for the people of this town.
Aside from the single performance shows, they are also home to a variety of festivals all throughout the year. From things like the “Rockport Chamber Music Festival” to the “Rockport Jazz Festival” and more, this place is a music-lovers paradise come true.
Plus it is also in close proximity to the town, which means you can grab some food or drinks at the neighboring restaurants and then walk right down to the performance center to enjoy some good forms of entertainment.
It’s a fun and exciting experience and one you definitely have to try to know just how amazing this place really is.
Motif Number 1
If you were to ask anybody who lives in the town of Rockport, Massachusetts what the most important building in town is, you will almost always get the answer “Motif Number 1”.
Now when you first look at Motif Number 1, you might be wondering why exactly is a fishing shack considered to be one of the most important buildings this town has to offer. But after doing some research, you’ll find out that this old fishing shack actually has a long history with this town and has become the heart and symbol of Rockport.
Motif Number 1 which was built in the 1840’s was originally a place that housed fishermen’s supplies and daily catches for many years. It was then used as a place for meeting and watching ship launches when the U.S. Naval Fleet docked, and has changed once again to become an artist’s studio before finally serving as a city-owned monument to the area’s veterans.
The unusual name for this building is believed to have come from an early artist, who noted that it was the favorite subject for many local artists to paint and draw. And if you roam around the town, you will actually notice that everywhere you go, you will most often find a painting of this building hanging around somewhere.
It’s for this reason that it is known to be the “most painted building in the world”.
And that is why, if you ever get a chance to come to the town of Rockport, Massachusetts, then the Motif Number 1 building is definitely one of the best spots you can ever visit.
Have Fun At The Beach
As you know, Massachusetts is often viewed as having a rocky place with a reputation for all types of water based activities like fishing or boating. Now while this is true, this also means that there are an abundance of beaches located all over the coast where you can see and do so many different things.
In fact here in Rockport, Massachusetts, you can find many different beaches for you to go around and explore. The closest beach you can visit from Rockport is a beach called “Front Beach“, and is within walking distance from downtown. It’s a small beach but offers plenty of room for you to relax and enjoy the ocean breeze.
If you are looking for a more bigger beach, then you’ll want to head to “Long Beach”, which sits on the border of Rockport and Gloucester. It’s a pretty lengthy stretch of land that is filled with lots of sand and is a popular spot for many people to visit.
Many of these beaches will allow you to do all sorts of water based activities. From swimming to fishing or even surfing and sailing, the options are endless.
Although you should know that depending on what beach you go to, parking may be limited. So if you really want to go visit a beach, you should head there as early as you can in order to make sure you get a parking spot.
Overall visiting one of the many beaches here in Rockport is definitely one of the best things you can do. You’ll be surrounded by beautiful scenic views while enjoying the nice ocean breeze.
Visit The Paper House
If you are interested in seeing something unique and amazing here in the town of Rockport, Massachusetts, then one place you definitely have to visit is the “Paper House“.
Now when I mention the name “Paper House”, I really do mean Paper House.
Paper House is an attraction that is located about an eight minute drive from downtown. What makes this attraction so special is that the entire house is completely made out of paper. Even the inside furniture are also made out of paper as well. It’s truly a surreal experience.
The owner, Elis F. Stenman who was a mechanical engineer who helped design the machines that make paper clips, began building this Rockport Summer Home out of paper as a hobby back in the year of 1922.
Visitors who come here can explore this paper home in all its natural form and glory. You’ll be able to tour the insides where you can see walls made out of complete paper as well as furniture’s like desks, piano, chairs and more which are made out of paper too.
Tour Admissions to this place is really cheap as it costs about $2 dollars for adults and $1 dollar for kid, and is totally worth every penny.
Not many places around the world are you able to find a house and everything inside being made out of complete paper. It’s truly an eye opening experience and one you will truly enjoy.
Visit The Rockport Art Association & Museum
As you know, the town of Rockport, Massachusetts is known to have a long and strong history of the fine arts.
In fact, back in the early 1900’s, many artists were trying to spend their summers in studios around Bearskin Neck. And without much modern distractions, the creative community seemed to spend more time talking, with some of the talk being about art. And it is for this reason a group of artists came together to form an organization that would help support their endeavors.
Ever since 1921, the Rockport Art Association and Museum has been a gathering place for artists all around New England. It is here where they welcome thousands of visitors from all over the world with the promotion of year-round Programs and Exhibitions. In fact, since its founding, they have managed to steadily increase its size.
Visitors who come here will be able to see an extensive collection of beautiful art pieces done by many local and international artists who come here to learn and draw. They’ll also be able to see many impressive rotating exhibitions that come and go all throughout the year with many of them coming from members of the museum or collectors.
Not only that, but every year, this building also offers a variety of different educational programs including workshops, children’s classes, sketch groups, artist demonstrations, gallery talks and artist lectures.
It’s one of the best places to visit if you want to see and learn many different kinds of art as well as embracing the culture and history that surrounds it.
Visit Thacher Island
If you’re ever standing near the coast of Rockport, one place that you might see is the famous Thacher Island.
This island has a long and incredible history and is famous for having shipwrecks and even acting as the home of a mafia hitman turned informant.
But the most famous attraction here is definitely the pair of lighthouses called “Twin Lights”. These lighthouses are identical to one another and were built back in 1861. They reach a staggering 124 feet high and stands about 164 feet above the waterline. You can easily see these two lighthouses on a sunny day as well as seeing them glow during the night.
Visitors who come can climb these towers in all their glory and be able to see many amazing views. For instance, you’ll be able to see the skyline of Boston to the south, mountains of Maine to the northwest, and more.
And if you have time to explore the island, you’ll even find that there is a museum here which you can visit and learn about the history of the island. It also contains various artifacts from the past which makes the experience so much more enjoyable.
The only ways to this island are by boat or kayak, but is an experience that is totally worth it. You’ll be able to explore the entire island as a whole and depending on when you come, you might even be able to camp on the island as well.
It makes for one heck of an experience and is one everybody will enjoy.
Eat Some Delicious Lobster Rolls
Lets be honest.
If you are ever going to be traveling around to Rockport, Massachusetts, then one thing you absolutely must try is a Lobster Roll. After all, Rockport is located right next to the open waters, which means that the town is able to get some of the freshest supply of lobsters anytime they want.
And lobster rolls are arguably the most famous and favorite type of food available here in this region.
Visitors who come to this town can find many different locations serving up this amazing roll. With many of them having their own take and twist on how to create it.
Some of the seafood restaurants that serve this delicious roll includes Roy Moore’s, The Lobster Pool, Blue Lobster Grill, Feather and Wedge, and more. All of these places will be serving this delicious treat at affordable prices so you can rest easy and enjoy the lobsters in all their glory.
Plus, even if you don’t go for the lobster roll itself, you can still try various other lobster dishes or seafoods too! All of which will taste amazing. Mainly because they are by the waters so the seafood that they bring in will be some of the freshest you have ever seen.
So if you’re in the mood for some amazing food and want to have that New England experience, then you definitely got to get yourself some delicious lobster to eat.
Go On A Scenic Bike Ride
One of the most enjoyable and relaxing things you can do here in the town of Rockport, is to simply go on a bike ride around the entire area.
Sure you can walk, drive, or even hop on a motorcycle to explore the surroundings. But there is something about riding a bike along the coast that brings a joyful experience to the entire thing.
Visitors who come to this town can find various areas that provides some scenic views. And by riding a bike along these areas will be able to provide you a perfect chance to explore and enjoy all the beautiful and natural surroundings around you.
Plus, if you don’t have a bike of your own, then you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of bike rental shops around that will rent you a bike at an affordable price. One of the most popular bike rental shops is one called “Addison Choate“. Here you’ll be able to rent a cruising bike for around $45 dollars a day or about $15 dollars an hour. They also include helmets and locks in the rentals too.
Riding a bike through the coast of Rockport is a very enjoyable experience and allows you to see things in a different manner. You’ll be able to stop wherever you want and take in all the amazing sights, all while basking in the beautiful ocean breeze.
Go Kayaking In The Ocean
One of the most fun and entertaining things you can ever do here in the town of Rockport, Massachusetts, is to simply go out into the waters and kayak around.
After all, this town is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean which means kayaking is a great activity to do as you’ll be able to paddle around and explore so many different things.
For instance, visitors who are interested in kayaking can simply go out into the waters and explore all along the coastline. You’ll be able to see things like historic lighthouses, seals, birds, and different islands surrounding the area.
And if you don’t have your own kayak, do not worry. There are many different shops and vendors around town that provides rentals for you to use. For instance, North Shore Kayak Outdoor Center is one of the most popular places to rent out equipment. Here they offer things like kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and more all for you to use. Plus they do so at reasonable prices which is great.
So if you ever have the spare time and want to explore the town and the surrounding areas in a more unique and interesting manner, than kayaking is definitely a great way to go.
Go Scuba Diving
Kayaking might be the thing to do if you are wanting to explore the top of the waters while also seeing the surrounding areas. But if you are wanting to explore the depths of the ocean, then you’ll have to go scuba diving.
And here in Rockport, Massachusetts, scuba diving is one of the most popular things to do since the town is literally surrounded by ocean water.
In fact, some of the most popular areas for you to go scuba diving is at “Back Beach” or “Front Beach”. Both of which offers splendid views of the waters underneath and allows you to explore the ocean waters in full detail.
For instance, when you dive down into the ocean at any of these beaches here, you’ll be able to see all kinds of marine life. You’ll have fishes swimming left and ride and it makes for one of the most scenic experiences you’ll ever have. Plus if you dive deep enough, you’ll also encounter lobsters of various sizes. Far better than anything you’ll see in a museum.
And just like anything else, there are various companies around the area that will offer you a very fun diving adventure. Some of these companies let you dive out on your own or you can even follow a guide who will teach you everything you need to know in order to explore.
For instance, Cape Ann Divers is a company that charters people to the ocean depths and allows them to dive in various instances. Their pricing is also pretty reasonable and they are very knowledgeable about the entire experience.
So if you are looking for an adventure unlike any other, than you should definitely try your hand at scuba diving if you ever get the chance.
Go Whale Watching
If you didn’t know, the Atlantic Ocean is one of the most common areas where you can see many types of whales.
And because the town of Rockport, Massachusetts is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, it means that whale watching is going to be one of the most popular things to do here in this town.
But if you don’t have your own boat, you’ll most likely have to travel to the neighboring town which is less than a 10 minute drive away in Gloucester. There you’ll be able to join one of the many whale watching tours which will take you out into the open waters in hopes of seeing these majestic animals.
Some of the whales you might see includes the enormous Humpback Whale, Minke Whale, and even the Finback Whale. Although just so you know, it isn’t always guaranteed for you to see these whales out in the open. It’s basically a gamble as you have a chance at seeing these animals. But still, it is an experience that is totally worth it, even if you don’t see any whales as you’ll still get to enjoy the ocean breeze and see some beautiful scenic views.
For those that are wanting to join a whale watch group to see some of these whales, one company that most people use is called “7 Seas Whale Watch“. They are a local family owned company that is professional in every way possible and makes the entire experience so much more enjoyable.
So if you are wanting to make your trip an even more memorable one, whale watching is definitely one of the best things you can do.
Explore The Amazing Rockport Quarries
As you know, the area of Rockport, Massachusetts is known for being a place filled with plenty of quarries. In fact, the quarries located in this town have been used all throughout history dating back to the first settler of the Sandy Bay Colony.
These quarries have become a major source of stone during the Industrial Revolution, which is why you are able to see that many of the city streets were lined with granite from the Rockport Quarries.
Many of these quarries located in this town are no longer active which means they are able to be fully explored in all their glory. In fact, many of these quarries provide a nice Summer getaway as you’ll be able to go into these quarries for a nice dip. And if you’re brave enough, you can even climb up to the highest point and jump down into the waters below.
A fun thing many people tend to do when they come to this town is to simply visit as many quarries as they can. As most of these quarries are pretty different from one another, they provide different sort of views that are pleasant to see.
Some of the quarries you might run into includes ones like “Carlson Quarry”, “Flat Ledge Quarry”, “Johnson’s Quarry” and more all readily available for you to see. There is even a preferred route that visitors can take which will lead them through all the quarries in this town.
Overall it is a fun little activity that family and friends can do together and makes for a great opportunity to explore the town in full detail.
Visit The Local Brewery
One of the best things to do when traveling around to some place new is to simply see if the town has any local brewery for you to visit.
And here in Rockport, Massachusetts, you’ll be happy to know that they have a local brewery here called “The Rockport Brewing Company” that is exceedingly popular among locals and tourists alike.
They are an independent family owned micro craft brewery that prides themselves in serving high quality small batch craft beer to the residents and visitors that are here in this town.
It is here where you can find a variety of different beers for you to drink. For instance, their flagship beers include “Twin Lights”, which is a drink that has a light bitterness rounded out with a punch of tropical stone fruits. Another one is the “Whale Cove”, which is brewed in lemon, coriander and light hints of Chamomile. They also have seasonal beers sour series like the “Watermelon and Basile Gose during the Summer or Raspberry Lime Berliner Weisse during the Spring.
But the best part about this brewery is that they even invite local guest brewers in to help brew something special together all throughout the year.
Their brews are so popular that you can even find them in some of the local shops here like Sea and Cellar and Whistlestop Market.
So whether you are new to craft brews or even a seasoned pro, the craft brew at the Rockport Brewing Company will definitely bring a smile to your face.
Enjoy the Views At The Headlands
If you’re interested in seeing some of the most beautiful sights ever while also being surrounded by a peaceful atmosphere, then one place you have to visit is the “Headlands“.
Located down off of Atlantic Ave in Rockport, you’ll come across a rocky outcropping area that is commonly referred to as the Headlands. It’s one of the best spots for you to visit as you’ll be able to enjoy some nice foods while relaxing in a beautiful environment.
The views here are top notch as you’ll be able to see afar to so many different locations. For instance, you’ll be able to see the entire Rockport Harbor, the jetty, Bearskin Neck and more all from being in this one area.
It’s also a great place to just people watch and see exactly how the people of Rockport live their lives. For example, you’ll be able to see the fishing boats come and go, maybe even see some sailors sailing around while enjoying the coastal breeze.
Definitely one of the most casual and fun things to do here in the town of Rockport.
Enjoy Some Ice Cream At Bearskin Neck
Depending on when you decide to visit the town of Rockport, Massachusetts, the weather may or may not be very hot. Especially during the summer times.
Which is one one of the best ways to combat the heat is to simply head on down to one of the many ice cream shops available and eat some ice cream.
And here in Rockport, you can find an abundance of them here for you to enjoy. Most of them are hanging around the area of Bearskin Neck,
For instance, the most popular shop that most people tend to visit is one called the “Ice Cream Store“. This store specializes in serving various kinds of cold treats for you to enjoy. From premium ice cream choices to low guilt frozen yogurt and more, the options are endless here.
So why not grab a ice cream cone and enjoy the sweet taste while being surrounded by beautiful oceanic breezes.
Get A Relaxing Massage
If you’re traveling around to a different region for a nice vacation, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to simply get a massage.
After all, a massage is a great way to relax your body as well as getting it to unwind and get your lactic acid moving around.
And here in the Rockport and Gloucester area, you can find some of the best massage studios you’ll ever want. For instance, some of the massage studios you might run across includes the “Salt Water Massage” and “The Well“.
Salt Water Massage for instance, has almost everything you can ever ask for. From deep tissue massages to cupping, hot stones, or even CBD massages, the options are endless. The Well on the other hand offers a different take on things as they have acupuncture, reiki and even craniosacral therapy.
Either way, it doesn’t really matter which massage studio you choose to go to. Your experience will always turn out spectacular and will have you feeling much more relaxed and comfortable.
Take A Day Trip To Salem, Ma
Do you like witches? How about magic and the dark arts?
If that sounds interesting, then one thing you would absolutely love doing is to visit the town of Salem, Massachusetts. It’s a very convenient day trip as it is very close to the town of Rockport and offers so many things for you to see and do.
The town of Salem is very popular as it is home to some truly amazing architecture, history and of course, magic and witches. Although the latter part might not be real, but it’ll still give you a sense of entertaining things to think about.
For instance, when visiting the town of Salem, you can see things like the House of Seven Gables, Witch Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, or even head on down to Salem Willow’s where you can get some fun and exciting action on the waters.
Plus while you are here, you’ll also be glad to know that they serve some really delicious foods as well. Visitors who come would definitely enjoy “Turner’s Seafood At Lyceum Hall”, or even “Howling Wolf Taqueria”.
And if you happen to be here during the month of October, you might even get a chance to join the Festival of the Dead. This is an annual festival that explores death’s mysteries through events that investigate the favored and forbidden ways in which people have honored, celebrated, and secretly delved into life’s inevitable destination.
So if you have the time to spare and want to explore some neighboring towns, than the town of Salem should definitely be on your list of places to visit.
Visit The Famous Hammond Castle
If you’re ever in the town of Rockport, Massachusetts, there is one place you have to visit. Although it isn’t actually in the town of Rockport, but is in fact in the neighboring town of Gloucester.
Gloucester is only a few minutes drive away and has one of the most famous castles in all of the United States. Hammond Castle which is the former home and laboratory of eccentric inventor John Hays Hammond Jr, who is considered the father of radio control.
Visitors who come here will be able to go on a tour where they explore this castle in full detail. You’ll be able to learn so many things, from technology to history or even architecture and artifacts. In fact, inside the great hall, you can find artifacts dating back to the Renaissance that were collected by Mr. Hammond as well as a really cool pipe organ.
But the most interesting and entertaining aspect about this tour is that visitors will be able to learn about some of the mischief that Mr. Hammond got into around his home.
Hammond Castle is literally one of the coolest places to visit if you ever get the chance. I mean, how often are you able to say that you actually visited a real castle? Which is why, if you are ever in the town of Rockport, you should definitely make this short trip over to Gloucester to see this amazing castle.
Overall, the town of Rockport in Massachusetts is a really cool and interesting place for you to visit. There is simply so many things for you to see and explore, you’ll never know what you might come across.
So hopefully this post about the “20 Best Things To Do In Rockport, Massachusetts” was able to help you out in some sort of way. This way if you ever find yourself visiting the city of Rockport in Massachusetts, you will know exactly what things you are able to do for some fun.
Also if you are interested in reading some of my other posts about traveling, you can do so by clicking these links:
- Essential steps for planning a trip
- How to find cheap flights
- There is no such thing as a perfect time to travel
Or you can check out all my blog posts by click this link.
Have fun traveling and let me know how it goes~