You’ve asked for it, and it’s finally arrived. Summer has come to Newburyport!
As such, here’s a quick cheat sheet for how to make the best of summer in and around town. It simply does not get much better than….
Summer In Newburyport:
EATS: Go to David’s Fish or Tendercrop, then to your backyard, then to your grill, then to your dinner plate. Then repeat tomorrow. Then repeat tomorrow. Then repeat tomorrow… Want to eat out, there is no shortage of choices…Lexie’s burgers, The Poynt’s sushi, PIGrille sunset, all great spots!
DRINKS: Because it’s the most summery feeling place around (surf vibes!) and because there’s no other bar/eatery quite like it in Newburyport, why not give The Paddle Inn a go? If those reasons aren’t enough to whet your whistle, their ADULT CAPRI SUN should certainly do the trick. And of course – Micheal’s Bruch and punch.
KIDDOS: Keep it cool in a CAVE! Create your own imaginative adventure minutes down the road (Boston Road in Newbury, to be exact — just across from the Newbury Transfer Station) at the Jennie Lagoulis Reservation. A short half mile hike brings you to “The Devil’s Den.”
OUTDOORSY: Plum Island was once traversed by way of horse-drawn cars, an electric trolley, and motorized vehicles were even allowed on the beach at one point. These days, ride (or stand) in style by renting a kayak or paddle board from Plum Island Kayak (located on Water Street in Newburyport). Also it’s hard to beat the Newburyport Whale Watch on a bright, windless day.
INDOORSY: The trifecta: a good book, an iced coffee, and a key lime whoopie pie. Hit up (the almost fifty years strong) Jabberwocky Books for a cool summer read and visit Chococoa Baking Company for your necessary caffeine and sugar dosages, all conveniently located at The Tannery. Settle into one of the Tannery’s common area cozy chairs and relax!
FUNKY FRESH FACT: August 22-24 marks this year’s Newburyport Shark & Tuna Tournament. Grab a lawn chair and hang out around the riverfront, Harbormaster’s Building. It’s always a surprising delight to see the sea monsters that get weighed in on the scale behind the Custom House Museum/Oldie’s.
While a Plum Island beach walk or Rail Trail ramble is never the wrong idea, part of what makes Newburyport great is our proximity to other fun places. If the need to get-away-for-a-summer-day does strike, here are some suggestions to help get your summer on:
30 minute drive or less
EATS: Take in the inviting Cheers style atmosphere of Riverview Pizza while you take in the unique flavors of their simple, delicious (and cheap) little pies. Cash only (and some of that should be in quarters — Ms. Pac Man awaits). Also Ithaki has some of the best Greek dishes around.
DRINKS: Get a load of the sweeping Laverne & Shirley style canning line at True North Ale Co.
KIDDOS: Ice cream for them and coffee for you from Zumi’s Espresso. Head out the backdoor and enjoy a riverwalk stroll for all!
OUTDOORSY: Crane’s Beach-enough said. Thursday concerts on the sweeping mall. Foote’s Kayak rentals. Or, go on a weird-stone-pillar-thingy scavenger hunt. Find the four towering “pinnacle obelisks” while you hike the bucolic fields and forested trails of America’s oldest working farm, Appleton Farms.
INDOORSY: Take a guided tour of the Crane State’s 59-roomed Great House on Castle Hill (check website for times). Teeming with 1920’s antiques, architecture, general highfalutin poshness… and movie history from 1987’s Witches of Eastwick starring Jack Nicholson and Cher to 2014’s The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington!
FUNKY FRESH FACT: Ipswich has more first period houses (1600-1700) than any other place in America!
If not Ipswich, how ‘bout: Exeter, NH, Newmarket, NH, or Portsmouth, NH?
60 minute drive or less
Unfortunately (fortunately?), 92.5 FM’s The Riverfront Music Festival held at summer’ s end is taking its -17 year- affiliation with our community … down the road to Gloucester.
This year, the now rebranded Riverfest Seaside Music Festival will be held on Saturday, August 24th at Stage Fort Park from noon – 6:00 PM. Here’s a look at what else Gloucester has to offer.
EATS: Removed from the musical mayhem at Stage Fort Park (they, if you’re hungry in the moment, there’ll be plenty of on-site food vendors), Passports mixes seafood standards with quirky delectability. Try some fried oysters with a fresh, warm popover! Great eats with an eclectic atmosphere filled with local art available for purchase.
DRINKS: Maybe the only tiki bar on the North Shore, the creative Short And Main offers up funky, fruity refreshments for a hot summer day with a cozy, speakeasy vibe.
KIDDOS: Interactive exhibits of marine life and maritime history combine to great effect at Maritime Gloucester. Cape Ann’s coastal habitats and heritage can be experienced by way of Sea Pocket touch tanks, dories/schooners, and even a marine railway.
OUTDOORSY: Dogtown Common AKA “The Commons” is an abandoned settlement shared between Gloucester and neighboring Rockport. Filled with history, hiking, and lots of rocks — from ancient moraines (your word of the day) to mysterious “cellar hole stones” to the inspirational quote inlayed Babson Boulders — Dogtown is part nature walk, part scavenger hunt. Also great views at Stage Fort Park abound.
INDOORSY: From the outside, ninety year-old Hammond Castle looks like a medieval fortress out of Game Of Thrones. Inside its walls you’ll find curiosities from ancient Rome through the Renaissance and Jon Hays Hammond Jr’s many commercial inventions (including the remote control). Visitors are invited to explore the many rooms and beautiful sprawling grounds which abut the sea.
FUNKY FRESH FACT: Since 1927, locals celebrate another year at sea by competing in The Greasy Pole contest. For three days during the summertime Saint Peter Fiesta, contestants attempt to grab a country flag set at the end of a slippery pole suspended 30 feet above the ocean. How slippery? The pole is lathered with bacon fat, Crisco, fish guts, biodegradable axle grease, banana peels and lard. You best start practicing NOW!
But if you’re like…. “there’s no way I’m going to Gloucester to support that damn music fest — They can have it — I’m done with it!” sounds like something you find yourself saying… let’s just go to Ogunquit instead
EATS: The acclaimed MC Perkins Coveis heralded as one of the most romantic restaurants in the northeast with one of the best views… but it can be most properly summarized in the following fourteen words: brown-butter brownie with vanilla ice cream, burnt orange caramel, and candied orange peel. Reservations recommended; Guilt-free gluttony necessary. When finished, torch some calories with a journey to the beach / downtown along the coastal clifftop path known as the Marginal Way.
DRINKS: Above Tide Inn, Ogunquit Beach Lobster House, Splash, and Charlie’s On The Beachare all on the beach. On the beautiful hard-packed, white sand beach. On the beautiful hard-packed, white sand beach that you should go to. And have drinks at. #drinksOnTheBeach
KIDDOS: If the Marginal Way (above) and Mount Agamenticus (below) leave them wanting more, stuff their hungry little maws (and yours) full of ice cream, fro-yo, or sorbet at Sweet Pea’s Ice Cream… just don’t mention the word peas.
OUTDOORSY: Locals call it “Mount A”, Native Americans called it “Sassanows”, and you’ll call Mount Agamenticusthe perfect little family hike (select trails are even open to mountain bikes and ATV’s) before hitting downtown Ogunquit. Not the largest of mountains at only 692 feet, Mount A does boast an elaborate trail system spread over 10,000 acres, along with a Learning Lodge atop its summit.
INDOORSY: Three-way tie between Ogunquit Playhouse’s top notch productions, the unassuming but formidable Ogunquit Museum of Art, or downtown shop-hopping at Abacus, Revelations, andSpoiled Rotten.
FUNKY FRESH FACT: MaineStreetin Ogunquit is home to a Dueling Drag Show! It is unclear at this time if pistols, fencing swords, pianos, or microphones (all of the above?) are the the weapons of choice for said duel.
If not Ogunquit, how ‘bout: Pawtuckaway State Park, NH, Rockport, MA, or you know, BOSTON?
90 minute drive or less
EATS: Winner of Bon Apetit Magazine’s 2018 Restaurant City Of The Year, Portland features vittles for every type and tastebud. The Slab Burger at Noshis simultaneously the best burger AND the best two slices of Sicilian pizza I have ever eaten! And your cardiologist might not approve of dining at Duck Fat… until he tries their French fries! If your prefer your potatoes prepared a different way, try The Holy Donut, cooked up from Maine mashed potatoes! Fancier meals for more urbane occasions can be had at Five Fifty Five(555 Congress Street). But if fast food mystery meat is more your speed, take solace — the greater Portland area has seven McDonald’s, five Wendy’s, and five Burger Kings.
DRINKS: Portland doesn’t have agood brewery — it has a ridiculous amount of GREAT accolade-laden breweries — from Bissell Brothersto Foundationto Lone PIneand on and on. Beer breath adverse? Grab one of the creative, delicious, shmancy mixed drinks at Vena’s Fizz House.
KIDDOS: Children and childlike adults will love the art-centric activities and exhibits at Portland Children’s Museum. There’s a clay studio, an up-cycled maker studio, and even a huge Camera Obscura (the only in New England).
OUTDOORSY: Water taxi or mail boat to Peak’s Island / around Casco Bay
INDOORSY: Bubba’s Sulky Lounge… is an actual nameof an actual place and it’s actually an actual dance club! You need to experience this surreal time warp filled with room after room of vintage lunch boxes, light-up Saturday Night Fever style dance floor, and movers and grovers ages 21-81 — EVEN IF YOU HATE MOVIN’ AND GROVIN’!
FUNKY FRESH FACT: Portland, Oregon is named after Portland, Maine!
If not Portland, how ‘bout: Freeport, Maine, North Conway, NH, or Providence, RI?
So much to do…so little summer.