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Newburyport, Massachusetts: Quaint, Historic, Coastal and Featuring a Beautiful Downtown

Article and photos (unless otherwise noted) by Eric Hurwitz. Updated Oct. 4, 2017

Beautiful downtown Newburyport, Mass.
Downtown Newburyport.

If you are looking for a small seaport city with a picture-perfect postcard look and plenty of things to see and do, then we recommend anchoring your stay in Newburyport, Mass.

Located on the North Shore of Massachusetts where the Merrimack River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Newburyport surely represents the best of coastal New England. A charming, historic sea captain's town boasting spectacular Federal mansions, a nice harbor where boating is popular, brick sidewalks, hanging flower baskets in the summer,
historic inns, bed and breakfasts and hotels, restaurants with delicious, often locally caught local seafood. Some we dining out highly recommend: The Grog at 13 Middle St., Michael's Waterfront with nice water views at One Tournament Wharf, and Starboard Galley at 55 Water St. You can also dine at the top of the only lighthouse in the United States that offers a dining out experience at the top.

The loveable downtown also features several art galleries, boutiques and quaint little shops with appealing merchandise and storefront displays. Many visitors often find that the "nooks and crannies" alleyways have just as much appeal as the main streets in this beautiful little city that actually acts more like a small town. All this adds up to a great walking town that never gets boring.

Walking State Street in historic, coastal downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts
State Street in downtown Newburyport.

Great walking town: Newburyport, Massachusetts
Even the alleyways look beautiful in Newburyport!

Newburyport's idyllic coastal New England location results in a place to spend a nice beach day in the summer, a cool fall foliage walk in the fall, a cold but charming place to call your own in the winter (at a quaint historic inn or one of the many cozy fireplaced restaurants), and a walker's haven in the spring. Newburyport is also located close to the New Hampshire seacoast, the fun of the southern Maine coast (York Beach, Wells, Ogunquit) and under an hour to Boston.

Coastal walk in downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts
Beautiful walkway by the water in downtown Newburyport.

Boat in downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts
Boat in the harbor in Newburyport.

Once downtrodden, Newburyport's remarkable revitalization brings crowds of people during the warmer weather, yet the proud city does not seem as popular as other classic Massachusetts seacoast destinations. That allows for a more relaxed pace for those who would rather not fight overwhelming crowds and be nauseated by hokey, souvenir shops. Newburyport, on the other hand, mixes old-time stores (like Richdale with its penny candy and cheaply priced but yummy hot dogs) with upscale shops that also happen to sell useful merchandise from furniture to clothing.

State Street in downtown Newburyport on the North Shore of Massachusetts
A stroll through downtown Newburyport.

Old-time Richdale food store in downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts
Richdale Food Stores: a long-time favorite.

The relaxed pace is best exemplified, however, by the 11-mile barrier island, Plum Island featuring the Parker Wildlife Refuge.
The Refuge features 6.5 miles of sandy beach, 3,000 acres of salt marsh, magnificent dunes and great bird-watching opportunities, including the rare Piping Plover located at Sandy Point Reservation (a state park at the tip of the Refuge).

Parker Wildlife Refuge, Newburyport, Massachusetts
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, MA. Credit: Matt Poole/USFWS

Newburyport's mix of sun, sand, shops and scenery ultimately makes for one of Massachusetts' most appealing coastal destinations. We encourage you to visit this wonderful city as part of your Massachusetts/ New England vacation.

For more information on Newburyport, visit the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce web site

The heart of downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts
Historic building views everywhere in downtown Newburyport.

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Related articles:

Visiting Portland, Maine
Exploring Portsmouth, N.H.

Discovering the Whaling District in New Bedford, Mass.

Gloucester, Mass.: not your typical waterfront travel destination

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