DescriptionNewburyport lies near the estuary of the Merrimack River, along the waterway’s southern bank. A prosperous shipbuilding center by the mid-1700s, the city satiates modern-day seafarers with its wealth of nautical heritage and salt air-inspired recreational pursuits. In addition to such draws as the Custom House Maritime Museum, this port features three lighthouses constructed by the U.S. Coast Guard (which got its start in Newburyport) and a still-lively waterfront with interpretive signs describing early residents’ use of the Merrimack.
Several vantage points offer pretty views of the river and mast-filled harbor. Leisurely natives, often joined by plucky nomadic seabirds, regularly dot the seawall at Joppa Park on Water Street. Lovers of the great outdoors also spend time at 16-acre Moseley Woods, on Spofford Street overlooking the Merrimack River, and at Maudslay State Park, a 476-acre site nestled on the riverbank. Both parks feature hiking trails; the latter, accessible via Curzon Mill Road, has bridle paths and lovely Victorian gardens as well. In winter cross-country skiers traverse Maudslay’s rolling, evergreen-fragrant expanse.
After enjoying the scenery by the water’s edge, launch your boat at Cashman Park, off Merrimac Street at Broad Street. Or, cast a line off the shores of Plum Island, separated from the mainland by the Parker River. The 11-mile-long barrier island affords great panoramas of the Merrimack River inlet and is home to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, which protects more than 800 species of birds, plants and animals. Newburyport often is heralded as one of the country’s top bird-watching destinations—a variety of land and water birds migrate to the area in spring, summer, fall and winter. For more information, stop in at the wildlife refuge, or arrange a guided bird-watching tour through the Massachusetts Audubon Society; phone (978) 462-9998.
In addition to luring sailing enthusiasts and wintering flocks of ducks and loons, this region’s physical assets have long attracted—and inspired—artists, writers and musicians. The Newburyport Art Association, 65 Water St., (978) 465-8769, displays works by regional artists. At the Firehouse Center for the Arts on Market Square at Waterfront Park, (978) 462-7336, you can take in a theatrical production or a dance performance. Downtown’s Waterfront Park also hosts the Newburyport Riverfront Music Festival in early September. Other free open-air concerts are typically held throughout the summer, with blanket-toting families crowding many of the city’s green spaces for a few tunes amid splendid natural landscapes.
Visitor InfoGreater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry 38R Merrimac St. NEWBURYPORT, MA 01950. Phone:(978)462-6680
Self-guiding toursAmerican architecture enthusiasts will appreciate a walking tour of High Street. Styles from the 17th through the 19th centuries, including several notable examples of the Federal period, are represented in the structures.
ShoppingDowntown Newburyport boasts several charming brick-lined thoroughfares and historic districts offering chic boutiques, antique stores and art galleries, including Inn Street; Market Square, centered around State, Pleasant and Merrimac streets; and The Tannery (75 Water St.), a complex of refurbished leather mill buildings that now shelters eateries and shops.
Things to SeeCushing House Museum and Gardens
KayakingPlum Island Kayak