Where to go and what to do in Gloucester

This quaint escape is just a train away from North Station.

Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester is not far from Boston.
Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester –Flickr/pfly

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Situated on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Gloucester is a historic town with more than 60 miles of coastline. It only takes around an hour on the commuter rail to get there from North Station, and there’s a lot more to this fisherman’s haven than lobster: Gloucester boasts a vibrant arts scene and a mix of sandy and rocky beaches, making it the perfect escape from the city.

Whether you’re spending the day or the weekend, here are our picks for what to do in Gloucester:

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Eat

Perfect for a pre- or post-beach day, Lobsta Land (84 Causeway St., Gloucester; 978-281-0415) may have a cutesy name, but there’s no messing around when it comes to the generously portioned lobster rolls served on locally baked split buns. For a sit-down dinner, make a reservation at the upscale Duckworths Bistrot (197 East Main St., Gloucester; 978-282-4426) for a seasonal menu filled with fresh, local ingredients and a robust wine list available in half-glass pours.

If you’re an early bird, grab a spot at Sugar Magnolias (112 Main St, Gloucester; 978-281-5310) for a hearty classic breakfast with a twist—an egg and cheese sandwich made with arugula, fig, and goat cheese, or decadent carrot-cake pancakes topped with maple butter. 

With beautiful white sand and hardly any rocks, what makes Good Harbor stand out among the rest is that at low tide, beach bums can walk out to Salt Island to explore the terrain and search for hermit crabs. Just make it back before the tide comes in.
What makes Good Harbor stand out among the rest is that at low tide, beach bums can walk out to Salt Island to explore the terrain and search for hermit crabs. Just make it back before the tide comes in. —B. Deschene

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The pristine white sand at Good Harbor Beach (Thatcher Road, Rte 127A, Gloucester) is even more of a treat during low-tide when you can walk out to neighboring Salt Island. There are also concessions, restrooms, and parking for a fee.

If you prefer culture to sun and sand, Gloucester has an abundance of historical sites and museums to explore, such as Hammond Castle (80 Hesperus Ave., Gloucester; 978-283-2080), which offers stunning sea views by day, and unique candlelit tours by night every Thursday through August 25. Note that the castle is rumored to be haunted.

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For interior design fans, the Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House (75 Eastern Point Blvd., Gloucester; 978-283-0800) is a National Historic Landmark built in 1907 and the former home of Henry Davis Sleeper, of the country’s first interior designers. The home is filled with items that the designer collected over his lifetime, including colored glass, folk art, china, and more.

Stay

Gloucester offers a variety of lodging, from new construction to historic cliffside abodes. At the brand-new Beauport Hotel (55 Commercial St., Gloucester; 978-282-0008), you’ll find a rooftop pool with stunning ocean views, evening lights, and a jetted tub.

At the Bass Rocks Ocean Inn (107 Atlantic Road, Gloucester; 978-283-7600), a hotel that’s been in business for more than 100 years, all 51 luxuriously appointed rooms have ocean views. There’s also a heated pool next to the water.

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