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City and town clerks across Massachusetts are sharing their favorite places to go for culture, nature, and relaxation in the cities and towns they know so well. Do you want to see your favorite city or town featured? Let us know in the survey below or e-mail [email protected].
Patricia Brown, a 41-year resident of Rockport and town clerk for the past decade, says Rockport is “Massachusetts at its best.”
The Essex County town 40 miles northeast of Boston is located on Cape Ann, which is comprised of Rockport, Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and the city of Gloucester.
“There are beaches, there’s a downtown area and specialty shops and great seafood,” Brown said. “The people are special and the scenery is unbelievable. It’s aptly described as Rockport because the rocks make it the beautiful scenic area that it is.”
Ahead, Brown offers her picks for what to do when visiting the coastal town.
An historic stone arch bridge in the town, built in 1872, is a favorite structure in Brown’s family.
“One thing that I love to bring nieces and nephews to is the Keystone Bridge,” Brown said.
Granite Keystone Bridge, on the National Register of Historic Places, is located on Route 127 and goes over a former railroad track that brought granite to Granite Pier. Visitors can park at Granite Pier and walk to it, Brown said.
“When you cross over it, it’s tiny,” Brown said. “You don’t even think of it as being a bridge. But you get under it and it’s enormous.”
Brown likes to walk on the path beneath the bridge.
“It’s a walk in the woods and at the end of the walk, there’s a little quarry,” Brown said. “It’s just beautiful, that area.”
“It’s a great place if you’re going to be downtown,” Brown said. “And if you like lobster and you like crab cakes, and you like stuffed clams and chowder, which is what most people come for.”
The spot offers first come, first serve outside tables and guests can bring their own beverages.
“It’s definitely eat in the rough,” she said. “Everything is cooked for you. And you sit on his back deck or you take your catch and you go down to the end of Bearskin Neck and sit on the rocks and fight the seagulls off. It’s just a great place.”
What does Brown order?
“I love the chowder,” she said. “And, of course, the steamed lobster, especially in the summertime because it’s soft and you can crack it pretty easily. But [the owner] is there and he’ll crack it for you. It’s just an all-around show. It’s New England.”
For a more traditional restaurant experience, visitors can head to Roy Moore’s Fish Shack on Dock Square.
Brown called the scenic four-acre Millbrook Meadow and Mill Pond “a hidden jewel right in the middle of Rockport.”
The green space includes Mill Pond and also a meadow with a winding brook, frog pond, and stone bridge. The area hosts fairs and festivals during the warm months, and the park offers ice skating in the winter.
“It’s just one of the most beautiful places on earth,” said Brown, who has conducted marriage ceremonies there.
Halibut Point State Park is another park worth exploring, Brown said.
On a clear day, visitors can see Mount Agamenticus in York, Maine, as well as the Isles of Shoals, a group of small islands in New Hampshire and Maine.
“The view is incredible,” Brown said.
Visitors can hike the park’s trails and picnic on its seaside rocks, she said.
One of Cape Ann’s most iconic landmarks is Motif No. 1, located at the end of popular Bearskin Neck, which is full of quaint shops, art studios, and restaurants. It is thought to be the most painted building in America.
“It’s been photographed and painted by everybody,” Brown said. “I can remember coming here as a child with my father — he was an artist — and he painted it.”
When asked why people are so drawn to Motif No. 1, Brown said: “It’s a typical New England fishing shack. I mean, it’s the color, and it’s the light, and it’s the location right on the end of a pier with ocean in front of it and ocean behind it.”
Rockport celebrates the structure every May during Motif No. 1 Day, which includes a 5K road race, food, live music, historical presentations, and more.
“Rockport is my favorite place to visit when I come to Boston,” wrote @ronidawk71. “I love to go sit on the rocks looking over the water. It is so relaxing.”
“Love it so much I got married there,” wrote @xivhbv.
“Love the vibe!” wrote @nancykee.
Bean & Leaf Cafe — @madisonjoan_
Feather & Wedge Restaurant and Bar — @travelikealocalma, @s.ambersmitrealestate, @kim_king, @kribbygirl_
Helmut’s Strudel — @kim_king, @lucd123, @sheilabee713
Hula Moon — @livy1236
Fished Impressions — @emvermz
Lattof Farmhouse Kitchen — @entreethegiant
Red Skiff Restaurant — @draperelevator, @christosr85
Rockport House of Pizza — @steviemilitello, @georgefabs
Roy Moore Lobster Co. — @mgfmobrien, @roeitherealtor, @paulymantell, @ericadfly, @emvermz, @matthewwlodarczyk
The Lobster Pool — @fancynancy_76, @saralyvrealty, @ebove18, @lucd123, @citylights760
Top Dog of Rockport — @tootsie518, @livy1236, @jeffsawyerfitness, @steviemilitello, @sheilabee713
Tuck’s Candies — @steviemilitello, @sheilabee713
Addison Choate — @travelikealocalma, @mel_kwong
Bearskin Neck — @marykcm
Bearskin Neck Country Store — @tootsie518, @ericadfly
Cape Hedge Beach — @ericadfly, @tmcallanan
Cleod Glassworks — @travelikealocalma
Floating Lotus — @skullsrus
Halibut Point State Park — @kim_king, @kymistry_lab, @lucd123, @laughinggirldesign
Lydia Burke Design & Soft Furnishings — @tmcallanan
Motif No. 1 — @nancygo964, @tmcallanan, @sheilabee713, @marykcm, @tparduephoto
One Ocean Apparel — @roachgrace, @roeitherealtor, @saltwatersarah
Rockport Candle Company — @travelikealocalma
Rockport HarvestFest — @colleenie78
Rusty & Ingrid — @travelikealocalma, @marc.aa
Sand Castles — @kribbygirl_
Shalin Liu Performance Center — @roeitherealtor, @sallywebstercollection
The Art Nook Gallery — @travelikealocalma
The Headlands — @steviemilitello, @tmcallanan
The Pewter Shop — @acerothstein84, @lucd123
Windhover Center for the Performing Arts — @zoe_laurie2020
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