Story and photos by Erin Lindsey and Denny Brownell
Erin Lindsey and her husband, Denny Brownell, run the Escape Brooklyn blog. They are experts about getting out of NYC and into adventures with friends. Visit their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to learn more.
The quaint town offers a bounty of seafood, a scenic shoreline and even a house made of paper.
Sixty-four kilometres from the bustling city of Boston, the seaside village of Rockport, Massachusetts, offers a perfect weekend getaway. Whether travelling from Boston or Los Angeles, visitors are charmed by the town’s nautical scenery, with its rocky beaches, lighthouses, sailboats, lobster shacks and the most-frequently painted building in America, Motif No. 1. Colourful, faded buoys and rusty lobster traps are everywhere, more often for work than decoration. Everything in town seems perfectly timeworn — no doubt, the result of the combination of salt water, wind and sunshine over the years. Walking around — especially in the off-season — you can’t help but feel you’re in an old maritime movie. (The frequent, thick fog doesn’t hurt either!)
The main industries in Rockport are tourism and fishing, so it’s no surprise that there’s literally a sea of seafood restaurants. Even with so many options, most folks agree that no trip to Rockport would be complete without a visit to Roy Moore Lobster Co. The laid-back lobster shack is in the heart of historic art colony Bearskin Neck. It's also BYOB, and a great deal if you’re hungry — three boiled lobsters will only put you back $40. Eat on the back patio that overlooks the harbour, or take it to go and eat around the corner on the dock. For a memorable meal that’s a little off the beaten path, a reservation is recommended at popular dinner spot The Market Restaurant. The charming waterfront restaurant's menu changes daily, based on what’s in season and local, and is served in a warm, intimate atmosphere. Another gem is The Lobster Pool, where food is served from a counter and taken outside to enjoy at one of the long, communal picnic tables right on the beach — the perfect spot for watching the sunset while chowing on some “chowdah.”
There’s a wide range of activities to take advantage of the seaside setting here, whether it’s stand-up paddle boarding or whale watching excursions. Adventurous kayakers flock to Thacher Island, where two twin lighthouses have stood on the island for nearly 250 years. Visitors with sea legs can enjoy this nautical paradise, too. Fifteen minutes north of town is Halibut Point State Park, where a series of short trails wind around a quarry and ultimately to the rocky shore of the Atlantic. On a sunny day, you can see Maine; on an overcast day, the misty waters and rocky shore are just as magical, if not more so. Because it’s geographically a cape, weather conditions are unpredictable. But as New Englanders say, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes!”
Another fun way to explore the area is by hopping in the car and driving around the island. A 10-minute ride will take you to Gloucester, another small nautical village that feels right out of a movie. Pass the time watching the ships come in and out of the harbour from the patio at Cape Ann Brewing Company, or one of the many restaurants on the water. On this end of the island, check out Rocky Neck Arts Colony, which claims to be America’s oldest arts colony. Its shops and galleries are full of nautical-themed art, ranging from oil paintings, to repurposed sails, to wind chimes. Curious minds will enjoy the nearby Paper House, which is exactly what it sounds like: a house made entirely of paper!
Builder Mr. Elis F. Stenman was a mechanical engineer who began building his “summer house” as a hobby nearly a century ago. Though he’d always meant to add shingles to the outside to complete the exterior, it never happened, his attention turned instead to the interior, where he hand built his furniture, also from paper. Nearly everything — including the fireplace mantle, a writing desk, several chairs, and most impressively, a grandfather clock — are all constructed out of tiny logs made from paper. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone who appreciates history, engineering or anything oddball.
Thinking about visiting Rockport? There are motels, hotels, B&Bs and rental properties all over the island. Though many shine, perhaps the most impressive lodging is at Bearskin Neck Motor Lodge, simply for its location. At the end of Bearskin Neck, the lodge has three major amenities that make it a top choice for travellers: parking (a commodity in this neighbourhood), proximity to countless restaurants and shops, and best of all, ocean views from every room. (Sunsets are included!) Expect to fall asleep and wake up in the most peaceful way imaginable, with the Atlantic Ocean just 15 feet away from your door. In this idyllic seaside village, can you think of anything more ideal?