6 Places to Visit With the Family on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway

June 20, 2022

The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway is a great journey to go on with the entire family. All throughout the Byway, you’ll find only-found-here scenic adventures. Below, you’ll find a few specific suggestions along with options spread out across the entire Scenic Byway.

Salem Willows Arcade and Park

Address: 165 Fort Avenue, Salem, MA

The Salem Willows Arcade and Park blends everything that makes the coastal North Shore amazing, scenic views, green space, and plenty of fun! The historic area contains over 35-acres of oceanfront green space to relax and play in. Additionally, there’s also great amusements to experience with the whole family, two arcades with games, bumper cars, kiddie rides, and food options. The fun never stops at Salem Willows.

Bit Bar Salem (Before 8pm)

Address: 278 Derby Street, Salem, MA

The Bit Bar in Salem is a favorite North Shore gem. Here, parents can enjoy and introduce their little ones to their favorite classic arcade and pinball games. The arcade also offers dinner and drink menus, featuring a vast selection of delicious foods, craft beers, and themed cocktails. But keep in mind that accompanied minors (under 21) are only permitted before 8pm. 

Cape Ann Whale Watch

Address: 415 Main Street, Gloucester, MA

There’s nothing quite like whale watching, is there? Cruising out into the North Shore waters hoping to catch a glimpse of these majestic sea animals is a truly awe-inspiring experience. Cape Ann Whale Watch in Gloucester conducts whale watching tours for all ages right out of Gloucester’s Inner Harbor. The water cruise lasts approximately 3-4 hours. Perhaps best of all, Cape Ann Whale Watch guarantees whale sighting for every whale watch out to Stellwagen Bank.

Museums, Historic Sites, And Landmarks

All across the Byway, you can find a vast amount of museums, historic sites, period architecture, and landmarks to explore and learn about. Our region is deeply rooted in American maritime history. As such, you can find various sites, such as the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, Real Pirates Salem, and many more. These locations provide incredible insight into the region’s coastal past, including tales of fishermen, shipbuilding, pirates, and privateers.

Hiking, State Parks, and Wildlife Reserves

It’s no secret that the Scenic Byway offers incredible opportunities to get into nature. All throughout the Scenic Byway, you can find hiking trails, state parks, and wildlife reserves perfect for the whole family to explore. Our natural coastal surroundings provide one-of-a-kind beauty that can only be found on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Areas such as the Halibut Point State Park, Old Town Hill, and Hellcat Interpretive Trail are just a few of the many awe-inspiring adventures to take on. 

Essex Coastal Scenic Byway Beaches

Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester MA

We can’t have a family-friendly adventure article without mentioning the beautiful beaches just off the Scenic Byway. Each of these beaches offers their own unique blend of recreation and adventure. Many, such as Salisbury Beach State Reservation, offer long stretches of white sand perfect for the entire family, especially for little ones to burn off energy. There’s also smaller, more tranquil beaches, such as the gorgeous Singing Beach, which offers a great spot to relax and take in the scenic treasures of the North Shore.

While you are with the family, you might as well check out some of the best antique shops along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway as well!