7 Hidden Gems On The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway

April 12, 2022

The Essex Scenic Coastal Byway offers so much to explore along the coast of Massachusetts. While there are many popular spots to visit, there are also plenty of hidden gems to discover along the way!

Continue reading to learn more about a few of the many hidden sights, hikes, and other places to visit while you travel along the Byway’s beautiful coastline. These are our recommendations to get you started, but be sure to keep exploring and uncover your own hidden treasures.

Little Harbor Boathouse (Marblehead)

The Little Harbor Boathouse mission is to make “human-powered water sports accessible to all.” The shop offers easy-to-use non-motorized water sport rentals and sales, including kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. After renting or purchasing, visitors can launch from the nearby Gas House Beach into the Little Harbor waters. The shop also hosts paddling and rowing programs for kids and adults.

The Gold Coast (Beverly & Manchester-by-the-Sea)

When driving up coastal Route 127, Byway travelers can view what has come to be known as the Gold Coast. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wealthy elites from Boston and across the country built massive estates overlooking the ocean, including former President William Taft. While traveling from Beverly to Manchester-by-the-Sea, you can catch glimpses of these majestic properties.

The Singing Beach (Manchester-by-the-Sea)

The Singing Beach is a small, half-mile wide beach on the coast of Manchester-by-the-Sea. The size of the beach makes it the perfect spot to relax, take in the North Shore views, and go for a peaceful walk. And, as its name suggests, when the wind blows across the sand, it makes a sound that sounds an awful lot like singing.

Dogtown (Gloucester/Rockport)

Dogtown is also known as Dogtown Common or Dogtown Village, divided between Gloucester and Rockport. The area was once a settlement in the late 17th-century until it was abandoned. Here, visitors can find miles of trails and abandoned roads through the forest and discover boulders left by the last glaciers. During the Great Depression, former Finnish Quarry workers carved inspirational sayings into the area’s boulders, which are still there today. 

Appleton Farms (Ipswich)

Appleton Farms, built in 1638, is one of the oldest farms in the nation. The farm is open to the public seven days a week. There are many opportunities to explore the farm’s scenic grounds, such as walking over 12 miles of trails and taking a guided tour. Additionally, farm guests can visit the Appleton Farm Store for local dairy, produce, meats, and more.

Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Rowley)

At the Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary nature lovers can explore over 1.6 miles of marked trails. These trails take visitors through coastal woodlands to scenic viewing areas offering awe-inspiring views of the Great Marsh. Along the way, hikers might stumble across tidal creeks, salt pannes, and the local wildlife.

Atkinson Common (Newburyport)

The Atkinson Common in Newburyport contains 21 acres of historic park, beautiful gardens, and fun recreational activities. The athletic fields, such as tennis courts and baseball fields, frequently host athletic and summer programs. There are also monuments, statues, and educational tablets spread out throughout the park. 

Discover Your Own Hidden Gems

The best part about hidden gems is the discovery of it all. During your trip along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, keep an eye out for new spots to visit off the beaten path. You never know what you’ll find across the North Shore coast!