The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway is a 90-mile coastal roadway through the North Shore of Massachusetts. The route provides a peaceful drive that connects the communities of Lynn, MA to Salisbury, MA.
Along the way, coastal byway travelers pass through some of New England’s best scenic areas, such as long stretches of sandy beaches, sprawling marshlands, and picturesque oceanside spots. For those who want a closer look, there are countless hiking, walking, and biking trails right off the Byway. Additionally, the many local watersport rental shops allow travelers to get out onto the waters themselves, exploring the many coastal rivers, sounds, and harbors.
But the journey doesn’t end there. Each of the 14 communities offers its share of bustling downtown areas filled with savory seafood restaurants and local shopping experiences. New England culture and history are also at the forefront, allowing you to immerse yourself within maritime history and vibrant art communities.
The Byway is easily accessed from locations all across New England, especially Boston, MA. Both driving and public transportation options bring you directly to the byway’s most notable areas and communities. The scenic walking trails, watersports, and sandy beaches are just a quick drive or train ride away! For more in-depth information, please visit our blog on getting to the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway.
Beverly has a robust history. The town is often called the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and the United States Navy. Quite a feat. Here, Byway travelers can find historical sites, scenic beaches, and the beautiful gardens of Long Hill & Lynch Park.
For antique lovers, Essex is a must-stop destination. In fact, the coastal town is often referred to as “America’s Antique Capital.” In addition to the treasure trove of antiques and locally-made gifts, visitors can also find fascinating maritime history at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. The town also has its share of fresh seafood and scenic marsh views.
Gloucester welcomes visitors to America’s oldest seaport. The seaside city also has the privilege of containing the oldest operating art colony in North America. Those traveling the Byway can stop in for incredible seafood, award-winning beaches, and enriching maritime history. And art lovers can experience the vibrant artistic culture.
The Coastal Byway brings you through downtown Ipswich and along parts of the scenic Ipswich River. Drive past the largest collection (roughly 59 homes) of remaining First Period houses in the country. Traveling slightly off the Byway, travelers can visit the spectacular Castle Hill on the Crane Estate and the Ipswich Neck.
Lynn is the southernmost community on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, making it your perfect starting location. The seaside city offers a gateway to the byway with some great sights of its own. Here, Byway travelers can visit public art installations and period architecture, explore green space, and walk the sandy Lynn and Nahant Beaches.
Manchester-by-the-Sea is the quintessential New England coastal town. Driving through Manchester brings you past some of the best coastal sightseeing spots on the North Shore. You will also drive through what is commonly known as the “Gold Coast” complete with awe-inspiring estates and peaceful beaches. There are also plenty of local shops to visit.
Maritime history and heritage define Marblehead. As such, the town has done a spectacular job preserving its history and presenting it for all the experience. View the Marblehead Lighthouse as it looks over the town’s beautiful coastline. Or find savory seaside, local shops, and of course, historic sites.
Nature lovers will be right at home here. Newbury is the perfect place to rent a kayak or paddleboard and venture out into the beautiful coastal waters of the Parker River. Visitors can also explore the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, hike Old Town Hill, and wander the beautiful scenic beaches of Plum Island.
There’s so much to do and experience in Newburyport’s bustling downtown area nestled right off the scenic Merrimack River. Local shops and restaurants buzz with life during the warmer months. Visitors can also walk the boardwalk along the river, explore galleries and museums, and make their way over to the beautiful Plum Island.
Miles of scenic beaches and granite shores line the beaches of this small seaside town at the tip of Cape Ann. Like its neighbor, Gloucester, Rockport’s vibrant artist culture is on display for all to see, including the famous Motif #1. Byway travelers can also find exquisite coastal dining, live music, natural areas to explore, and unique local shops all year round.
Rowley offers spectacular natural views of the Great Marsh. Additionally, visitors can take in sprawling coastal farmlands, historic homes, and visit America’s oldest stone arch bridge.
There are so many unique things to do and experience in Salem. The town is most known for its infamous witch history, offering many fascinating walking tours on the subject. There’s also much more to experience in Salem, such as exploring historic sites, maritime history, and shopping and eating at the many local businesses.
The Byway ends (or starts) at one of the most well-known beaches in New England, Salisbury Beach. The famous boardwalk area is a popular spot for families due to its quick-service food options, seaside entertainment, walkable beach, and classic arcades. The Salisbury State Reservation also includes plenty of open green space, a boat launch, and scenic views of the Salisbury Beach Jetty.
Swampscott is a peaceful seaside town founded in 1629 as a small fishing village. Today, visitors can find the scenic King’s and Fisherman’s beaches. These beaches are within walking distance of each other and are connected by Swampscott’s historic downtown district. The town offers incredible sightseeing and picturesque coastal views.