Essex River Cultural District

The Essex River Cultural District is sensible and compact, both in terms of geography and concept: this is where “the town meets the river.” The district meanders past ancient burial grounds, active shipyards and marinas, bustling restaurants, antique shops and galleries. The district offers vistas of Burnham’s Shipyard, the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum, which houses an important collection of marine related antiquities and much of Essex’s rich history, and the stunning Essex River with its salt marsh borders looking out to Hog Island and Crane Beach. Pocket parks line the street with benches for relaxing and taking in the views. The district presents a dynamic and active relationship between history and the river, not one that is frozen in the past. Residents are encouraged to get out onto the river to experience it first-hand; the shipbuilding tradition is still alive and well and the town celebrates each new launch; and early antiques share shelf space with more recent memorabilia and contemporary crafts. The Essex River Cultural District is one of seven state-designated Cultural Districts within the Essex National Heritage Area. Find all of them here.


Essex, MA 1929

Driving Directions

Notes & Advisories


  • Cultural Resources
  • Great Marsh
  • Historic Resources
  • Museums
  • Natural Resources
  • Walking & Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing


  • Accessible/ Wheelchair or Stroller Accommodating
  • Appropriate for all ages
  • Parking Available
  • Self-Guided