Category Archives: Massachusetts

Rockport, Massachusetts: Classic New England

Rockport Massachusetts

Rockport Harbor

If you’re looking for a picture perfect, classic New England town, then Rockport, Massachusetts is the destination for you. Located just one hour north of Boston, Rockport is an easy day trip that offers seacoast charm, fun shopping, tasty seafood, and colorful art. 


Bearskin Neck Rockport Massachusetts

Bearskin Neck

Most of the action in Rockport centers around Bearskin Neck, a long street of old fisherman and lobster shacks that have been transformed into a picturesque shopper’s alley.  You won’t find any name bands here; it’s all local artists and owners.  So you can truly shop locally, and there’s something for everyone, from nautical gifts, to soaps and silversmiths, to home and kitchen accessories.  One of my favorite stops is Rusty and Ingrid, where you can purchase fine art screen prints that are sketched and created entirely in-store.  On my last visit, Rusty kindly offered to show us how he and his wife make each screen print by hand.  It’s a fascinating process, and I couldn’t resist buying two prints before leaving.  I also recommend the Rockport Candle Company where all the candles are hand-poured and where you’ll find inventive scents like Salt Water Taffy, Buttered Lobster, Summer Crush, and Cocktails by the Sea. When you’re done shopping, head all the way to the end of Bearskin Neck for incredible views and a walk out onto the rock jetty.


Roy Moore Lobster Rockport Massachusetts

Roy Moore’s Lobster Co.

Helmut's Strudel Rockport Massachusetts

Helmut’s Strudel

Feeling hungry?  Rockport has many options for dining and dessert.  If you’re craving seafood, head over to Roy Moore’s Lobster Company.  You have two options: a full service restaurant (called Roy Moore’s Fish Shack) or the seafood market and eatery.  Today, we went for takeout, ordering a lobster roll, fish cakes, and stuffed clams and then walking to the end of Bearskin Neck to sit on the rocks and enjoy the scenery.  Who needs fine dining with these kind of ocean views?!  For dessert, you could get ice cream, but I would recommend the apple or cherry strudel from Helmut’s Strudel Shop.  During our last trip, we split a flaky delicious cherry strudel and savored every bite.  Of course I ended up with powdered sugar all over me, but it was well worth it!


If you have a sweet tooth and are looking for something to bring home, then stop in at Tuck’s Candy Factory.  They’ve been making candy on the premises since 1929, so you know it’s got to be good!  There are two locations: one combines a candy counter and fun gift shop, while the other is strictly candy.  At the latter, you might even catch them making salt water taffy, a classic New England treat! 


Looking for other activities in Rockport?  Try these add-ons:

  • ·      Fit in some beach time.  Front Beach is on Main St, while Pebble Beach is on Penzance Rd.  Both are very small (so you’ll likely have a lot of company), and the latter is quite rocky.  But they’re a close choice to cool off.


  • ·      Visit the Paper House.  It’s a house made entirely out of newspapers!  Don’t ask me why.  Just go because you know you’re curious now!


  • ·      Spend some time at Halibut Point State Park.  It was a once a quarry but now offers easy trails with incredible cliff and ocean views.   



  • See a concert or live music act at the Shalin Liu Performance Center.  There’s no back stage here, just a stunning view of the ocean through huge windows right behind the performers.  See their schedule by clicking here.




Rusty and Ingrids is located at 11 Main St.

Jetty Rockport Massachusetts

Jetty at the End of Bearskin Neck

The Rockport Candle Company is located at 45 Bearskin Neck.

Roy Moore Lobster Company and Eatery (take out or plastic tables) is located at 39 Bearskin Neck, while Ray Moore’s Fish Shack (restaurant) is at 21 Dock Square.

Helmut’s Strudel Shop bakes and sells at 60 Bearskin Neck.

Tuck’s Candy Factory has two locations: gifts and candy at 15 Main St. and the other that sells strictly candy at 7 Dock Square.

The Paper House is located on 52 Pigeon Hill St.

Halibut Point State Park is located on Gott Avenue in Rockport.

The Shalin Liu Peformance Center holds shows at 37 Main St. in Rockport.


Rockport Massachusetts Map

Click the map for driving directions to Rockport.



















Salem Willows: An Afternoon of Old-Fashioned Entertainment

Since I was a little boy, I’ve been going to Salem Willows Park and Arcade, although it’s been in existence for muchSalem Willows Arcade longer, since 1858! Located just 10 minutes from downtown Salem, the Willows, as locals call it, offers a plethora of activities for both young and old alike. Our first stop is always the arcade, which features both modern and classic games, including our favorite, skee-ball!  Collect tickets to cash in for fun trophies . . . err . . . prizes, as mementos of your day.

Clam Shack Salem Getting hungry? While there are plenty of food options, including pizza, Chinese, and American, the best that the Willows has to offer is seafood. And there’s no better place to get it than at the Clam Shack. You wouldn’t know by just walking by, that this tiny shack has some of the best seafood on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Here, it’s take out only, but once you have your food, you can settle into the adjacent picnic tables, find a seat in one of the historic gazebos, grab a bench with an ocean view, or bring a blanket to have a picnic. The seafood is, obviously, the best thing on the menu, and they’re known for the fried clams, their namesake. A meal at the Clam Shack alone is worth a trip to the Willows!

Carousel at Salem Willows

Next stop, take a ride on the historic carousel. The Salem Willows Carousel dates back to 1905 and features a menagerie of animals including horses, buffalo, camels, sea monsters, lions, greyhounds, and even a St. Bernard!   It’s a must for both adults and children.  C’mon grown ups; you know you want to ride it!  In the adjacent kiddie-land, here are other old fashioned rides and even a small miniature golf course.


Our final destination is a treat that is, to the best of my knowledge, unique to Salem Willows. Head all the way down the row of arcade buildings until you reach the end that’s closest to the water.  E.W. Hobbes has been located in this historic building since 1897. They sell ice cream and popcorn, but the treats to get are the popcorn bars. I’ve been eating them since I was a kid! The bars come in a variety of flavors, but my personal favorites are the chocolate and the molasses and coconut. Unwrap the wax paper, break off a E.W. Hobbs Popcorn Salem Willowspiece, and crunch away. I can taste them right now! While you’re savoring every bite, meander around the park for fantastic views of the ocean and Salem Sound. You might also catch some live music from the band shell.   The Willows hosts a variety of events throughout the summer and fall. Check the schedule at their website.


If you’re in the Witch City, stop by Salem Willows Park and Arcade for an afternoon or evening of good, old-fashioned entertainment that the entire family will enjoy.


Salem Willows Park and Arcade are located at 165 Fort Ave in Salem, Massachusetts. There’s plenty of parking. If you don’t have a car and are visiting April through October, the Willows is stop #9 on the Salem Trolley. You can get more information about the trolley on their website.  Click on the map for directions.