Have you heard of Gloucester, MA? We had the pleasure of going there two summers in a row and wanted to share some tips for a relaxing and educational beach getaway.
Gloucester is part of Cape Ann, 30 miles away from Boston and not far from Cape Cod, minus the traffic. In fact, if you are really ambitious, which we certainly are, you can make it there in 4 hours drive from Bergen county.
Gloucester used to be a big fisherman’s town, and it still has plenty of fishermen, but it is mostly a summer vacation destination. Unpretentious, but perfectly situated Blue Shutters Inn is a lovely bed and breakfast that has both modest rooms and luxury apartments with kitchens.
The best part, the Inn is a 2-minute walk from the best beach in town.The beach itself is perfect for preschoolers who are afraid of big waves. It has open access to the ocean and a delta that has ocean water circling around a large part of the beach, deepest part not more than 3 feet at high tide. You can find sea snails, sea stars and lots of other creatures to explore!
If you get tired of the beach, there are wonderful restaurants in town, an art colony nearby and an amazing Maritime museum. The museum has summer programs where children learn to sail and examine marine life, drop in programs where you can look at plankton through a microscope, a touch tank, marine story hour, the list goes on and on. If your teenagers want to become a marine biologists, they will love museum’s High school internship. For a full list of programs check out http://maritimegloucester.org/visit/activities
A short drive from Gloucester is Rocky Neck Art colony where you can wonder from gallery to gallery feasting your eyes on local wares and talking to artists. Very laid back and a great thing to do on a rainy day. http://rockyneckartcolony.org/
There are a couple of whale watching outfits, not overpriced, but large boats provide informative commentary and almost guaranteed sighting of the whales and dolphins during the summer.
To give you another option for a cloudy day, you can visit Hammond castle or Beauport mansions. Both are modest comparing to Newport summer homes, but both have interesting tours under an hour that will keep the children and adults entertained. If you run into trouble, use a simple trick, have the kids tour the house trying to figure out which was Cinderella’s stepmother’s room..