Posted by: Jack Spratt | June 12, 2009

Cape Ann – The Other Cape in Massachusetts

Cape Ann is a collection of small towns north of Boston, and tends to play second fiddle to its more famous peninsular south of Boston – Cape Cod.  But my visit there proved there is nothing second-fiddle about Cape Ann.

My first encounter with Cape Ann was back in the ‘80s and like many my introduction was through a whale watching cruise I took from Gloucester harbor. Since then I’ve also visited Rockport and Manchester-by-the-Sea on separate occasions. I’ve still to visit Essex, which is the other town in the Cape Ann collection.

Gloucester is a hard-working fishing town. The spotlight was thrown on the town most recently as the main setting for the book and movie “The Perfect Storm.” As a fishing port it is America’s oldest and has suffered the most through loss of lives at sea – the number is staggering. The New England coast is famous for its raging and angry storms especially around the Capes.

Gloucester has a number of whale watch cruises that leave for Stellwagen Bank daily during the season and the one I went on gave us a rain check because I didn’t see any whales. Unfortunately, on our return trip I had a boat load of school kids who kept throwing-up! But I did get to see the whales – which were awesome.

I also managed to squeeze in a trip to Hammond Castle on the outskirts of town, and which is only open at weekends – interesting place. An American’s version of a medieval castle and crammed with all the European artifacts John Hammond collected

Rockport is an artist community and most famous as containing the red-painted fishing shack depicted in so many photograph collections on New England. The actual shack is called “Motif No 1.” People pass time on visits by walking up and down the gallery and art shops spread out around the town.

When I visited Rockport it was a “dry” town – no bars, etc. This may have changed. Anyway this is one town it would have been nice to have more time to spare. We didn’t get to Halibut Point – great for hiking – and there’s plenty of opportunity for fishing and kayaking as well.

Manchester-by-the-Sea – apparently the town renamed itself to avoid confusion with Manchester, New Hampshire – is the closest Cape Ann community to Boston. Its most famous landmark is “Singing Beach.” But it also has the Trask House Museum, a scenic harbor and shops and restaurants for “wasting” an afternoon.

Singing Beach is apparently so named because of the sound it makes when you walk on it. Hmm – I may have to revisit to get that one again, I didn’t hear too much of singing. It is considered one of the North Shore’s best beaches. It is a gorgeous beach as New England beaches go. Just difficult to find parking – actually impossible – and even if you walk on you get charged.

Jack Spratt “yer buddy”!

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Responses

  1. Totally overlooked area of Massachusetts – and you only scratched surface of what there is to do here. “Singing Beach” is a definately becoming a royal pain to park and what they charged to go on – verging on arrogant. There are plenty of other beaches in the area.


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