Looking for a perfect short trip from Boston that feels a world away? Zip north just one hour, and the seaside haven of Rockport, Massachusetts shall embrace you with its salt air charm and fresh lobster.
As a lifelong Bostonian, I’ve happily visited Rockport every summer, and recommend it far and wide. My favorite thing to do in the town is a combination of wandering and eating. Below, feast your eyes upon the lobster roll I just consumed from the famous Roy Moore Lobster Company. I watched them haul in the lobster traps right outside the restaurant’s patio!
Rockport is an “easy win” tourist destination, in that most of its best views, shops, and restaurants are conveniently clustered on Bearskin Neck: a finger of land surrounded by water on three sides. This means that all you need to do to have a good time is find that neck and mosey along it. Parking is available at the library nearby, or just take the Commuter Rail train in from Boston and walk to the center of town. On our trip this week, we beat the crowds by coming on a Thursday, and thus snagged street parking right in the center of everything.
Where to stay in Rockport? Here are some of the best options. Click each to see rates and availability.
- Bearskin Neck Motor Lodge is in the heart of town, and looks out on the water.
- The Seafarer Inn gets rave reviews.
- Captain’s Bounty is right on the beach, with a convenient short walk to Bearskin Neck.
- The Tuck Inn B&B is a highly-rated bed and breakfast.
Rockport also boasts some incredible vacation home and condo rentals, and you can click here to see Rockport’s options on VRBO, one of my favorite sites for accommodations.
If you like art, do know that Rockport is a renowned artist town. Visitors can browse the many art galleries, or take advantage of the dreamy light to partake, themselves, in painting or photography. As you can see from all the photos I took for this article (while my husband kindly strolled around town with the baby), I got a bit snap-happy, myself!
If aquatic exploits are more your scene, be assured that Rockport has boating and swimming galore, with easy kayak rentals and a cute little beach. That said, when I’m in Rockport I’m usually too full of clams and fudge to squeeze into a boat or swimsuit, but I honor those who do! I suppose one could take packets of fudge onto a kayak, thus solving my dilemma.
Other food recommendations for Rockport: Top Dog has the best fried clams around (I should know — I ate about 50 of them), plus hot dogs covered in such creative toppings as… macaroni and cheese! Meanwhile, off of Bearskin Neck and right next to the train station is Studio Crepe, a new eatery that I highly recommend. I mightily enjoyed the Turkey Club crepe (pictured below), AND the Nutella and Berries dessert crepe. Yes, I ate two crepes, and I stand proud.
I could tell you about other points of interest near Rockport such as Halibut Point State Park, the Rockport Art Association, or The Paper House (a house made entirely of paper!), except… I couldn’t actually tell you anything about them because I spent the entire day happily wandering Bearskin Neck! I suppose that’s a vote of confidence for how fun and engaging the town itself is, eh?
Let’s close with some fun facts about Rockport. See the red fishing shack in the upper left of the first photo in that article, and in the middle of the picture, below? That is “the most often painted building in America,” Motif #1! Sure enough, the camera and the eye are drawn to its rich crimson walls reflecting in the glassy harbor water.
Interestingly, the Motif #1 of today is not the original 1840 structure. The original got smashed in the blizzard of 1978, but was so beloved that an exact replica (what we see today) was built the very same year. Now that you’ve identified it, you’ll see Motif #1 everywhere. It’s even in a painting in the dentist’s office in the movie, “Finding Nemo!”
Another fun fact: Booze was prohibited in Rockport from 1856 to 2005. Why? Because in 1856, a brigade of 200 enraged women blazed through town, smashing anything alcoholic they could find! This was entitled “Rockport’s Revolt Against Rum.” Catchy ring to that name.
On the topic of history, what I love about Rockport is that it’s capitalized on the charm of its fishing industry to both keep it alive, AND combine it with tourism to draw in people (like me!) who can’t get enough of eating fresh seafood, and ogling colorful buoys.
Rockport is a sweet reminder that the useful can be beautiful, and the beautiful can be useful. That colorful fishing equipment makes tourists smile, and helps keep boating folk safe. Meanwhile, the rainbow houses pictured below bring cheer and extra visitors to the town, and I applaud the work the town has done to be as visually inviting as possible. May it bring new Rockport fans to town for many years to come!
So what do you think? Have you been to Rockport? If so, what would you add? If you haven’t been yet, does it seem like a place you’d like to go? Do share!
I was a guest of Rockport’s restaurants (burp!), but all opinions and boat photo obsessions are my own. Affiliate links in this article support this site at no cost to you. Happy travels!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!