Always a great photo opportunity, you might wonder if only the interesting boats are allowed to moor here. Great colors... nice mixture of working boats and pleasure craft.
The red fishing shack is Rockport's claim to fame as it is touted as "Motif #1"...supposedly the most photographed building in the world. (well, maybe THEIR world)
Rockport is a celebrated artist colony with numerous galleries along the main street.
Small park area surrounds the cove, park benches here and there... and you can enjoy this view from a couple of the eateries that face main street.
The Greenery Restaurant is one of my favorites. One reason is good food and a good cup of coffee...some killer deserts. The other reason, is that if you choose to stop a while and rest...you look right out on the main square from the tables in the windows. At the back of the restaurant you look out at the peaceful inner harbor....and yes...the motif #1. Either way, you can't lose. It's a real landmark. Something you shouldn't miss. I could sit in that window half the day...just watching the crowd go by.
Bearskin Neck is a tiny peninsula of land with one lane going out to the end. This lane (too small to be called a street) is lined with continuous shops and galleries selling all sorts of interesting things....some soulvenirs...some very nice paintings. You can spend an entire day here. Stop for coffee and rest...have some struedel. Shop. Stop for ice cream. Explore the galleries, stop for lunch. Shop. You get the idea. It's a fun time. Many more photo ops here.
The Neck is the highlight of many peoples' trips to Rockport. This is where the tour buses stop to allow tourists an hour or so to find a little treasure to remember their trip. There is one narrow lane to the end of the neck .. a small turn around, and then back out again. You are taking a chance to drive out there, tho. Hundreds of tourists are walking in the middle of the lane and totally distracted by all the shops and activity. You might travel through at about 2 miles an hour. Better to park the car elsewhwere and do Bearskin Neck on foot.
I'm addicted to these little shops. Interesting to poke around .. each one has something different to offer and their exteriors are usually so colorful with flower boxes or vines creeping up the building. I like to start my Christmas shopping in Rockport because I always find something unique for at least a couple of people on my list.
On Bearskin Neck, you simply must stop in at the Lobster Shack. You can get a fresh shrimp cocktail w/ sauce and sit on benches out back where you are almost literally IN the water. If you are staying nearby w/ a kitchen, there are lobsters and other goodies to bring home. It's SO nor'east...salty....and rough cut.
At the tip of Bearskin Neck we found a violinist playing classical music in this vast, open, sunny space....The music was even more beautiful in this setting. I purchased his CD so I could remember that unique moment. He might be seen in Boston at Fanuel Hall or most anywhere he can find a beautiful arena and people to listen....
This is a view looking back into the cove at Rockport. You can see where the colorful kayaks are stored, waiting for rentals. You can take lessons and a tour with a kayak rented on Bearskin Neck.
On my recent visit I watched kayakers starting their twilight paddle at Front Beach with Bearskin Neck in the background. People savor every daylight moment when they are in Rockport. It just happens that way. The place inspires it in you.
This is "Front Beach" just around the corner from the main shopping area of the village. It's easy enough to slip over to have a rest on a bench overlooking the beach....or just plain fall down in the sand and take a snooze if you like. Anytime I've been in Rockport, I've always seen happy, relaxed people here. It's so easy and accessible....and free!
wonderful at twilight....some families linger into the early evening....
Seagulls come to share your lunch. There is a small band shell where outdoor concerts take place on summer evenings. About a 5 minute walk from shopping to sand.
Rockport has some very strict zoning. They allow certain businesses to come in and others are not allowed. It is designed to keep the artist galleries in tact and preserve the flavor of the little colony. The square and main street seem to cater to a cut above the likes of the shops on Bearskin Neck. I have a favorite women's clothing store (Willoughby's) and there are a variety of gift shops, Toad Hall Book Store, pottery studio, camera store,etc. Great candy at Tuck's Taffy Shop which has been here for many, many years.
The buildings are interesting...the gardens and flower boxes brilliant...and the signage in good taste. I'm pretty sure it is all very closely monitored.
Rockport has several visitors' information centers. The first one you encounter is along the road coming in from Rte. 128 before you reach the actual village. It's a small white shed with brochures and rest rooms.
Once you are in town, you will find a wonderful little pocket park in the center with a small shed that is open all the time. Filled with brochures to give you complete information about what can be found in Rockport and all throughout Cape Ann... which is what the region is called.
Maps are included here. I recommend that you get one of these local maps which will help you with the smaller streets, beach areas, and local sites. Take the time to sit on a bench provided here in the park... get your bearings, enjoy the shade of the big old trees, and check out your immediate surroundings.
The Chamber of Commerce publishes a very good map & guide. You will notice that yours truly has several photos used in the brochure. Their design company found me on VT and asked if they could use my photos!! I was so tickled. Especially because Rockport is one of my very favorite getaways.
Check out the pic of Flat Rock in the brochure...it's one of about 5 of my photos. I was just soooo proud!
Front beach is right in Rockport's downtown area, open to the public. The beach is very small, tiny actually, but if you can get over that fact it's actually not that bad. The water is warmer than nearby ocean beaches because it's protected by the harbor and it has public restrooms/changing rooms right next door. The view from the beach is also very nice and it's close enough to the downtown shops and eateries that you can go and get yourself a drink or a snack and be back in no time.
No matter if you walk, bike, drive, or sit and drink coffee around Rockport....you will be presented with so many beautiful scenes in all directions. We stopped for a coffee in the afternoon and looked out across the inner cove toward Pigeon Cove. The autumn color on the far shore was beautiful....and then the sky did this extraordinary thing.....
Bear Skin Neck is a thin strip of land jutting out into Rockport Harbor. It is the original settlement of the area, once known as Sandy Neck. Some of the houses here date back over 300 years. It is said that the area got its name in the late 1600's when one of the settlers living there killed a bear with nothing but his knife, but I don't know if the story is true.
Today this area of Rockport contains some of the town's nicest shops and restaurants, and if you walk up to the end (it's not very long) you are treated to a great view of the open sea.
Halibut Point State Park at the tip of the peninsula about 15 minutes' drive from Rockport was the site of a granite quarry. The quarry was gone, leaving behind a large water-filled reservoir. A trail meanders around the pool and goes down to the rocky beach.
Pebble Beach is a long stretch of sand and pebbles on Penzance Street. Plenty of parking for all! Loblolly Cove is just around the point.
There is a rock reef just off shore here. The maximum depth is about 30 feet, but most of the diving is at 20 feet. We spent 85 minutes on one dive here! That said, it's not the most interesting dive Cape Ann has to offer. There's a rocky entry to the right, but the rocks give way to sand pretty quickly and there's not much to see except flounder & hermits until you've spent a few hundred pounds of air swimming straight out to the rock reef. The reef has a lot of critters on it, but it's not all that dramatic. However, this is a good place for an easy-entry dive at low tide or at night.
See the Cape Ann Divers Find A Dive Site page for more information about this and other dive sites on Cape Ann.
There is a very old business in Rockport called Tuck's Salt Water Taffy. At their store in the main square, you can watch them making the taffy as well as buying some to take home to friends. There is a second store "on the hill" where they sell their taffy, but also included is some mighty fine chocolates. Sugar free chocolate is delicious as well. I generally bring both types home. This second store is larger and carries many soulvenir items, post cards, greeting cards, and a fairly good gift line. Inexpensive and reminiscent of old Rockport... I recommend you include Tuck's on your tour list.
Bearskin Neck is a store, restaurant and gallery filled peninsula off of Rockport. It's where you want to explore first when you visit this town. You could spend hours on it, visiting the shops, having a meal or snack and just enjoying how freaking cute it all is. Enjoy!
At the end of Bearskin Neck you'll find a lookout area, "the point." Rock jetties lead out to the Atlantic on a parallel with Spain. (This is what one of the locals told me.) Luckily for us, although it was December, the sun was shining. So it was tolerable to be out here, check out the views and snap a few photos.