The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway is a specially designated 85-mile route along Boston’s North Shore coastline. Google Maps clearly outlines the route and also highlights places of interest with map markers. Running south to north, the route links these 13 diverse Massachusetts communities: Lynn, Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, and Newburyport.
Steeped in history and rich with natural beauty, the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway takes you through historic seaports, along the rocky shoreline and The Great Marsh (New England’s largest salt marsh), past colonial-era farms, and by several National Historic Landmarks.
As a matter of fact, this nationally significant area contains more than 8,700 properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Along the route, five established Essex Heritage Visitor Centers (in Lynn, Salem, Gloucester, Ipswich and Newburyport) are available for travelers, not to mention numerous historical sites, parks, beaches and trails for visitors to explore and enjoy.
Routed along the coastline, the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway features several communities with strong ties to the sea. Port cities such as Salem showcase its maritime heritage, while “The Gold Coast” communities of Beverly and Manchester-by-the-Sea feature many large summer estates.
Cape Ann (the towns of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gloucester, Rockport and Essex) is well-known for its rocky shore and iconic beauty — a magnet for many artists for nearly two centuries.
Certain structures along the route, like the Mabel Burnham House in Essex, are a favorite for photographers due to their reflective locations.
If architecture is your thing, there is much to see along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. The Crane Estate in Ipswich, for example, features the amazing Great House.
Historic Newburyport up north is renowned for its intact Federal Period (1780-1830) architecture and restored commercial downtown district.
Short on Time?
Each town has something special to offer. Living in Rockport, I know this town well. If you have limited time, I’ve mapped out a mini scenic coastline drive to showcase my quaint little town.
With the arrival of fall foliage to New England, it’s a beautiful time to hit the road for a scenic ride along the coast. October is as good a time as any to explore the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway and see the diversity of each community along the way.
Enjoy the drive!
~ Liz Mackney