When you think of New England coastal towns, you may think of Gloucester, Rockport, and Newburyport—gorgeous fishing towns where you are guaranteed to find a classic sailboat magnet at a cute boutique shop on the main stretch. But there’s another iconic coastal town on the North Shore that is somewhat of a hidden gem. A quaint town that offers a timeless quality and a sense of belonging.
Marblehead, MA not only has all the postcard essentials of being near the ocean, but it also feels like you stepped into a time capsule, with roughly 300 colonial homes still standing. The narrow, walkable streets have a Nantucket-vibe and are full of history.
Looking to pack a picnic? Shubie’s Marketplace, a family-owned and -operated upscale food and gift market, has the best prepared foods and array of cheeses, crackers, wines, and other spirits. You can get anything from salads and grilled veggies to chicken tenders and specialty pizza—plus, they offer vegan and gluten-free options. Shubie’s also supports local businesses by selling their goods (such as jams, sauces, chocolates, and gourmet cookies and brownies).
Now that you have your picnic packed, here comes the hard part. Where do you go? These are some great options:
- Crocker Park (best view in town—watch the sunset over Marblehead Harbor)
- Gas House Beach
- Grace Oliver Beach
- Chandler Hovey Park (at Marblehead Light, looking out at the sailboats)
After your picnic, take a walking tour through Old Town to learn about the town’s fascinating history and snap some pictures of the gorgeous views.
Stop for a drink at the Harbor Light Inn. In the summer, sit at the poolside on the back patio. In the fall/winter, sit fireside with friends.
Another popular walk is around Marblehead Neck, along the water, up to Marblehead Light and Chandler Hovey Park. And the best part? You can stop at The Neck Run for a Lime Rickey.
For great lunch and dinner options, check these out:
- Fresca Pizza and Pasta – Best brick-oven pizza in town. Try the banana or Nutella pizza for dessert.
- Café Vesuvius – Best specialty sandwiches in town. Must try the Tuscany, the Donna’s, or the Light Lindsay, both on focaccia bread.
- The Barnacle – Famous for its seafood. Get fish and chips, then watch the sailboats from Fort Sewell or Crocker Park.
One of the greatest advantages of living in a beach town (besides the views) is having the chance to actually be in the water. Have some fun and rent a paddleboard or party float from Riverhead Beach.
What is a beach town without artwork and galleries? This town would feel incomplete without them. Visit Marblehead Art Association, which has great exhibits, events, and galleries. Check out the gift shop for artisan gifts by local members, and don’t miss the masquerade ball every fall. Also be sure to check out Ray Art, which is a curated art supply store with gifts and must-haves for artists of all abilities.
The Warwick Place Cinema is one of the most unique places Marblehead has to offer. This cute, boutique-style theater with dinner and drink options will open again soon (it has been closed due to the pandemic), and Marblehead residents eagerly await its reopening.
Need a cup of coffee? Go to Plus Café, where you will also find stunning and delicious pastries and specialty sandwiches.
Take a yoga class at The Yoga Loft. The studio is gorgeous and they offer classes in health, sound healing, and spirituality as well. In the summer, they offer outdoor classes at Chandler Hovey Park, looking out over the water.
For even more food & drink options and ideas of what to do in Marblehead, check out these 20 hotspots from Northshore Magazine.
Marblehead is more than just a tourist spot—it’s an incredible place to live, so much so that many people never want to leave. There is a strong sense of community and belonging along the narrow, picturesque streets of this small town. It’s a great place to grow up, to raise a family, and to retire. When you have beaches, parks, delicious places to eat, and history all around you—what more could you ask for?