Essex to Salem Coastal Cruise + ADD NEW ROUTE
20 in Massachusetts Massachusetts41 Miles
on July 1, 2002
- Trip Toolbox
From Essex, MA, take route 133 south about 7 miles down to Gloucester. 133 will run into route 127 where you want to take a left (head eastnortheast). Stay on route 127 about another 7 miles as it turns north and goes all the way around to Halibut Point State Park. Stop at the park and then continue on 127 which by now is heading south and into Rockport. When in Rockport look for the signs to 127A (alternate) and take that south and then west as it goes around the peninsula and hugs the coast. Eventually it will merge merge back with 127 in Gloucester. Once your on 127 (now that you've left 127A) take that and keep heading west along the coast. Stay on 127 through Manchester and into Beverly where you want to then get on 1A heading southwest over the Essex Bridge and into the routes end point - Salem.
This route lies only about 20 minutes Northeast of Boston and gives the motorcycle rider a great look at Massachusetts's 'other cape' (vs. Cape Cod). It specializes in scenery and amenities.
This route specializes in coastal scenery, cute little east coast towns and some really impressive coastal mansions along the way.
The route is pretty flat and there isn't too much fun in the way of twists and turns. Keep in mind that this route can be pretty crowded during the summer and fall. Try to plan your drive for the early morning to avoid some of the crowds and to catch a sunrise over the Atlantic in Rockport.
This route is only 30 miles but you will find a lot to do in those miles. Listed below are some of the highlights of the route, explained while traveling from Essex to Rockport to Salem.
Essex - an important shipbuilding center for the U.S. Make sure you go to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum (978-768-7541) to see some great displays and learn about the history of the Essex shipyards.
You'll find antique shopping just south of Essex off of Rte. 133.
At the coastal town of Gloucester Harbor you can see the homeport of commercial fishing fleets or take advantage of the two beaches (Long Beach and Good Harbor). You might want to save the beach visit for the return leg of this trip which will bring you back through Gloucester ... get out to Rockport and enjoy the sunrise over the Atlantic while you eat your breakfast.
Go north on 127, just before you enter Rockport, to visit the Halibut Point State Park (978-546-2997). Plan on taking some of the nice little trails that hug the coast.
Definitely plan on spending a couple of hours walking around Rockport's downtown area. There are plenty of craft type shops as well as nice little places to grab a bite to eat ... some of which with great views of the ocean. The highlight of Rockport is the Bearskin Neck area. This is a narrow strip of land that runs out into the harbor. Here you will find more craft shops and art galleries. Make sure you get a photo of the famous small red fishing shack known as Motif #1. This famous structure is a favorite for painters.
Passing through Gloucester for the second time, if you want to see more arts and craft shops go to the Rocky Neck area. Or if you would like, you can take a tour of the Henry Davis Sleeper's mansion (978-283-0800).
In Magnolia there is a thing called the Hammond Castle. This is a stone building built a guy who made his fortune off of electronics during World War I. You can tour the building and see a massive organ used for concerts (978-283-7673).
The town of Beverly is along this route and its claim to fame is the birthplace of the American Navy.
Salem is known worldwide for its famous 'Witch Trials.' You won't want to miss the interesting museum that tells you all about the town's scary past (Salem Witch Museum 978-744-1692). There is also a House Of Seven Gables you can take a tour of (978-744-0991).
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