Top Ten Weekends on the Water
|Rockport Harbor with Motif No. 1 in the distance (Tim Laman/National Geographic/Getty)|
3. Rockport, Massachusetts
Almost everyone has heard of Cape Cod, but many people don't realize that there's another Cape in Massachusetts. Forty miles northeast of Boston on Cape Ann, Rockport is a great alternative to Cape Cod, Nantucket, or Martha's Vineyard. Artists flock there to capture the rustic coastal landscape. You can purchase many of their creations at galleries in the charming, classically New England town center, where it's easy to spend hours on end browsing the adorable shops. Perhaps the most celebrated site in town (and the town's trademark, according to the Rockport Chamber of Commerce) is a fisherman's shack on Bearskin Neck wharf. Called simply "Motif No. 1," it's the town's most frequently painted and photographed subject. For a diversion from shopping, visit Halibut Point State Park. Hike the trails, peer into tidal pools, and climb to the top of the World War II observation tower. The quarries look tempting, but swimming is strictly forbidden for safety reasons. On a clear day, look north and you'll see Mount Agamenticus in Maine and the Isle of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire. Rockport also boasts some great places to swim and play in the water, such as Front Beach, one of the town's most popular beaches, located near restaurants and shops, while scuba divers love exploring the waters of Back Beach. The town is also famous for great sailing; charter a boat or take lessons at the local yacht club. Either way, be sure to visit the Twin Lighthouses on Thacher Island, just a mile offshore. The 45-foot-tall matching lighthouses date back to 1789 and are among the country's oldest. You can visit the island using your own boat, but there are only two guest moorings available so be sure to call the keeper in advance. The other option is via the Thacher Island Association's launch, which makes trips each Wednesday and Saturday morning. Rockport is also a great place for whale watching, especially from June through September. Humpbacks are the most prevalent in the area. If all of this isn't enough activity to keep you busy, travel just seven miles south to Gloucester, America's oldest seaport and another jewel on Cape Ann.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication