As someone who lives in Boston and does not own a car, I’m always looking for great day trips that are accessible by train. One of my favorite day trips from Boston in the summer is Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Manchester-by-the-Sea is located approximately 30 miles north of the city of Boston on Cape Ann which also includes the nearby towns or Rockport, Gloucester and Essex. The town was incorporated in 1645 and was known as Manchester up until 1989 when it was renamed Manchester-by-the-Sea to avoid confusion with the largest city in neighboring NH which was also named Manchester. It served mainly as a fishing village for the first 200 years. After this time it became a summer home to many of the rich in Boston building summer cottages along the coastline.
Manchester-by-the-Sea may sound familiar to you and you are correct, it was the name of the hit movie from 2016 starring Michelle Williams and Boston native Casey Affleck. The movie was filmed in the town as well as the nearby towns on Cape Ann. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it but just be prepared for some tears, it’s definitely a sad story.
Getting to Manchester-by-the-Sea: Manchester-by-the-Sea is easily accessible by train. From North Station in downtown Boston, you can take the Rockport Line of the MBTA’s commuter rail to the Manchester stop. On the weekends, the train runs every couple of hours and runs more frequently on weekdays, especially during the prime commute hours. Tickets costs $21 round trip. They often sell a special $10 unlimited rides weekend pass. Check the website http://www.mbta.com to see if this special is running.
The train takes just under an hour from Boston and lets you off right downtown within walking distance of plenty of things to see and do.
Singing Beach: Probably the top thing to do in Manchester-by-the-Sea during the summer months is to visit the beautiful Singing Beach. The walk from the train is just under a mile, starting by walking by the harbor and then up the tree lined Beach Street straight to the beach. It’s fairly easy to know which way to go, just follow the rest of the people departing the train. Singing Beach’s parking is limited to residents on weekend days in the summer, so the train is definitely the way to go to get to this stunning Cape Ann beach.
Once you arrive at the beach there is a $7 per person walk on fee (cards not accepted so make sure to bring cash). My favorite thing about this beach which makes the fee worth it is how much less crowded it is than other beaches in the area due to the limited parking. It’s definitely one of the quieter, more relaxing beaches near Boston.
The beach has a bathhouse which has been there since the 1920s and features a snack stand, restrooms and showers. The bathhouse is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Singing beach is a half mile long and features soft sand, beautiful water, rocky shores and nearby cliffs. Singing Beach got it’s name from the sound the sand makes when you walk on it, it’s almost as if it’s singing to you. I’m not sure it sounds like it’s singing, but it definitely makes a squeaking sound I haven’t heard at many other beaches. What causes this singing or squeaking? It has to do with the shape and size of the sand, the moisture level and the silica in the sand. It’s more common to hear it on dry sand. I’ll admit, I usually head up to this beach one or two times every summer and the only times I noticed the sound were the first time I visited and when I visited this summer, both times I was purposely listening for it. It is quite a phenomenon when you do hear it!
Other than the singing sand, it’s a great beach to relax or take a walk along the shore line.
Masconomo Park: Walking back into town from Singing Beach, you will pass this beautiful coastal park. It’s the great place to take a short walk along the water, check out the World War I Memorial, watch the boats come in and out of the harbor or have a picnic. And what perfect way to enjoy a summer afternoon than to enjoy some ice cream in the park. Located just across the street is Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream and it’s an absolute must when visiting Manchester-by-the-Sea!
Enjoy the Harbor: There is nothing more quaint than a New England harbor. I could sit there for hours watching the boats. If you want to get out on the water, check out Frayed Knot Sailing Charters to charter a boat or to take sailing lessons.
Discover the History of Manchester: For a town that has been around since the 1600s, there’s a lot of history to see. The Manchester Historical Museum was established in 1886 and is located in the historic Trask House. The Trask House was the home of one of Manchester’s most prominent merchant ship captains in the 1800s. The museum houses historical artifacts and town records. The museum also offers self guided walking tours of town.
Some of the things you can see on the self guided walking tours include the First Parish Congregational Church which is listed in the National Register of Historical Places. Built in 1809, it served as Manchester’s fourth Meeting House.
The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library is across from the Trask House and has been open since 1887. Also along the walks are many historical homes from the 18th and 19th century.
Shopping and Eating in Manchester-by-the-sea: As with all towns to visit, Manchester-by-the-Sea offers great shopping and restaurants. From gift shops to antique shops to art galleries and the popular Manchester By The Book offering a large collection of books to buy and a great place to sell some of your old books.
There are also plenty of local restaurants downtown to choose from including Allie’s Beach Street Cafe, Calas and Bravo by the Sea.
With small town charm, history and a beautiful coast line, a day trip to Manchester-by-the-Sea is a must visit from Boston, especially in the summer months.
Planning a trip to Boston and wanting to take some day trips outside the city, contact Beyond The Miles Travel so we can help with your planning.
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