Looking for the absolute BEST things to do in Ipswich MA? As a small New England town with a homey vibe, Ipswich Massachusetts has a surprisingly large amount of activities that are fun for all ages!
This charming New England town is a treasure trove of adventures, from strolling through picturesque vineyards to savoring artisanal beverages and immersing yourself in the rich history and natural beauty that abound.
In this blog post, we’re diving into the top things to do in Ipswich, giving you the inside scoop on each attraction and why it deserves a spot on your itinerary.
Get ready to step back in time at historical landmarks, such as the grand Crane Castle and the impeccably preserved Whipple House.
From kayaking along the Ipswich River to picnicking in scenic parks, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures to embark on.
And for the food and beverage enthusiasts, Ipswich is a haven, with wineries, meaderies, and breweries offering tantalizing tastings and farm-fresh delights.
So, grab your sense of adventure, an open mind, and a hearty appetite as we embark on a journey through Ipswich, MA.
Prepare to be captivated by the enchanting Castle Hill, a place that seamlessly blends nature’s splendor with architectural grandeur.
Set atop a rolling landscape, this exquisite estate is home to the renowned Crane Castle, which boasts a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. Explore the castle’s opulent interiors, featuring stunning art collections and intricate craftsmanship.
Stroll through the meticulously manicured gardens, where colorful blooms create a dreamlike atmosphere. As you ascend the Great House hill, a breathtaking panorama of the Atlantic Ocean unfolds before your eyes. The view alone is worth the visit, making Castle Hill an absolute must-see in Ipswich.
This is a wonderful place to walk around or have a picnic! Even if you can’t see the inside of the castle (which is truly ideal for history buffs) the grounds are not to be missed.
Whether you’re sunbathing, taking a refreshing dip, or simply strolling along the water’s edge, this idyllic coastal retreat will leave you in awe. Embark on a guided tour to learn about the delicate ecosystem that thrives here, or take a peaceful hike through the nearby Crane Wildlife Refuge, where diverse flora and fauna await. Crane Beach provides a sanctuary for both relaxation and exploration, making it an unmissable destination in Ipswich.
If you want to spend a day at the beach then Crane Beach is the place to come! There are tons of facilities to use and the water is perfect for swimming.
However, you’ll need to get a pass ahead of time, and make sure to show up early: this beach is packed in the summer. Click here for more information about admissions.
History buffs, rejoice! The Ipswich Museum is a treasure trove of artifacts and stories, offering a captivating glimpse into Ipswich’s past.
Step into the Whipple House, an impeccably preserved 17th-century home, and immerse yourself in the daily lives of early settlers. Admire the remarkable collection of fine art and decorative objects, including rare furniture pieces and intricate ceramics.
The museum’s exhibits chronicle the town’s evolution, showcasing its maritime heritage, industrial prowess, and cultural achievements. Engage with knowledgeable guides, who are more than happy to share fascinating anecdotes and answer any questions you may have.
Prepare to embark on an educational and immersive journey through time at the Ipswich Museum – this is New England history at its finest!
Nature enthusiasts will find solace at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, a sprawling sanctuary spanning over 2,800 acres. Embark on serene nature trails that wind through lush forests, tranquil wetlands, and along the serene Ipswich River.
Keep your eyes peeled for a wide array of bird species, from majestic herons to elusive warblers. And don’t forget the bird food – some of the birds will eat right out of your hand!
Bring your binoculars and indulge in some birdwatching, or rent a canoe or kayak to explore the river’s meandering waters. The sanctuary also offers educational programs and guided tours, providing valuable insights into the local ecosystem. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.
Calling all beer aficionados! Pay a visit to the Ipswich Ale Brewery and discover a haven for craft beer enthusiasts.
Take a guided tour of the brewery to witness the beer-making process firsthand, from malting to fermentation. Learn about the brewery’s history, the art of brewing, and enjoy tastings of their award-winning beers.
Sample a diverse range of brews, from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts, and gain a deeper appreciation for the craft. With a warm and welcoming atmosphere, Ipswich Ale Brewery is the perfect spot to unwind, savor quality brews, and embrace the vibrant craft beer scene in Ipswich.
Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and venture into the serene beauty of Appleton Farms, one of the oldest continually operating farms in the United States.
Wander through rolling pastures, dotted with grazing cows and sheep, and soak up the bucolic charm of the countryside. Take a leisurely hike along the scenic trails that wind through woodlands and meadows, offering breathtaking views at every turn.
Don’t forget to stop by the farm store to savor fresh local produce, artisanal cheeses, and delectable baked goods. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful picnic spot or an immersive farm experience, Appleton Farms will leave you enchanted.
Set sail on an unforgettable adventure with Essex River Cruises, where you’ll explore the scenic beauty of the Essex River and its surrounding estuaries.
Hop aboard a narrated cruise and discover the fascinating history, wildlife, and ecological importance of the area. Marvel at picturesque salt marshes, spot graceful herons and ospreys, and witness the timeless beauty of New England’s coastal landscape.
With knowledgeable guides at the helm, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the region’s rich maritime heritage. Whether you choose a sunset cruise or a bird-watching excursion, Essex River Cruises promises an exceptional experience on the water.
Head to Russell Orchards and immerse yourself in a quintessential New England farm experience!
Pick your own seasonal fruits, from juicy apples to plump blueberries, depending on the time of year. Enjoy tractor rides through the orchards, visit the friendly farm animals, and let the kids roam free in the expansive playground.
Indulge in freshly baked pies, apple cider donuts, and other delectable treats at their farm store. With picturesque landscapes and a welcoming atmosphere, Russell Orchards is the perfect destination for families and those seeking a taste of farm life.
Plus, you don’t want to miss wine tasting at the Russell Orchards winery!
Take a leisurely stroll along the Ipswich Riverwalk, a scenic path that winds along the banks of the Ipswich River and through the heart of Ipswich’s historic downtown.
Admire the picturesque views of the river, observe the charming historic buildings, and explore the eclectic array of shops and boutiques along the way.
Discover unique gifts, antiques, and local crafts, or stop by a cozy café for a delicious cup of coffee. With its blend of natural beauty and small-town charm, the Ipswich Riverwalk offers a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.
A visit to Marini Farm promises a day of family-friendly excitement and agricultural adventures.
Enjoy seasonal activities like pumpkin picking, hayrides, and navigating through challenging corn mazes. Kids will love the expansive play area complete with a giant jumping pillow and pedal carts.
Explore the farm stand, brimming with fresh produce, local products, and mouthwatering homemade goodies. Whether you’re seeking outdoor thrills or simply want to savor the joys of farm life, Marini Farm is an ideal destination for families and those young at heart.
Honey-Based Delights and Tastings Discover the ancient beverage of mead at the Meadery, a delightful establishment that specializes in crafting honey-based libations.
Learn about the fascinating process of mead production, from honey fermentation to aging techniques. Engage in a guided tasting session and sample a variety of mead flavors, ranging from traditional to innovative blends infused with fruits and spices.
Immerse yourself in the rich history and flavors of this ancient drink as you savor the unique profiles created by skilled meadmakers.
A visit to the Meadery is a must for those seeking a one-of-a-kind taste experience in Ipswich! This is one of our favorite things to do in Ipswich MA because it’s just so unique. Visitors always love it!
Immerse yourself in Ipswich’s rich maritime heritage at the Ipswich Museum’s Maritime Exhibit. Learn about the town’s connection to the sea, from its history of shipbuilding to its involvement in the whaling industry.
Discover artifacts, models, and captivating stories that bring Ipswich’s seafaring past to life. Additionally, the museum showcases a diverse collection of artwork by local artists, showcasing Ipswich’s vibrant artistic community. Delve into the town’s history and cultural significance at the Ipswich Museum, where captivating tales await.
This is one of the best things to do in Ipswich MA for history buffs, especially if you’re into maritime history.
Experience life in the 18th century at Cogswell’s Grant, a beautifully preserved farmhouse that offers a glimpse into Ipswich’s agricultural history. Explore the rooms of this Federal-style home, adorned with period furnishings and artwork.
Learn about the Cogswell family, who lived on the property for generations, and discover their contributions to the local community. Take a leisurely stroll through the surrounding fields and gardens, which offer serene views of the Ipswich River. Cogswell’s Grant is a hidden gem that history enthusiasts and architecture lovers will thoroughly enjoy.
This is one of the best things to do in Ipswich if you want to combine history with beautiful garden scenery!
For a memorable evening, hop aboard an Ipswich River Cruise for a sunset wine-tasting experience like no other.
Cruise along the river as you savor a selection of exquisite wines, carefully paired with delectable appetizers. Watch the sun dip below the horizon, casting a golden glow over the water, while enjoying the company of friends or a loved one.
The picturesque scenery and the serene ambiance create the perfect setting for a romantic outing or a special celebration. Indulge in the flavors, relax, and create unforgettable memories aboard an Ipswich River Cruise.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant local community and support local farmers, artisans, and crafters at the Ipswich Farmers’ Market.
Every Saturday from spring through fall, the market comes alive with an array of fresh produce, artisanal products, handcrafted goods, and live music. Stroll through the bustling stalls, sample locally made cheeses, sip on freshly brewed coffee, and stock up on seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Engage in conversation with the passionate vendors, who are more than happy to share their stories and offer recommendations. The Ipswich Farmers’ Market is a hub of community spirit and a fantastic way to experience the flavors and talents of the region.
Craft Brews and Riverside Vibes Indulge in the thriving craft beer scene of Ipswich at Ipswich Riverwalk Brewery, located along the picturesque Ipswich River. Step into the taproom and savor a wide selection of expertly brewed beers, ranging from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts.
Enjoy the laid-back ambiance as you sip on your favorite brew and soak in the riverside views. Engage in conversations with the friendly staff and fellow beer enthusiasts, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of the brewing process in action. Ipswich Riverwalk Brewery offers the perfect blend of quality craft beer and scenic charm, making it a must-visit for beer connoisseurs and those seeking a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
Embark on a kayaking adventure along the tranquil Ipswich River, where you can connect with nature and enjoy breathtaking views. Rent a kayak from one of the local outfitters and set off on a peaceful journey through winding waterways surrounded by lush greenery.
Glide past vibrant wetlands, observe wildlife in their natural habitats, and immerse yourself in the serene ambiance. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a novice, kayaking on the Ipswich River offers a rejuvenating experience that combines outdoor exploration with the tranquility of the water.
Escape into the serene wilderness of Willowdale State Forest, a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts. Lace-up your hiking boots or hop on your mountain bike to explore the forest’s extensive trail network that winds through a diverse landscape of forests, fields, and ponds.
Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and marvel at the beauty that surrounds you. Pack a picnic and find a peaceful spot to enjoy a leisurely lunch amidst the towering trees. Willowdale State Forest offers an idyllic setting for outdoor adventures and a chance to recharge in nature’s embrace.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to White Farms, local favorite known for its mouthwatering artisan ice cream. Be greeted by a delightful array of flavors, from classics like chocolate and vanilla to inventive creations like lavender honey and blueberry pie.
White Farms is definitely worth a stop because the ice cream is just so delicious!
No visit to Ipswich is complete without savoring a traditional clambake, a quintessential New England culinary experience. Indulge in a feast of fresh seafood, including succulent lobster, tender clams, and flavorful mussels, all cooked to perfection over hot rocks and seaweed.
Dig into the smoky, flavorful goodness while surrounded by friends and family, enjoying the coastal ambiance. Many local seafood establishments offer clambakes, so be sure to inquire about this delicious tradition and relish the flavors of the sea during your visit to Ipswich.
Where To Stay In Ipswich:
Ipswich, MA, offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets.
Ipswich Inn Bed and Breakfast: Located in the heart of Ipswich, this charming bed and breakfast is housed in a historic building. Guests appreciate the cozy rooms, personalized service, and delicious breakfast. The inn’s central location allows for easy access to local attractions and amenities.
The Inn at Castle Hill: Situated on the stunning Crane Estate, this inn offers a unique and luxurious experience. Guests can stay in beautifully appointed rooms with breathtaking views of the ocean and gardens. With access to the estate’s scenic trails and close proximity to Castle Hill, it’s an ideal choice for nature lovers and history enthusiasts.
Eagle House Motel: Conveniently located near Ipswich’s downtown area, the Eagle House Motel offers comfortable and affordable accommodations. Guests appreciate the friendly service, clean rooms, and proximity to shops, restaurants, and attractions.
What Time Of Year Is Best To Visit Ipswich?
The best time to visit Ipswich, MA, largely depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to engage in. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons in Ipswich:
Spring (March to May): Spring in Ipswich brings blooming flowers, mild temperatures, and fewer crowds. It’s a great time to explore the town’s outdoor attractions, such as Crane Beach and Willowdale State Forest. The spring months also mark the start of the farmer’s market season, where you can indulge in fresh local produce.
Summer (June to August): Summer is a popular time to visit Ipswich, especially for beachgoers. The coastal areas, like Crane Beach and the surrounding dunes, are ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking. The warm weather also makes it a great time for kayaking on the Ipswich River or attending outdoor events like concerts or festivals.
Fall (September to November): Fall in Ipswich is a true delight, with vibrant foliage painting the landscapes. The weather starts to cool down, making it pleasant for outdoor activities like hiking, apple picking at Russell Orchards, or exploring the town’s historic sites. Fall is also an excellent time to enjoy local harvest festivals and events.
Winter (December to February): Winter in Ipswich is a quieter time, with fewer tourists. The town takes on a peaceful ambiance, and it’s a great opportunity to visit attractions like the Ipswich Museum or indulge in cozy indoor activities. If you enjoy winter sports, nearby ski resorts like Bradford Ski Area are within a reasonable driving distance.
Here in New England, there’s truly no bad time to visit!
How To Get To Ipswich:
There are several ways to get to Ipswich, MA. Here are the primary transportation options:
By Car: Ipswich is conveniently located off Route 1A, which runs along the coast. If you’re driving from Boston, you can take I-93 North to Route 1 North, and then follow signs for Route 1A to Ipswich. The drive typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic conditions.
By Train: Ipswich is easily accessible by train from Boston’s North Station. The Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line, operated by the MBTA, serves Ipswich. Trains run regularly, and the journey takes approximately 40-50 minutes. Check the MBTA website or app for the most up-to-date schedules.
By Bus: Although there is no direct bus service to Ipswich, you can take a bus to nearby Newburyport and then travel the remaining distance by taxi, rideshare service, or local transportation options.
By Air: The nearest major airport to Ipswich is Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), located approximately 35 miles southwest of Ipswich. From the airport, you can rent a car or take public transportation to reach Ipswich.
I recommend traveling to Ipswich via car or train if at all possible.
Events In Ipswich:
For a small town, there are plenty of events in Ipswich! Here are some of my favorites:
Ipswich Farmers’ Market: Held weekly during the summer and early fall, the Ipswich Farmers’ Market showcases local farmers, artisans, and food vendors. Visitors can explore a diverse array of fresh produce, baked goods, handmade crafts, and more. Live music and community activities add to the lively atmosphere.
Ipswich Chowderfest: This annual event celebrates Ipswich’s rich seafood heritage by showcasing delicious chowders prepared by local restaurants and chefs. Visitors have the opportunity to sample a variety of chowders and vote for their favorite. The festival also features live music, entertainment, and family-friendly activities.
Ipswich Illumination: Held during the holiday season, Ipswich Illumination is a festive event that brings the community together to celebrate the spirit of the season. The town common and surrounding areas are adorned with beautiful holiday lights, creating a magical atmosphere. The event features live music, visits from Santa Claus, and the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree.
Ipswich Ale Brewery’s Open House: Ipswich Ale Brewery, a local craft brewery, hosts an annual open house event where visitors can explore the brewery, learn about the brewing process, and enjoy beer tastings. The event often includes live music, food trucks, and brewery tours.
Ipswich Art Show: Organized by the Ipswich Art Association, the Ipswich Art Show showcases the work of local artists and provides a platform for them to exhibit and sell their artwork. The event features a diverse range of artistic styles and mediums, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and more.
Crane Estate’s Summer Concerts: The Crane Estate, a historic property in Ipswich, hosts a series of outdoor summer concerts on its stunning grounds. Visitors can enjoy live music performances in a picturesque setting, surrounded by rolling lawns and panoramic ocean views.