27+ Things To Do In Rockport Massachusetts: The Ultimate Guide
Looking for the best things to do in Rockport Massachusetts? Whether you’re visiting for an afternoon or a week, there is no shortage of quaint activities in Rockport that you simply can’t miss!
Rockport MA is a beautiful coastal town in New England. It looks like an old-world painting with fishing boats and sailboats dotting the harbor. The rocky coast has gorgeous views of cottages on shore and church steeples peeking through the trees. Truly, Rockport is quintessential New England!
Rockport is my favorite place to visit with people from other states. It is located in Essex County, close to Cape Ann. Rockport has many beautiful places and things to do, even if you only have one day. It’s a great place for photographers – the views are just too stunning!
The ambiance in Rockport creates that quintessential small-town New England charm you won’t find anywhere else!
Plus, Rockport Massachusetts typically won’t be as busy as other coastal towns in Massachusetts. It’s lesser known with all the charm of a real small town.
But what can you actually do in Rockport? Besides simply roaming around, there are a few key spots you won’t want to miss.
Here are our favorite things to do in Rockport Massachusetts!
27. Take A Pic At Motif No. 1
The fishing shack in Rockport Harbor, so adorably nicknamed Motif #1, is the beloved and iconic symbol of the entire town.
Motif #1, constructed in the 1800s, has captured the imagination of countless creators throughout its history and is a must-see sight to behold.
Let’s be honest – it makes for some fantastic photos that will make your social media followers green with envy! And you definitely need to get a picture of this spot simply because it’s the classic Rockport landmark.
No matter what time of day or weather conditions you decide to visit this classic landmark, it never fails to impress. Even if you’re not a picture person, you’ll definitely want to check out this landmark. The views are just too incredible!
26. Visit Bearskin Neck
Bearskin Neck pier in Rockport is a great place to explore. It has lots of stores, art galleries and places you can eat on Main Street. You should definitely put it on your list of places to visit!
This popular shopping area is home to a variety of quaint shops, restaurants, and galleries. Browse local artwork, jewelry, and souvenirs while taking in the ocean views. Bearskin Neck is the perfect spot to find a unique memento to take home!
Bearskin Neck is quite literally the neck of Rockport, stretching out into the sea. It’s a quaint little walk where cars aren’t allowed, making it the perfect spot for leisurely shopping and sightseeing. We especially recommend visiting Bearskin Neck during the summer, when Rockport feels most alive.
Don’t miss out on the weekly outdoor market in summer and fall – where you can find a variety of items from local artisans, farmers, and craftsmen. There’s truly something for everyone here!
Walking around Bearskin Neck is one of the top things to do in Rockport Massachusetts. Plus, it’s completely free! Take a short walk to really experience the vibe, even if you have time for nothing else.
25. Stroll Through Halibut Point State Park
Halibut Point State Park has stunning views of the ocean and is a great place to take a leisurely stroll. Climb up the observation tower for even more breathtaking vistas!
This scenic park offers hiking trails, ocean views, and opportunities for bird watching. Be sure to check out the historic granite quarry and the nearby tide pools.
Halibut Point State Park is a great place to come if you want to spend a few relaxed hours exploring the natural beauty of Rockport. Whether you’re looking for educational activities or just a chance to enjoy nature, this park has something for everyone.
At Halibut Point State Park, there is no admission fee so it’s well worth your time! Plus, the views from up top are not to be missed.
24. Explore Rockport Art Association & Museum
Art is a big thing in small Rockport and is one of my favorite things to do in Rockport during the summer. Luckily, most of the art galleries are right downtown, so you can pop in and out. But the Rockport Art Association & Museum is definitely the place to start!
This art gallery and museum feature works from local artists, as well as rotating exhibits. Visitors can also take art classes and attend special events.
Rockport Art Association & Museum is a great place to explore and appreciate art from the area. Not only will you get to see some truly stunning works of art, but it’s also a great spot for educational and cultural experiences.
Plus, admission here is free so it’s absolutely worth a visit! We recommend popping in to see some really cool local art while you’re walking around downtown Rockport.
23. Take a Boat Tour
Get out on the open water and explore the waters around Rockport! Choose between kayaks, sailboats, or motor vessels to get up close and personal with the beautiful coastline. Don’t forget your camera to capture stunning shots of Massachusetts’ majestic seascapes.
If you want to get the full experience, explore the coastline and nearby islands on a boat tour with companies like Cape Ann Whale Watch and Seven Seas Whale Watch. Keep an eye out for whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife.
Boat tours are one of the most popular things to do in Rockport and are a great way to spend a summer day. Whether you’re going solo or taking a group, there’s no better way to explore the area! Plus, you’ll get some amazing views that you can’t find anywhere else.
Keep in mind that you’ll probably want to schedule a full day for your boat tour, especially if you’re going on a Whale Watch. This is one of our favorite things to do in Rockport Massachusetts during a multi-day visit, but you won’t be able to do a whole boat tour if you’re just in Rockport MA for one day.
22. Relax on the Beach
Rockport is home to several beautiful beaches, including Long Beach and Cape Hedge Beach. Bring a picnic and enjoy the ocean breeze. These beaches are perfect for a relaxing day in the sun, or you can bring some beach toys and get active.
You’ll also find plenty of trails to explore at both Long Beach and Cape Hedge Beach. These public beaches offer great opportunities for swimming, fishing, surfing, windsurfing, sunbathing, and more!
The beaches right near downtown Rockport tend to be a bit rocky and small, so they’re best for exploration or a picnic. If you want a truly sandy beach where you can spend a full day then you’re better off heading to Gloucester.
21. Attend a Concert at the Shalin Liu Performance Center
This stunning venue offers a variety of performances, from classical music to contemporary jazz. The state-of-the-art acoustics and ocean views make for a memorable experience.
You can check out the performance calendar to plan for upcoming concerts or find some last minute tickets on their website. The Shalin Liu Performance Center is a great place to get your music fix and enjoy some of the best performances in Rockport.
Plus, these events tend to be more affordable than other festivals and shows in Massachusetts, so you won’t have to break the bank for a great night out. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Rockport Massachusetts!
20. Walk the Atlantic Path
This scenic path follows the coastline of Rockport and offers stunning views of the ocean and nearby islands. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. The path is lined with benches, so you can stop and take in the view.
The Atlantic Path is great for walking, running, or biking. It’s also a popular spot to catch some stunning sunsets! This path is perfect for sightseeing and spending time outdoors.
This is one of our favorite things to do in Rockport Massachusetts during the spring or fall when the sun isn’t too hot. The views are just gorgeous!
19. Visit the Thatcher Island Twin Lights
These historic lighthouses are located on Thatcher Island, just off the coast of Rockport. Visitors can take a boat tour or hike to the island to explore the lighthouses and surrounding area.
The Twin Lights have a fascinating history, which you can learn more about at the Visitor’s Center. The lighthouses are beautiful and make for the perfect photo op! Plus, if you’re lucky, you might get to see some harbor seals basking in the sun on your visit.
These lighthouses are another great way to spend a day in Rockport Massachusetts. No matter the season, you can find beauty and excitement here!
18. Check Out Rockport’s Many Restaurants
Rockport has some of the best seafood restaurants on the East Coast. From clam shacks to fine dining establishments, you can find something to satisfy any craving.
We love checking out all the local spots when we visit Rockport Massachusetts. The seafood is always delicious and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Whether you’re looking for a light lunch or a special dinner, Rockport has got you covered!
Some of our favorite restaurants in Rockport include:
- The Lobster Pool
- The Fish Shack
- The Saltbox Restaurant
- Whale’s Tail Restaurant & Grille
- Feather & Wedge
- My Place By The Sea
No trip to Rockport MA is complete without tasting the local fare! So, make sure to save room for a delicious meal when you visit. Rockport definitely has some of the best seafood restaurants in Massachusetts.
And of course, don’t forget to try some of the local ice cream. It’s one of the best things to do in Rockport Massachusetts during the summer months!
17. Try Samples At The Rockport Fudgery
Rockport Fudgery is the place to go for some old-fashioned fudge. They offer a wide variety of flavors, from classic chocolate to unique combinations like maple walnut and dark chocolate banana.
The best part about this spot is that you can watch the fudge being made right in front of your eyes. Plus, the fudge makers are always happy to answer questions about their process.
Rockport Fudgery also offers other sweets and treats like homemade caramel apples and chocolate-covered fruits. We also love their pumpkin fudge, maple fudge, and rocky road fudge. And you can grab a coffee while you snack!
The Rockport Fudgery is located right by the harbor, so it’s easy to check out while you’re exploring the area. Grab a few treats and keep your energy up during your Rockport Massachusetts adventure!
16. Visit The Bearskin Neck Country Store For Penny Candy
Located in the heart of Rockport, the Bearskin Neck Country Store is a great spot to grab some old-fashioned penny candy. The store also has souvenirs and other local goods like postcards and coffee mugs.
This charming country store will take you back in time with its old-world charm. From the wide selection of penny candy to the friendly staff, this is a great spot for some nostalgia and sweet treats.
Grab your penny candy and take a stroll along the harbor. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Rockport Massachusetts!
15. Head To The Ice Cream Store
The Ice Cream Store in Rockport is the place to go for a delicious scoop of ice cream. They offer classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry as well as unique options like espresso crunch and black raspberry.
Their selection is always changing so you can try something new every time you visit. Plus, they offer sugar-free options and sundaes for those with a sweet tooth.
Head to the Ice Cream Store after dinner for a refreshing treat. It’s one of our favorite spots in Rockport Massachusetts! And it’s right on Bearskin Neck, so you can pop in while sightseeing.
14. Go To Top Dog
Top Dog is Rockport’s iconic hot dog shack located right downtown. They serve up classic American fare like hot dogs and hamburgers made with fresh ingredients.
Top Dog offers some seriously cool hot dog combinations. But they also have really fresh fried seafood! There are small tables inside and out if you want to sit. But we recommend taking your hot dogs right down to the end of Bearskin Neck and sitting on the rocks by the water.
This spot is perfect for a quick bite or a late-night snack. The prices are affordable, the atmosphere is casual, and the food is delicious! It’s one of our favorite places to grab lunch when we visit Rockport Massachusetts.
13. Go Antiquing
Rockport is a great spot for antiquing. Not only are the prices reasonable, but there’s something here for everyone. From furniture and books to jewelry and vintage clothing, you’re sure to find something special.
There are several antique stores in town including The Barn Gallery and Red Dove Vintage Market. Be sure to take a stroll and explore the unique items each store has to offer.
If you want to stay right in Rockport then there are plenty of small antique stores. It’s kind of a thing! However, there are lots of options locally in Essex and Gloucester too, so don’t be afraid to expand your search area.
Grab a few treasures from your favorite shop and make your way back downtown. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Rockport Massachusetts!
12. Explore The Rockport Quarries
The Rockport Quarries are a great spot to explore and take in the unique geology of Cape Ann. The area is full of natural rock formations and crystal pools that have been formed over thousands of years.
Take a stroll around the quarries and look for stones, fossils, and other interesting items from nature. There’s plenty to explore and the area is incredibly peaceful.
The Rockport Quarries are a great spot for adults, kids, and even dogs! It’s one of our favorite places to visit when we’re in Rockport Massachusetts. So don’t miss out – add it to your list of top things to do in Rockport!
11. Have A Lobster Roll
When it comes to coastal New England, there’s one meal that stands out—the iconic lobster roll. Go to a place near the ocean and have a seafood sandwich. It will be an amazing experience!
If you’re in search of where to get your hands on a delicious lobster roll, two top-notch places come highly recommended: Roy Moore Lobster Company and The Lobster Pool. Seriously: there’s no better way to experience Rockport Massachusetts in the summer than with a lobster roll in hand.
Roy Moore is located right on Bearskin Neck and promises a mouth-watering lobster roll. Walk along its serene beachfront and explore some of Rockport’s most iconic sites like Motif No. 1 – you won’t be disappointed!
Meanwhile, the Lobster Pool is located in Halibut Point State Park. Revel in some of the most breathtaking views of Cape Ann while savoring one of New England’s top-tier lobster rolls!
If a lobster roll isn’t your style, chowder can make an excellent (and cheaper) option. But keep in mind that we only serve New England clam chowder here. It’s basically a religion!
10. Visit the Rockport Brewing Company
A family business in Downtown Rockport, the Rockport Brewing Company has been a local favorite for many years.
Cofounders Jordana and Ray Pickup developed their love of brewing after experimenting with home recipes in their own driveway. With this dynamic couple at the helm, they have made The Rockport Brewing Company into an iconic destination spot!
The couple is passionate about serving the Rockport community with their signature small-batch, high-quality beer, and exceptional food. As proud natives of Rockport, they honor local farms by sourcing ingredients from them and proudly showcase artwork created by talented local artists in their establishment.
If you’re looking for a beer that’s full of flavor, then check out their flagship varieties such as the Twin Lights New England Double IPA, Pescato Italian Pilsner, and the Hatchet New England Session IPA. And if this isn’t enough to whet your appetite, don’t worry – they’ll always surprise you with tantalizing new brews!
9. Rent a Bike and Explore
If you enjoy discovering the world on two wheels, then Rockport is the ideal location for you! North Shore Adventures in Bearskin Neck provides bicycle rentals and all of the necessary equipment for an unforgettable day.
As someone who is typically nervous about driving in the city, Rockport has been a refreshing change for me. The roads are usually tranquil and the landscapes delightful. Bear in mind that summer weekends tend to be traffic-heavy on these streets.
But it’s so small that you can easily explore Rockport on foot! A bicycle is simply an option if you want to really jet around and see more than just the downtown.
Rockport may be tiny, but you can use it as a launching point for your North Shore journey. After all, Gloucester is only moments away! So why not take the plunge and uncover the fascinating towns that dot this coastal region?
8. Go Sailing On A Historic Schooner
Escape the troubles of everyday life and set sail on the majestic 65 foot schooner Thomas E. Lannon, for a day trip you won’t soon forget!
Visit Seven Seas Wharf in Gloucester and board the schooner for a chance to relive history! From May through October, visitors can enjoy two-hour sails or secure private charters -all while admiring these graceful vessels just as they did centuries ago.
7. Visit Thacher Island
To experience a slice of history and national pride, visit Thacher Island: located only a mile from Rockport’s shore. In the past, this small island was the site of several historic naval battles that ultimately aided in securing victory for the American Revolution.
You can hop on board The Thacher Island Launch at any three times throughout the day – adults pay $35 while children are granted admission for just $10 (plus an additional fee if arriving by personal boat). Why not come explore what lies within these majestic waters?
Spend the day exploring the island and its majestic light station, keeper houses, whistle house, and scenic trails. Don’t forget that at 5:00 PM sharp you’ll need to head off of the island – so make sure to savor every moment!
6. Drive the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway
If you’re looking for a way to relax and let your worries slip away, nothing beats going on a scenic drive with the windows rolled down and some good music playing in the background.
The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway is perfect for this type of escape; it’s full of stunning sights that will leave you feeling refreshed. Plus, there are plenty of stops along the way where you can grab an energizing cup of coffee or tea!
Embark on a 90-mile adventure along the North Shore of Massachusetts, connecting 14 stunning towns from Lynn to Salisbury. This coastal byway is federally protected and conserved by an active non-profit organization that works diligently to preserve its rich history and eminent architecture for future generations.
You could split up the drive and make it a two-day journey if you start in Rockport, driving north on your first day and south at the dawn of the next. This way, you won’t have to travel the full distance in one day, which would be tough! You can also just do a part of the tour if you want to stay within the Rockport Massachusetts area.
5. Attend a Rockport Festival
Rockport is a vibrant art town, thus it’s no surprise that they adore their many festivals! Survey the calendar of events and organize your itinerary around something that speaks to you.
From Fourth of July festivities to Christmas galas, this quaint location brings people together for all joyous occasions. There are tons of festivals for such a small town!
Celebrate the culture of Rockport all year round with some special events such as Motif #1 Day in late May, Cape Ann Artisans Spring Tour and Fall Tours both in June and October respectively, August’s Illuminations Weekend, and Harvest Fest come October.
And mark your calendar every Saturday from 10:00 AM-1:00 PM for the Rockport Farmers’ Market in the Rockport Music Parking Lot!
4. Take A Tour Of Sandy Bay By Boat
Embark on an exciting journey from Tuna Wharf in Bearskin Neck and explore the stunning sights of Sandy Bay. You will be enchanted by harbor seals, cormorants, timeless lighthouses, exquisite islands, and breathtaking shorelines. This is such a fun little boat tour during the summer!
The boats depart daily from May to October at 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Rockport if you want to see some scenic views but only have a few hours.
3. Tour Hammond Castle
When touring Cape Ann, Hammond Castle is a must-see destination for all. It was the residence and laboratory of inventor John Hays Hammond Jr., who’s considered to be the pioneer of radio control!
Hammond Castle is an exciting place to visit for technology, history, architecture and artifact aficionados. In the grand hall you’ll find a bevy of Renaissance artifacts collected by Mr. Hammond himself as well as a majestic pipe organ!
Yet, the most delightful part of the tour is discovering all of Mr. Hammond’s mischievous antics around his residence! And of course, the views from the castle are a gorgeous added bonus.
2. Visit Local Rockport Bookstores
Searching for a rare first edition of Leaves of Grass? Or perhaps some vintage works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Look no further! Rockport has plenty of bookstores for you.
If you’re in the Rockport area, there are plenty of incredible bookstores to choose from. Art Longwood Books, Manchester By The Book, and Dogtown Books have all been popular spots for years – and now Susie’s Stories on Bearskin Neck is just as popular!
1. Visit Nearby Towns
Last but not least, make sure to explore the other amazing towns along the North Shore while you’re in Rockport. You can take a leisurely drive down the Essex Scenic Byway and visit each of these quaint places or plan your route beforehand so that you don’t miss out on anything!
Manchester-by-the Sea, a town that’s been featured in Hollywood movies, is the perfect place to enjoy picturesque beaches and harborside views. Here you can find many elegant boutiques as well as charming cottages tucked away from all of the bustle of more touristy areas on Cape Ann.
Gloucester has the best of both worlds: it is a larger city with attractions and accommodation, yet maintains its small-town charm. Spending time here will allow you to take advantage of its stunning beaches and whale watching opportunities while still experiencing the metropolitan vibe. Gloucester is known as a hot-spot for fishing and is definitely the fishing capital of Massachusetts!
If you’re enticed by the idea of antique hunting, a trip to Essex is definitely worthwhile. As it has been labeled America’s “antique capital,” be sure to set aside an entire day for your treasure hunt in the marshlands! There are some super cute restaurants set right on the marsh, giving a real Outer Banks vibe.
And of course, Salem, one of the most prominent cities in this part of the world, is teeming with history and spookiness. It’s become a well-known destination from Boston for day trips due to its abundance of haunted places – making it an ideal spot during Halloween festivities! Check out our top things to do in Salem here.
From Rockport to the North Shore, there’s an abundance of places and activities for you to explore. So why not journey beyond your comfort zone and uncover all that this region has in store? If you have more than one day in Rockport Massachusetts then we definitely recommend checking out the neighboring towns!
How Much Time to Spend in Rockport Massachusetts
A day in Rockport is the ideal getaway for someone living near Boston or any other nearby area. With enough time to explore Bearskin Neck, shop around, stop for a delicious lunch, and even make it out to Halibut Point or go kayaking – what’s not to love?
You can definitely do most of Rockport in one day. While you might not get to do boat tours or more extensive hikes, the downtown of Rockport is seeable in a day.
If you’re planning on an extended stay, I urge you to explore the North Shore and beyond. Portsmouth, NH is also a fantastic destination! A car would be beneficial in order for you to truly experience all this area has to offer. You can absolutely spend multiple days in the area – so why not make the most of your visit?
Best Time to Visit Rockport Mass
If you’re looking for a summer getaway, Rockport is the perfect destination! As one of the busiest times of year in this vibrant seaside town, travelers flock from near and far to take advantage of its beaches, ice cream stands, and delicious lobster rolls.
Although your experience will certainly be enjoyable during these peak summer months – just know that prices may be higher than usual due to increased demand, as well as longer wait times at restaurants.
Fall is also an enchanting time to visit Rockport and other nearby towns. The locals tend to flock inland New England in order to take in the magnificent autumn foliage, so Rockport offers some much-needed peace and quiet, though it’s definitely not hopping.
If you are looking for a lively atmosphere, plan your trip during the spring season! As soon as temperatures become mild again, Massachusetts blooms with captivating natural wonders on display. Everywhere you look will be brimming of stunning scenery!
If you’re seeking a tranquil escape, Rockport’s coastal New England charm is the ideal winter destination – even though many of its local businesses close during this season. Despite the lack of activities, there are still plenty ways to enjoy nature and relax in peace. So if you crave some serenity and quietude, Rockport could be just what your soul needs!
How to Get to Rockport MA
Exploring the North Shore is best done by car – you’ll have far more freedom than relying on public transportation, which unfortunately isn’t as easy to access or consistent
From Boston, Rockport is a 50-minute drive North.
On the other hand, you can ride the train from North Station to Manchester (50 minutes), then switch over to a shuttle service that will take you directly to Rockport in just 28 minutes.
During the summer, you can make use of the CATA shuttle service which departs every 25 minutes. Hop on and it will transport you to Dock Square in downtown Rockport for a reasonable fare – $1 (most people), $0.50 (seniors) or totally free for kids under 5!
Where to Stay in Rockport, MA
If you’re hoping to find an affordable place to stay, I highly recommend exploring beyond Rockport. The city is known for its luxurious and mid-range inns; however, there are more budget friendly options available if you simply broaden your search area.
If you have the budget, I recommend staying right in downtown Rockport because the whole downtown area is walkable.
Here are three of our favorite spots to stay in Rockport:
Seafarer Inn — Nestled by the shimmering sea, the Seafarer Inn is an enchanting home with a porch to soak in breathtaking views of the bay and a tranquil koi pond for enjoying your morning coffee. Every suite features oceanic views, and you can stroll from this idyllic abode to explore shoreline tide pools. The perfect destination for romantic getaways!
Sally Webster Inn — The Sally Webster is a delightful bed and breakfast, located only 7 minutes away from the beach. Here you’ll be pampered with luxurious decor and excellent service that will make you feel like an esteemed guest. While staying here, don’t forget to explore the nearby art galleries, shops, and restaurants!
Rockport Inn and Suites — Nestled on five lavish acres of land, the grand hotel stands proudly alongside the north shore. Its prime location allows visitors to take a short stroll into downtown Rockport and indulge in every luxury conceivable – from an expansive pool for swimming to a fully-equipped gymnasium!
Is Rockport Worth Visiting?
Rockport is an absolute must-visit destination! I always make sure to show it off to my visitors from out of town, and that’s because there’s nothing like it. Once you visit this spectacular place, you’ll be drawn back season after season – no matter what time of year it might be!
I’m confident you’ll treasure your time spent in Rockport and the North Shore – it is a true gem of New England.