There’s so much to do on Boston’s North Shore!
From lobster fishing to mom-and-pop-run farms, these are some of the best spots for exploring Boston’s iconic North Shore off the beaten path. We all know that dealing with the whims of small kids is compounded by lines, waits, and crowds of tourists.
These jaunts take less than half a day with the littles and will get you home in time for Paw Patrol. Enjoying these local gems with your family is easy, and for most, only a quick car or rail ride away.
#1. Cider Hill Farm, Amesbury, MA
Run by three generations of the Cook family, this farm is a great location to “pick your own” fruits and vegetables—whether it be apples, blueberries, or pumpkins. They offer many programs for young ones to be introduced to the farm. And for those families with early risers, they are open 8am-6pm daily.
#2. Crowninshield Island, Marblehead, MA
By planning ahead, you can reach this island on foot during low tide. There you will find tide pools for exploring the many sea creatures and saltwater plants, and hiking trails with some great views.
Also, check out The Trustees, a local non-profit dedicated to preserving natural sites in Northeast Massachusetts. They have many wonderful properties in and around the North Shore.
#3. CuriousCity, Peabody, MA
This museum, housed in two distinct buildings of the Leather Workers Museum, appeals to all ages and features all-interactive exhibits. There are STEAM-based, hands-on toys and games, a yoga room, and a life-sized picture book.
If you caught CuriousCity earlier in the year—the space was open from March through mid-August—then you know how amazing it is. But if you didn’t, no worries—CuriousCity is reopening in September.
#4. Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, MA
This gem is tucked just about as far east as you can go on the North Shore, in the city of Rockport. A former granite quarry, the many trails can lead you to a rocky beach where you can picnic while the kids climb the nearby boulders. From the top of the observation tower, you can see all the way to Maine.
Also, you can check out the nearby Paper House, built entirely from newspapers in 1922 by a local engineer.
#5. Harbor Tours, Lobster Boat Tour, Gloucester, MA
You can always go on a whale watch out of Gloucester or Boston, but why not go pull some lobster pots? Unlike whales, you are guaranteed to see lobsters without needing to go too far offshore—and the kids help to pull in the lobster traps! Offering daily tours.
#6. Maritime Museum, Gloucester, MA
This favorite in Gloucester is small enough to move through in about an hour unless your kids end up playing in the life-size lobster trap on the museum’s dock. There are touch tanks and aquariums (sea stars, lobsters, scallops, and clams galore) and interesting history of and exhibits about the shipping industry.
Afterward, if the kids need a sugar fix, walk over to Turtle Alley for friendly service and some unique chocolate treats.
#7. Salem Willows Arcade and Park, Salem, MA
You and the family will feel like you’re stepping back in time when you visit the arcades of vintage video and pinball machines. The arcades are housed next to a 30-plus acre park with picnic areas, beaches, food stands, and a carousel. While there are plenty of witchy sites to see in Salem, this one is worth a quick stop to get away from the crowds.
#8. Sally Milligan Park, Beverly, MA
Tucked into a suburban neighborhood in North Beverly, this nature reserve is an oasis with 47 acres of hiking trails, forest, and vernal pools. Easy trails make it great for families, and the variation in topography and many small hills create interest for little ones.
When you’re done, help avoid the kids slipping into hangry mode and head over to Captain Dusty’s ice cream stand in Beverly Farms!
#9. Wolf Hollow, Ipswich, MA
Get a special opportunity to view North American wolves up close in this non-profit wolf sanctuary in Ipswich. Wolves interact with volunteer keepers as if they were part of the pack. Open on weekends, with once-daily presentations.
There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.