Hello September! We have only a few days of summer left before all of the leaves will begin to change for autumn in New England. In the spirit of the end of summer, come along and explore Rockport, Massachusetts with me.
For the last few months, I have been actively refocusing on my hobbies rather than so much on work. When you are learning a new role it is all too easy to get lose sight of your work/life balance. This reset led me to a spontaneous decision to go on a solo adventure with my Canon. My goal was to check out some scenic gems in Rockport and capture some of the Massachusetts landscape.
Let me tell you that Rockport did not disappoint! With all the sunshine and clear blue skies, I was able to get some stunning shots of the charming coastal town and its surroundings. Rockport, Massachusetts is the perfect spot for solo travelers, those looking for a chill beach day, recreational activity seekers, and town explorers.
- A Brief History of Rockport, Massachusetts
- Where is Rockport, Massachusetts?
- How to Travel to Rockport from Boston
- 3 Must-See Scenic Spots
A Brief History of Rockport, Massachusetts
The original residents of Rockport were referred to as the Agawam Indians by the European settlers (anglicized). Sadly the tribe was greatly decimated by plague in 1617 and yet again in 1633. During this period, the survivors assimilated with the European settlers.
After the settlers took the land, the town was considered officially settled in 1623 and was initially part of the neighboring town of Gloucester. However, Rockport itself was mostly left uninhabited for well over a century. In 1743 the construction of a dock finally brought the timber and fishing trades to the area bringing in new residents to the area.
The arrival of trades helped the town officially become recognized as a separate entity from Gloucester in 1840. Small granite quarries also became popular at this time. The founding of the Rockport Granite Company for one arrived in the 1860s. By the time of the Great Depression, however, most of the quarries had shut down. Today most of the old quarries have been filled in with water to form beautiful ponds and recreation areas for the public. One such quarry can be found in the center of Halibut Point State Park.
The town of Rockport, MA today is well known for its recreational activities in addition to being an active art colony. There are currently over 30 art galleries featuring works of over well over 400 hundred local artists. This art hub in New England is one of the oldest in existence within the United States.
Where is Rockport, Massachusetts?
Not to be confused with Rockport, Maine this seaside town is located in Massachusetts just 40 miles northeast of Boston. The town neighbors Gloucester on the Cape Ann peninsula.
How to Travel to Rockport from Boston
Option 1: Driving
The drive only takes about an hour from downtown Boston. However, you don’t necessarily need a car to visit Rockport. It is very walkable. Keep in mind two of the scenic sites on my list are outside of the main downtown area. Without a car, those two sites will be a hike on foot. I did it and had no issue, but you will want to research if it’s the right choice for your own abilities and convenience.
Getting Around Rockport without a car:
Rockport actually has its own bus lines if you aren’t a fan of walking far. Take note that the schedules do change if you are visiting on a holiday. You can find the schedules on their website.
Alternatively, you could rent bikes from one of the shops in town. I would like to note that the roads heading toward Halibut Point State Park aren’t the most bike-friendly due to the lack of bike lanes. However, you are allowed to bike on the sidewalks outside of the business area.
Option 2: Commuter Rail (More Cost Effective)
With gas prices being what they are, you can alternatively take the commuter rail from North Station all the way to Rockport. The train route you want is the Newburyport/Rockport Line.
If you have never used the commuter rail before, you may wonder how even to buy a ticket. No worries! I’ve got you covered. You actually have quite a few options to pay the fare for your ticket.
How to Buy a Commuter Rail Ticket
Option 1: Buy a Ticket at a Fare Vending Machine
You can avoid a line and buy a ticket from the fare vending machine within North Station. They are located on the far left side of North Station (if you are facing the train arrivals board). You simply choose your destination, pay with cash or a card, and print your ticket. You won’t need your ticket until you are already seated on the train and the conductor walks by and asks to see it.
To buy your ticket, you may see the words zone on the screen and wonder what that means. The commuter rail operates by fare zones. For Rockport, you would be traveling from Zone 1A (North Station) to Rockport (Zone 8).
On a weekday it costs a little bit more to travel to Rockport than it would on a weekend when you can buy the Commuter Rail Weekend Pass which allows you to take unlimited trips during the weekend for just $10.00.
Option 2: Buy a Ticket from the Service Desk
If you don’t mind waiting in line, then you can buy your ticket from the service desk on the far left side of North Station as you enter. It is also located near the restrooms too if you happen to need them.
Option 3: Use the mTicket App (Recommended)
This is the method I recommend due to the convenience, simplicity, and time-saving aspect. The app is available on both Android and iPhone. Check out the video below on how to use the app.
Tip: Don’t activate your ticket until you are on the train. This is a good idea in the event there is a train delay that could potentially change your plans.
Option 4: Buy a Ticket on the Train (Costs More)
If you have cash or a card, you can buy a ticket from the conductor. However, there is an added $3.00 fee for doing so. There really is no reason to choose this option. Just buy your ticket using the other cheaper options. Save your money for your trip!
Budget Tip: Commuter Rail Weekend Pass (Highly Recommended)
To save some major money on your weekend travels, be sure to purchase the weekend pass! It is just $10.00 and you can travel on the commuter rail as much as you’d like during the weekend you purchase it. I love this pass because you could easily check out Rockport, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Salem all in one trip if you’d like. Talk about a fun weekend of travels.
Full Commuter Rail Rider’s Guide (PDF Format):
3 Must-See Scenic Spots
Now let’s get to the fun stuff! During my last trip, I wanted to share 3 of my recommended must-see scenic spots in Rockport, Massachusetts. I visited on a holiday so the bus wasn’t a super reliable option that day. I ended up hiking the whole way but it got me a lot of much-needed steps.
Scenic Spot 1: Cathedral Rocks, Rockport, MA
Cathedral Ave, Rockport, MA 01966
This one is a bit off the beaten path, but it was a very nice and relaxing spot. While approaching the entrance to the Atlantic Foot Path, I came across some local artists painting the coastline on some small canvases.
Keep in mind that while you are welcome to visit this scenic spot, please be respectful of the homeowners along the rocks. Leave no trace. This means please don’t leave any litter or signs of disruption. The Atlantic Foot Path is open to the community but it does cross a bit of private property so be mindful and respectful as you walk the path.
The day I visited Cathedral Rocks, I had it practically to myself with the exception of two locals walking by. The views of the coast were quite beautiful with all the natural rock formations. I recommend a brief stop to check out this area. Just be careful on the rocks if you happen to visit post-rain!
Scenic Spot 2: Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, MA
Gott Ave, Rockport, MA 01966
This park is not huge like the state parks in Pennsylvania where I am from, but it has some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen on the East Coast. I absolutely loved it and can’t recommend visiting this scenic spot enough. It is ideal for a picnic, an easy hike, or just to take in some breathtaking overlooks.
If you have little ones, keep a close eye on them because there is an old quarry in one section of the park. It is very well marked but there are some drop-offs. The views from above the quarry are quite incredible on a sunny day. You can even see the Atlantic Ocean beyond the quarry.
Next to the quarry, you will find well-maintained restrooms and a path to either the beach or the overlooks. I highly recommend that you visit both. The overlook had lush landscapes with flowers and rock formations. Then there’s the crown jewel, the views of the ocean. Beyond amazing!
Please review their website for the most current rates for parking and accessibility.
Scenic Spot 3: Front Beach & Downtown Rockport, MA
Front Beach, Rockport, MA 01966
Heading back to the main area of Rockport, you will see Front Beach and of course the main event Rockport itself directly to the right of the beach.
I suggest parking the car and walking through Rockport. You will see a whole street of galleries, shops, cafes, and more. You must get out there to discover all the treats around every corner! There is quite a lot of small-town charm.
Grab a lobster roll from Roy Moore Lobster Company, rent bikes at Addison Choate for a scenic bike ride, take a guided kayaking tour to a lighthouse, or curl up with a book while relaxing on one of Rockport’s many beaches. Choose your own adventure!
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Hello everyone! I am a Boston based blogger that loves all things travel and lifestyle. You can usually find me working away at my university job, snapping pictures, thrifting, or trying out some new recipes.