Day Tripper Guides:
Culinary Delights in Essex, MA
1. Start your day with a made-to-order breakfast sandwich (Breakfast Burrito or Smoked Turkey Egg Sandwiches too!) from the Village Market or pick up a freshly baked croissant from Chebacco Market. Here on a Sunday? Brunch with a river view is a specialty at Shea's Riverside, Riversbend and C.K. Pearl...with live jazz at C.K. Pearl on the first and third Sundays of the month year-round.
Photo: Village Restaurant
2. Essex, Massachusetts is known for its fresh seafood and locally harvested clams - after all, the fried clam was invented right here at Woodman’s in 1916. Fried or steamed, each restaurant serves up their own signature recipe. So try one place for lunch and another for dinner! View Restaurant Directory
3. Several Essex antique and specialty shops are located within walking distance of Essex eateries. Browse the shops, then refresh with a specialty cocktail or craft beer and an appetizer. Ripple, Shea’s Riverside, Riversbend and C.K. Pearl all have outdoor deck dining (in season) overlooking the Essex River. In winter months, relax beside a cozy fireplace at The Farm Bar & Grille, Shea’s Riverside or Windward Grille. And stop in for a wine tasting every Friday from 5:00pm - 7:00pm at Essex Wine Exchange!
4. Choose from a wide range of dining experiences for dinner: comfort food with a barbeque spin in a lively atmosphere at The Farm Bar & Grille; wood-fired pizza at Riversbend; picnic dining on Eben’s Creek at J.T. Farnham’s; dinner and drinks over a game of Cribbage at Shea’s Riverside - with a chance to win a $50 Shea’s Gift Certificate at Tuesday Tournament Nights); or intimate dining in a New England farmhouse that’s over 300 years old at Windward Grille.
5. Save room for dessert! Delicious homemade desserts at the Village Restaurant (Traditional Indian Pudding and Carrot Cake are among the delicious family recipes.) Dessert at Ripple and C.K. Pearl rival any of Boston’s top restaurants, along with dessert at many other Essex eateries. Watch our video to whet your appetite and learn more.
Shopping Excursion in Essex, MA
1. Homeowners, interior decorators, collectors and curiosity seekers will love the shops in Essex, MA. Check out Howard’s Flying Dragon Antiques, Main Street Antiques or Muzio Designs and be inspired by vintage and upcycled goods. Browse A.P.H. Waller & Sons’ extensive collection of fine art and decorative furnishings. And head to Andrew Spindler Antiques & Design, David Neligan Antiques or Perim Lang Antiques for sophisticated, curated furnishings and one-of-a-kind heirloom antiques.
2. Need a special gift or in search of a local treasure to take home? Check out these Essex favorites! Find innovative toys, children’s books by local authors and Essex branded T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats at Sea Meadow Gift & Garden Shop. Give an authentic piece of history with an antique map or decorative print from All Prints & Maps (with framing available in store.) Water sport enthusiasts can shop for the latest paddle gear at the Cape Ann SUP Board Barn or Essex River Basin Adventure’s retail store (both open seasonally.) And expert advice on what to give bird lovers and favorite pets is on hand at Essex Bird Shop & Pet Supply.
3. Fine art, sculpture and handcrafted creations are plentiful at shops and artists’ studios throughout Essex. There are a variety of functional forms and colorful glazes to choose from at Wheelworks Pottery (Potter, Jim Trudeau may even give a wheel throwing demonstration!) Fine art paintings by local artists hang at Muzio Designs and Storella Art Studio & Gallery. Make an appointment to visit the jewelry gallery at N. Larson Jewelry Designs to see the custom creations of Master Goldsmith Nancy Larson. Visit the studios of artists Friedl Brosch at A.F. Brosch Woodworking and Chris Williams Sculpture to see impressive craftsmanship and imaginative works, with pieces for sale and custom commissions available.
Outdoor Adventure & Leaf Peeping in Essex, MA
1. With eight places to explore and miles of trails through wetlands and woodlands with rocky terrain and picturesque coastal trails, Essex, Massachusetts is a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, nature walks and birdwatching. Three conservation organizations manage properties here: Greenbelt, Manchester Essex Conservation Trust and The Trustees of Reservations. All are open from dawn to dusk with plenty of free parking. If golf is your game, head to Cape Ann Golf Club (open year round, weather-permitting) where the the par 3, 7th hole which is only reachable by hitting over the marsh was also recognized in North Shore Golf Magazine’s ”Top hardest holes on the North Shore.“
Photo: Artist Jim Clyde at Paglia Park
2. Essex is a favorite spot for plein air painters. Set up your easel to capture Essex's beautiful farmlands, coastal views of the Essex River and the Great Marsh at the Greenbelt’s Allyn Cox Reservation, Cogswell’s Grant and Paglia Pocket Park (across from Perkins Marine.) David P. Curtis offers classes at the Cox Reservation throughout the year and during the annual Cape Ann Plein Air event in October, you'll find nationally recognized plein air painters from across the country creating masterpieces of local scenes.
3. From May through October, head down river any way you choose: Book a fishing charter to catch stripers and bluefish with the experienced Captains at Agawam Boat & Fishing Charters and Sea Fly Charters. Step aboard Essex River Cruises & Charters for a narrated tours pointing out former Hollywood movie sets, local lore and wildlife. Glide with the tides on a guided kayak tour with ERBA. Take a stand up paddle board lesson or yoga class with Cape Ann SUP. Or launch your own watercraft at Essex Marina, Perkins Marine (with a gas dock) or Town Landing and wind your way through the pristine waters of the Essex River.
Arts & Culture in Essex, MA
1. Several Essex artists and artisans welcome visitors and host special exhibits. Be sure to drop in at Chris Williams Sculpture studio and sculpture grounds to see incredible bent, shaped and welded metal works of art: life-size horses, dragons, octopus and fish (combined with glass) that appear to be caught in a moment of stillness. In the heart of the Essex River Cultural District, visit A.F. Brosch Woodworking to see Friedl Brosch’s custom creations and museum-quality restorations. Across the street, make an appointment to visit the jewelry gallery of N. Larson Jewelry Designs where heirloom gold and gemstones are transformed into new custom jewelry designs.
3. Two museums in Essex, Massachusetts have extraordinary stories to tell. Through photographs, videos, hands-on exhibits and an 83-foot transitional fishing schooner that launched from this site in 1927, Essex Shipbuilding Museum describes how our small town built close to 4,000 wooden vessels over 350 years and was recognized worldwide as a major producer of the American fishing schooner. Further down river, Historic New England’s Cogswell’s Grant folk art museum houses a renowned collection of American folk art in a 1728 farmhouse. Painted furniture, redware, hooked rugs, weathervanes, and decoys are displayed throughout the home in which it was assembled. Check each museum’s seasonal hours to plan your visit.
4. Step back in time to connect past and present day Essex on the self-guided Historic Essex Walking Tour. A brochure and map to guide you is available at many of the 16 interpretive signs. The tour spans a one-mile stretch along Main Street, with a short extension on Martin Street to the unique Victorian Shingle Style architecture of Essex Town Hall built in 1893. Find a Paul Revere bell, cast in 1797; learn about the grave robberies of 1818 and gain insight into how Essex became ”America’s Antique Capital‘. Scan the QR code on each sign for additional stories, photos and audio related to that site.
2. From May through October, enjoy an Essex River Cruise aboard the Essex River Queen through the sheltered waters of the Essex River. It was voted the #1 thing to do in Essex, MA. The one an a half hour narrated tour points out former Hollywood movie sets, local lore and wildlife. (No worries, there’s a restroom onboard!)