By Joey Del Ponte
There’s so much to do in the ‘Ville that its easy to forget that there’s miles of history, excitement and culture all around us. In this latest installment, we’re taking you to Newburyport – coastal city chock-full of history and culture, located 35 miles northeast of Boston near the NH border. While it has a bit of Somerville charm, it’s the perfect spot for a quick, affordable change of scenery for the whole family.
GETTING THERE SANS AUTO:
Train rides to Newburyport from Boston take a little over an hour and a half, so bring a book or your travel buddy. Hop on the 88, 87 or 80 buses to get to the Green Line’s Lechmere station or alternatively, take the Red Line from Davis and switch at Park Street. Trains on the Newburyport/Rockport Line leave regularly from North Station. Less than a mile from the Commuter Rail station, a bustling, yet quaint, downtown Newburyport area awaits you with shops, restaurants, markets and more. The lush green waterfront is a perfect spot to get some sun, play frisbee or have a picnic.
WHAT TO DO:
Clipper City Rail Trail: This 1.1 mile long recreational walkway is reminiscent of Somerville’s beloved bike path. The trail, which sits in a defunct railroad corridor, will lead you from the MBT A station to the center of town. The path moves through an industrial park, a residential neighborhood and over the waterfront as it stretches through hills and trees, under bridges and roads and over the harbor. In the 1970s, the railroad corridor was abandoned, leaving miles of free land. Before a massive redevelopment, the corridor was used informally by residents as a footpath. Despite its popularity, debris, overgrown vegetation, homeless encampments, a lack of fencing and overall poor maintenance worried many. The city of Newburyport leased the land from the MBTA and completed design and redevelopment in 2010. While it serves as an artery to the hub of the city, it’s also a popular attraction in and of itself. You’ll also pass notable family attractions like Haley’s Ice Cream and the Graf Skating Rink.
The Cushing House Museum and Garden: Located in a federalist period mansion on the corner of Fruit and High streets, this museum is run by the Historical society of Newburyport. The institution specializes in maritime history and promises a plenitude of artifacts from the 17th and 18th centuries. Visitors get a guided tour of the house’s many rooms, all filled with collections of silver, portraits, furniture, clocks and more from New England and trade countries. The 19th century garden boasts both a summer house and a carriage house among fruit trees and an herb garden. The historical society often hosts special events on the museum grounds including lectures and programs for children.
Firehouse Center for the Arts: This 191-seat theater is situated on the scenic waterfront of downtown Newburyport. The historic building was originally built in 1823 as a market house and a lyceum and hosted distinguished speakers like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson. It later served as the Central Fire Station until 1980. In 1991 it was turned into a center for the arts and has since become a staple of local culture. The affordable venue offers local, regional and national performances as well as an art gallery. The center puts on dance, music and theater performances and promises something for everyone. Check their website for a current listing of performances.
WHERE TO NOSH:
Jewel in the Crown: After a day of perusing downtown Newburyport and visiting museums and stores, stop by the Jewel in the Crown for authentic and delicious Indian food. A stroll up pleasant street will take you to this reasonably priced gem. We recommend the Lamb Vindaloo, served with garlic naan.
Michael’s Harborside: Known for their seafood and great ocean view, this local favorite is another great choice. Stop in for a a clam chowder or lobster roll or opt in for something more hearty like their Sirloin Tips. It also has a full bar.