North Shore

For centuries, people living on the North Shore of Massachusetts have turned to the sea for fishing and trade. Settlers landed here in 1623, the forests provided timber to build boats, boats used to fish for plentiful cod and lobster. Small fishing villages became grand maritime towns. After the American Revolution, Salem was the hub of trade with Asia, bringing back riches from the Orient.

Lynn Woods ReservationOn summer's day, bring a picnic and take a hike through Lynn Woods Reservation, a large woodland forest, with 30 miles of hiking trails. There are three ponds, but no swimming allowed. Here's the map.
Most exciting hike is to Dungeon Rock with a pirate cave. According to legend, in 17th century a pirate named Thomas Veal buried silver treasure in cave at Dungeon Rock. A treasure has never been found, but people keep searching.
To get to Dungeon Rock, from Pennybrook Road entrance and parking, follow Jackson Path to Dungeon Rock. Even if cave isn't open, rock is good spot for a picnic, plenty of flat rocks to sit on.
Dungeon Rock is open May 1 to Oct. 31, email Lynn Woods Ranger for opening hours. When the cave is open, follow the stairs down into the cave, bring a flashlight.
Marblehead - Marblehead is one the great New England seafaring towns, many a sea captain and fisherman sailed out of this picturesque harbor. Walk down Front Street, lined with original period century houses in pastel colors - peach, yellow, and white. Front Street ends at Fort Sewall. Since 1644, there's been a fort on this point, guarding the entrance to the harbor.
Back in town, Devereaux Beach is a long stretch of sandy beach, so bring your sand toys for the kids and make an afternoon of it.
Manchester-By-The-Sea - Go down to the "Singing Beach," the sand squeaks as you walk on it. (Our friends who visited the beach definitely heard it "singing" but it can depend on the humidity.)
After you've been at the beach, stop at Captain Dusty's Ice Cream shop (near the commuter train station) - try the blue goo (vanilla with a blue swirl) ice cream in a kiddy cone. Tip: In summer, parking in Manchester is pricey.
Gloucester - Go out on a whale watching cruise to see humpback, minke or fin whales, dolphins, seals and turtles. Bring a jacket (it can get chilly out on the water). April to October.
Rockport - Rockport has some absolutely fabulous tide pools at Halibut Point State Park, tide pools with brilliant red and green colors, hermit crabs, snails and sea stars. Check the tide tables to find when it's low tide.
In town, there's a long sandy beach right along Beach St. and it's fun to walk around the Rockport Inner Harbor and the town wharf, fishing shantys and colorful lobster floats everywhere.
Family Hotels

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels, all styles and price ranges, convenient to fun things to do with kids in North Shore:

North Shore family hotels
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