5 things to do when visiting Rockport

The coastal town is "Massachusetts at its best."

Motif No. 1 in Rockport. Melanie Waddell

City and town clerks across Massachusetts are sharing their favorite places to go for culture, nature, and relaxation in the cities and towns they know so well. Do you want to see your favorite city or town featured? Let us know in the survey below or e-mail [email protected]

Patricia Brown, a 41-year resident of Rockport and town clerk for the past decade, says Rockport is “Massachusetts at its best.”

The Essex County town 40 miles northeast of Boston is located on Cape Ann, which is comprised of Rockport, Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and the city of Gloucester.


“There are beaches, there’s a downtown area and specialty shops and great seafood,” Brown said. “The people are special and the scenery is unbelievable. It’s aptly described as Rockport because the rocks make it the beautiful scenic area that it is.”

Ahead, Brown offers her picks for what to do when visiting the coastal town.

Spend time at Granite Keystone Bridge

An historic stone arch bridge in the town, built in 1872, is a favorite structure in Brown’s family.

“One thing that I love to bring nieces and nephews to is the Keystone Bridge,” Brown said.

Granite Keystone Bridge, on the National Register of Historic Places, is located on Route 127 and goes over a former railroad track that brought granite to Granite Pier. Visitors can park at Granite Pier and walk to it, Brown said.

“When you cross over it, it’s tiny,” Brown said. “You don’t even think of it as being a bridge. But you get under it and it’s enormous.”

Brown likes to walk on the path beneath the bridge.

“It’s a walk in the woods and at the end of the walk, there’s a little quarry,” Brown said. “It’s just beautiful, that area.”

Order lobster from Roy Moore Lobster Co.

Brown loves eating at Roy Moore Lobster Co., which has been serving hungry patrons since 1918.


“It’s a great place if you’re going to be downtown,” Brown said. “And if you like lobster and you like crab cakes, and you like stuffed clams and chowder, which is what most people come for.”

The spot offers first come, first serve outside tables and guests can bring their own beverages.

“It’s definitely eat in the rough,” she said. “Everything is cooked for you. And you sit on his back deck or you take your catch and you go down to the end of Bearskin Neck and sit on the rocks and fight the seagulls off. It’s just a great place.”

What does Brown order?

“I love the chowder,” she said. “And, of course, the steamed lobster, especially in the summertime because it’s soft and you can crack it pretty easily. But [the owner] is there and he’ll crack it for you. It’s just an all-around show. It’s New England.”

For a more traditional restaurant experience, visitors can head to Roy Moore’s Fish Shack on Dock Square.

Granite Keystone Bridge in Rockport. Melanie Waddell

Explore a park

Brown called the scenic four-acre Millbrook Meadow and Mill Pond “a hidden jewel right in the middle of Rockport.”

The green space includes Mill Pond and also a meadow with a winding brook, frog pond, and stone bridge. The area hosts fairs and festivals during the warm months, and the park offers ice skating in the winter.


“It’s just one of the most beautiful places on earth,” said Brown, who has conducted marriage ceremonies there.

Halibut Point State Park is another park worth exploring, Brown said.

On a clear day, visitors can see Mount Agamenticus in York, Maine, as well as the Isles of Shoals, a group of small islands in New Hampshire and Maine.

“The view is incredible,” Brown said.

Visitors can hike the park’s trails and picnic on its seaside rocks, she said.

See the iconic Motif No. 1

Motif. No. 1 in Rockport. – Handout

One of Cape Ann’s most iconic landmarks is Motif No. 1, located at the end of popular Bearskin Neck, which is full of quaint shops, art studios, and restaurants. It is thought to be the most painted building in America.

“It’s been photographed and painted by everybody,” Brown said. “I can remember coming here as a child with my father — he was an artist — and he painted it.”

When asked why people are so drawn to Motif No. 1, Brown said: “It’s a typical New England fishing shack. I mean, it’s the color, and it’s the light, and it’s the location right on the end of a pier with ocean in front of it and ocean behind it.”

Rockport celebrates the structure every May during Motif No. 1 Day, which includes a 5K road race, food, live music, historical presentations, and more.

What readers say about Rockport

“Rockport is my favorite place to visit when I come to Boston,” wrote @ronidawk71. “I love to go sit on the rocks looking over the water. It is so relaxing.”

“Love it so much I got married there,” wrote @xivhbv.


“Love the vibe!” wrote @nancykee.

For food and beverages:

Bean & Leaf Cafe@madisonjoan_

Feather & Wedge Restaurant and Bar@travelikealocalma, @s.ambersmitrealestate, @kim_king, @kribbygirl_

Helmut’s Strudel@kim_king, @lucd123, @sheilabee713

Hula Moon @livy1236

Fished Impressions@emvermz

Lattof Farmhouse Kitchen@entreethegiant

Red Skiff Restaurant@draperelevator, @christosr85

Rockport House of Pizza@steviemilitello, @georgefabs

Roy Moore Lobster Co.@mgfmobrien, @roeitherealtor, @paulymantell, @ericadfly, @emvermz, @matthewwlodarczyk

The Lobster Pool@fancynancy_76, @saralyvrealty, @ebove18, @lucd123, @citylights760

Top Dog of Rockport@tootsie518, @livy1236, @jeffsawyerfitness, @steviemilitello, @sheilabee713

Tuck’s Candies @steviemilitello, @sheilabee713

For activities:

Addison Choate@travelikealocalma, @mel_kwong

Bearskin Neck@marykcm

Bearskin Neck Country Store@tootsie518, @ericadfly

Cape Hedge Beach@ericadfly, @tmcallanan

Cleod Glassworks @travelikealocalma

Floating Lotus@skullsrus

Halibut Point State Park@kim_king, @kymistry_lab, @lucd123, @laughinggirldesign

Lydia Burke Design & Soft Furnishings@tmcallanan

Motif No. 1 @nancygo964, @tmcallanan, @sheilabee713, @marykcm, @tparduephoto

One Ocean Apparel@roachgrace, @roeitherealtor, @saltwatersarah

Rockport Candle Company@travelikealocalma

Rockport HarvestFest@colleenie78

Rusty & Ingrid@travelikealocalma, @marc.aa

Sand Castles@kribbygirl_

Shalin Liu Performance Center@roeitherealtor, @sallywebstercollection

The Art Nook Gallery@travelikealocalma

The Headlands@steviemilitello, @tmcallanan

The Paper House@brooklinefirebuff

The Pewter Shop@acerothstein84, @lucd123

Windhover Center for the Performing Arts@zoe_laurie2020


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