Top 11 Things To Do In Essex, Massachusetts

things to do in Essex MA
Louise
Louise 
Contributing Writer
Updated
| 5 min read

Nestled in the Essex County in Massachusetts, Essex is a beautiful coastal town close to Newburyport and Boston. Popularly known as a center for shipbuilding in the past, this town is rich in heritage and holds fascinating history. Being a quintessential New England town, Essex exudes a charming old-town vibe. Here you’ll find lots of places to visit and activities to try. You can drop by the palatial seaside estate and gardens of Castle Hill in the Crane Estate and marvel at its beauty. Also, you’ll surely love spending a relaxing day at Crane Beach. You might enjoy some wine tasting activities at the Russel Orchards. For a more in-depth guide, here is a list of things to do in Essex, Massachusetts. Feel free to browse below.

1. Cruise the Essex River

Essex, MA
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Fletcher6 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Explore the picturesque coast of Essex by booking a ride with Essex River Cruises & Charters. This fantastic escapade is ideal for birthday celebrations, corporate activities, and other special events. Through this cruise, guests will sail the Essex River and will get to marvel at the scenic views and the abundance of wildlife. If you wish to, a professional guide can accompany you throughout the trip and give you narration about the city’s culture and heritage.

Essex River Cruises & Charters

Address: 35 Dodge St, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Essex River Cruises & Charters

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm (daily)

Price: From 26 USD

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2. Learn about the shipbuilding heritage of Essex at The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum

Essex Shipbuilding Museum, Essex MA
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user John Phelan used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you like learning about the culture and heritage of the cities you visit, be sure to drop by The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum while in Essex. Dip into the city’s shipbuilding heritage and browse through the collection of fascinating artifacts in the museum. The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum is a four-part attraction, consisting of the orientation center, the waterline center, the shipyard, and the Essex central schoolhouse. Each features exhibits pieces of machinery and tools that help better tell the history of the city.

The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum

Address: 66 Main St, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

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3. Spot wildlife in their natural habitat at Crane Wildlife Refuge

 Crane Wildlife Refuge, Ipswich MA
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user John Phelan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Located in Ipswich and partly in Essex, the Crane Wildlife Refuge is a stunning natural attraction that is popular for its rich wildlife. Here you’ll find migratory birds freely flying in the sky and reptiles crawling from one place to another. Also located in the Crane Wildlife Refuge is Crane Beach, which is a popular destination for swimmers, boaters, and kayakers. There are also fantastic hiking trails in the park for people who like exploring nature as well as physical activities.

Crane Wildlife Refuge

Address: Ipswich, MA 01938, USA

Website: Crane Wildlife Refuge

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4. Gorge on delicious seafood at Village Restaurant

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Yes the kids can have a Hot Dog. Village Restaurant

Posted by Salem Food Digest on Saturday, July 20, 2019

After sightseeing, museum visits, and other touristy activities, you might want to pause for a while and treat yourself to a delicious meal at Village Restaurant. Located in Main Street, this charming restaurant features a stunning rustic interior design with vintage charm. Its exterior is decorated with gorgeous flora that attracts customers. Popular for their seafood dishes, customers surely love coming back to the Village Restaurant for its excellent seafood stews, fried clams, lobster rolls, and other specialty dishes.

Village Restaurant

Address: 55 Main St, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Village Restaurant

Opening hours: Sun, Tue - Thu: 11am - 8pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 9pm (closed on Mon)

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5. Have a hearty meal at Lobster Trap Pub

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by The Lobster Trap on Friday, March 8, 2019

Another exceptional seafood restaurant that you should try while in Essex is the Lobster Trap Pub. Located in the heart of the city, this lovely restaurant is not only an excellent place to eat but also a fantastic place to kill time. There are lots of things to do in the Lobster Trap Pub aside from eating sumptuous seafood dishes. It has pool tables, darts, foosball, ping-pong tables, and more. It also offers room rentals for special events like dinner rehearsals, birthday, corporate events, and others.

Lobster Trap Pub

Address: 125 Main St, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Lobster Trap Pub

Opening hours: 11am - 10pm (daily)

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6. Visit Stavros Reservation

Stavros Reservation
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Magicpiano used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Owned by the Trustees of Reservations, the Stavros Reservation is a 50-acre (20.2 ha) nature reserve in Essex. Within a short distance from Crane Beach, Crane Wildlife Refuge, and Halibut Point, Stavros Reservation offers a spectacular natural view of the area. Here, you will also find the Whites Hill, a loop trail, an iconic 18th-century three-level tower used for the irrigation of the farm, and more. Stavros Reservation is a wonderful place to practice your photography skills as it has lots of excellent subjects.

Stavros Reservation

Address: 1-15 Island Rd, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Stavros Reservation

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7. Surf to your heart's content with Cape Ann SUP

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Most tourists come to Essex to enjoy its breathtaking waters and try delightful watersports. If you’re one of these beach-goers, and you like surfing, you may visit Cape Ann SUP for your surfing needs. It is an excellent surf shop that sells surfing equipment, tour packages, informative and interactive lessons, kids programs, and more. Whether you are a pro or a budding surfer, it won’t be a problem when you surf with Cape Ann SUP.

Cape Ann SUP

Address: 2 Southern Ave, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Cape Ann SUP

Opening hours: Fri - Sat: 10am - 6pm; Sun: 10am - 4pm (closed from Mon - Thu)

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8. Browse the collections of American folk art at Cogswell's Grant

Cogswells Grant Salt Hay Barn
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Magicpiano used under CC BY-SA 4.0

While in Essex, be sure to visit the fascinating Cogswell’s Grant. It is an iconic landmark that features a stunning 18th-century farmhouse and vast impeccably landscaped farm. Formerly the summer home of Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, the house now serves as a museum. Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little were collectors of American decorative arts. Up to the present time, their wide collection of American folk art is showcased in the Cogswell’s Grant. To top it all off, the views from the museum is spectacular.

Cogswell's Grant

Address: 60 Spring St, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Cogswell’s Grant

Price: 10 USD

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9. Enjoy water sports with Essex River Basin Adventures

Editor’s note: Establishment is permanently closed.

Essex is a beautiful coastal town with breathtaking natural wonders and stunning bodies of water. Take advantage of its features by enjoying some water activities with Essex River Basin Adventures. This superb tour agency is where you go to if you want to experience a fun-filled kayaking and canoeing escapades in town. They offer guides, tour services, and safe and secure water sport equipment. They also offer a kayak camp and lessons for newbies.

Essex River Basin Adventures

Address: 1 Main St, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Essex River Basin Adventures

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

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10. Play some golf at Cape Ann Golf Course

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Happy Labor Day Weekend! Hope you enjoy every swing of it!

Posted by Cape Ann Golf Course Inc on Saturday, September 4, 2021

Are you in the beautiful town of Essex for business or pleasure? Well, whatever your purpose for driving to town, it won’t hurt anyone if you would pause for a while and relax a little at Cape Ann Golf Course. Open year-round, this fantastic public golf course boasts of stunning natural views as well as delightful amenities, including an excellent pub where you can drink some alcoholic beverages and unwind, and a pro shop for your golf equipment needs.

Cape Ann Golf Course

Address: 99 John Wise Ave, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Cape Ann Golf Course

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11. Score some valuable finds at Andrew Spindler Antiques

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


While in Essex, don’t forget to drop by Andrew Spindler Antiques. Located in Main Street, this charming antique shop sells various valuable items from furniture to jewelry to posters, works of art, home decors, and more. Some of the items even date back centuries in the past. This is a fantastic store for people who like quality stuff that survived the test of time. Not to mention, you might score some valuable finds for a cheap price at Andrew Spindler Antiques.

Andrew Spindler Antiques

Address: 163 Main St, Essex, MA 01929, USA

Website: Andrew Spindler Antiques

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm

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Explore the charming Essex

Essex ON
Source: Photo by user P199 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Essex is a charming coastal town with quaint villages. Exuding peaceful and quiet vibes, this place is an excellent place to spend a relaxing vacation away from the noise and pollution of the city. There are lots of things to do here, from spending time at the beach, hiking in the nature parks, or taking souvenir pictures with its iconic landmarks. Use this list as a guide in planning an itinerary when you visit Essex.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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She is a lover of life and a very optimistic person. She thinks of herself as a vessel of a billion possibilities, which can harness limitless potential. Trying new experiences, going places she's...Read more

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