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Castle Hill/Crane Estate in Ipswich MA, and N of Boston

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I'm thinking of taking a day trip to the N Shore on the Sat of Labor Day weekend. I came across the Crane Estate and am quite intrigued by it. http://www.thetrustees.org/pages/287_castle_hill.cfm

Has anyone been? Comments?

I'm try to figure out where else to go for that day. It's the "17th-century Saturday" so there are a bunch of old houses open for tour. What I can't decide is:

1) Should we visit Ipswich, then head north to Newbury and Newburyport? There are a bunch of Historic New England properties in Newbury but I doubt we want to visit so many old houses on the same day (they all look the same after a while...). What else is there to see/do in Newbury & Newburyport area? We like art, architecture, some hiking, but not shopping.

or

2) Should we visit Gloucester (it's the Gloucester Schooner Festival that weekend), then the Essex Shipbuilding museum, then Ipswich? Is Hammond Castle worthwhile, or it's more a gimmicky place?

My husband likes everything related to the sea, ships etc, so I'm thinking option 2 may be better. I have a N of Boston guide which I've read through, but I don't want to miss something obvious.

P.S. Is the Clambox in Ipswich THE place to go?

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