Newburyport’s High Street is lined with some of the finest examples of Federal-period (roughly, 1790–1810) mansions in New England. The city was once a leading port and shipbuilding center; the houses were built for prosperous sea captains. Although Newburyport’s maritime significance ended with the decline of clipper ships, the town was revived in the 1970s. Today the town bustles with shops, restaurants, galleries, and a waterfront park and boardwalk. The civic improvements have been matched by private restorations of the town’s housing stock, much of which dates from the 18th century, with a scattering of 17th-century homes in some neighborhoods.
Newburyport is walker-friendly, with well-marked restrooms and free parking all day down by the water.
A stroll through the Waterfront Park & Promenade offers a view of the harbor as well as the fishing and pleasure boats that moor here. A causeway leads from Newburyport to a narrow piece of land known as Plum Island, which harbors a summer colony (rapidly becoming year-round) at one end.