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yk’s family trip to Cape Ann, Massachusetts, August 2020

yk’s family trip to Cape Ann, Massachusetts, August 2020

Old Sep 8th, 2020, 05:02 PM
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yk
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yk’s family trip to Cape Ann, Massachusetts, August 2020

We spent 5 days in the Cape Ann area towards the end of August. The trip included myself, my husband, our 7.5-year-old, and my 77 year-old mom. I rented a house in Gloucester.

The rental house is located in the Rocky Neck Art neighborhood of Gloucester, which is on the “other side” of downtown across the harbor. The house is right on the water, with a great view of the harbor. I could have just sat in the all-season porch the entire week with this view.

Since my mom can’t walk fast nor far, and gets tired fairly easily, we try to do one easy activity with her each day, and then the 3 of us would do a more strenuous activity at a different time while she stays at the house and rest.

Day 1
We began our vacation on a Monday. It is only a 1-hr drive from where we live, and since the house isn’t ready until 3pm, we opted to visit the Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich. With Covid precautions, one has to pre-book admission ticket. We are members of the Trustees so entry is free for us. We packed a picnic so we enjoyed our lunch in the front lawn of the mansion with a great view of the ocean. The house itself is now open for self-guided tours but we didn’t do it. Instead, the 3 of us walked all the way to the end of the Grand Allee (almost 1 mile) while my mom waited for us. There are also several beautiful gardens near the house and my mom visited those with us.

We drove to our rental house and was really wowed by the view. They settled in while i did a grocery run and we stayed in for dinner. There is a ice cream shop within walking distance where we ended up going for ice cream every night but one night (when we got back too late).

Castle Hill

Looking down the Grand Allee

One of the gardens at Castle Hill

Garden at Castle Hill

Evening view from the rental house
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Old Sep 8th, 2020, 05:28 PM
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Day 2
We kicked off day 2, aka Beach Day, early. Our destination is Wingaersheek Beach, which is a 15-min drive from the rental house. Wingaersheek Beach is popular in non-pandemic times. During this summer, they had to limit the number of non-residents parking so often the parking is closed by 9-10am, which makes it impossible for us to visit from our regular home. We got to the beach before 9, and by 9:30am the parking was closed to non-resident. Wingaersheek is many people’s favorite because is it sheltered, with soft sand. At low tide, one can walk almost 1/2 mile out to the sandbar and the water never goes above waist level. The beach was teeming with hermit crabs and we also found sand dollars. There are also plenty of tide pools at low tide. We had a ton of fun there.

We got back sometime after lunch. After a shower and change, brief rest, we went to Rockport with my mom (she didn’t go to the beach with us). Normally the Bearskin Neck in Rockport would be packed with tourists, but we found it rather subdued. My son loves walking out to the breakwater for views.

Afterwards we drove to The Lobster Pool in Rockport for an early dinner. It is one of our favorite places though we were eaten alive by horseflies while waiting for our foods, until i remember i had Skin so Soft in my car so I quickly ran to grab it. We got steamed lobsters, and steamers. While we were finishing up, an ugly-looking storm popped up in the ocean not far from us. We could see the storm clouds approaching fast and the winds were picking up, almost blowing away the foods on our outdoor picnic table. We quickly packed up a few unfinished items and headed for the car. We got back safe and sound and enjoyed the rest of our dinner back home.

By then the storm had cleared and we were treated to a spectacular sunset, so we took a stroll around Rocky Neck before getting ice cream.


low tide at Wingaersheek beach with Annisquam Lighthouse in the background

looking out to the Atlantic from Rockport Bearskin Neck breakwater

Storm clouds coming towards us at dinner

Sunset after the storm
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Old Sep 8th, 2020, 05:55 PM
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Day 3
In the morning we drove a few miles to Coolidge Reservation in Manchester-by-the-sea with my mom. It turns out one part of it (the “Ocean Lawn”) isn’t open to the public except Fri-Mon, which is the part we came here for. So we visited the other part that is open, which is a little beach. Next we stopped at Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester. Although my son was eager to visit, we didn’t purchase tickets in advance and I didn’t want us to be in an enclosed space with others for long periods of time. So we walked around the property and enjoyed the view and left. I promised my son we will return for a visit after the pandemic. Next we stopped at the Gloucester Fishermens Monument for a stroll. There are garden plantings along the wide sidewalk and plenty of dahlias for us to admire.

Finally it was getting to lunch time so we drove over to JT Farnhams in Essex for their famous fried clams. We got there early so we beat the lunch crowd. The place is located right by the Essex salt marsh with several picnic tables overlooking the salt marsh. What a beautiful view. Husband had crab cakes while mom and I shared fried whole belly clams and fried scallops.

We returned to the house for a rest and dropped off my mom. Then the 3 of us headed to Halibut Point State Park. mind you, it is wednesday afternoon but when we arrived, the parking lot was full so we were turned away. We drove to a pier nearby for a walk and then returned for a second try. Luckily parking lot had reopened. Halibut Point State Park is probably one of our favorite places to visit in the N Shore. The view of the quarry itself with the sea beyond is just breathtaking. Moreover, you can walk all the way down to the rocks by the ocean. We must have sat on the rocks for 1.5 hours just watching the waves. My son even declared that was better than watching TV.

We headed back home for dinner that night and another beautiful sunset.


Lunch view of Essex salt marsh

Quarry at Halibut Point State Park

Down by the sea at Halibut Point

Sunset view from the rental house
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Old Sep 9th, 2020, 03:08 AM
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This was so nice to read, Wingaersheek is the beach we always went to when I was a kid. Now that we live in CT, we still visit the area because DS lives near there.

Were folks wearing masks and/or social distancing while you were there?

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
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Old Sep 9th, 2020, 04:54 AM
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Nice report -- thanks. I've wanted to revisit the North Shore for a while now.
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Old Sep 9th, 2020, 05:55 AM
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I am glad you and your family had such a nice vacation.
Halibut Point was one of my mother's favorite places and I certainly agree with your son that watching the waves there is better than TV
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Old Sep 9th, 2020, 06:30 AM
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You had me till you said horsefly. I swell up for days. Glad you had something. My friend's son-in-law is a lobster catcher. Is that the right term? He has a hockey school in winter but does that in summer. 9.00 a pound this year was what they were getting off the boat. I so miss New England. Thank you for taking us on a tour.
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Old Sep 10th, 2020, 05:17 PM
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I loved the post-storm colors! Thanks for sharing this, yk.
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Old Sep 12th, 2020, 07:37 AM
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Macross, people who trap, not catch, lobsters are called lobstermen, even the women. So your friend’s son is a lobsterman.
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Old Sep 13th, 2020, 07:04 PM
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Day 4
Today unfortunately had rain in the forecast. We got up early and headed to Long Hill in Beverly (a Trustees property) for its gardens. I have never heard of this place before until I started researching places to visit. It is a really nice place and I cannot wait to return that in the Spring for the Spring flowers. Right now some plants are still in bloom but I can only imagine what it looks like in May/June. The 2 wives of the home owner were both plant enthusiasts and they designed different garden “rooms.” Afterwards we went to Hospital Point Lighthouse in Beverly for a quick stop, then returned home as it had started raining by then. It rained on and off all afternoon so we just stayed in. Luckily the rain had stopped by late afternoon. We went for a walk around the Rocky neck neighborhood (where our rental house is).

After dinner, we returned to Castle Hill at Crane Estate for the Sound and Light show. The show starts after dark and it’s pretty fun. There are 4 stops on the tour where you stop and the mansion (and later garden) is illuminated. There is also recorded music and conversations - it pretends there is a summer party on the mansion back in the 1920s.

Day 5
Luckily sunshine returns. The 3 of us went back to Coolidge Reservation for the “Ocean Lawn” (which is open Fri-Mon only). It is a bit of a walk - but the view is amazing. There used to be a mansion that sits on the lawn but now only foundation remains.
Then we stopped at yet another Trustees property - Agassiz Rock in Manchester-by-the-Sea. It’s a pretty good hike to get to the 2 rocks (little agassiz and big agassiz). On our way back, we stopped at The Causeway Restaurant in Gloucester to get take-out lunch. DH got a lobster roll. I got their grilled octopus special and also fried belly clams. The grilled octopus was so tender and delicious!!!

After lunch, the 4 of us headed over to main part of Gloucester for a sail. It was a beautiful afternoon for sailing on a schooner. This isn’t a narrated cruise, but the staff is happy to answer your questions. Mostly it is just enjoying a nice day on the water. With covid precautions, we are assigned seats (groups get to sit together) and each group is a good 6’ or more from others. We also have to wear masks when in line and getting on board, but once seated we can take off our masks as long as we don’t move around on the boat.

After the sail we went back to the house for a rest, then later we drove up to Appleton Farms in Ipswich (a Trustees property) for their Friday Pizza Picnic. We arrived at 5 but were told it would take close to an hour for our pizzas. Luckily it was a beautiful afternoon so we just sat on the shaded lawn and enjoyed the end-of-summer weather. The pizzas were delicious so it was worth the wait after all. We got back just in time for sunset followed by one last ice cream.

Day 6
Check-out day and it was already raining in the morning so we just packed up and headed home.



Sound and LIght show at Castle Hill

View from Coolidge Reservation

Schooner Sail

One final sunset

Last edited by yk; Sep 13th, 2020 at 07:08 PM.
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Old Sep 13th, 2020, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by oldemalloy View Post
This was so nice to read, Wingaersheek is the beach we always went to when I was a kid. Now that we live in CT, we still visit the area because DS lives near there.

Were folks wearing masks and/or social distancing while you were there?

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
We have been to a number of different beaches around Boston area this summer. In general, no, people are not wearing masks while ON the beach, but almost everyone wears masks when in parking lots and when walking to/from the beach. Once people set up a spot on the beach, masks come off. Social distancing - YES - I mean, we never had anyone set up within 6’ of where we set up our spot.
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Old Sep 14th, 2020, 04:34 AM
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Which ship did you sail on? DS worked on the building of the Fame several years ago. It does day trips out of the area. We went watch it be launched, which was amazing.
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Old Sep 14th, 2020, 10:44 AM
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yk, you were up in my neck of the woods!. I'm actually within walking/running distance of Aggasiz Rocks (soon to be renamed because Aggasiz had slaves). Looks like you had great weather. You covered most of my life on your trip, born and raised in Beverly, summers in Rockport with my grandparents and now in Manchester! You were lucky to get on to Wingaersheek as many visitors have been getting shut out. Singing Beach in Manchester was, fortunately, resident only for the entire summer but even then folks got too close for my liking. I did one whale watch out of Gloucester when Phase 3 first started and no masks or social distancing existed once people saw whales, so we chartered a small fishing boat for a private whale watch a few times after that. Glad the schooner had it under control when you were out there (was it the Lannon by any chance?) So glad you enjoyed your time up here.
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Old Sep 14th, 2020, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by oldemalloy View Post
Which ship did you sail on? DS worked on the building of the Fame several years ago. It does day trips out of the area. We went watch it be launched, which was amazing.
It was the schooner Thomas E Lannon
https://schooner.org

Originally Posted by amyb View Post
yk, you were up in my neck of the woods!. I'm actually within walking/running distance of Aggasiz Rocks (soon to be renamed because Aggasiz had slaves). Looks like you had great weather. You covered most of my life on your trip, born and raised in Beverly, summers in Rockport with my grandparents and now in Manchester! You were lucky to get on to Wingaersheek as many visitors have been getting shut out. Singing Beach in Manchester was, fortunately, resident only for the entire summer but even then folks got too close for my liking. I did one whale watch out of Gloucester when Phase 3 first started and no masks or social distancing existed once people saw whales, so we chartered a small fishing boat for a private whale watch a few times after that. Glad the schooner had it under control when you were out there (was it the Lannon by any chance?) So glad you enjoyed your time up here.
Hi amyb!!! Long time no see! Ah I would LOVE to live in the N Shore. DH and I are dreaming about maybe retiring up there... And yes, for us this was the only way to get to Wingaersheek this year. I wouldn’t want to drive an hour there from home only to be turned away! It is such a fun beach for younger kids.
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