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Things To Do In Rockport

Rockport, Massachusetts is most famous as an art colony and oceanfront retreat, having welcomed famous philosophers like Ralph Waldo Emerson (of whom the Inn is named after) and David Thoreau. Today, vacationers sunbathe on the rocks and beaches, take walks through the woods or along the shore, stroll through historic Bearskin Neck, or watch the whales from boats out of Rockport or Gloucester.

Bearskin Neck

With one of the most picturesque harbors in the nation, Rockport town is the epitome of quaint, New England charm. See Motif No. 1, the red, harbor-side fishing shack that is one of the most-painted (and photographed) buildings in the world. Stroll along the streets of downtown, and the famous stretch on Bearskin Neck, through a variety of antique stores, jewelry shops, clothes boutiques, and other shops.

Nearby Beaches

Rockport offers a number of lovely beaches, each with its own character. A renowned scuba diver's spot, Back Beach is located between Main and Granite streets. It also offers great views. If you are looking more for peace and quiet, Cape Hedge Beach on South street is quietly tucked away – a perfect place for solitude. Front Beach is a busy beach on Sandy Bay – walking distance to downtown Rockport and its restaurants and shops. Long Beach, off Thatcher Road, is another long, protected stretch of ocean and sand, backed by a cement retaining wall and lined with summer cottages. From Long Beach you can easily view the twin lighthouses on Thacher's Island.

Whale Watching

Whether you are aiming to catch a giant bluefin tuna, spy a gentle giant, or just want a quiet sail, Rockport offers the perfect boating charter and Whale Watches. Humpback, Fin, and Minke whales, and even the endangered Right whale, feed here from mid-April through October. Other sea mammals, such as dolphins, and rare seabirds, including Black Guillemots, Manx Shearwaters, Greater Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwaters and Wilson's Storm Petrels also can be spotted. Many whale boats guarantee sightings. Click here for Cape Ann Whale Watch.


More challenging than it first appears, the semi-private Rockport Golf Club (978-546-3340) has thick, tree-lined fairways that put a premium on shot accuracy. Although a 9-hole course, there are additional tees that can be used when playing an eighteen-hole round. Ask an innkeeper for information on public-use times. Open April through the end of October.


Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse was built in 1835 to mark the entrance to nearby Rockport Harbor. The relatively small lighthouse is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard but the island itself is owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society as a bird and wildlife sanctuary. The Twin Lighthouses, also known as Cape Ann Light Station, are the only surviving multiple lights on the coasts of the United States. The original 45-foot towers were constructed and lit in 1789—making them among the oldest of America’s lighthouses. The Annisquam Lighthouse in nearby Gloucester is immensly popular among tourists.

Performing Arts & Culture

Visitors can enjoy exceptional musical performances and events year round, including classical, jazz, folk and world music— as well as HD simulcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and England’s National Theatre -- at the critically acclaimed Shalin Liu Performance Center conveniently located in the scenic seaport village of Rockport, Massachusetts. Summer brings the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, which offers orchestral concerts from string quartets, pianists, vocalists, and trios throughout June.