Growing up on the North Shore, just north of Boston was pretty nice. It’s a little more quiet than living in the actual city but still close enough to benefit from all the conveniences a big city has to offer. Planning a trip to Boston’s North Shore? Look no further because I have put together my personal recommendations in this local’s guide to Boston’s North Shore.
If you’re going to be traveling, lodging is of course a must but not to fear because Boston’s North Shore has lots of affordable lodging. I can personally recommend Marriott’s Residence Inn which also offers long term stays. This is great because the rooms come with a small kitchenette, allowing you to save a few bucks and do your own cooking. Some other options include The Holiday Inn & Suites Boston, Plaza Hotel Peabody and Best Western Plus North Shore to name a few. All of which are on the highway, a prime location for the start to many adventures.
Things to do
After settling in, exploring the area is a great way to spend the day. No matter where you’re staying, heading to the historic Salem is a must! To many Salem is known as a rather dark city because of the witch trials. Which, no pun intended, took place between 1692 and 1693. This brings people from all over to the city to learn from its rich history and to check out the cemeteries, especially on Halloween. You can find some interesting old buildings with original architecture, go on one of the many guided tours around the city or learn a thing or two at the pirate museum. While in Salem be sure to check out the water front too, to see some boats and ships. Besides its very old and rich history Salem also has some great shops and restaurants. This city truly has so much to offer!
If you’d like to explore my hometown Peabody and say you fancy a skate, you can head over to the Mc Vann-O’keefe ice rink. I have visited this place many times ever since I was a kid. Another fun stop is Brooksby Farm, it’s been around since 1903. There’s different activities depending on the time of year. From picking fresh fruit in summer to looking for the perfect pumpkin and enjoying some hot apple cider with a delicious cider doughnut in fall. Also, don’t forget to show the animals some love. Speaking of love, this is a perfect place for a romantic day outdoors. No matter what, Brooksby Farm certainly makes for a good day of fun on Boston’s North Shore. Tip: if farms are your thing be sure to check out Russel Orchards in Ipswich too and try their homemade fruity wine!
Jordan’s Furniture is a massive store that’s really fun to check out because it’s not just nice furniture. Although it’s really fun to try all the couches, they also have a full IMAX movie theater and the very dangerous Beantown. I say dangerous because in Beantown you can find iconic landmarks of Boston made out of delicious jelly beans! There’s a replica of the famous Old State House which is made out of over 6 million jelly beans. Inside this Sweet House you can buy every flavor of Jelly Belly you wish. Also check out Wally, the mascot of the Boston Red Sox, the Big Dig Ice Cream shop, the Liquid Fireworks show and the BeanStalk Adventure Ropes Course to guarantee a wicked fun time.
Say you’ve finished sightseeing in Salem and feel like doing a little shopping. You’re in luck because only a short drive away there are a few indoor shopping malls in the surrounding cities. This makes Boston’s North Shore an excellent shopping location. To name a few:
- Peabody’s North Shore Mall
- Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall
- Saugus’ Square One Mall
I personally prefer the mall in Danvers with stores like Target and Best Buy. This mall also has a big movie theater. Peabody’s North Shore Mall has some higher end stores such as Nordstrom, Macy’s and J.C. Penny. Square One Mall in Saugus is the biggest out of the three. There’s something for everyone, or even combine them all since they’re not that far from each other.
Food & Drinks
After a day of shopping or if you’re going on a bender, you’re gonna get hungry. Well you’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re looking for some pizza, burgers and beer, a good sandwich, heavenly seafood or delicious organic food, we have a little bit of everything at Boston’s North shore!
Breakfast is something that cannot be wronged so you must hit Red’s Kitchen + Tavern for old school diner food. This place is so friggin’ good. Portions are huge, the food is amazing and this place is always jumping, especially in the morning. You can either hit the one on the same highway as the hotels that I mentioned on Route 1 North. Or visit the original Red’s Sandwich Shop in downtown Salem. As they say this is “Where the locals meet to eat.” Whether you hit Red’s every day or only once, ‘ya gotta’ try it.
Burgers and fries
A nice burger and fries with a cold one is always nice. I recommend going to the 99 Restaurant in Lynnfield because it never disappoints!
If a burger isn’t hitting the spot and you want to go for pure and organic, Whole Foods is your thing. A place to sit and grab a bite, have a fresh juice or organic beverage and do some grocery shopping for that little kitchen in your hotel room. Other options to satisfy your organic needs are Life Alive in Salem and Organic Garden Cafe in Beverly.
There’s many, many places to get great seafood on Boston’s North Shore. Across the parking lot from Whole Foods in Lynnfield is Legal Seafood where the best clam chowder ever is served! Since we’re talking seafood and clams, Clam Box of Ipswich is a must! Oh yeah, fried clams and b. y. o. b. (bring your own beer). The line can wrap around the building at this place. If you’re looking for a fancier meal, Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall in Salem is excellent! Turner’s is also the perfect setting for a romantic dinner. Maybe start of with some oysters Rockefeller, or Rockafella as the locals pronounce it. Then a nice piece of salmon with veggies and some rice, cannot go wrong here. This place does seafood right.
Of course Italian food needs a place on the list. Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Peabody, directly next to that Holiday Inn on the highway is fantastic. Bertucci’s across the road is another option where you can’t go wrong with a delicious pasta or some pizza. Further down the road towards Boston, in Saugus, you’ll find Polcari’s. This is actually where we had our engagement celebration dinner. There’s also a Pizzeria Regina right there, to grab some delicious pizza to go. This place has the same original Regina’s pizza as in Boston which is hands down the best pizza.
Peabody has a high end steakhouse named Pellana. This is definitely a ‘bring your wallet’ type of venue. But their steak is like butter! Peabody also has many Chinese food options and they are just so damn good. My recommendations would either be Su Chang’s or Asia Taste. Border Cafe in Saugus has some good Mexican cuisine. I’ll have a delicious catfish taco with a margarita please! Giovanni’s Pizza & Roast Beef in Peabody is your typical pizza and sandwich shop. Only they do something right, everything is so good! Try their amazing eggplant pizza or maybe some beef and fries.
Boston is home to Samuel Adam’s Beer, which you can get pretty much anywhere at the North Shore. This could go head to head with any beer out there. Depending on the season get a winter lager, an Octoberfest in fall is excellent or try the traditional Boston lager.
A trip to Boston’s North Shore is not complete without actually visiting Boston. Boston is filled with an abundance of rich history spanning to the independence of the country. What’s great about Boston is that there is plenty for everyone. Whether you are a sports fanatic, a history buff or a foodie, Boston’s got it all. The best way to head into Boston from the North Shore would be to take the train, or the T as we call it, from Salem station into North Station. This will take you about 25 to 30 minutes.
Two of the city’s major sports teams play right above where the trains go at TD Garden. I can definitely recommend seeing a game here. Go for my personal favorite The Boston Bruins to see an ice hockey game. I’m a big life long fan, I even went as far as getting their logo tattooed if you can believe that! For a basketball game of the greatest and most decorated team in the sport’s history, with 17 championships, go see The Boston Celtics. Fun fact: the birthplace of basketball is Springfield, Massachusetts. That’s roughly 2 hours from Boston.
From North Station you are in a sweet position to go wherever you want. Perhaps a stroll through the North End where many Italian immigrants settled way back in the day. While in the North End, definitely stop by the legendary Regina Pizzeria, established in 1926 it’s the oldest Pizzeria in Boston. After some authentic brick-oven pizza, maybe stop by Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market or Boston Common. Along with an awesome music and art scene this a just small taste of what the city has to offer.
New England Aquarium
Say you fancy looking at some penguins. “Penguins?” you say, “in New England? Get out!” Penguins are one the first animals to greet you at the New England Aquarium in Boston. This place will definitely make for a day filled with fun. There are so many exhibits to see, like their four-story giant ocean tank. This tank is filled with 200.000 gallons of water! Or about 757.000 liters for my non-American friends. As a huge animal lover I am also very happy with their Marine Animal Rescue Program. The people at the New England Aquarium definitely have a heart for animals!
Museum of Science
If the aquarium isn’t your thing and maybe you feel like getting your nerd on, you can’t go wrong with the Museum of Science in Boston. You’ll have an awesome time there. I loved it when they had the Lord of the Rings exhibit, my absolute favorite!
Maybe you’re feeling a bit adventurous, which is great because from Boston’s North Shore you have easy access to leave the state. The state line to New Hampshire is within 30 minutes, to Seabrook. For more spectacular views head to the White Mountains, now this a good 3 hour drive at least. But everywhere you look here are picturesque mountains. Going up north is wicked fun! If you’re a skier then it’s the place for you. Are you a hiker? There’s some dream trails here. The White Mountain region is also home to Mt. Washington, at 6.288 feet above sea level. An absolute must is the Kancamagus Highway mountain pass. This is a scenic drive through the mountains with a few great viewing areas where you can pull over and snap some selfies or even do a fairy tale proposal if that’s your kind of thing.
From New Hampshire it’s a decent drive to Maine. Definitely visit the famous L.L. Bean store with the giant shoe outside. This place has the best slippers for winter, something we know all too well in these parts. Other things to check out in Maine include Sebago lake and the Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, on the shores of Fort Williams park. The construction of the lighthouse started in 1787, visit their museum for more historic facts.
With this local’s guide you’re all set now for a wicked stay at Boston’s North shore. You know where to stay, where to eat and you’ll definitely have things to do. Whether you want to be your own guide and see what’s around or take some guided tours in Salem and Boston to learn about our culture and history. Either way you’ll have fun when you visit Boston’s North shore. Hopefully you’ll learn, laugh and make lots of memories on the North Shore. I guess that’s it for now. Well, until next time! Feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions for further details.