Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Newburyport, MA

  • Published 2022/10/23

Newburyport has long been one of the most popular destinations in Massachusetts, drawing tourists worldwide.

The city is known for its fine beaches, many historic landmarks, and beautiful architecture.

Not only is the coastal city full of exciting things to see and do, but it also has one of the most charming Main Streets in all of Massachusetts.

Whether you’re traveling with your family or taking a romantic getaway with your significant other, there are plenty of things to do in Newburyport.

Need some inspiration on where to go and what to do when you get there?

This guide highlights the best of what Newburyport, MA, has to offer!

Gawk at the Plum Island Lighthouse

View of Plum Island Lighthouse

LML Captures /

When you’re looking for things to do in Newburyport, there are few options that will capture your imagination, like a trip to Plum Island Lighthouse.

The quaint 35-foot-tall wooden lighthouse is also known to locals as “Newburyport Harbor Lighthouse.”

Built in 1869, this gorgeous lighthouse boasts a fourth-order Fresnel lens and transports you back in time when it was first built with its rich brown-stained woodwork and wrought iron spiral staircase.

It shines a green light visible up to 12 nautical miles away and eclipses every 15 seconds.

Plum Island Lighthouse during winter

Maggie Maez /

Before you visit it, make sure you got some comfortable walking shoes.

Children must be at least five years old and forty-two inches tall to enter the premises.

You will find free parking along the way, but donations are appreciated on behalf of a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving and restoring the lighthouse.

Enjoy Picnic at Maudslay State Park

Enjoying a picnic is one of life’s most peaceful and tranquil endeavors.

Eating outside while basking in nature’s beauty instills a feeling of tranquility.

It’s little wonder that so many turn to picnics for special occasions, family outings, or even just a lazy Sunday afternoon.

With an abundance of green space and access to scenic water views, Maudslay State Park is one of the best spots in Newburyport for a day outdoors.

Swimming, fishing, and boating are also popular activities that you can enjoy here.

The park is open year-round and offers activities throughout each season, from kayaking and hiking in spring to swimming and paddling in summer.

Whether you go here alone to enjoy lunch with friends, the park guarantees that you won’t leave disappointed.

Overnight Stay at The Garrison Inn

What comes to your mind when you think of The Garrison Inn?

There’s a good chance it’s history.

Whether it’s its role as a colonial outpost or its current status as an elegant, modern retreat, there is just something about staying at The Garrison Inn that feels timeless.

If you want a taste of New England living with all of today’s conveniences, then The Garrison Inn is for you.

There are twenty guest rooms to choose from, each with different themes and views of historic downtown Newburyport.

Enjoy delicious breakfasts and riverside sunsets at its restaurant overlooking Historic Fort Constitution on Plum Island.

Your overnight stay includes complimentary parking and shuttle service to nearby attractions.

They offer meeting space for small groups, weddings, anniversaries, and other special occasions.

Walk Through Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, MA

Nancy Kennedy /

If you want to go someplace that will dazzle your senses, take a trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

It’s just four miles away from downtown Newburyport and provides a glimpse of various marshlands, hardwood forests, and bogs.

Just set aside not more than $5 for the admission fee and you can explore various wooded trails here.

A boardwalk in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Nancy Kennedy /

Along these trails are fantastic views of beaver dams, riverside beaches, and clear ponds that are great places to look for wildlife.

The refuge is home to various land and water creatures, including egrets, herons, ospreys, hawks, and fish.

A nature preserve for those who love the outdoors, like Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, is a perfect way to enjoy some peace while also getting in touch with nature.

Stairs along the trail at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Adam Gladstone /

Chill at Plum Island Beach

Waves crashing on the shores of Plum Island Beach

John Blottman /

If you’re looking for a fabulous beach in Newburyport, look no further than Plum Island Beach.

It’s gorgeous, especially when it’s empty in fall and winter, and it’s only about an hour from downtown.

Simply put, if you’re somewhere near Newburyport, visiting Plum Island Beach should be one of your priorities.

Seagulls walking on the shores of Plum Island Beach

Sefton N Brown Jnr /

The water is always lovely and warm (even at freezing temperatures), so even if you prefer to enjoy warmer temperatures, there are plenty of spots on land where you can sit back and soak up some sun.

But the best thing to do at Plum Island Beach is really to chill on it!

There’s a ton of room for activities, whether you want to take a dip in one of its famous tide pools or watch the children play from afar.

It’s even more magical when you check out Plum Island Lighthouse and head over to Kelly’s Roast Beef for lunch afterward.

Tour at The Clark Currier Inn

A charming bed and breakfast, The Clark Currier Inn is a stately mansion brimming with characterful nuances.

This Federal-style inn, which overlooks one of Massachusetts’s most beautiful bays, is one of Newburyport’s true hidden gems.

Opened initially as a sailor’s lodging house in 1803, it has evolved into a boutique property that caters to tourists and business travelers.

It exudes heritage, and there are 11 private rooms that all contain unique accouterments.

You have the freedom to explore the house.

You can lounge about in the piano room and play a few tunes or enjoy the cozy fireplace during the winter months.

There are always warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies available for snack time!

Relax at Blue Inn on the Beach

No list of things to do in Newburyport is complete without mentioning The Blue Inn.

The charming all-suite hotel lies directly on Plum Island beach in Newburyport, MA.

In a quaint residential neighborhood only two blocks from downtown Newburyport shops and restaurants, you can enjoy modern amenities with a cottage-style aesthetic right on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.

There are free Wi-Fi and free parking as well.

Blue has spectacular views of Peirce Island with its pristine beaches and blue waters.

From its location on Shore Drive, you can walk or bike to multiple restaurants, shopping, miniature golf; hiking trails are also close by.

Seagulls abound day and night, making it an extraordinary experience for anyone who loves oceanfront living.

Visit Custom House Maritime Museum

Outside view of Custom House Maritime Museum

Wangkun Jia /

If you want to relive New England’s maritime past or explore all aspects of shipping, visit The Custom House Maritime Museum for an enlightening experience.

It is home to many ship models ranging from fishing boats to steamers.

Many of the ship models are 19th-century replicas and offer visitors an idea of what life was like before.

Entrance to Custom House Maritime Museum

Wangkun Jia /

The building even offers more history for visitors to learn about while taking a stroll through its hallways.

The museum even has a restaurant on-site.

With exhibits for children and adults alike, there’s always something new to explore at the Custom House Maritime Museum!

Eat Pad Thai at Brown Sugar by the Sea

While plenty of restaurants serve tasty Thai food, Brown Sugar by the Sea stands out for its attention to detail and homey atmosphere.

Once you’re inside, you’ll feel instantly at home.

Here, the waitstaff is very kind and attentive.

It can get quite busy during dinner hours, so you might want to make reservations ahead of time for a great experience.

They serve typical Thai dishes (vegetarian options included).

Pad Thai Wrap and Chicken Green Curry Wrap are two of their most well-liked menu items, representing an overwhelming majority of customer orders.

The fantastic Thai restaurant highlights the freshness and vibrant flavors with no shortcuts to ensure the taste buds get their fill of enticing exotic Thai tastes.

Watch Shows at The Actors Studio of Newburyport

For a night of culture and performance, visit The Actors Studio of Newburyport.

The theater company offers up a variety of plays, from classics to modern works.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s coming up on their schedule, check out their website for details on how to buy tickets, or simply stop by during business hours and ask about what they have available.

There are plenty of creative opportunities at The Actors Studio, including playwriting classes that teach novice and experienced writers about crafting original material for performance.

Whether you love acting or just want to take in a night of performance art, The Actors Studio is well worth checking out.

The theater is at 12 Federal Street in downtown Newburyport; be sure to call ahead with questions before visiting!

Explore the Cushing House Museum & Garden

Outside view of Cushing House Museum & Garden

Daderot at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Cushing House is a historic landmark built in the 1800s.

The museum derived its name from Caleb Cushing, a successful politician, diplomat, and lawyer.

It has been a hub for culture since then.

Visitors worldwide visit this museum to learn about its history and see olden-day artifacts for themselves.

Interesting tidbits about the house include its beautiful Victorian-era architecture and spot along scenic Newburyport Harbor.

The beautiful New England-style mansion houses the Cushing Museum.

Inside the museum lies the magnificent beauty of the garden!

Order From Mad Martha’s Island Café

Here is a great place to get some breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Located on one of Newburyport’s most scenic streets, Martha’s serves various breakfast and lunch options.

Those looking for a hearty breakfast should try Shecky Burrito, Cuban Omelete, and so on.

For a lighter morning meal, opt for one of Martha’s signature pancakes.

Although not all items are made-to-order (the sandwiches are served cold), you can expect speedy service from the friendly staff at Mad Martha’s Island Café.

Prices range from $3 – $16 for breakfasts and $11 – $14 for lunches.

Pamper Yourself at INTERLOCKS Salon and Spa

For those looking to pamper themselves, there’s INTERLOCKS Salon and Spa.

Located at 58 Merrimac Street Newburyport, MA, the lovely day spa offers an array of beauty treatments for all occasions.

If you’re planning to be in town for a long weekend, there’s no better way to pamper yourself than with a little R&R and some much-needed TLC.

Located just a few steps from some of downtown Newburyport’s best restaurants and shops, you won’t have any trouble unwinding here after a long day of shopping or sightseeing.

With everything from facials and body scrubs to massages and eyelash extensions, INTERLOCKS has you covered.

The atmosphere at INTERLOCKS is hot and welcoming!

Even if you’re not planning on getting your hair done or having a mani-pedi, you should stop by just to see how much they can make you feel like family!

Explore Waterfront Park

Aerial view of Waterfront Park

Wangkun Jia /

The 4.4-acre park sits right on Newburyport Harbor, offering a wide variety of fun activities for visitors and locals.

From beach volleyball to picnic tables, there’s something for everyone.

Additionally, concerts and festivals are common events at Waterfront Park throughout the summertime.

The park boasts some of the best views of both Plum Island and The Parker River Wildlife Refuge.

Aerial view of Waterfront Park

Wangkun Jia /

You can also walk along a bridge to get a closer look at boats docked at Waterfront Park Marina, where you’ll find sailboats and yachts.

Plus, there’s an amphitheater, where musical performances are held every summer.

While you’re here, be sure to catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset; it’s arguably one of Newburyport’s most picturesque spots.

And remember: dogs are more than welcome here!

Check out the Beer-Inspired Menu at RiverWalk Brewing Co.

Steve and Betsy Sanderson established RiverWalk Brewing Co. in 2012 to introduce the neighborhood to their appreciation of specialty beers from across the globe.

Through shared interests, service, and fantastic beer, they hope to strengthen their local and international communities while also enhancing the environment around them.

Their whole production process, taproom, and offices are located within the brewery.

They provide 12 rotating taps of beer in flights, pints, growlers, and take-out cans.

RiverWalk offers a beer-inspired lunch and nighttime menu, including well-renowned pizzas.

Shop for Unique Items at Oldies Marketplace

Oldies Marketplace offers high-caliber consignments for any occasion, including relocation, estate settlement, or simply need a bit extra space.

Your lightly used furnishings, china, rugs, fine art, silver, toys, railroad memorabilia, clocks, and numerous other items can be bought by them.

Oldies Marketplace is a multi-dealer store that is open to everyone, has plenty of parking, and is handicapped accessible.

Every week, something unique is seen on the waterfront in Newburyport.

Look through various objects and memories, then take home something special like plush chairs, cut-glass jewelry, an antique poster, and more.

Admire the Elegance and Meals Offered in Mission Oak Grill

The ideal location for a traditional, authentic New England celebration is Mission Oak Grill.

Savor your favorites in Downtown Historic Newburyport, Massachusetts, with a little of something extra.

They serve traditional fries, bacon-topped Mac n’ Cheese, buttery panko with chicken or shrimp, and more.

Try their wonderfully cooked steak and their buttery mashed potatoes prepared to your preferences.

You are instantly entranced by the splendor of the cathedral ceilings, fascinated by the stained glass embellishments, and charmed by the space’s understated elegance as you first enter the ancient Steeple Hall.

The stunning, recently remodeled bar offers a wide selection of foreign wines and specially crafted beverages.

Go on a Trip with Newburyport Whale Watch

Tourists watching over a whale at Newburyport Whale Watch

Andrew Cline /

Take a seat on the spacious 106′ Captains Lady III to start your whale-watching adventure!

More than 140 people may travel comfortably on their main vessel to the whale-feeding regions.

They set off on their adventure from the center of Newburyport, taking the Merrimack River to the Gulf of Maine.

One of their knowledgeable naturalists will express their enthusiasm and expertise for the maritime environment and the wildlife they see with you throughout your voyage.

The opportunity to see whales in their natural environment is unforgettable; thus, they strongly advise signing up for a season!

Every journey is different and thrilling since the open ocean is home to various animal species.

Prepare to Try Something New at MetroRock Newburyport

MetroRock is pleased to be a member of the New England climbing community, and their gyms are open to visitors and residents.

They have you set whether your objective is to pass a few classes or simply enjoy various routes!

Top-rope climbing, auto belays, and bouldering are all possible at MetroRock Newburyport.

To assist you in improving as a climber, they provide personal instruction, expert technique workshops, and training plans.

Fitness equipment, training spaces with system walls, hang boards, and campus rungs are available for training.

The climber is supported by thick gymnastics mats underneath them for a soft landing as people dropdown.

The gym is equipped with auto belays, allowing climbers without prior rope-handling knowledge to scale its high walls.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Beachcombing at Salisbury Beach State Reservation

Beach in Salisbury Beach State Reservation

Katkami /

With a family-friendly beach, wildlife observation trails, and one of Cape Ann’s best public campgrounds, it’s no wonder that Salisbury Beach State Reservation draws crowds.

It offers sand dunes, hiking trails, bird watching opportunities, picnic areas, and Plum Island’s scenic view.

Visitors and locals alike will find abundant water activities to partake in.

The most popular activity here is beachcombing and swimming.

There are also plenty of areas where you can go for a swim and explore interesting rock formations at low tide.

The perfect time of year to visit would be during summer when the beach has the best weather conditions and even better tide pools for exploration.

Final Thoughts

Newburyport, Massachusetts, has the serene grandeur of a time long past.

The city’s fun and exciting attractions are sure to transport you from the fast pace of modern life.

Newburyport is ideal for a weekend getaway in a comfortable and unique atmosphere.

Newburyport offers you the chance to immerse yourself into its rich culture; it’s easy to get lost in all of the exciting activities and attractions that surround you in this remarkable place.

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