If you haven’t been to the North Shore of Massachusetts before, it needs to be on your must list. Of everywhere I’ve been (and that list is growing by the day), I have a soft spot for Massachusetts, largely because I lived there for ten years and because it exudes all things New England, which is clearly….in my blood.
The towns along the North Shore are even more charming because they all have picturesque ports that make you want to give it all up and become an artist simply so you could go to a place like this and paint in front of it every day. It’s no surprise then that Gloucester Massachusetts, which is roughly a 45 minute drive north of Boston, is one of America’s oldest working artist colonies.
As you approach the art colony from the main downtown area of Gloucester, you pass the harbor on your right.
We decided to go by bike since it made stops to take photos and observe the glorious views all that easier. Big Mike’s — www.bigmikesbikes.org — located on 57 Washington Street in Gloucester is the place to go to rent bikes locally.
We came across this little red shack on the way, which is as adorable and authentic as it looks. She’s been selling antiques here for years and while the barn is small, there are some some unique finds behind its doors.
Below is The Studio, a restaurant that offers outside seating right on the harbor, a great way to spend a leisurely afternoon when it’s sunny outside, which it was when we were there in late August. The restaurant offers, sushi, raw bar, tapas, live music and a waterfront deck. Two thumbs up!
Art is the main thing in the Rocky Neck part of Gloucester however. Known for its unique and penetrating light, artists have been drawn here for years. Notable artists who have worked here include Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Milton Avery and Nell Blaine to name a few.
It remains a growing cultural community today. Not only are there working artists who still live in the area, but they conduct exhibitions, workshops, classes and lectures throughout the year, however late May through early October is the most active season and the time when all the restaurants, galleries and art studios are open for business.
You can essentially spend an entire day (or more) walking through the Rocky Neck cultural district. Called The Art Trail, you’ll pass some fabulous studios. While we must have hit around a dozen, there were more than double that number from what we could tell. Some of the ones we hit include The Elynn Kroger Gallery, Deborah Deurtze Studio, Brenda Malloy Gallery, John Nesta Gallery, Goetemann Gallery, Sun Handman Gallery, Aquatro Gallery, and Paul George Gallery/KT Morse Fine Art.
We hopped off our bikes at Captain Joe & Sons on our way out of Rocky Neck — they have tons of cages they use to catch lobsters daily. In fact, Lobster Pool, where we ate fresh lobster in Rockport one night sources their lobsters from Captain Joe & Sons, so it was nice to see where our meals came from from directly.
It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and not to be missed if you’re heading to the North Shore. And yes, the flowers are actually that vivid and that beautiful in Gloucester on a late August sunny afternoon.
Here are links to read all of our posts on Massachusetts, Boston and Cape Cod. Read our write up on Rockport by the Sea (a romantic restaurant at the end of the main drag) and our overall blog post on things to do/see in Rockport.
Note: The Massachusetts Tourism Board supported/hosted some of our activities but all of our opinions expressed are entirely our own.