Cape Ann: A Relaxing Visit to the “Other Cape”

Last weekend Mary and I set off to visit the other Cape in Massachusetts, Cape Ann, the one that you don’t have to cross a bridge to enter, and the one that’s smaller, less complicated, but still offers a whole lot of what we wanted–Vitamin O.

That would be O for Ocean, and with the commanding views from Rockport’s Halibut Point State Park, the delicious seafood we consumed every night for dinner, and the time spent around the boats in the harbor and the seafront promenade in Gloucester we sure got out fill.

The weekend was memorable–we left early enough on Friday night so we weren’t rushing, got to the Cape around 7:30, and found the great little Blue Lobster Cafe just in time for a late outdoor dinner.

Then we did our usual thing, enjoying a refreshing hike at the Park, popping around Rockport’s busy little center exploring the harbor, the rocks and the shops, and meeting a few artists along the way.

Cape Ann is located in the far northern corner of MassachusettsCape Ann’s Towns

The Cape is made up of Rockport, Gloucester, Essex, and Manchester-by-the-Sea, and its history goes back to before colonial times. Each of these towns has a particular style and feel. We stayed in Rockport, which is the most touristy of the bunch.

The side of the famous Motif No. 1, in Rockport, Cape Ann, Mass.
The side of the famous Motif No. 1, in Rockport, Cape Ann, Mass.

The town is famous for its painters and art galleries, and Mary brought her paints so she could take a stab at the most painted building in the world, the red fishing shack shown above called Motif No.1.

It was a perfect cloudless Saturday when we explored the town, which includes rocks that stretch out in front of the harbor which are great fun to clamber around on.

We also visited Hammond’s Castle in Gloucester, built by a world-famous eccentric inventor named John Jay Hammond, Jr.  We hiked around a few other places and walked down the flag-lined promenade by the ocean in Gloucester where there is the famous statue of the fishermen looking out to sea.

Right down the street is the second statue, this one devoted to the wives and families of the fishermen who nervously keep watch over them when they are at sea.

The rocky shore at Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, Cape Ann MA.
The rocky shore at Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, Cape Ann MA.
Sandy Bay Charters on Cape Ann.
Sandy Bay Charters on Cape Ann.

I’m writing my feature story about Cape Ann for GoNOMAD now so I won’t put it all into this post, but this is a marvelous alternative to the slog over the Bourne Bridge to the more crowded Cape Cod. So I can give this cape a special salute and a recommendation to come to visit this place, it’s waiting and during the pandemic, it felt safe and fun.

We enjoyed a huge mound of fried clams, fried lobster, onion rings and fries at the most famous restaurant on Cape Ann, Woodman’s of Essex. It was fun to be able to skip the line since we were dining with the boss, Steve Woodman.

He shared the tales of what it’s like having to turn down hundreds of catering jobs over the past several months, as well as trying to re-configure his dining room to put in space between diners and provide social distancing. It means a lot of new barriers and it also means way fewer tables.

Welcome to the new world of restaurant dining during the 2020 Pandemic.

We ended our time on Cape Ann with a fun cruise in the harbor which is one of the largest an deepest in the world, called Sandy Bay.  Our captain showed us his bay and provided some fascinating commentary explaining the large seawall built out in the harbor earlier in this century and talked about his large family and many grandkids.

 

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