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Create Your Own Maritime Adventure

Experience the rich maritime history and heritage of Boston’s North Shore!

From the Great Age of Sail and the indelible legacy it left behind, to the charming seaport cities and towns dotting the shoreline today, you can experience the North Shore’s maritime past and present, from both land and sea. On your travels, learn about brave sea captains, sailors, fishermen and entrepreneurs who sought their fortunes across the seas. Or, embark on your own seafaring adventure aboard a schooner or fishing boat. Begin your visit with an exploration of The House of the Seven Gables, then use this list to continue your journey throughout the region.

House of the Seven Gables
Photo courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables.

The House of the Seven Gables

Step back in time to the Great Age of Sail at the iconic House of the Seven Gables. Built in 1668 by Capt. John Turner I, The Gables was home to three generations of Turners, one of the most influential maritime families in the New England colonies. Through successful fishing, trading and mercantile businesses, the Turners played a pivotal role in shaping the New England economy and the maritime traditions of the time. Learn more about the Turners and the Ingersolls, another wealthy sea merchant family that lived at the Gables, on a guided tour of the house. See how they lived and hear about the contributions they made to the seafaring community and region at large. Then, step outside to enjoy the breathtaking views of Salem Harbor from the grounds.

The House of the Seven Gables
155 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970

Friendship Boat
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Relive the glory of Salem’s maritime past at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. From its early days as a fishing village, to its peak as a center of global trade, Salem played a vital role in the nation’s maritime commerce. In the 1600s, Salem’s wharves bustled with fishermen and schooners laden with cod. “Codfish Kings” made their fortunes trading codfish “refuse” to West Indies plantations reliant on enslaved workers in exchange for sugar and other goods, which they later traded with England and the Mediterranean for luxury items of the time. During the Revolutionary War, the harbor became one of the most active privateering ports in America. After the war, it continued to flourish through trade with the West Indies and China. You can learn more about the harbor’s storied past on a free guided tour led by park rangers. Or, explore the site on your own while enjoying breathtaking waterfront views. Highlights include the Friendship of Salem, a replica of a tall ship; Derby Light, the wharf’s oldest surviving structure; the Salem Custom House and neighboring historic properties.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site
160 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970
Salem Maritime National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service) (

Walking Distance from Gables: .2 miles; approximately 5 minutes

Peabody Essex Museum
Photo courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables.

Peabody Essex Museum

No maritime adventure is complete without a visit to the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM). PEM is the oldest continuously operating museum in the country. It was founded in 1799 by the East India Marine Society, an organization of sea captains and traders, as a place to share and display works or “curiosities” collected on their travels. Today, PEM is a world-renowned cultural institution featuring works of art and culture from around the world. It houses one of the finest collections of maritime art in the country. Visitors can see this prominent collection – including ship models, scrimshaw, paintings and nautical instruments – as well as visit East India Marine Hall, where the East India Marine Society met. Audio tours of the Crowninshield-Bentley House (ca. 1727), built by influential fish merchant and ship captain John Crowinshield, are also available upon request.

Peabody Essex Museum
East India Square
161 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970

Walking Distance from Gables: .6 miles; approximately 13 minutes

Real Pirates Salem

Immerse yourself in the stories of Real Pirates! The family-friendly pirate experience features the true tale of “Black Sam” Bellamy – the richest and one of the youngest pirates of all time – and Maria Hallett, the love of his life and so-called “Witch of Wellfleet.”

During the early 1700s, Bellamy captured the infamous slave ship Whydah, as well as more than 50 other ships, earning him the nickname the “Prince of Pirates.” Meet the crew and follow their journey as they seek fortune on the high seas, amass the greatest pirate treasure of all times, and ultimately meet their untimely fate when the Whydah sinks in a violent Nor’easter off the coast of Cape Cod

See the world’s only fully authenticated pirate treasure ever discovered – including coins, jewelry, and weapons – retrieved from the wreck, and last touched by the hands of pirates more than 300 years ago.

285 Derby St.  (@ Charlote Forten Park)
Salem, MA 01970

Walking Distance from Gables:  .7 miles, approximately 15 minutes

Chestnut Street Home
Photo courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables.

Chestnut Street

Take a leisurely stroll down picturesque Chestnut Street for a glimpse of Salem during its peak of prosperity. The stately mansions that line the street were owned by wealthy sea captains and merchants during the height of the China trade. Now a historic district, Chestnut Street is part of the larger McIntire Historic District, named for renowned Salem architect-builder Samuel McIntire. Hamilton Hall, at 9 Chestnut, was built by McIntire in 1805, as a center for social gatherings, and exemplifies his aesthetic and exquisite craftsmanship. You can see more of McIntire’s work as you pass by the Captain Jonathan Hodges House at 12 Chestnut Street (now a private residence). And, farther down on your right is the Stephen Phillips House, the only house on Chestnut Street open for public tours.

The McIntire Historic District | Chestnut Street – Salem, MA

Walking Distance from Gables: .9 miles; approximately 20 minutes

Salem Restaurant Bar
Photo courtesy of Destination Salem.

Salem Restaurants

Getting hungry? Stop for lunch or dinner at one of Salem’s restaurants renowned for their fresh seafood and traditional New England fare. You can choose from a wide array of New England favorites, including lobster, clam chowder, mussels, clams, fish and chips and more. Sit waterside for breathtaking views of the harbor or head downtown for more delicious options. Thirsty? Stop by one of Salem’s breweries or bars for some local brews, ale or cider.

Saugus Iron Works
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Just a short drive from Salem is the Saugus Iron Works, which operated between 1646 and 1670. Considered the birthplace of the American iron and steel industry, this National Historic Site, located on the banks of the Saugus River, is a reconstruction of the first successful integrated iron works (Hammersmith) in British Colonial America. In its day, the Iron Works produced a variety of goods including iron nails, pots, shovels, hardware for ships and other commercially used items. These goods were shipped to market from its wharf. The artisans who worked onsite were indentured servants from England and Wales, many of whom lived in company housing. As you explore the 12-acre property, you can experience what life was like at Hammersmith and see a reconstructed blast furnace, working waterwheels, forges, mills and a historic 17th-century home. And, don’t forget to stop by the visitor center for maps, a short film, exhibits and souvenirs.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
244 Central St.
Saugus, MA 01906
Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)

Driving distance from Gables: 9.4 miles; approximately 28 minutes

Essex Shipbuilding Museum
Photo courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables.

Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum

Thirty minutes north of Salem is the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, where you can learn about shipbuilding on the North Shore. During its heyday, Essex was home to 14 shipyards that produced over 4,000 wooden vessels. The vessels were used for a variety of purposes including transporting fish, lumber, ice and other goods, as well as people. Get a closer look at the proud shipbuilding heritage at the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum, which offers photographs, antique shipwright tools, exhibits and hands-on experiences. You can even see one of the only surviving Essex-built schooners – the Evelina. The museum is open seasonally, so check the website for details. Private tours are available.

Essex Shipbuilding Museum
66, 28 Main St.
Essex, MA 01929

Driving distance from Gables: 13.9 miles; approximately 30 minutes

Fishermen Memorial Gloucester MA
Photo courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables.

Gloucester’s HarborWalk Trail

Just north of Salem is the city of Gloucester, the country’s first seaport. Drawn by the harbor’s deep waters, the English established a settlement here in 1623 and began fishing its shores. By the 19th century, Gloucester became a fishing powerhouse and an international trading center. You can learn more about city’s waterfront history on the HarborWalk, a self-guided walking trail with 42 interpretative markers. Each marker showcases the city’s maritime past, rich culture and modern-day fishing industry. Sites include the iconic Man at the Wheel statue (also known as the Gloucester Fishermen’s Memorial) honoring local fishermen lost at sea, the Cape Ann Museum and its impressive collection of fishing-related artifacts, photographs and fine art, Maritime Gloucester, a family-friendly discovery center with an aquarium, hands-on exhibit and authentically built schooner, as well as other sites associated with the fishing industry.

Driving distance from Gables: 16 miles; approximately 28 minutes

Motif #1 Rockport MA
Photo courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables.

Rockport, Massachusetts

On the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula is the picturesque seaside town of Rockport. Once home to Native Americans, the area was later settled by Europeans and became known for its timber, granite and fishing industries. Today, its rugged coastline and scenic coastal views attract artists and tourists from near and far. Motif #1, a replica of an old fishing shack, is widely regarded as “the most often-painted building in America.” Many of the fishing shacks on Rockport’s Bearskin Neck, a small stretch of land that juts out from the town center, have been repurposed as art galleries, boutiques and restaurants featuring fresh seafood. Visitors can sit back and relax with a lobster dinner while watching lobstermen pull up traps. Or, engage in a variety of waterfront activities, from boating, swimming, diving and kayaking to beachcombing, or hiking on trails in South Woods or Dogtown, some of which pass by old granite quarries. You can also reserve space on a boat trip to visit the twin lighthouses and museum on Thacher Island.

Driving distance from Gables: 21 miles; approximately 37 minutes

Newburyport Waterfront Park
Photo courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables.

Newburyport, Massachusetts

Continue up the coast to Newburyport – another maritime gem. This coastal city is steeped in maritime tradition. It was the first major commercial port on the eastern seacoast and the birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard. Stop by the Custom House Maritime Museum (1835) to see an extensive collection of maritime art, ship models and exhibits related to infamous shipwrecks and the city’s seafaring past. Walk down High Street to see the grand mansions built by wealthy sea captains and merchants. Or, stroll along the waterfront to the Newburyport Lighthouse (61 Water Street) built in 1873 to guide ships up river. For even more seafaring fun, take a whale watching or guided fishing trip from the pier.

Driving distance from Gables: 22 miles; approximately 44 minutes