Gloucester getaway: Escape to sea life in Massachusetts
The lulling sound of gentle rolling waves hitting the shoreline. The scent of salt in the sea air. The visual treat of puffy white clouds skimming the horizon. It’s off-season in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and the ocean is a full-on sensory kaleidoscope on this unseasonably warm day.
I’m at Good Harbor, one of my favorite beaches in all of New England. Summertime here involves building memories with friends and family in jumping waves, surfing, paddleboarding and picnicking on the sand under Technicolor beach umbrellas. Outside of summer, when warm weather permits, beachgoers abound to absorb as much sunlight as they can before the weather returns to its regularly scheduled season.
Thanks to a guest perk offered by Beauport Hotel Gloucester, I hopped on a complimentary shuttle bus and was delivered right onto the sand entrance to Good Harbor Beach. This impressive grand resort sits on its own private beach nearby and is a short stroll from the lobby to the bustle of Gloucester’s main thoroughfare, Commercial Street.
Built three years ago and immediately popular with tourists and locals alike, dining at Beauport’s 1606 Restaurant & Bar, either indoors or on the outdoor deck, provides a scenic view of that manicured private beach. Despite the chill that came with sunset, my friends and I chose to eat al fresco under a (welcome) propane heat lamp. I enjoyed fresh-caught sea scallops from New Bedford (same shoreline but a few dozen miles south) while a friend ordered 1606’s signature entrée, a medley of chilled gems of the sea, which included a large lobster tail that my friend happily shared. Naturally, there was also a bottle of wine.
Afterwards, we concluded our evening and took to the sofa in front of the warming fireplace. The bar was bustling, but I was more than ready to call it a night.
Beauport’s guest rooms are as clean and fresh as the sea-foam on an Atlantic wave, and the décor is the very definition of coastal elegance. Despite the comfort, when morning arrived, I was all about exploring this historic and authentic city.
In just a few steps, I found myself on a waterfront causeway that skirts the rocky shoreline for several blocks. The iconic statue of the Gloucester Fisherman — familiar to anyone who has ever purchased a package of Gorton’s frozen fish filets — has a plaque honoring the almost-countless Gloucester fishermen who have lost their lives at sea.
Looping back to the downtown area at lunchtime, the distinctive aroma of fried seafood lured me to The Gloucester House Restaurant, so close to the water it’s practically in the harbor. This tried-and-true local hangout offers some of the freshest fish and seafood imaginable. I struggled to choose between classic baked haddock or fried clams, and the latter won out. Glancing over at an adjacent table, I spied a mac and cheese dish studded with chunks of lobster, plus scallops and shrimp. I knew I’d have to return.
Clam cravings fulfilled, I moseyed back to the Beauport and took the elevator to its rooftop lounge. The view of the ocean, eye candy to be sure, was almost eclipsed by the enticing swimming pool, but I became distracted by an elegant wedding taking place on a lower deck. And so, like an uninvited guest, I watched the entire ceremony as it unfolded below me.
After that deep-fried lunch it seemed mandatory to burn off some calories, so I signed up to take one of the hotel’s handy (complimentary) beach cruisers for a ride to catch the sunset. The road was flat and well cared for, so I pedaled to the harbor’s southernmost edge at Stage Fort Park. Along the way, just beyond the statue honoring Fishermans’ Wives, I watched as a metal drawbridge lifted open to allow safe passage for a sailboat. It was an uphill ride into the park, but worth it to lay eyes on the exact place where settlers arrived in the year 1623 to construct fishing “stages,” thereby cementing Gloucester’s place in history as the oldest working seaport in America.
Charlene Peters is a travel writer with a passion to explore the world’s culinary connections. She can be reached by email at SipTripper@gmail.com