Top things to do in historic Marblehead Massachusetts – stay, eat, play.

by Mar 14, 2019Massachusetts

If you are seeking one of the best places to travel north of Boston along the coast full of history, spectacular coastal views, and wonderful places to eat, historic Marblehead should catch your eye. Here are our top picks of things to do in Marblehead.

Located on a rocky peninsula south of Salem and north of Boston, historic Marblehead, Mass., has a little something for any visitor. If you are seeking one of the best places to travel north of Boston along the Massachusetts coast, one that promises history, spectacular coastal views, and wonderful places to eat, Marblehead should make the list.

The historic downtown of Marblehead is built around a harbor and, in a nod to maintaining its seafaring history, it has narrow, winding streets lined with houses that were once home to sea captains and prominent traders. And, of course, there are the requisite cozy cafes, chowder and seafood restaurants, and shops…plenty of shops. There is, frankly, quite a lot to see and do in Marblehead and most of the sites are walkable, if you are so inclined, since the town covers only about 20 square miles. If you prefer to drive, keep in mind that finding parking right in downtown Marblehead can be, well, more than a bit challenging, so if you find a spot, take it! During my last trip there, I kept my car parked at the Hotel Marblehead where I was staying. You can also get around very easily by bike. Ask at your hotel or B&B if it has bikes to use since many do.

Things to do in historic Marblehead

Here are our top picks of things to do in Marblehead, plus where to eat and, if you are so inclined, where to spend the night:

Crocker Park

Crocker Park Views Marblehead

This is where I would start a visit, simply for the views. The park, located just off Front Street beside the Marblehead Harbor, has a public restroom (good to know if you are in need), benches, and stunning ocean views of the harbor. It can be peaceful, or a bit crowded as Crocker Park does play host to numerous weddings and public events throughout the year. Proof of its beauty.

Fort Sewall

Fort Sewell is one of the things to do in historic Marblehead

Assuming you started your visit at Crocker Park, head east, walking along Front Street past numerous restaurants, shops, boatyards and boat houses, until you arrive at Fort Sewall. This fortification was built in the 1600s with barracks and other work completed in the late 1700s. Since the fort is located at the mouth of the harbor, this is a perfect place to watch sailing regattas and boats come and go to your heart’s content. Look across the bay, and you will see Marblehead Neck and its lighthouse in Chandler Covey Park – another place worthy of a visit (see below).

Fort Sewall Marblehead View Of Ocean

Fountain Park & Old Burial Hill

Fountain Park Marblehead

From Fort Sewall, head back along Front Street to either Fort Beach Lane (it will turn into Doaks Lane) or Franklin Street and turn right. At Orne Street turn right again and stay on Orne until you reach the intersection of Orne and Pond streets. Fountain Park will be to your right, up some steep steps. Old Burial Hill Cemetery (founded in 1638) is to your left. Start by climbing the stairs up to the historic marker atop Fountain Park and enjoy yet another amazing view of the harbor. Then, scramble back down and head into the cemetery. Here you will find stone-carved gravestones marking the final resting place of many of historic Marblehead’s earliest residents, including some Revolutionary War dead.

Old Burial Hill Marblehead

Abbott Hall

Abbott Hall View From Crocker Park Marblehead

This destination is often overlooked for a visit but shouldn’t be! Located on Washington Street (not far from Crocker Park), the red-brick clock tower is visible from most places in downtown Marblehead. It is Marblehead’s town hall, but it’s open to visitors for free. There is often a volunteer guide to explain features of this historic building and the art and artifacts it holds. A must-see is the Selectmen’s Meeting Room (open when the town council is not in session) immediately to the left of the main entrance door. There, on the far wall is the famous painting, The Spirit of ’76, by Archibald M. Willard. There are many other historic artifacts in this room. Be sure to look to the left as you face the painting and you will see the deed (from 1684) that transferred ownership of 3,700 acres of land from the Naumkeag Tribe of the Algonquin Nation to British settlers from nearby Salem – the land upon which historic Marblehead was built.


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Marblehead Museum

If it is more local and area history you are after, then Marblehead Museum is for you. The museum is actually housed in three, separate, historic colonial buildings (J.O.J. Frost Gallery, the Jeremiah Lee Mansion, and the Civil War and G.A.R. Museum) all fairly closely grouped in downtown Marblehead. Visit the museum website to view admission fees and exhibit schedules.

Marblehead Lighthouse

You might want a car or bike to go here, as it is a bit of a walk from downtown Marblehead (approximately 2.8 miles from Abbott Hall). The lighthouse is a cast iron structure located in Chandler Hovey Park – the point across the harbor you see from Fort Sewell. The lighthouse, now automated, was built in 1835 and then rebuilt in 1836.

Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary

If it is a walk on the wilder side you crave, and perhaps a bit of bird watching, then stop in at the Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on your way to or from Chandler Covey Park. The sanctuary is 18 acres and has some lovely trails making it a great place for peaceful walks, albeit short ones.

Devereux Beach

As you are driving, biking or walking along Ocean Avenue crossing to Marblehead Neck and to see the Marblehead Lighthouse, you passed by this beach on your right. It is Marblehead’s most popular beach with over five acres of sand as well as picnic tables (got lunch?) and a nice playground.

Wondering where to stay in Marblehead?

Hotel Marblehead Front View

I would fully recommend the Hotel Marblehead. This 14-room historic boutique hotel is a perfect base not only for exploring Marblehead, but for venturing farther north to the towns of Salem and Rockport.

Where to eat in Marblehead

Turtle Bay Crudit Marblehead

Ed Note 2021: Sadly, this restaurant has closed, another victim on the COVID pandemic downturn. We will miss it as it was fabulous! Reportedly, Chef Stephane Colinet has moved on to become the general manager of Café Escadrille in Burlington.  One place that you must absolutely try is the Turtle Cove Bar & Grille, run by the husband-and-wife team of Stephane and Gayle Colinet and where my taste buds were tantalized beyond belief during a visit in 2018. The menu French chef Stephane presents is simple and approachable, but the flavors a diner will experience are decidedly complex and delectable. I had fresh oysters that were sublime, a crudo with tuna so fresh it practically melted in my mouth, and then a lobster scampi that surprised me – in a very good way. The menu says only that it is made with fresh lobster meat tossed with garlic, butter and linguine. In truth, it is lobster meat so perfectly cooked it remained tender and sweet tossed into the linguine with a melted butter sauce flavored with garlic and infused with a hint of lemon, orange and lime. Oh my!

A few others that are worthy of a mention too are Three Cod Tavern to experience a bit of local flavor along with clam chowder and baked haddock and 5 Corners Kitchen Restaurant for that upscale bistro dining ambiance (and prices).

HITT Tip: Chances are you will either be flying into our out of Boston’s Logan airport — or perhaps both. No matter, we know airports and we know Boston Logan. Be sure to read our story What to do on a layover in Boston for fun and relaxation.


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  1. Punita Malhotra

    So one more place besides Boston in MA that interests me now. Laid back atmosphere and slow travel, that’s what it brings to miind. Lovely post.

  2. The Travel Bunny

    I’ve never traveled to the US so I can’t compare it to someplace similar. From the photos and the descriptions, though, it looks really nice. I love how green everything is.

  3. Sweet World

    The last time we went to Boston it was with a bunch of college friends and we didn’t explore much. But I want to go back again and not only explore Boston but also whole of Massachusetts!

  4. Rodes On The Road

    I never been to Boston yet and been planning to go when I we got a chance will definitely love to check this area. It sounds laid back and a different in visiting Boston City.

  5. Melody Pittman

    I wasn’t familiar with this area of the country at all but it looks very nice. Definitely a place I would enjoy visiting for the history, the architecture, and amazing food!

  6. HI Travel Tales

    Lance, I lived in Boston for a while after college and if you can believe it, I never went to Marblehead then either. Salem and further up the coast, yes, like you. You will love the cemetery!

  7. The Roaming Renegades

    We’ve only been to Boston in MA and absolutely loved it and the unique history up there. This really reminds me that we should get back up to New England when we return to the US and see more of MA. I just love exploring these historic towns on the coast, they have a really lovely atmosphere.

    • HI Travel Tales

      When you do come back, take the time to drive the coastline and visit the small villages and ports along the way. It is incredibly scenic — and just full of one lobster eating opportunity after another.

  8. Dani

    Thanks for this awesome guide! I have not heard of Marblehead, but it seems like a perfect summer escape!

    • HI Travel Tales

      You’re welcome Dani.

  9. Lara Dunning

    I love historic small towns and Marblehead totally fits the bill! I’d totally opt for walking most places, and I love that most places have bikes. I haven’t been to Massachusetts and am putting this town on my list!

    • HI Travel Tales

      You will love Marblehead when you do visit — and just further up the coast Salem too.

  10. marvi ocampo

    Never heard much of Marblehead but it sounds like a great place to visit for a day or two. 🙂 Good to know that it is walkable too as I don’t know how to bike. LOL. The Crocker Park looks charming too. I’m sure an afternoon here is relaxing (if there are no events though). I like the facade of the Hotel Marblehead and it is centrally located too!

    • HI Travel Tales

      It is charming — the town and the park. No time like the present to learn to ride that bike 😉

  11. Ed and Jenn Coleman

    Man I would love to stay an an AirBnb in Marblehead and just bike around. There are so many good places to visit and I can almost smell the salty air. This would be a great escape from the brutal Florida summers.

    • HI Travel Tales

      I love Marblehead as you can tell and yes, being able to bike around would be outstanding — biking from lobster roll to lobster roll. 😉 Well, ok, maybe not eating a lobster roll every time.

      • Ed and Jenn Coleman

        I imagined a similar circuit in rural Ohio where I grew up going from one soft serve stand to the next. Although, I think I’d like the scenery and lobster rolls of Marblehead more.

  12. Heather Trimm

    Okay, how have I never heard of Marblehead? I’m going to have to look up its proximity to Boston to see if I can visit this summer! The Hotel Marblehead is exactly the type of place I like to stay-all that history and charm! Plus, I must have the lobster linguine with orange, lemon and lime at Turtle Cove Bar and Grille. Citrus and seafood-you’re speaking my language!

    • HI Travel Tales

      Heather, Marblehead is very close to Boston … I drove into Boston several times easily my last visit. And you will love that lobster linguine. I was blown away by it.

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