Going to the beach is the obvious thing to do with kids on the North Shore in summer, along with whale watching. And while both are completely awesome in their own rights, sometimes you might feel like changing things up a bit. If so, you might be wondering what else is available to keep your little ones entertained. Luckily, there is quite a lot! Here are some of the best (local and unique!) kid-friendly activities that the North Shore has to offer.
A young explorer in Ravenswood Park.
1. Take a hike. Between the Essex County Greenbelt and the Trustees of Reservations, there are many thousands of acres of reservation land, salt marshes, rocky outcrops and scenic vistas, all waiting to be explored. Ravenswood Park (Gloucester) and the Allyn Cox Reservation (Essex) are popular favorites.
2. Museums. Really! There's no need to head into the big city to expose your kids to culture. At the Cape Ann Museum, the 2nd Saturday of every month is free for families with school-aged children. The Wenham Museum's exhibits are presented in a fun "bringing history to life" kind of way and also has a whole room full of model trains and another of historical dolls. The Manchester Historical Museum also offers family-friendly programs and the "children's room" at the Trask House displays a collection of antique toys and an impressive Victorian dollhouse. Check the respective websites for hours and information.
3. Thursday Night Picnic Concerts at Castle Hill. Pack a picnic dinner and the family and head to the Crane Estate for this summer-long concert series. There will be a different show under the stars every Thursday night from July to early September. BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket). Check the Trustees of Reservations site for schedule and ticket information.
4. Book it to the closest library! Most public libraries have children's rooms that offer weekly kids activities across different age groups, from toddler story time to teen Minecraft sessions. The Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library, Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library, Rockport Public Library, TOHP Burnham Public Library (Essex), Beverly Public Library and the Newbury Public Library are just some of the great local libraries with free, drop-in summer activities.
5. Pick your own fruit or veggies. There are several local farms that allow you to harvest your own fresh produce. Brooksby Farm (Peabody), Connors Farm (Danvers) and Russell Orchards (Ipswich) are all sure to please even the most healthy-food-hating child.
6. Catch a free movie under the stars. The City of Gloucester and the Cape Ann Community Cinema have partnered to offer The HarborWalk Summer Cinema Series, a free outdoor movie experience. Films are every Wednesday through the summer, at the I4C2 lot -- adjacent to the Building Center. Movies start at 8 PM (or when it gets dark, whichever is earlier).
7. Find a live theatre show. The North Shore Music Theatre offers children's musicals throughout the summer.
8. Gloucester Block Parties. Several times during each summer, Main Street in Gloucester closes itself off to vehicle traffic and hosts an evening-long Block Party like none other. Main Street vendors stay open late and a festival atmosphere is created through live music, family-friendly events and lots and lots of food.
9. Investigate the local wildlife and habitats. The Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, near the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island, offers drop-in activities, tours and other opportunities to engage with flora and fauna of the area's salt marshes, rivers, mudflats and coastal waters. Maritime Gloucester, at Harbor Loop, offers hands-on education and experiences about marine science, maritime heritage and environmental stewardship. Their Sea Pocket Touch Tank Aquarium gives kids a chance to interact with several local marine species.
10. Visit a lighthouse. To see them from the sea, check out Harbor Tours, Inc. of Cape Ann. They offer an informative 2.5 hour Lighthouse Cruise that passes by Cape Ann's multiple lighthouses. To get up close and personal with a lighthouse, visit Thacher Island to see the Twin Lights and families can also visit/tour the Plum Island Light.
Eastern Point Light
Looking for free things to do with kids in Gloucester MA? Check out our blog post, 25 Free Things To Do On And Around Cape Ann This Summer.
There are so many things to do and see in Cape Ann, they can't all fit on one page! Find out more by reading our Cape Ann Guide.
- Things to do in Gloucester MA
- Things to do in Rockport MA
- Things to do in Essex MA
- Things to do in Manchester-by-the-Sea MA
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