One of the things that I love about New England is that there are so many interesting towns and cities in close proximity to one another. This week, with the aid of a rental car, I had the opportunity to visit a small number of destinations within a two-hour driving distance of Boston. My latest adventure took me to the city of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Gloucester (pronounced “gloss-ter”) sits about 50 mins north of Boston on Cape Ann. With its own stop on the Commuter Rail, Gloucester can be a regular, albeit long, trip for many in the Boston area. Gloucester has prime coastal access and is a regional fishing hub. In fact, Gloucester ranked 23rd in the U.S. in 2017 for commercial fishery ports.
My business in Gloucester was strictly pleasure and more precisely brunch. While finding a breakfast spot would not be a problem under normal circumstances, our search was made doubly challenging with COVID-19 restrictions and a 60% chance of rain. Eventually, we settled on the 1606 Restaurant and Bar located in the Beauport Hotel.
The Beauport Hotel is what New England is supposed to look like. The exterior embraces the luxury seaside summer cottage feel, while the inside bursts with nautical finishes. The walls are stark white with framed pictures of boats, ducks, and other sea themes, while the floors are a carpeted navy blue. The restaurant has outdoor seating, which overlooks the Western Harbor. Because it was an unseasonably cool day (a high of 64 degrees), we opted to eat inside and had a lovely view of model sailboats and photos of rustic fisherman. To be clear, I say these lines with all seriousness as I absolutely adore nautical décor.
After an eggy breakfast, we walked along a scenic trail along the coast. Lined with American flags, this pathway had me reciting the lines “from sea to shining sea” silently as I took in the beauty of the shore and swelled with patriotism. Despite the presence of numerous star-spangled banners, the walkway actually reminded me of Oban, Scotland, which I visited almost exactly one year prior (more here). Like this path in Gloucester, Oban too has a walking path that originates in the city, hugs the coast, and deposits pedestrians in a green park. While Oban and Gloucester are very different destinations, the fact that I visited both on cloudy, raining days and took a walk on the beach at both places has distorted my view to see a few more similarities between the cities than differences.
Top row: Oban, Scotland 2019; Bottom row: Gloucester, MA 2020
The last stop on our Gloucester excursion was for ice cream. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic a few local favorites are closed, however, we did manage to find a tiny little spot called Holy Cow Ice Cream Cafe outside of the commercial district. I do not have high standards for ice cream, but I also did not have high expectations for this place. After much deliberation, I ordered the “Cereal Milk” ice cream, which contained both Fruity Pebbles and marshmallows. Dare I say that this ice cream was the best part of my mini-Gloucester excursion. As far as ice cream flavors go, “cereal and milk” types are less common, but never fail to draw me in. Also, as a side note, even with the cereal bits, the delicacy (😉) looked and tasted like “blue moon” ice cream, which is hard to describe and not very well known outside of Wisconsin.
My visit to Gloucester was very nice, even though, frankly, we hardly did anything at all! Aside from eating and walking, the city boasts a few history museums and sandy beaches. Coming from Boston, Gloucester is certainly a welcome change of pace.