A Cozy Weekend Getaway on the Coast – StreetsblogMASS

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Before the cold and windy days officially arrive, treat yourself to a short getaway to the North Coast this fall.

Destination: Ipswich – a pretty little coastal town with a population of 13,785 about 30 miles northeast of Boston.

To get there, buy a $10 weekend pass and take the MBTA’s Newbury/Rockport commuter line from North Station. Check the program and see what time works best for you.

The trick to making this trip even more special is to bring your bike on the train, which will take you to Crane Beach, a beautiful beach just 10 km from the city center.

Have you ever taken your bike on the train? Simply roll your bike onto the platform and one of the train drivers will show you which car has space for your bike. Note that if you are doing this route on weekdays, there are certain trains during peak hours where bicycles are not allowed on board: look for a bicycle symbol on the train timetable.

Passengers walk on the North Station platform to board the Newbury/Rockport Line commuter train.

After the 50-minute coastal train ride through Lynn, Salem and Beverly, get off at Ipswich Station, a few blocks from Jetti’s Bagels and Zumi’s Espresso, a cozy cafe with an ice cream bar at inside.

a blue and pink bicycle leaning against the metal bars on the commuter rail platform in Ipswich.
Ipswich Commuter Rail Station: A ramp leads to a high level platform which makes it easy to get your bike on and off the train.

When we went in October it was overcast and there was a light drizzle, but that only made the experience even more adventurous. Just pack your favorite rain jacket and you should be fine.

In case you worked up an appetite during the train ride, Heart and soul cafe is another block down at the corner of Market Street and Central Street/S. Main Street. The 70s themed cafe offers a light dining environment where you can choose from delicious waffles and a number of sandwiches.

a yellow wall with different colored posters hanging, including a heat-shaped sticker reading, "Coffee of warmth and soul."
A sneak peek at the 70s themed wall decor at the Heart and Soul Cafe.

Let’s go to the beach!

Despite the lack of cycle lanes, the ride from Ipswich to Crane Beach is quite comfortable, as there isn’t much traffic and cars tend to give you space when passing. Make sure you have a good set of lights on your bike.

There’s a bike shop in town, Ipswich cycle, where you can grab last-minute deals or fill your tires with air if they’re running low. The staff is very friendly and can guide and advise you before you leave.

Argilla Road will take you mostly to the beach. Google Maps shows Labor in Vain as an option, but this dead end ends in gated private property (hence the name?). The views here are still great and don’t add too much time to your overall trip, so if you have the extra time and are feeling curious, feel free to take this detour, then turn around and head you towards Argilla Road. To see the bike path on Google Maps.

Map showing the route from Ipswich to Crane Beach via a blue line.
Map showing the route from Ipswich to Crane Beach. Courtesy of Google Maps.

About 6 miles later you have arrived at Crane Beach! There is bicycle parking on the side behind one of the buildings where you can lock up your bicycle.

Pick a spot along the four-mile waterfront to set up camp and listen to the sound of crashing waves, seagulls flying overhead, and dogs running and playing in the water.

Fun fact: the beach scenes from Little woman (2019) were filmed here.

a sandy beach with the water in the background and a grayish blue sky.
View of a calm, cloudy afternoon at Crane Beach.

There is also 5.5 miles of trails you can explore through sand dunes, sea shrubs and the waterfront.

After a few hours and sandwiches later, we unlocked our bikes and rode back into town at sunset when the sky had an orange hue – if you’re comfortable riding at night, we highly recommend it, as it there are even fewer cars on the road and it can feel quite magical cycling past the beautiful open landscapes that line the road.

A large grassy landscape with trees in the background and tree branches bordering the photo frame.
View of the open landscape along Argilla Road on the way to Crane Beach. Photo by Siddharth Mayya.

Feel free to walk/drive through town. Admire the colorful Ipswich mural along the river illustrating the history of the city, have a coffee and sit in the picturesque courtyard of the city library or try a flight of mead inside 1634 Meadery’s tasting room with the owner himself.

a black fenced entrance leading to a red brick building
A Greek Revival building from 1869, Ipswich Public Library’s courtyard benches under a massive tree are a great place to relax. Bicycle parking is located along the right hand fence.
a colorful mural painted on the side of a red brick building
The Ipswich mural depicts the town’s history through colorful imagery. A large plaque is located nearby detailing the chronology and meaning of each image.
6 small glasses filled with mead of different colors
A flight of mead served by the owner of 1634 Meadery himself.

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