15 Best Things to Do in Marblehead (MA)

Marblehead, a seafaring hamlet on a mountainous peninsula littered with granite outcrops, is a slice of old New England.

To put the town’s history into context, two hundred of its houses were erected before the American Revolution.

These are located in a historic neighborhood with over 900 contributing structures that wind through twisting, rollercoaster streets. So one of the nicest things you can do in Marblehead is to get out and explore.

Part of the town’s success as a marine town can be attributed to its natural port, which is surrounded by craggy headlands and is ideal for the Race Week regatta in July.

1. Old Burial Hill

Old Burial Hill

One of the oldest cemeteries in New England is also one of the most beautiful, perched on a granite hill overlooking Marblehead Harbor and Salem Strait.

In 1638, the summit was the site of Marblehead’s first meeting, and if you look around you’ll find numerous 17th-century tombstones with memento mori carvings.

Several tombs belong to the premiers of Marblehead, and there is one (with modern markings) for Wilmot Redd (died 1692), a victim of the Salem witch trials.

Old Burial Hill is referenced in H. The short story The Festival (1923) by P. Lovecraft was one of the few filming locations in Marblehead for Hocus Pocus (1993).  

2. Jeremiah Lee Mansion

Jeremiah Lee Mansion

When Jeremiah Lee (1721-1775) built this opulent Georgian mansion in 1768, he was the wealthiest merchant and shipowner in Massachusetts.

With an incredible level of preservation, his mansion is considered one of the most beautiful late Georgian homes in the United States and is now managed by the Marblehead Museum.

Some of the original details are still in place including finely carved woodwork and hand-painted wallpaper made in the UK.

On a guided tour of 18 different rooms, you can appreciate early American furniture made by cabinetmakers from Marblehead, Boston, and Salem, as well as decorative artworks Other special features of the 18th and 19th centuries, from silverware to ceramics, include textiles, clocks, and mirrors.  

3. Castle Rock Park

Castle Rock Park

An important vantage point in Marblehead’s maritime days, this dramatic granite outcrop faces the Atlantic Ocean on Marblehead Neck.

Along the coast are lavish seaside residences, and the promontory is said to take its name from the castle-like Carcassonne mansion directly behind it.

The surrounding small park is accessible from a path leading off Ocean Avenue, and you can enjoy the sea view from benches beside the cliff.

If you’re careful, you’re free to explore Castle Rock’s cascading outcrops, some with tide pools, and the views from here are amazing at sunrise.  

4. Abbot Hall Maritime Museum

Abbot Hall Maritime Museum

Marblehead’s fourth town hall was built in 1876 and about 150 years later is still the seat of town government.

Abbot Hall is Romanesque Revival and is surrounded by a splendid clock tower housing the Howard #2S clock, installed in 1877 and still hand-wound by maintenance workers each week.

In addition to its civic function, Abbot Hall also houses the Dr. Ray Cole Maritime Museum, dedicated to the city’s naval heritage.

In these galleries, you’ll learn about Marblehead’s connection to the early days of the United States Navy, Marblehead’s many naval heroes, the history of the three USS Marblehead docks, and Marblehead’s condition is the birthplace of the Navy.

There are also special details about George Washington’s famous surprise attack on Hessian forces at Trenton on Christmas Eve 1776, supported by General John Glover’s Marblehead Regiment, which brought his army. he passed to Delaware.  

5. Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary

Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary

At the heart of the Marbleneck Peninsula is an 8-hectare wildlife sanctuary managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Association.

This property is made up of swamps, forests, and bushes. The forests here attract a surprising variety of migratory birds in the spring and fall, especially the warblers that migrate along the Atlantic coast.

In addition to its ecological significance, Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary is a joy to walk through. In a relatively small area, you will climb rocky hills and walk on a boardwalk next to a beautiful little pond. On the elevated west side of the pond, the Warblers Trail leads to a great vantage point if you want to watch songbirds during their migrations.  

6. Glover’s Marblehead Regiment Annual Encampment

Glover’s Marblehead Regiment Annual Encampment

Known for sailing across Washington on the Delaware River, the Marblehead Militia led by John Glover (1732-1797), his family moved to Marblehead when he was a child.

Early in the conflict, Glover’s train Hannah was chartered by Washington to attack British supply ships during the Siege of Boston in June 1775, possibly making her the founding ship of the United States Navy.

Glover’s Marblehead Regiment celebrates its role in early American history with a living historic garrison at Fort Sewall each July.

Organized by soldiers, sailors, and townspeople, this is your chance to learn about the Marblehead Regiment’s contributions to the American Revolutionary War.

Among the many historical experiences, you can chat with people re-enacting expensive costumes, watch demonstrations of 18th-century crafts, listen to antique music, and sample time-appropriate snacks. and watch action-packed reenactments.  

7. Marblehead Race Week

Marblehead Race Week

With its pristine harbor, Marblehead became a yachting mecca in the mid-19th century and hosts a number of regattas throughout the season, including during the Marblehead Arts Festival.

The largest of these is Marblehead Racing Week, which began in 1889 and runs all the way to the last week of July. Since the 2000s, the event’s premium divisions have been part of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series.

Weather and wind conditions at Marblehead Harbor are never the same from day to day, and no regatta is safe.

If you’re in town, you can bring a blanket and picnic and watch the action unfold from one of Marblehead Harbor’s scenic parks.  

8. Marblehead Festival of Arts

Marblehead Festival of Arts

Taking place over the July 4 holiday season, the Marblehead Arts Festival has a history dating back to 1962.

There are a variety of crowd-pleasing events and activities, including a street festival, film festival, craft market, and children’s festival, with kite flying, sand sculpting, and pottery painting of your own Friend.

Over four days, you can browse exhibits in various locations, such as Abbot Hall, Old North Church, and Old Town House, and there are daily art shows at Crocker Park.

This space offers perfect harbor views from its granite walkways, ideal for the final evening’s dazzling fireworks display. 

9. Crowninshield Island (Brown’s Island)

Crowninshield Island

Protecting the entrance to Dolliber Cove and Marblehead Little Harbor is a 5-acre outcrop owned by Reservations Administrators.

Only accessible from the mainland by water, unless you arrive at low tide, Crowninshield Island is named after historic preservation pioneer Louise E. du Pont Crowninshield (1877-1958).

If you’re walking across the mud, try to get there an hour before low tide and leave an hour later, to ensure the most time on the island.

While here, you can explore sandy beaches, grasslands, salt marshes, and rugged coastlines, and enjoy great views of Fort Sewall, the harbor, and other nearby islets… 

10. J.O.J. Frost Gallery & Carolyn Lynch Education Center

J.O.J. Frost Gallery & Carolyn Lynch Education Center

Almost across from the Jeremiah Lee Mansion, the Marblehead Museum also has a cozy home at 14 Washington Street.

The building is newer than it looks, actually dating back to 1940, and was acquired as its headquarters by the historical society in 1998. The highlight inside is a permanent gallery dedicated to folk artists. J.O.J. Frost (1852-1928).

With no training, Frost began painting at the age of 70 and drew inspiration from childhood memories of Marblehead as a fishing town and sailing boaters.

Though technically flawed, Frost’s work is widely praised as a work of folk art, appearing in a number of prestigious collections. The largest belongs to the Marblehead Museum, donated by Frost’s son in 1928.  

11. Fort Sewall

Fort Sewall

With nearly 400 years of history, Fort Sewall guards the entrance to Marblehead Harbor at the top of the headland, Gale’s Head.

There was a makeshift fort here as early as 1634, but the origins of the present fortress date back to 1742, during King George’s War.

It was rebuilt during the American Revolutionary War when it was garrisoned by John Glover’s Marblehead Regiment and became famous during the War of 1812 when its guns allowed the pursued USS Constitution to take shelter. at the Port of Marblehead.

Since the 1920s, Fort Sewall has been set in beautiful public parkland, with stunning views of the harbor and Marblehead Neck peninsula.

Try to be here in July for Glover’s Marblehead Regiment’s annual camp, while The Barnacle, just steps from Front St, has been an on-site seafood restaurant for years. 1960. 

12. Chandler Hovey Park and Marblehead Light

Chandler Hovey Park and Marblehead Light

Developed as a seaside resort in the 19th century, Marblehead Neck is a peninsula of its own, enclosing Marblehead Harbor to the east and connected to the mainland by a causeway.

The area is famous for its stately homes and at the northern tip of the rock is the unique Marblehead light.

This skeletal structure, raised in 1895 to replace an earlier tower from 1835, is the only such lighthouse found in New England.

The fixed blue beacon is visible seven nautical miles (8.1 mi) away and the tower sits on beautiful 3.75 acres of land, with stunning views of the harbor, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Beverly on the Water.

Try to get here at the end of the day, you can watch the sunset over Marblehead and the many small boats moored in the harbor. 

13. Self-guided Walking Tour

By any measure, the historic Marblehead district is vast, covering 2,300 acres and nearly 1,000 contributing buildings.

If you want to immerse yourself in the city’s maritime history, the best thing is to bring a map, venture into this winding landscape and explore these wonderful old houses that were once inhabited by the merchant, ship owners, heroic navy, and fishermen.

The Marblehead Museum organized a helpful self-guided tour, starting at Abbot Hall, leading northeast to Fort Sewall and back.

In addition to the Jeremiah Lee Mansion (1768), memorable stops include General John Glover’s House, built for the famous general in 1762, Old Town House (1727), and Simon Bradstreet’s House (1732) ), built by the grandson of Simon Bradstreet, the last governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  

14. Downtown Marblehead

Downtown Marblehead

Amid all that history, Old Town Marblehead is a great place to hang out, packed with grocery stores, boutiques, galleries, music venues, and places to eat.

Seafood is on the menu in a maritime town like this, and The Landing (81 Front St) and Maddie’s Sail Loft (15 State St) are two hubs for classic New England fare like clams, lobster rolls, and fried scallops.

Behind the historic storefronts along Washington Street, there is a fascinating array of unique shops selling F.L. clothing, toys, jewelry, flowers, candles as well as maritime apparel. Woods for women, dating from 1938.

In the ‘new’ business district along Pleasant St to the southwest there are even more restaurants, the posh Warwick Place cinema, and the starting point of the four-mile Marblehead train track. 

15. Devereux Beach

Devereux Beach

Marblehead’s main public beach is a sandy bay at the foot of the causeway leading to Marblehead Neck.

Facing southeast, Devereux Beach is well protected from the waves and has ankle-high waves that are ideal for young children to play in the water.

Lifeguards are on duty daily throughout the summer, and there is a franchise point on Ocean Avenue at the Neck Run Cafe. Among the facilities are two picnic pavilions, playgrounds, volleyball courts, and public restrooms.

You can also take a short walk along the causeway on Ocean Avenue for satisfying harbor views from Lady’s Cove.  

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