MARBLEHEAD, Mass. — Less than an hour north of Boston, Marblehead, Massachusetts is a nearly four century-old fishing town that has maritime charm and New England character. As the “Birthplace of the American Navy,” expect to smell the ocean on every street and dream of heading out on one of the elegant sailboats moored in the harbor.
The best way to experience Marblehead is to drive around and wander. Skinny alleys wind through neighborhoods of clapboard and cedar shingle-sided homes. Old trees pop out in small yards and granite curbs line the roads. You can see the fishermen trudging down the lanes to their boats.
If you walk around, you can find lobster traps drying on the beach, a fisherman selling his fresh catch from the back of his truck or sailboats littering a hidden cove.
Head northeast and eventually you reach a small parking lot off of Front Street. Visitors should park their car and walk around Fort Sewall. Learn how the fort saved the USS Constitution in 1814 and admire the beautiful views of Marblehead Harbor. You can typically find someone trying their luck at fishing off the rocky coast and see the buoys marking lobster traps in the water.
While driving around, keep an eye out for the most polite traffic signs in America. Most stop, speed limit, crossing and slow signs comes with an official "please."
Once you are tired of meandering, head over to Abbot Hall. This gorgeous brick building holds the original “Spirit of ‘76” painting and is open year-round. Just down the street, you can learn more about the local history at theMarblehead Museum and at the Jeremiah Lee Mansion.
Municipal parks are a quick hint to local culture. For example, in Minnesota the parks have ice rinks to flood in winter for hockey. In Marblehead, the parks have either lacrosse fields, a lighthouse or a rocky beach with coin-operated binoculars.
The historic downtown area has a number of places to eat. 5 Corners Kitchen,Jack-Tar, and Marblehead Lobster are all good options. Meet a local at the fish and chips restaurant and you can learn that he caught 28 lobsters that day, but the best catches are still a month away.
Brigham Wilson is getting an MBA at MIT. Email him at email@example.com.