I regularly visit the Cape Ann area, as it serves as an excellent source of creative inspiration. For seaside charm with a hint of whimsy, there’s no better place than Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Massachusetts.
First, though, I would be remiss not to mention a couple of notable locations a short walk away…
Note: I took all of the following photos.
At 37 Main Street, you can find the Shalin Liu Performance Center. This 330-seat venue is known for its superior acoustics, thanks to its sweeping, high-beamed wooden ceilings. The back wall of the stage is, in my opinion, it’s most extraordinary feature, as it’s all glass and directly overlooks a stunning view of the ocean.
Tuck’s Candy actually has two locations near Bearskin Neck. The larger of the two stores is located at 15 Main Street. There, you can peruse a myriad of sweets – most importantly, their out-of-this-world delicious fudge. It’s also a gift shop filled with witty selections fit for walls and desks alike. I tend to gravitate to their bookshelf, as it features many examples of fascinating local lore.
Then, at 7 Dock Square, is its sister shop, Tuck’s Candy Factory. Perhaps, if you pause at their storefront, you might get a glimpse of a taffy pulling machine at work.
For a bit of France in New England, look no further than La Provence, at 4 Main Street. This lovely store is a wonderful balance of French art, home décor, bath and body, music, and other accessories. I particularly like their sign, with its vibrant, impressionistic hues indicating the treasures within.
And now, for Bearskin Neck itself. If you were wondering how this area came to get its rather unusual name, this historical marker provides the answer:
Shops, art studios, restaurants, and private residences line Bearskin neck, which bustles with activity mostly from Memorial Day to Labor Day, though a few shops are open throughout the year:
I always make a point of stopping to see the latest wares at 43 Bearskin Neck, the home of Kala Roopa. This boutique embodies the essence of art with a magnificent message – learn about its purpose here.
Another must-see when it’s (seasonally) open is the Bearskin Neck Country Store. Walk in, and you’re indeed transported to another time, which I estimate to be anywhere from the 1940s-1990s.
Everywhere you look, it seems that there’s another moment to capture as a photo, or a painting. Even just the slightest turn down one of the small avenues peppered throughout the area can yield you a casual image such as this one, of the famous Rockport Motif No. 1 and its nautical neighbors:
Windows take on lives of their own amongst the shops – take, for example, these decorations at the 20 Bearskin Neck’s Village Silversmith:
One of the best places for a light bite to eat would have to be Helmut’s Strudel, found at 69 Bearskin Neck. Yes, there’s strudel (which you can pair with vanilla ice cream), but they also offer other café items, an example of which might be a spinach and feta croissant. Their back deck offers a restful place to enjoy coffee and harbor views.
Finally, at literally the end of Bearskin Neck is what is known as the Rockport Breakwater, a walk on which is best suited to adventurous sorts who have good balance and even better footwear:
Be on the lookout for Straitsmouth Island, too:
I’ve only mentioned just a few of the many things to see and do on Bearskin Neck and its surrounding area. It’s definitely a place to visit for the entire day. A suggestion would be to get there early (by 8:00 AM) for the best parking spaces, which are metered. You can, however, park on some side streets at no charge. Get breakfast, lunch, and dinner there, buy some art, attend a performance, take lots of photos, and prepare yourself for the best sunset views anywhere:
For more information on all things Bearskin Neck, be sure to visit this website.
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