The North Shore of Massachusetts is dotted with picturesque coves, sandy beaches, seaside towns and historic villages. Visit Salem, the home of the infamous 1692 witchcraft trials: the city’s top attractions include the Salem Witch Museum, the award-winning Peabody-Essex Museum and the House of Seven Gables. Or tour historic homes and browse art galleries and studios in seaside Rockport and Marblehead. For a day on the ocean, head to Crane Beach in Ipswich, situated on miles of shorefront with sandy dunes and miles of trails. The North Shore region, which stretches north from Boston to the New Hampshire border, has a variety of accommodations and dining choices, including popular seafood restaurants.
This longstanding seafood restaurant and clam shack is a North Shore institution, drawing locals and visitors from afar. Owned and operated by the Woodman family since 1914, the come-as-you-are restaurant has won a slew of awards, including the Best Seafood in America by "Forbes FYI Magazine," Best Local Food in Massachusetts by "Yankee Magazine," Best Steamers 2006 by "Boston Magazine's N.E. Travel & Life" and World’s Best Fantastic Fast Food by the "Travel" channel. In fact, founder Lawrence Woodman is rumored to have invented the fried clam. The rambling restaurant, with benches and long wooden tables both inside and outdoors, can accommodate busloads of diners. Fried clams are the top choice, with bellies or strips only. A platter includes fries and onion rings, and the house-made coleslaw is a popular side item. Woodman's menu includes entrees such as fried lobster tails, shrimp, scallops and haddock.
Woodman’s 121 Main St./Route 133 Essex, MA 01929 (978) 768-6057 woodmans.com
You can’t miss the Clam Box, located in the historic town of Ipswich. For more than 60 years, this gray-shingled building—shaped like a clam box—has stood out and drawn crowds. Locally caught, fried seafood is the primary draw. Diners line up to place orders for heaping plates of fried clams, scallops, haddock, oysters and shrimp with fries, onion rings and coleslaw as popular sides. Seating is available in the casual dining room or on the outdoor deck overlooking Ipswich's salt marshes. No credit cards are accepted at the Clam Box, so bring cash.
Clam Box 206 High St. Ipswich, MA 01938 (978) 356-9707 ipswichma.com/ipswichma/clambox/
This elegant eatery is housed in an historic brick building across from Pickering Wharf in downtown Salem. The dining room is cozy and intimate with brick accent walls, white linens and soft lighting. The menu changes seasonally but always features a variety of seafood specialties. Start with appetizers such as East Coast oysters stuffed with spinach cream sauce or shrimp tacos. Entrees feature local and jet-fresh catches, including grilled swordfish, pan-seared brook trout and the signature seafood soup with shrimp, clams, calamari, haddock and scallops in a fish stock flavored with coconut milk and lime. Other choices include a variety of homemade pasta dishes and vegetarian dishes such as buttercup squash and fontina tart.
Grapevine Restaurant 26 Congress St. Salem, MA 01970 (978) 745-9335 grapevinesalem.com