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Travel Guide: A Cozy Weekend Getaway To the Coast

a grassy meadow with a medium sized puddle in the middle and trees lining the side under an overcast sky.

A view from Argilla Road on an overcast day, about three-quarters of the way to Crane Beach.

Before the cold windy days officially come and stay, gift yourself a little getaway to the northern coast this fall. 

Destination: Ipswich – a cute small coastal town with a population of 13,785 people about 30 miles northeast of Boston.

To get there, purchase a $10 weekend pass and catch the MBTA’s Newbury/Rockport Commuter Rail Line from North Station. Check the schedule and see what time works best for you.

The trick to making this trip extra special is bringing your bike along on the train which will allow you to ride to Crane Beach, a stunning beach only about a 6-mile ride away from the town’s center.  

Never taken your bike on the train before? Just roll your bike onto the platform and one of the train conductors will let you know which car has space for your bike. Note that if you’re making this trip on a weekday, there are certain rush-hour trains where bikes aren’t allowed on board: look for a bike symbol on the train schedule.

Group of people walking toward the train doors on the North Station platform,
Passengers walk on the platform at North Station to board the Newbury/Rockport Line Commuter Rail train.

After the 50-minute train ride up the coast through Lynn, Salem, and Beverly, hop off at the Ipswich station, just a couple of blocks from Jetti’s Bagels and Zumi’s Espresso, a cozy coffee shop with an ice cream bar inside.  

a blue and pink bike leaning against the metal bars on the commuter rail platform in Ipswich.
Ipswich commuter rail station: A ramp leads to a high level platform that makes it easy to roll your bike on and off the train.

When we went in October, the weather was overcast and there was a light drizzle, but that only made the experience feel like even more of an adventure. 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 lighthearted dining environment where you can choose from delicious waffles and a number of sandwiches.

a yellow wall with differently colored posters hanging, including a heat shaped sticker reading, "Heat and Soul Cafe."
A small glimpse of the 70s-themed wall decor at Heart and Soul Cafe.

Let’s go to the beach! 

Despite the lack of bike lanes, the ride from Ipswich to Crane Beach feels pretty comfortable, since there’s not much traffic and cars tend to give you space when passing. Make sure to have a good set of lights on your bike. 

There is a bike shop in town, Ipswich Cycle, where you can pick up any last minute things or fill up your tires with air if they’re low. The staff is very friendly and can offer guidance and advice before you head out.  

Argilla Road will get you most of the way to the beach. Google Maps shows Labor in Vain as an option, but this dead ends at a gated private property (hence the name?). The views here are still stunning 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 make your way to Argilla Road. See the bike route 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’ve arrived at Crane Beach! There is some bike parking off to the side behind one of the buildings where you can lock up your bike. 

Choose a spot along the four-mile beachfront to set up camp and take in the sounds of the crashing waves, the seagulls flying overhead, and the dogs running and playing in the water. 

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

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

There are also 5.5 miles of trails you can explore through the sand dunes, maritime shrubs, and beachfront.

After a couple of hours and sandwiches later, we unlocked our bikes and headed back into town around sunset when the sky had an orange tint to it – if you’re comfortable riding in the evening, we highly recommend it, as there are even fewer cars on the road and it can feel quite magical biking past the beautiful open landscapes lining the road.  

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

Feel free to walk/roll through the town. Take in the colorful Ipswich Mural along the river depicting the town’s history, grab a coffee and sit in the town’s quaint library courtyard or try out a flight of mead inside 1634 Meadery’s tasting room with the owner himself.     

a black fenced entry way leading to a red brick building
An 1869 Greek Revival building, the Ipswich Public Library courtyard benches under a massive tree are a great spot to relax in. Bike parking is located along the right fence.
a colorful mural painted on the side of a red brick building
The Ipswich Mural depicts the town’s history through colorful images. A large plaque is located nearby detailing the timeline and meaning of each image.
6 small glasses filled with different colored mead
A flight of mead served to us by the owner of 1634 Meadery himself.

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