“If you never go, you will never know.” – Unknown
It’s the beginning of summer, and that means summer vacations and travel plans in the works! Last summer, I made my way to Newburyport, Massachusetts, the home of bestselling author and Oprah collaborator, Cheryl Richardson. My experience in the coastal enclave of Newburyport was one of the most memorable summer escapes of my life. Remember, Mayberry RFD? The quaint village where everyone seemed to know everyone. Time moves at a slower pace. People stop to talk. They offer to help. Come along with me on a stroll through Newburyport, Massachusetts … a town that must be on everyone’s East Coast list of special getaways. I swear if they could bottle the happiness and peace that I personally experienced in that town, they could uplift the entire planet. The Happiness Quotient was off the charts! It was a coastal utopia where people are fully present. They look you in the eye. They smile. They are attentive to your needs. They offer help. They care. It’s an East Coast Mecca, a secret jewel, tucked away outside of Boston. It’s not just a place to visit. It’s an experience.
The East Coast has its own vibe … one that’s vastly different from the beachy boho feeling of LA and the SouthBay. Pulling into downtown Newburyport is like traveling back in time. Newburyport is the birthplace of the Coast Guard. The town was first “settled” in 1635 as part of the Newberry Plantation while the town itself was established in 1764. It has a distinctly European feel with worn, cobblestone streets filled with well preserved historic buildings brimming with centuries of stories. I discovered Newburyport as I was a rabid fan of anything everything of inspirational author and coach, Cheryl Richardson. Cheryl’s newsletter is a favorite of mine and she shares her passion for this coastal village. I reached out to Cheryl’s team and we scheduled a time to film a show at The Essex Street Inn. An expansive and charming inn located in the heart of downtown Newburyport, it’s managed by Alexander Thompson, who is the essence of old fashioned values and takes a personal interest in each and every person who enters the inn. As I shared in last year’s post featuring this fabulous hotel, The Essex Street Inn, a family owned operation, isn’t simply an inn…it’s an unforgettable experience! And…one I hope every single person in the world can experience in their lifetime. I was fortunate to have been generously hosted by Alexander and the owners of the inn. Words can’t begin to describe my stay. It was like being wrapped in a cozy cocoon. I can’t imagine traveling to Newburyport and staying anywhere other than the Essex Street Inn. It embodies the qualities of the coastal village, kindness, compassion, and pure presence.
A few steps away from The Essex Street Inn lies one of the most charming downtown areas I’ve ever visited. It’s as though time melted away and I was instantly transported into an era when things were a bit more carefree. I was expecting Aunt Bee to pop out at any moment and offer me a spot of tea and a slice of warm, cherry pie! Having grown up in Chicago, I’m a midwestern girl at heart. It was refreshing to watch the villagers and visitors interact with such presence and joy. It was as if everyone swallowed a happiness pill and was fully experiencing the present moment. I could see why Cheryl set her roots down here and was such a homebody. I didn’t want to leave! Good thing, I had a lot of exploring to do before I did! And if you do like to explore, make sure you visit nearby Plum Island as I did in this post!
First thing on my list is usually food and the second thing is shopping! You may not know that I LOVE food! Fortunately, the downtown is bustling with storefronts, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. The best way to find out where to begin: ask a local! And, we did! My photog is also my producer and came along for the ride as he’s the one behind the scenes and the cameras. We were quickly directed to “The Grog,” the home of the best New England Clam Chowder I’ve had, and one of the oldest restaurants in the town. Just like you would find in England, The Grog, is your typical old English Pub. After traveling in from Chicago and driving from Boston, I was famished and chowder along with fish and chips felt just right. I highly recommend lightening up on dietary restrictions (if you can) while on vacation. Every once and a while, I let go of my usual healthful choices and immerse myself in the local flavors. They did have an absolutely delicious Harvest Salad if you’re looking for lighter fare.
Another option highly recommended by the locals is The Sea Level Restaurant. It’s located right on the harbor with a view and ambiance to die for. I’ve planned another post to take you inside The Sea Level and share more of my personal experience. Let’s just say, the locals are right! The perfect location and menu for the seafood lover and that’s definitely me. If you found me on a desert island, I would actually be quite content living off the catch of the day.
Following the Grog, it was time to do a little exploring. State Street is like Main Street – it’s the heart of Newburyport with lots of boutiques to visit. The Cali girl in me will always gravitate to a shop filled with crystals, Buddhas and yoga clothing. I have to admit in a town that favors the preppy, nautical theme, I was pleasantly surprised to find a darling Boho shop, “Meraki,” right in the heart of State Street. It was definitely up my alley and loaded with everything from Spiritual Gangster t’s to the coziest of yoga attire. The Juicery is just across the street and a wonderful compliment to Meraki. It became my “hang out” as there’s nothing like a delicious, healthy green smoothie or raw juices. It was like having a little bit of LA on the East Coast. I couldn’t resist having a little bit of fun doing my best “OM” outside of the shop!
When it comes to women’s clothes, most of the shops and boutiques in Newburyport cater to a bit more conservative clothing. There is definitely a nautical theme throughout the storefronts. Two of the shop’s locals mention time and again, are Amy Williams and Smitten. The Black Dog is an East Coast tradition providing some fun t’s, sweatshirts and baseball caps. There are so many wonderful shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and sightseeing spots in and around Newburyport!
When it comes to summer in Newburyport, remember to dress for hot weather. The East Coast is known for warm summers and rising humidity. I found this hot pink top and capris on sale at Boohoo. (50% OFF Sale going on right now!) You probably won’t believe that the entire look is on sale right now for $8! Yes, 8 bucks. The earrings were a gift from my friend Cathy Williamson and I’ve linked a couple of similar styles. The sandals were a great sale find by Schutz. Any strappy sandal will do. Check out the current ones from Schutz right here. I was going for a head to toe Legally Blonde look and grabbed a tiny wristlet I found at Nordstrom to top things off.
It has everything! Charm galore, delicious food with a wide range of options and prices, endless shopping with a classic, preppy, nautical theme, The Essex Street Inn – an experience centered around your pleasure and comfort, a beautiful waterfront, a rich history and it’s the most uplifting enclave I’ve ever visited. If you do decide to visit, make sure to reach out to Alexander Thompson at The Essex Street Inn and let him know CGO sent you. My friend and fierce sister, Susan Kanoff, is another huge fan of The Essex Street Inn and introduced me to Alexander by telling me it was THE place to stay in the area! She was right. Let me know if you go and make sure to share your experience. Cheers Beauties…to summer…to wanderlust…and to the Happiest town in the USA – Newburyport! Thanks for the memories. I’ll be back.