Every mile of Marblehead is steeped in history, and the evolving architecture tells the story of the town's growth from a colonial settlement to an affluent port destination. Frequently the setting of film, TV and literary works, Marblehead's unforgettable coastal landscape attracts established, educated professionals looking for a rewarding, close-knit environment to make a permanent home. Marblehead lies less than 17 miles from downtown Boston, conveniently situated on the eastern edge of Essex County overlooking Massachusetts Bay. The town has a large population of older residents, contributing to its quiet atmosphere, but its close proximity to multiple colleges keeps its residents connected to youth-centric activities. Parents may value the town's family-oriented traits; education, arts and sports are at the forefront of Marblehead culture. The town also stands out as an impressive maritime district, where visitors can chart a yacht or relax on the shores to watch boating races and seaside festivals.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Unsurprisingly, the town's prime location along Massachusetts Bay allows Marblehead restaurateurs to showcase seafood dishes on their menus year round. Small-town eateries serving American and ethnic cuisine dominate the northeastern district, offering a neighborly atmosphere even when you dine out. You might overlook Jack-Tar American Tavern, hidden behind a row of shops on Washington Street, but you'll have no trouble finding tempting menu items to sample. The old-world coastal decor sets the tone for a seaside-inspired meal of tender, citrus-drizzled scallops over a bed of creamy mushroom risotto with a side of sautéed spinach. Stop by between 5 and 7 PM to feast on a fresh-baked brick-oven pizza for about $5. Jack-Tar's rotating menu of craft beers complements your meal with seasonal specialties, such as pumpkin lager. Forget about traveling south of the border for tacos loaded with pan-seared fish and tangy veggies. Locals praise the large portions and authentic Mexican flavors served up at Casa Corona, a bright and inviting cantina-style restaurant decorated with culturally inspired artwork, sombreros and wall hangings. Order a skinny margarita or fruity sangria with your Camarones Mexicanos, a saucy dish of sautéed shrimp, mushroom and peppers over rice and cheese. Ask for Camarones a la Diabla if you prefer to spice up your meal with hot chili sauce. Driving inland to neighboring towns, such as Salem, gives you an eclectic selection of clubs, bars and music venues to liven up your nights. When you want to stay local, meet some friends at Caffé Italia to enjoy live music with your dinner or drinks. Find a seat at the elegant candle-lit bar during Happy Hour and dine on discounted appetizers, such as spinach-and-ricotta-stuffed eggplant or wine-sautéed shrimp and artichokes. The restaurant's rotating specials menu keeps patrons anticipating new culinary creations. In the meantime, dig into a plate of grilled lamb chops paired with apricot risotto.
History & Culture
Marblehead once thrived as a major fishing port, and the descendants of its seafaring settlers continue to support maritime pursuits. Yachting clubs drive Marblehead's modern prosperity, attracting sailing enthusiasts to the town's pristine harbors and charming New England scenery. Creative professionals populate this sophisticated community, giving rise to the annual Marblehead Festival of Arts. For several days in early summer, the festival celebrates craftsmanship and artistic expression through group-painting exhibitions, film screenings, kite shows and children's activities. Fashion a tribute to Marblehead's coastal landscape by joining the sand-sculpting contest, and bulk up your guilty-pleasure budget to splurge on artwork, handcrafted jewelry and furniture at the Artisan Marketplace. Make time to visit Marblehead Museum, an interactive time capsule that captures the town's evolution. The museum showcases cultural artifacts depicting life in Marblehead's bygone eras. Get inspired by the museum's historic folk art collection created by a post-Civil War townie.
The MBTA line links Marblehead directly to downtown Boston via the 441, 442, 448 and 449 express buses. Leave from the Franklin Street station, and set aside enough travel time for a 60- to 90-minute ride, depending on the time of day. While the quite life and residential nature of the area make Marblehead extremely walkable and bikeable, Marblehead's shopping district is largely concentrated in one area, so owning a car significantly cuts down on travel time between stores and residential areas. Fortunately, you can also hop on the bus and ride down Humphrey Street to reach southern Marblehead. State highways 114 and 129 cut through central Marblehead, providing a quick southward route to Boston or a northwestern route to other parts of the North Shore. Uber's Boston-based driver network services the Marblehead area, giving carless residents additional options for commuting or exploring city nightlife. Cabs are available but you should call ahead as hailing one from the street can prove challenging.
Being a Marblehead resident comes with a high cost of living, amounting to steeper expenses than most of the Greater Boston area and Massachusetts as a whole. The median cost of leasing a one-bedroom apartment or house is around $1,181. Be prepared for stiff prices between $1,100 and $1,500, but don't expect to find many one-bedroom vacancies in the area. If you have a flexible budget or a roommate, consider upgrading to a two-bedroom apartment in the $1,400 to $1,700 price range. Take a bus trip to Boston for about $12 with a one-day pass, or pay prices comparable to the national average to gas up your car for the ride. Plan to pay around $7 for a pint at a Marblehead pub.
A trip to Marblehead's northeastern region lets you satisfy essential household needs, whether you're planning a dinner party menu or shopping for new bookcases. As the area isn't franchise-heavy, expect to encounter moderate to high prices at local boutiques. The shopping district appeals to the town's sports and arts culture with multiple places to buy artisan products or stock up on athletic equipment. End your search for a stylish shirt dress or figure-flattering skinny jeans at She clothing store on Washington Street. Hip artwork and creative mannequin displays draw you into this trendy boutique, where you can find a reasonable blend of high-end and affordable buys from brands such as Free People, Michael Stars, William Rast and Theory. When your closet's at maximum capacity, check out the store's selection of artsy home goods. If you appreciate the familiar atmosphere of a neighborhood bookstore, tackle your reading list at Spirit of '76. Open since 1965, this independent bookstore pays tribute to Marblehead's Revolutionary War involvement, and the expansive book collection fills up a historic building on Pleasant Street. Strike up a conversation with the friendly and attentive staff, and they'll happily direct you to recommended books based on your literary preferences. Indulge in the finer things at Marblehead's gourmet grocery shops and farm-fresh markets. Find everything on your shopping list at Marblehead Village Market, one-stop destination for packaged, specialty and prepared foods. After stocking up on pantry staples, order a sandwich layered with fresh deli meat and veggies. While there are no national chains in Marblehead, there are many local options for groceries such as Shubie's Marketplace, Crosby's Marketplace and Becky's Gourmet. Join the Farm Direct Co-op to have a collection of locally-produced fruits, vegetables, bread and dairy products prepared for weekly pickup. The co-op supports Massachusetts farmers and showcases the best of New England's harvest, ensuring that your daily meals are made from healthy, flavorful ingredients.
Everywhere you go in Marblehead, you are surrounded by refreshing sea air, rocky beaches and picturesque meadows. While well-maintained play parks provide kid-friendly places to let loose, the town's many historic parks and conservation sites feature versatile open spaces where the whole family, including your pets, can enjoy athletic pursuits. Walk along the water's edge for a close-up view of Marblehead's stunning harbors at Chandler Hovey Park and Crocker Park. Chandler Hovey's 3.74-acre grounds house the area's historic light tower, and visitors can go for a dip in the ocean or lay out a summer feast in the seaside pavilions. Take your pets to the 2.82-acre Crocker Park for a morning sprint, or try out your new cardio routine while you watch the boats passing by the harbor. Seaside Park's sports-centric facilities cater to athletes who love structured activities. The 33.7-acre grounds are outfitted with baseball fields, basketball courts, jogging trails and tennis courts. Park official organize seasonal sledding and street hockey events, and the summer brings an annual concert series at the onsite stage. Lose yourself in the tranquil purity of nature at the Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. Plotted trails cut through the spectacular forested landscape, letting you observe native birds flitting through the trees and turtles navigating wetland ponds.