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Ipswich is a seaside town of 14,000 people (2020) in Massachusetts. Home to Willowdale State Forest and Sandy Point State Reservation, Ipswich includes the southern part of Plum Island. A residential community with a vibrant tourism industry, the town is famous for its clams, celebrated annually at the Ipswich Chowderfest, and for Crane Beach, a barrier beach near the Crane estate.

Rowley is a town of 6,000 (2020).



Ipswich was founded by John Winthrop the Younger, son of John Winthrop, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 and its first governor, elected in England in 1629. Several hundred colonists sailed from England in 1630 in a fleet of 11 ships, including Winthrop's flagship, the Arbella.

There is no record of any Native resistance to the colonization, even though estimates of the earlier populations run into the thousands. A plague of 1616–1618 and again in the early 1630s, perhaps smallpox brought from abroad, had apparently devastated the once populous Indian tribes. The fields stood vacant. The colonists encountered but few Natives.

Ipswich was incorporated as a village in 1634, and named after Ipswich in the county of Suffolk, England.

Pioneers would become farmers, fishermen, shipbuilders or traders. The tidal Ipswich River provided water power for mills, and salt marshes supplied hay for livestock. A cottage industry in lace-making developed. But in 1687, Ipswich residents, led by the Reverend John Wise, protested a tax imposed by the governor, Sir Edmund Andros. As Englishmen, they argued, taxation without representation was unacceptable. Citizens were jailed, but then Andros was recalled to England in 1689, and the new British sovereigns, William III and Mary II, issued colonists another charter. The rebellion is the reason the town calls itself the "Birthplace of American Independence".

Great clipper ships of the 19th century bypassed Ipswich in favor of the deep-water seaports at Salem, Newburyport, Quincy, and Boston. The town remained primarily a fishing and farming community, its residents living in older homes they could not afford to replace—leaving Ipswich with a considerable inventory of early architecture. In 1822, a stocking manufacturing machine which had been smuggled out of England arrived at Ipswich, violating a British ban on exporting such technology, and the community developed as a mill town. In 1868, Amos A. Lawrence established the Ipswich Hosiery Mills beside the river. It would expand into the largest stocking mill in the country by the turn of the 20th century. What may be the last witchcraft trial in North America was held in Ipswich in 1878. In the Ipswich witchcraft trial, a member of the Christian Science religion was accused of using his mental powers to harm others, including a spinster living in the town.

Visitor information[edit]

  • 1 Ipswich Visitor Center (Hall-Haskell House), 36 South Main St, +1 978-356-8540. May: Sa Su, Jun-Oct: daily, Nov-Apr: closed. This all volunteer visitor center displays local art and offers helpful tourism suggestions in season. They have all the maps and brochures you'd ever want, and a bevy of local knowledge to share. With more First Period houses than any town in the country, Ipswich is America's best-preserved Puritan town, and prides itself on being the "Birthplace of American Independence." Walking tours and the self guided audio tour start from here. The building dates from 1820; saved from demolition in the 1980s, it's got its own story to tell. Free.

Get in[edit]

Map of Ipswich (Massachusetts)

By car[edit]

  • From the south, take Exit 50 on I-95 to US-1 North. After about 4.4 miles, turn right onto Ipswich Rd. Continue for 4 miles to arrive in downtown Ipswich.
  • From the north, take Exit 54 on I-95 to route 133 then turn left. Continue on 133 East for about 7 miles to arrive in downtown Ipswich.

By train[edit]

  • 1 Ipswich Station, 4 Peatfield St (MBTA Newburyport/Rockport Line). This sad excuse for a train station provides little in the way of shelter from the elements. The town center is nearby, but the beaches and estates you came here for are at least 5 mi (8.0 km) away. One car per train is accessible. 170 parking spaces, 4 accessible. Bike racks. MBTA zone 6. $10.50 to Boston; parking: resident only. Ipswich station (Q6065500) on Wikidata Ipswich station (MBTA) on Wikipedia

Get around[edit]

Ipswich Essex Explorer. Provides weekend service during the summer to Essex, Crane Beach, and other nearby attractions.


  • 1 Castle Hill (Crane Estate), 290 Argilla Rd, +1 978-356-4351. Grounds: daily 9AM-5PM, Great House: Jun-Oct Tu-Su 10AM-4PM; Apr May, Nov: Sa Su and holidays only. Historical estate and nature preserve. The Italian and Rose gardens are showstoppers any time of year. Over 5 mi (8.0 km) of hiking trails wind along sun-dappled lawns scattered with statues, fountains, and curated plantings. Tours of the Great House and gardens are available. Picnicking available along the properties ocean shore, a social media must. The gift shop has some great on-site only memorabilia. Constant events during the warmer months. Set location of many Hollywood films. Advance passes strongly recommended. No beach access from Castle Hill. Grounds: free, $10 non-members; tours $30. Castle Hill (Q5050132) on Wikidata Castle Hill (Ipswich, Massachusetts) on Wikipedia
  • Ipswich Museum, 54 South Main St, +1 978-356-2811. May-Oct. Historic houses and more. $10 house tour, $15 for 3 houses.
  • Russell Orchards, 143 Argilla Rd, +1 978-356-5366. May-Oct 9AM-5PM daily. Working farm offering pick-your-own seasonal fruits and vegetables. All the fall favorites including apple cider doughnuts, farm animals, and wine tastings. $5.
  • Wolf Hollow, 114 Essex Rd, +1 978-356-0216. Noon-2PM, weather permitting. See wolves and learn about them in an hour-long presentation. $18 adults, $15 seniors and children.


  • 1 Appleton Farms, 219 County Rd, +1 978-356-5728. Sunrise-sunset daily. Almost a thousand acres of rolling, verdant fields; Appleton Farms has been in constant agrarian use since 1638. Farm stand on site. A variety of walking loops take most visitors about 2-3 hours to complete. Many historical buildings dot the property and tours are available. Owned and operated by the Trustees. Free, parking $6, $10 weekends. Appleton Farms (Q4781396) on Wikidata Appleton Farms on Wikipedia
  • 2 Crane Beach (Crane Estate), 310 Argilla Rd, +1 978-356-4354, . 8AM-sunset daily. A 1200-acre reservation of beachfront, dunes and maritime forests with 5.5 miles of raised boardwalk trails. Crane Beach's annual sand sculpture competition Sandblast! is held every August. In-season: lifeguards and rangers, bike rack, bathhouses with toilets and changing area, outside showers, Store (refreshments and merchandise), picnic tables, drinking water fountains, transportation for mobility-impaired and challenged visitors. Off-season: portable toilets. $10-45 per car, $5-10 per motorcycle, $5 per bike. Crane Beach (Q5181997) on Wikidata Crane Beach on Wikipedia
  • 3 Sandy Point State Reservation, Parker River Wildlife Refuge Rd, +1 978-462-4481. Sunrise-sunset daily. Feel the Atlantic wind in your hair throughout these 77 sandy acres at the southern tip of Plum Island. Excellent ocean swimming. Stay away from any fenced off areas, this is an important nesting area for the rare piping plover. Get here early, only 15 parking spots available. Restrooms in season, and some beach wheelchair access. Sandy Point State Reservation (Q7417422) on Wikidata Sandy Point State Reservation on Wikipedia
  • 4 Willowdale State Forest (Cleaveland Farm), 252 Ipswich Rd, +1 978-887-5931. Sunrise-sunset daily. 3,000 acres of parkland offering hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing on 40 miles of trails. Additionally, Hood Pond offers excellent fishing, boating, and other water-based activities. Two small parking lots along the southern park border on Ipswich Road. A third lot is in the north on Linebrook Road. The Bay Circuit Trail. Free, parking free. Willowdale State Forest (Q14716045) on Wikidata Willowdale State Forest on Wikipedia


  • Ipswich Chowder Fest, 44 Market St, +1 978-356-2674. Noon-4PM. Held in mid-October annually, taste dozens of chowders from local vendors and vote for your favorite. Crafters, vendors, children's activities, and live music. Organized by the Lion's Club. $10, kids free.



  • Sandpiper Bakery, 29 North Main St, +1 978-879-4136. W-Sa 8AM-3PM, Su 8AM-1PM. Small local bakery with many fine treats and snacks, excellent coffee, and a variety of thoughtful sandwich options. $5-15.
  • Choate Bridge Pub and Restaurant, 3 South Main St, +1 978-356-2931. 11:30AM-9PM daily. $15-25.
  • 1 Clam Box of Ipswich, 246 High St, +1 978-356-9707. 11AM-7PM W-Su. Fried seafood of all New England types. North Shore icon since 1935. Winner of multiple awards from places like: Yankee Magazine, Phantom Gourmet, US Airways, and The Food Network. $20-40.
  • 1640 Hart House, 51 Linebrook Rd, +1 978-356-1640. W Th 4:30-8PM, F Sa 4:30-9PM, Su 4-7:30PM. Restaurant & tavern. Lunch, dinner. Built in 1640, the house, originally one-room, is one of the oldest in the country. Full bar and kids menu. $20-50.


  • Ipswich Ale Brewery (THe Brewer's Table), 2 Brewery Pl, +1 978-356-3182. W-Sa 11:30AM-8PM, Su 11:30AM-7PM. One of the earlier American craft breweries, opening in 1991. Housed in (where else?) an old historic mill building, the onsite restaurant opened in 2016 and features 15 offerings on tap. Wins various regional "best of" awards and plays host to the occasional event. $10-30.


  • Inn At Castle Hill (Crane Estate), 280 Argilla Rd, +1 978-412-2555. Choose from 10 custom and luxurious suites within the castle hill property. Plenty of spectacular views, fast WiFi and no televisions. Free access to Crane Beach for guests. Winner of several local "best of" awards and managed by the Trustees. No children under 12. Two night minimum. From $300.
  • Arbor Inn Motel, 153 High St, +1 978-356-0220. Standard rooms and a few jacuzzi suites. Each has WiFi, refrigerator, TVs, and air-conditioning. Suites have fireplaces.
  • Briar Barn Inn, 101 Main St (Rowley), +1 978 653-5323, . Guest rooms, restaurant and spa.


Go next[edit]

Routes through Ipswich
NewburyportRowley  N  S  TopsfieldBoston
NewburyportRowley  N  S  HamiltonBoston
GeorgetownRowley  W  E  EssexGloucester
BeverlyHamilton  SW  NE  RowleyNewburyport

This city travel guide to Ipswich is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.