Coastal Newburyport, Massachusetts, near the state's northeasternmost tip 35 mi/55 km north of Boston, draws visitors with its rich nautical heritage—boatyards, taverns and—on High Street—magnificent Federal-style mansions that were once the homes of wealthy traders and sea captains. In Market Square's restored brick and granite buildings visitors will find arts-and-crafts shops, bookstores, restaurants, galleries and boutiques, even an old-fashioned drugstore and soda fountain.

For a relaxing half day, pack a bathing suit and picnic basket and head to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island. Not only does it have more than 6 mi/10 km of smooth white-sand beach, it's also the best bird-watching spot in New England. More than 300 species nest there or stop during migrations. Access is by a causeway. Plan to go early because a limited number of cars are permitted across each day.

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