Get to know the hidden Rockport
There’s the Rockport everybody knows and then there’s Rockport — where woods trails, pocket beaches off the beaten path, rights of ways to marvelous ocean vistas and artists of all types work at desks and in studios — inspired by the glorious light and their good fortune. See what they produce in the many local galleries or check out Toad Hall’s local author table for what’s new and trending in coastal New England literature. Ask Toad Hall’s staff for maps of Dogtown hiking trails, links to Rockport’s Rights of Ways map and guides to local nature preserves.
Feed your spirit like the locals do. Look for jogging routes worthy of a Runner’s World spread that traverse seaside back roads and woodsy trails. You can swim in quarries, kayak (or take a kayak lesson) and mountain bike. Sunbathing is a bit of an art in Rockport, as well, on one of the sweetest beaches north of Boston. Front Beach is picturesque, known for its great swimming (a lifeguard is on duty throughout the summer months), its quiet and serenity. Front Beach is just three minutes from Toad Hall by foot. Ask one of Toad’s staff for a beach read recommendation and don’t forget to browse upstairs where you can pick up inexpensive used books in excellent condition. If you prefer bigger waves and longer beach walks, head south to Cape Hedge Beach and walk south along Long Beach, as well
Look for posters in the local shops that point you to yoga on the beach or walking tours with a historical bent. Take a boat ride to Thacher Island to view the Twin Lights up close and walk the island trails. Note the lobster fishermen and consider yet another worthy endeavor — dining plain or fancy.
Every restaurant has its own favored chowder recipe; thus, it’s nearly impossible to tire of clam chowder or the hallowed clam in any of its multiple, delectable iterations. Steamers, fried, basking in butter and garlic? The clam is adaptable. As is the lobster, whose sweet meat scented with ocean breezes, is an affordable treat in Rockport.
On July 8, 1856, Hannah Jumper and nearly 200 women marched through downtown Rockport and brought an end to liquor sales in town. Wives and mothers were fed up with their husbands drinking up the family’s hard-earned money. Using axes, they smashed the kegs of alcohol in bars. This year, 2016, for the first time since, you will be able to sit in a restaurant and order a drink without having to order a full meal. To find out more about Hannah Jumper, visit Rockport’s exceptional library on School Street (just a block from Toad Hall) and ask for Marilyn Conover’s beautifully illustrated book, “Hannah Jumper: A Legend of the New England Seacoast.”
After all that hiking, swimming and cycling, you may feel a tug toward one of the books you purchased from Rockport’s beloved Toad, in business as a nonprofit for 43 years. Rockport has a number of welcoming coffee shops with WiFi connections. Ask the staff for recommendations. If you prefer plein air reads, Rockport has erected numerous granite benches and other types of seating in picturesque locations throughout town. Front Beach, Back Beach, the Headlands, Millbrook Meadow are all just a few minutes’ walk from Toad Hall. Ask staff for directions.