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3 days to Essex area to explore the huge marsh, where to eat?!?

I'm planning a photo expedition to the essex area (Ipswich, etc.) to explore the huge marsh that's there starting with the fantastic grey house that almost sits in the marsh (it's known as Motif #2 -- but if anyone has more info on it; I'd appreciate it!!!) and it's across from a clam shack but I can't remember the name. I was in the area 25 years ago and loved it!

I think I stayed in Cape Ann, visited Bass Rocks and Rockport. If anyone has any recommendations on great places to eat while taking in the sights (and recommend any great restaurants or clam shacks tucked away in great settings), I would love to hear about them. I'm an artist and I love to paint marshes; I'm obsessed. And of course I love the lobster rolls, the steamers and friend clams which I just can't get here in Los Angeles!!

Any advise very much appreciated!!

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  1. That would most definitely be JT Farnhams with the house across the marsh. Great chowder and clams as well as a pretty view. It is on Rt 133 which basically runs from Gloucester to Essex and then Ipswich, all areas you'll want to check out. From Farnhams, take 133 south to Gloucester and you'll end up at the Causeway. On the way you'll pass a nice park by the Litttle River which at high tide makes for nice photos (mud at low). Steamers are a huge portion, lobster pie is great as is the baked stuffed lobster and baked haddock. Lots to explore in Gloucester. Heading north from Farnhams you'll go through downtown Essex, past Woodmans- don't stop- and the Village Restaurant will be on the left. Sit down place, but I think they have the best clams around, personally, with Farnhams a close second. From there you'll keep going north to 1A in Ipswich, through downtown and eventually end up at the Clam Box. No views, but very good clams. If you continue up 1A you will get to more marsh views, and you'll pass over the Parker River. You'll be near Plum Island which is very photogenic in it's own right, and the whole beach is open now, finally, as they close it for the plover nesting. On the way there Bob Lobster does a decent lobster roll and pretty good clams. Very much a shack type place.

    1. hi cimero, welcome in advance! around when is your trip?(some places close,etc.) and do you also want to fit in art museums, or maybe the goal is to be outdoors as much as possible? do you know yet what town you're staying in (cuz cape ann is a big place; it helps us to know if you're thinking of keeping to one area or if you want to explore many parts and/or beyond it)?

      1. When will you be in Cape Ann?

        1. Don't be tempted by the Riverside Bistro in Essex....newly reno'd place with great views but the food is very mediocre. The Village in Essex has great seafood but keep away from anything other than seafood. Periwinkles is OK with better food than the aforementioned Bistro and has nice painterly views of the Burnham shipyard and is adjacent to the town landing ans shipbuilding museum. For great marsh views for painting, go to Cox Reservation, just beyond Farnhams - which has generally great clams but can be inconsistent both in quality and service. Avoid the Blue Marlin unless you just want average food with no views. Some people do like The Windward Grill but I have not tried it. You will see all these places in the vicinity of the so-called Motif #2 which did not have flush toilets until a few years ago...well the toilets flushed when the tide came in and then went out......There are plenty of good eats in Gloucester - The Franklin and Alchemy come to mind....good sandwiches in the N end of Ipswich can be found at Stone Soup.....also many swear by the clam plate and pub food at the Choate Bridge Pub in downtown IPS. Have a good trip!

          1. Thank you all, already for such great recommendations. I'll only be there three days, right around Saturday, October 13 - 16. I want to catch fall, and I know this isn't near enough time (I"m en route to my hometown, Pittsburgh, where I'm having a big one man show), but I hope to come back for a longer trip in the spring.

            I don't know where I'm staying yet, at first I thought I would use Essex as my home base, but maybe I want to drive around and stay in different places, so as to see as much of hte "Great Marsh" as I can. But maybe it's all driveable in day trips?

            1. Not a great setting, but great clams, for which we've braved lines/waits many times--Clam Box, Ipswich. I'm only a vacationer, every 2-3 years, in/around/passing through, but always try to catch TCB for fried clams on the way in and on the way out. It remains our favorte--though I have enjoyed much briny deliciousness in several places in the area.

              1. In Rockport, there's Lobster Pool, great views, My Place at Bearskin Neck, Roy Moore's for lobster in the rough. In Gloucester, The Causeway for a good seafood shack and it's BYOB, Halibut Point, on Main St, for chowda, The Franklin Cafe and Alchemy on Main St as well and Sugar Magnolia's for good breakfast.

                PS - I wouldn't worry about dear ticks unless your treking through the woods or bother with Portsmouth which is not near where you'll be staying or requesting info for.

                1. I second (or is it third?) the Clam Box as an unmissable spot, despite the very missable setting. Several of us from this board did a clam shack crawl a few years back and it was the winner.

                  If they are open in Oct, White Farms homemade ice cream on 133 in Ipswich is quite good.

                  Agree that Alchemy and Franklin Cafe are good enough spots in Gloucester. Alchemy has interesting cocktails.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fesenjan

                    cinero, here is the link to all that helpful detailed clam crawl info:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543497

                  2. Not a restaurant, but since you're in the area, it would be a shame to miss the cider donuts, etc., at Russell Orchards: http://russellorchards.com/

                    They are located on the road to Crane Beach in Ipswich and make the best cider donuts I've had (especially when you can get them hot!). I assume cider donuts are hard to come by in L.A.?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: wandergirl

                      Russell's apple pastries are delicious as well.

                      1. re: bear

                        And their wine is pretty decent as well!

                      2. re: wandergirl

                        omigosh, I will make a pilgrimage!! I've never had a cider donut, but a fresh hot donut is always a great experience, so I'll be sure to get there. And no, there are no cider donuts in L.A., that's for sure!

                        1. re: cimero

                          If you can, go on a weekday. The donut waiting line can be epic on weekends.

                          1. re: T.B.

                            so cimero, have you already come and gone? How was it and where did you go?? We just drove around the marshes today. It was beautiful. Had a great huge cheap bowl or fish chowder taken out from The Causeway and ate it across at the river with a gorgeous sunset. Did you get to see the view at the Lobster Pool? One of the few places where you can see the sunset over the water in the East!