There's more to explore here than restaurants and antique shops

TOWN: Essex
WHAT:An easygoing town with a proud history
WHY:Seafood restaurants, poking around antique shops and a huge marsh teaming with wildlife

Located on the north coast of Cape Ann on the North Shore of Boston, Essex is known for its seafood restaurants and antique shops, but there is much more to explore, including woodsy inland trails and the river, islands and estuaries of the 17,000 acre Great Marsh.

Route 133 meanders through the town from West Gloucester to Ipswich, passing institutions like Woodman's, the famous in-the-rough dining establishment serving fried clams by the bushel. Nearby, you'll find a half-dozen waterfront restaurants, each with it's own claim to fame. You'll be challenged to determine exactly which has the best clam chowder you've ever tasted. Maybe you should simply make plans to attend the Essex Clam Fest, where you can sample chowder from the North Shore's finest seafood restaurants and cast your vote for the winner!

When you're done eating or browsing antiques, take the time to explore the quieter and wilder areas of Essex. You'll be rewarded with undisturbed nature, tranquility and lovely views that other visitors will likely miss.