A vibrant brick-walked downtown, lovely antique homes and a walkable riverfront: it's all here

TOWN: Newburyport
WHAT:A historic seaport
WHY:Walk the riverfront, shop downtown, discover a restaurant and wander historic neighborhoods

A few years back I overheard a visitor from the mid-west explaining her discomfort to a friend back home. "It's really weird around here," she said, "it's like living in a museum."

Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore – you're in Newburyport, and that's a good thing. Perhaps our friend from the mid-west would be familiar with the grid layout of many of Newburyport's old streets, where many homes date back to the 1600s. You could say that the good citizens of Newburyport live in personal museums, and if you appreciate early American architecture, you have the opportunity to stroll past lovely antique homes by the score. 

The sweep of the Merrimac River to the north borders a brick downtown area brimming with local shops and good restaurants. Seafood restaurants, parks and walking and bike path dot the riverfront steps away from the town's center. The Firehouse Center for the Arts hosts theater and music regularly. 

Inland, the wooded Maudslay State Park, on the site of a grand estate, provides a shady retreat for walks and picnics near the Merrimack River. 

Newburyport was historically a center for rum distilling. More recently, that tradition has gravitated towards beer brewing, and the town now boasts several successful craft breweries. Speaking of history, the Museum of Old Newbury, located in a Federalist brick mansion on High Street, provides visitors many options to delve into the past. 

Then there's a sandy beach that stretch for miles, a short drive away on Plum Island. Can one town have so many reasons to visit?