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Manchester-by-the-Sea is one of Cape Ann’s hidden treasures. With a population of just over 5,000, it is often passed by in favor of visiting larger nearby cities and towns. Though it is small, Manchester offers a vibrant downtown, beautiful parks and conservation areas, beaches, and trails for hiking or biking.

One great aspect of Manchester-by-the-Sea is that nearly every business is locally owned, giving it a real “small town America” feel. Almost every downtown business is open year-round, with locals and visitors continuing to frequent their favorite restaurants and shops long after the rush of the summer tourist season has ended.

Enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants Manchester has to offer. From a classic New England lobster roll or bowl of clam chowder, to a gourmet meal or a sandwich to take to the beach, there is a food here to suit every taste.

Visit the Manchester Historical Museum’s Trask House to learn about the history of the town. Spend the afternoon visiting Manchester’s unique selection of shops, from new arrivals to those that have been here for decades. Little boutiques offer Manchester souvenirs, clothing, locally made gifts and home décor. Find a sparkly treasure at one of the jewelry stores or have a custom piece made just for you. Shop at the high-end consignment and vintage furniture shops or visit an art gallery to see beautiful landscapes by local artists.

Try boating in the beautiful Manchester Harbor or go to Masconomo Park, a charming waterfront recreational area overlooking the harbor. If you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach, Singing Beach, named for the sound the sand makes underfoot, is walking distance from the Commuter Rail stop, making it easily accessible from Boston. Once there, the beach has changing rooms and a concession stand. The walk is shaded and you can pick up an ice cream cone or a cup of coffee on the way. And join for the fun shopping, music, and food as the whole town turns out for Festival by the Sea on August 5.

Whether you enjoy dining and shopping, bicycling and boating, or just want to work on your tan at the beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea is not to be missed.