Connecting people and places throughout the Essex National Heritage Area.


Through examining our past, we strive to create a better future.

By engaging people in the history of our county, we help them forge deeper relationships with the communities, institutions, and environments of Essex County, Massachusetts. Through examining our past, we strive to create a better future. We do this through promoting heritage experiences, telling important stories, offering educational enrichment, and providing grant opportunities for partners who share our mission.

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The Essex National Heritage Area provides a wealth of opportunities for exploration.

Consisting of the 34 cities and towns that make up Essex County, this region spans the North Shore and Merrimack Valley of Eastern Massachusetts. Explore the county by driving the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, taking a boat trip to Bakers Island Light Station, hiking some the many trails within national forests and parks, kayaking along the many waterways, biking the Border to Boston trail, learning about the rich local history by taking a walking tour or visiting a museum–the possibilities are endless!

image of Lynn Murals
Ken Jordan

Cities and Towns

The Essex National Heritage Area consists of the 34 cities and towns that makes up Essex County, located on the North Shore and Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts. These cities and towns offer their own unique landscapes, history, and opportunities for exploration.

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Bakers Island
Bakers Island

Bakers Island Light Station

Bakers Island Light Station is located on Bakers Island off the coast of Salem Massachusetts. This historic site is only accessible through Essex Heritage. During the summer season, we offer site tours, overnight stays in the assistant lighthouse keeper’s house or at the campground, and volunteer opportunities.

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Essex County Black Experience

This website explores the history of Black experience in Essex County, particularly with regard to Black Activism.

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Stage Fort Park
Gloucester Stage Fort Park

Regional Visitor Centers

Essex Heritage has partnerships with 13 welcome/visitor centers all over the county. These visitor centers are Located in Beverly, Gloucester, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lawrence, Lynn, Marblehead, Newburyport, Peabody, Rockport, Salem, Salisbury, and Saugus. Through our Visitor Center Grants program we help provide critical funding to these 13 welcome centers around Essex County. This allows them to be open & accessible to the 2.7 million annual visitors to this region.

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Essex Byway

Essex Coastal Scenic Byway

Explore the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway! This 90-mile roadway links 14 coastal communities from Lynn to Salisbury and features scenic coastal views, period architecture, historic sites and recreational opportunities. The byway allows visitors to experience the vast heritage resources that make this region so unique.

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Border to Boston Trail

Essex County Revolution 250 is an initiative of Essex Heritage in partnership with Massachusetts Rev250 and dozens of regional museums, heritage sites, and organizations.

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Matt Phillion
FAME by Matt Phillion

Trails & Sails

Discover special places in your backyard during Trails & Sails! This 10-day, free event series takes place during the last two weekends in September and is a combined effort between Essex Heritage and our partners in Essex County. Be guided through unique landscapes on land and sea, explore historic properties, and take in cultural experiences of all kinds. Find what makes Essex County like nowhere else!

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Preserving and enhancing the significant aspects of the region’s history, cultural heritage and character.

Since 1996, The Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage) has championed the heritage development of Essex County by fostering public-private partnerships that preserve and enhance the significant aspects of the region’s history, cultural heritage and character. This is done through a variety of initiatives and programs that help promote our mission to connect people and places throughout the region. Some of these include educational programs, partnership grants, youth job training, and our annual photo contest.

Education Programs
Carribean Connections
Carribean Connections
"Got My Limit" by Judy Schneider
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News / Events


Under the Sea Storytime: Tales & Touch


Spring Annual Meeting


The Great Debate: Birthplace of the American Navy

February 20, 2024

Essex Heritage Announces Winners of 2023 Photo Contest

The Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage), a non-profit that manages numerous programs supporting, preserving, and enhancing Essex County’s historic,...

October 20, 2023

Essex Heritage Announces New Leadership and Special Awards at Fall Meeting

October 20, 2023 – The Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage), a non-profit that manages and provides numerous programs preserving...

August 31, 2023

Essex Heritage Presents Another Year of Trails & Sails: 10 Days of 150+ Free Events Across Essex County

August 31, 2023 – Presented by Essex Heritage, Trails & Sails is an annual event series that features more than...

April 30, 2023

Essex Heritage Announces New Leadership and Special Awards

Regional leaders elected to serve on the Commission and Special Awards presented at Annual Spring Meeting on April 27 at...


There are many ways to support the Essex Heritage Area: through membership and special giving opportunities, through volunteering or as a corporate sponsor. We appreciate your support of the Essex National Heritage Area as we continue our mission to heighten appreciation of the region, preserve its natural and historical resources, and improve the quality of life and economy of the area.


Together, with the support of friends like you, we rally our community around saving the unique character of Essex County: the thousands of historic, cultural, and natural places that were crucial in shaping our nation; the places that led to this region’s designation as a National Heritage Area by an act of Congress in 1996; the places that make Essex County like nowhere else.

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