Theme Guides

Thousands of our nation’s most valuable historical and cultural sites exist here, in the 34 towns and cities of the Essex National Heritage Area. Collectively they define our region, enhance our quality of life and tell the story of our nation.

With the cooperation of local experts and participating organizations throughout the Heritage Area, Essex Heritage produced these thematic guides to encourage regional exploration and to help residents, visitors, and the next generation of stewards connect with heritage sites. We hope these guides will help you discover your place in the story of the Essex National Heritage Area. So jump in and have a great time exploring the Essex National Heritage Area!

Note: these guides were designed originally for printed publication and are made available here to create wider access to the valuable information and convenient itineraries they provide. Some opening hours, fees, or other site details may have changed since the date of publication. Please call ahead or find up-to-date site information online, in our Visit section, to confirm any information in the guides before you visit.

Guide to First Period Architecture

In Essex County you will discover more houses constructed by America's earliest settlers than anywhere else in the country. Use this online guide to search alphabetically by community and find the buildings the early settlers constructed between 1625 and 1725.

Maritime Guide

Use this guide to explore lighthouses, beaches, historic homes and to learn about the strong maritime heritage and spectacular beauty of the coast of Essex County and the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway.
Note that part of this guide will appear upside down because of specifications required for the printed version.  To correct this, simply right click on the image and select "Rotate" twice to flip.

Industrial Trail

Cities such as Lynn, Lawrence, Haverhill, and others led the American Industrial Revolution and built prosperous economies through shoemaking, tanning, textiles, and carriage making. The fascinating story of the industrialization of America and the labor movement that accompanied it is still told at sites throughout the region.

Guide to the Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors of the Essex National Heritage Area are rich, varied and help to define the character of this region. From historic routes to wooded landscapes, stunning beaches to New England's largest salt marsh, the Essex National Heritage Area has no shortage of unique and pristine outdoor places to visit for an adventure. Use this guide and take the time to get outside and discover this region’s wealth of natural resources.

Guide to Farms & Agriculture

When you buy local food, you get fresh taste and support our unique heritage. Use this guide to enjoy, appreciate, and support the farms and farmland that contribute so much to the Essex National Heritage Area! 

Art Escapes Trail

The Art Escapes Trail celebrates the connections between art and place, artist and community throughout the Essex National Heritage Area. The storied history and modern revival of the arts in our region is on full display at the many galleries, museums, historic homes, and restaurants that contribute to our vibrant art community.

McIntire Historic District Walking Trail

This designated historic district steps from downtown Salem contains one of the most significant concentrations of eighteenth and nineteenth-century buildings in the United States, including many Federal style homes designed or influenced by renowned local architect Samuel McIntire. The tour cover a little over a mile and takes about 45 minutes.

A Visitor's Guide to 1692

All of the places and activities featured here have a connection with the Witch Trails in Salem and nearby Danvers. We invite you to explore, to learn, and to leave with a better understanding of the events that took place in the summer of 1692 and an appreciation for the legal protections we take for granted today.

Funded in part by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and made possible by the North of Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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