Finding Your Muse

A weekend getaway to Gloucester Massachusetts

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A weekend in Gloucester doesn’t just mean a chance to escape the city and enjoy the ocean breezes. A New England fishing village dating from the colonial era, Gloucester is blessed with a beautiful seaside that attracted tourists almost as soon as the nation had tourists, and those tourists brought a demand for the nicer things in life, namely arts, music, and great food. So a weekend in Gloucester isn’t just an escape, it’s also an adventure for the muse inside.

Gloucester is known for its lively live music scene. Some of that music comes in the form of events, like the Gloucester Blues Festival, which brings headliners to Stage Fort Park for one day each August. Performers like Anthony Gomes, Ana Popovic, and Tommy Castro get the crowd to their feet, dancing to the blues, while enjoying the wares of local vendors or a cold drink from the beer garden.Bring a lawn chair and sunshade and plan on a full day of music that helps you forget your own blues.

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The bars and clubs of Gloucester bring a wide variety of live music, mostly in the evenings.  Most of the venues have favorite bands or stick to a theme, rotating through a selection of favorites with the occasional visit from a traveling act.  One example is the Minglewood Tavern, a cozy venue on Rogers Street.
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The Dog Bar on Main Street, the Cape Ann Brewing Company on Rogers, and many many others provide options enough to keep any visit hopping.  Visitors who will travel farther afield will find even more choices in nearby Rockport and Beverly.
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Between performances, visitors can amuse their muse with art.  Gloucester is known for the Rocky Neck artist’s colony, a community of artists who have painted, sculpted, and crafted for the last 160 years, inspired by the local landscape.1-IMGP6271

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The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck has repurposed a small chapel as exhibit and studio space.  Downstairs, the Center hosts art classes, while upstairs hosts shows and exhibits like the Cape Ann Ceramics Festival. The ceramics for that display on pedestals and shelves showcased the talent and creativity of artists from across Cape Ann.The Center also hosts events for other arts, like the Beaux Arts Ball which lets the community celebrate the arts by socializing in creative clothing, sometimes among the rotating exhibits in the gallery.

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One of the best ways to experience the creative Artist’s Colony is to join the community, if only for the weekend. After shopping in the galleries and taking in an art lesson, it’s possible to stroll down the street to the weekend’s lodgings, if those lodgings are the Rocky Neck Accommodations. Rocky Neck Accommodations offers eleven efficiency apartments in an 1890 sail loft, each with the exposed beams and deck overlooking the water.  All the rooms have a private bath, kitchenette and deck space, and all are not just on the water, they are actually over the water.  The rooms range from the rustic on the first floor to an amazingly comfortable and modern penthouse.

“Muse does not live by music and art alone”

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Of course, muse does not live by music and art alone – good food not only feeds the body, it also feeds the soul.  Light Italian breads from Virgilio’s or pastries Caffe Sicillia  may make a nice snack for strolling along Gloucester’s historic streets or while sitting on the grass in one of Gloucester’s many parks. Lunch at Sailor Stan’s café in the artist colony or take a chance on one of the summertime food trucks that serve passers-by on the waterfront.
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Passports is one example of the great choices for dinner on Main Street.  Just as their name hints, they have a world cuisine, serving Spanish gazpacho, Japanese seared ahi tuna,  French steak au poivre, and US Southern pulled pork with equal flair.  Dinner there is an adventure that starts with a hot fluffy popover roll, then quickly departs toward a spot-on Adele’s gumbo, Coquille St. Jacques scallops in a cream sauce with mushrooms and mashed potatoes, and any one of a number of other dishes.
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Lat 43 is another excellent choice.  The restaurant delivers the unexpected with a sushi bar embedded at floor height in the center of the dining room, a waiting area with a fireplace, and a menu that keeps the tastebuds guessing.  A meal at Lat 43 might start with a white Scottish salmon sushi roll with avocado, cucumber and white sesame soy sauce or a spinach and strawberry salad with goat cheese and strawberry vinaigrette.

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6-IMGP6290For those who bolster their inner muse with spirits, many of the music venues and restaurants offer full bar service. Gloucester, though, has Ryan and Wood distillery, continuing the New England craft of distilling spirits.  They make small batch rum, gin, vodka, and whisky in the first distillery established on the North Shore since Prohibition.  With free tours Monday through Saturday, a stop by the distillery not only adds spirits to the muse, but it educates it as well.

For more information:Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce – www.capeannchamber.com

Gloucester Blues Festival – www.gloucesterbluesfestival.com

Minglewood Tavern – www.minglewoodtavern.com

Rockport Music – www.rockportmusic.org

Rocky Neck Art Colony – www.rockyneckartcolony.org

Rocky Neck Accommodations – www.rockyneckaccommodations.com

Lat 43 – www.latfourtythree.com

Ryan and Wood distillery – www.ryanandwood.com

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