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7 Scenic Views In Rockport MA

7 Scenic Views in Rockport, Massachusetts A Photographers Guide To Rockport, MA

Let’s be honest for a second—the views on Cape Ann leave a lot to be desired. I mean if you’ve seen one beach or one seagull, you’ve really seen them all, am I right?

All of the houses are so old, the coastal scenery is so cliché, and lobster traps are littered about like beer cans at a high school bonfire.

Visiting Rockport MA Motif 1

We’re just kidding! There’s a reason photographers absolutely love shooting in Rockport and across Cape Ann.  There are breathtaking views around almost every bend. So guzzle down a large Dunkin’ and brave the one hour drive north of Boston, there are a few places you won’t want to miss.

Let this post serve as your guide to Rockport’s most scenic views. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, we’ve put together a list of seven scenic places where you can take some fantastic pictures:

1. Emerson Point

Emerson Point is tucked away on a 0.9-mile route just outside of downtown Rockport. Ranked as an easier hike, walkers, birdwatchers, and—you guessed it—photographers love the area.

Scenic Views Rockport MA Emerson Point

And it’s no wonder, because the scenery is truly spectacular. Pastel skies, rocky outcroppings, and crystal-clear waters are just the beginning. In addition to mesmerizing coastline vistas, you’ll have a decent view of Thacher Island—a historical landmark steeped in naval history.

Thacher Island actually has the only active twin lighthouses in the country. We think they could have a fit a couple of more on that 50 acre island, but two is better than one.

A word of warning. Once you get to the actual point, the terrain is a bit rugged.

Thacher Island Twin Lights

Translation: The rocky beach area is best enjoyed with good shoes.

Also, consider spending some time in Loblolly Cove while you’re here. This stunning bay shares a parking lot with Emerson Point and is an amazing place to watch kayakers and divers in action. We’re positive you’ll love it.


2. The Headlands

The Headlands are, in simple terms, a photographer’s paradise. Hidden away in a quiet part of downtown Rockport, this jaw-dropping natural area is colloquially known as the “overlook capital of Cape Ann.” It’s a quick walk from Bearskin Neck and a beautiful place to find calm in the chaos.

Drivers can snag a spot on Atlantic Avenue and make their way right to the Headlands. Meanwhile, photographers on foot can start their walk at Dock Square, go up Mt. Pleasant Street, and turn left onto Atlantic Avenue. The trail is short—just 0.1 miles—and perfect for families.

The Headlands Rockport MA

Here again, you’ll want to be cautious in wet or slippery conditions. Then, in minutes, you’ll have access to remarkable glacial rocks and delightful views of Rockport Harbor, Sandy Bay, and Cape Ann’s northern coastline. Don’t forget to look to the south and take in the lighthouse on Straitsmouth Island too.

Pro tip: If you want to linger for a bit—which we highly recommend you do—there are granite benches scattered around the natural area. Please spend however much time you need sitting back, capturing stunning photos, and taking in the views. A picnic lunch from one of Rockport’s best eateries wouldn’t be a bad idea either.


3. Atlantic Path

There’s no better way to document Rockport history than by bringing your camera to Atlantic Path. (Seriously—there’s no better way. Not one. Zero.)

Some context: Since the late 1800s, pedestrians, fishermen, and naturalists have enjoyed this landmark trail—located in pretty Pigeon Cove. The Path and its network of trails were created to give the public longstanding access to the Cape Ann coast.

Atlantic Path Rockport Massachusetts

They say variety is the spice of life, and Atlantic Path genuinely has it all. It begins at a break in the wall on Cathedral Avenue and offers everything from grassy uplands to broad ledges. Photographers of all fitness levels can enjoy the area, although a few parts of the Path are bit rocky.

Simply plan to follow the marked trails and observe a series of breathtaking vistas. Your camera will thank you. Remember that parking is limited, and you may need to walk a bit to the entrance to avoid being ticketed or towed. (After all, that’s money you could spend on a new lens!)


4. Halibut Point

Conserved, oceanfront land with a storied history dating back to World War II—need we say more?

Halibut Point State Park, and the adjacent Halibut Point Reservation, offers gorgeous views of dramatic surf, tide pools, and craggy shoreline. The State Park is home to the historic Babson Farm Granite Quarry, with plenty of easy walking trails and overlooks. The rocky ledges are truly a photographer’s wonder.

Scenic Views In Rockport MA Halibut Point

That’s not all. In clear, calm weather, visitors can spot Mount Agamenticus 40 miles to the north in Maine—and the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire Coast. Halibut Point is a geologic, cultural marvel with abundant wildlife, and you’ll see everything from hermit crabs to birds during your visit.


5. Steel Derrick Quarry

Near Pigeon Cove and Bearskin Neck lies Steel Derrick Quarry—a swimming reservoir that locals rave about. (You may have seen it featured in the 2022 Academy Award-winning film CODA.)

The footpaths around the quarry offer immaculate views with a bit of elevation. Whether you’re looking to photograph your visit to Rockport or cool off on a hot day, this place has you covered.

The quarry’s history makes it even more appealing.

Fun fact: Stone from Steel Derrick Quarry was used in the construction of the Longfellow Bridge that connects Boston and Cambridge.


6. Motif Number 1

Introducing a Rockport icon you’ve probably seen before: Motif Number 1! What looks like a picturesque red fishing shack is actually much more versatile. In the art history world, this structure has been named “the most often-painted building in America.”

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Located on Bradley Wharf, Motif Number 1 features clean lines and a quintessential New England style that looks fantastic on camera. Built in the 1840s, the building did in fact serve as a fishing shack—and eventually a meeting place for the U.S. Naval Fleet.

Photographers Guide To Rockport MA Motif 1

The property’s evolution continued when, in the 1930s, Motif Number 1 evolved into an artist’s studio. And today the landmark is a veterans’ monument owned by the city (not to mention a true staple in the art world). It wouldn’t be right to leave Rockport without documenting this superb site.


7. Old Garden Path

Take a stroll along the cliffs with your camera, and experience the beauty of lush coastal banks, pretty seaside homes, and more. The 0.5-mile Old Garden Path—formerly called Essex County Way—offers easy walking with lovely views. (Keep an eye out for brief spots of uneven terrain.)

Old Garden Path Rockport MA

There are a number of ways to access this alluring footpath. Personally, we prefer the wooden stairway at the south end of the Old Garden Beach seawall. This hidden enclave is a photography favorite, and the beach is a nice reward before or after walking the footpath.

Here is a short video that we made walking along the path

If you’re looking for a postcard-perfect composition, Old Garden Path won’t disappoint you. We can’t wait to hear what you think about it.


Plan Your Photography Trip to Rockport

Do you have questions about planning your photography visit to Cape Ann? Addison Choate has answers—and we’ll gladly walk you through your options. From dining and hiking, to photography and sightseeing, our team will help you curate the experience of a lifetime.

Look no further for the coastal Massachusetts experience you’ve been waiting for. Please contact us for more information.

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