Essex County is a great place to live, with scenic beauty, good schools, and friendly neighbors. There are 292 towns but only 59 cities in Essex County. However, it’s crucial to point out that cities and towns are essentially the same municipality in Essex, they just have a different form of government. So, to give you an idea of the other areas to explore, here is a look at the top Essex County towns and cities to visit.
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About Essex County, Massachusetts
Essex County is in the far northeastern corner of Massachusetts, within the Boston metro area. New Hampshire makes up the northern and parts of the western border, while the Atlantic Ocean makes up the eastern border. Other Massachusetts counties that border Essex County include:
- Suffolk County, MA
- Rockingham County, MA
- Middlesex County, MA
Essex County is known for its rich colonial history as a major center for shipbuilding that dates back to the 17th century. Cities and towns in Essex County MA make up some of the oldest in the state of Massachusetts. Several areas of national significance have been preserved by the government, including the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site and Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Today, cities in Essex County, Massachusetts, are among some of the wealthiest in the Boston area and offer quiet suburban streets and a high quality of life.
- Essex County Massachusetts area: 492.5 square miles
- Essex County MA population: 807,074
- Essex County population density: 1,638.7 residents per square mile
- Essex County median household income: $87,433
- Essex County median home price: $663,000
Largest Essex County, Massachusetts Cities
1. Lynn – 101,253
Lynn is the largest of all the cities in Essex County, MA, with a population of just over 100,000. It’s the 5th oldest city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was originally settled by Europeans in 1629. Today, Lynn is known for its vibrant arts district, historic architecture, and sprawling public parks. The city is home to the Lynn Woods Reservation and the High Rock Reservation, which offer ample opportunity for outdoor recreation.
The Diamond Historic District is another notable attraction in Lynn, a 69.5-acre community full of gorgeous, preserved colonial homes that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Living in Lynn offers a small-town feel with easy access to Boston, which is only about 12.5 away. With beautiful architecture, outdoor recreation, and a quaint New England ambiance, Lynn is one of the best places to live in Essex County Mass.
- Lynn area: 13.52 sq mi
- Lynn population density: 9,389.3 residents per square mile
- Lynn median household income: $63,922
- Lynn median home price: $560,000
- Lynn crime rate: 1,409 per 100,000 residents
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2. Lawrence – 89,143
Lawrence is the second largest on the list of cities and towns in Essex County, MA, with a population of just under 90,000. It’s a laid back city in the northwestern corner of Essex County, offering affordable living and a diverse population. Lawrence is a major hub for manufacturing and produces everything from electronics to footwear.
Many famous writers and artists have spent time living in Lawrence, from poet Robert Frost to composer Leonard Bernstein to singer Robert Goulet. Lawrence was the country’s first planned industrial city and is home to a large immigrant population that brings culture and influence from all over the globe. Lawrence isn’t known for its action and excitement, but it’s one of the top Massachusetts destinations if you’re searching for quiet cities with history and diversity.
- Lawrence area: 7.43 sq mi
- Lawrence population density: 12,772.6 residents per square mile
- Lawrence household income: $47,542
- Lawrence median home price: $529,200
- Lawrence crime rate: 1,256 per 100,000 residents
3. Haverhill – 67,787
With a population of just under 70,000, Haverhill is the third largest on the Essex County list of towns and cities. Situated directly on the Merrimack River, Haverhill began as a farming community for Puritan settlers and later developed into an important industrial center. It’s located directly on the New Hampshire border, about 17 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and 37 miles from Boston, putting you right in the center of everything. Living in Haverhill offers affordable homes, quiet streets, and plenty of leisure activities.
The city is full of historic buildings, local breweries, quaint boutiques, and community parks. The Winnekenni Castle is a notable local attraction; it’s an actual Victorian-style castle overlooking Kenoza Lake, originally built as a summer home for chemist Dr. James R. Nichols in the 1870s. So, if you’re looking for a peaceful place to raise a family, Haverhill is one of the top cities in Essex County MA.
- Haverhill area: 35.70 sq mi
- Haverhill population density: 2,038.8 residents per square mile
- Haverhill household income: $75,130
- Haverhill median home price: $491,000
- Haverhill crime rate: 1,418 crimes per 100,000 residents
4. Peabody – 54,481
The fourth largest of all the Essex County Massachusetts destinations is Peabody, a peaceful city located about 30 minutes northeast of Boston. Peabody is known for its rich industrial history as part of the North Shore region of Eastern Massachusetts. Living in Peabody offers low crime, peaceful communities, and plenty of nearby attractions.
The city is just a quick drive to the Atlantic Coast, offering beautiful beaches and opportunities for water sports. The North Shore Mall in Peabody is another popular destination with popular retail brands, restaurants, and beauty salons. With a great location and quiet New England charm, Peabody is one of the top Essex County Massachusetts cities.
- Peabody area: 16.81 sq mi
- Peabody population density: 3,338.1 residents per square mile
- Peabody household income:$83,570
- Peabody median home price: $632,500
- Peabody crime rate: 1409 per 100,000 residents
5. Methuen – 53,059
Situated in between Haverhill and Lawrence is the city of Methuen, which is the fifth largest on the list of Essex County towns and cities. Methuen offers the perfect mix of urban and suburban living with good schools, plenty of green space, and easy access to attractions. Home prices are relatively affordable by Massachusetts standards, and residents will find a good mix of single-family homes, apartments, and townhomes.
The Methuen School District is also highly rated, making it a popular destination for families. Closer to Lawrence, you’ll find more densely populated areas, while closer to the New Hampshire border, you’ll find more suburban and even rural communities offering peace and quiet. So, with a healthy mix of convenience and serenity, Methuen is one of the best towns in Eastern Massachusetts.
- Methuen area: 22.99 sq mi
- Methuen population density: 2,365.2 residents per square mile
- Methuen household income: $87,137
- Methuen median home price: $550,000
- Methuen crime rate: 990 per 100,000 residents
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6. Salem – 44,480
East of Peabody on the Atlantic Ocean is Salem, a calm city in Essex County offering walkable streets and plenty of things to keep you entertained. Known for being the site of the Salem Witch Trials, the city is full of tourist attractions and landmarks commemorating the infamous period of colonial history.
Popular attractions in Salem include The House of the Seven Gables, a colonial mansion made famous by the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel of the same name, and the Pioneer Village, a living history museum telling the story of Salem’s colonial past. Despite its infamous history, living in Salem offers easy access to both Boston and the Atlantic coast and quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods ideal for raising a family.
- Salem area: 18.30 sq mi
- Salem: 5,359.6 residents per square mile
- Salem income: $72,884
- Salem median home price: $549,950
- Salem crime rate: 1756 per 100,000 residents
7. Beverly – 42,670
Beverly is another one of the largest cities in Essex County MA, with a population just over 40,000. Located along the Atlantic Ocean about 40 minutes outside of downtown Boston, living in Beverly offers suburban charm with plenty of attractions close by. The city has gorgeous colonial homes, lush parks and green spaces, and sandy beaches along the Atlantic Coast.
Residents will also find many recreational facilities and cultural centers, including the North Shore Theatre and Beverly Golf and Tennis Club. It also offers a quaint New England downtown area with walkable streets and hundreds of local boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment venues. With low crime and a peaceful, family-friendly ambiance, Beverly is one of the quintessential Eastern Mass towns.
- Beverly area: 22.59 sq mi
- Beverly population density: 2,813 people per square mile
- Beverly income: $89,882
- Beverly median home price: $677,000
- Beverly crime rate: 528 per 100,000
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8. Andover – 36,571
Andover is the eighth largest municipality and largest town in Essex County, with a population of around 36,000. Located north of Lawrence, about 30 minutes outside of Boston, Andover is a peaceful suburb offering a high quality of life to residents of all different backgrounds. Known as the “Home of America ”, the patriotic anthem America was actually written by Samuel Francis Smith at the Andover Theological Seminary in 1831.
Andover is also home to one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious prep schools, Phillips Academy, as well as top-rated public schools. Living in Andover offers everything you would expect from typical eastern Massachusetts towns, including gorgeous colonial homes, low crime, and a quaint downtown full of busy shops and restaurants. If you’re searching for idyllic towns in Essex County with excellent schools and a rich history, Andover is the perfect choice.
- Andover area: 32.1 sq mi
- Andover population density: 2,429.2 residents per square mile
- Andover income: $155,252
- Andover median home price: $879,900
- Andover crime rate: 535 per 100,000 residents
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9. North Andover – 30,914
Directly above Andover is the town of North Andover, which features the 9th largest population in Essex County. Although the town offers a similar vibe and ambiance to its sister town, North Andover is a separate municipality with its own attractions and identity. North Andover is one of the most beautiful Essex County towns in MA, and is known for its lavish country estates, natural beauty, and rich history. Residents and visitors will find plenty of outdoor recreation at Harold Parker State Forest or the Stevens Coolidge House and Gardens.
The Merrimack River also runs past North Andover, providing a good spot for fishing or kayaking. It doesn’t have as large a downtown as Andover and tends to be a bit more rural. But if you’re looking for natural beauty and easy access to recreation, North Andover is one of the best towns in Essex County.
- North Andover area: 27.76 sq mi
- North Andover population density: 1,166.9 people per square mile
- North Andover income: $120,954
- North Andover median home price: $722,500
- North Andover crime rate: 431 per 100,000 residents
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10. Gloucester – 29,729
Located on Cape Ann in northeastern Essex County, Gloucester is a coastal city surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and south. Its strategic location has made it an essential hub of the fishing industry as well as a popular destination for tourists on summer vacation.
There are many attractions in town commemorating the city’s maritime past, including the Fisherman’s Memorial and the Cape Ann Museum, which showcases ocean-inspired works of art. The city is also full of delicious seafood restaurants, shops, and businesses selling the work of local craftsmen and artists. So, if you’re looking for a gorgeous coastal paradise, Gloucester is one of the best Essex County, Massachusetts cities.
- Gloucester area: 41.51 sq mi
- Gloucester population density: 1,138 people per square mile
- Gloucester income: $82,984
- Gloucester median home price: $552,500
- Gloucester crime rate: 552 per 100,000 residents
Other Cities and Towns in Essex County Massachusetts
There are an additional 24 cities and towns in Essex County, MA ranging in size from about 3,000 to 28,000 people. Although not as large, they each offer unique attractions and character. Here is a complete list of towns in Essex County MA.
Largest Cities in Essex County MA Map
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