Last Updated on: 4th December 2023, 04:00 pm
The Greater Boston area is divided into many different regions each offering a unique lifestyle and culture, including the North Shore, South Shore, and Metro West. The North Shore in Boston is a wonderful place to live, offering a peaceful New England ambiance, great schools, and easy access to amenities.
You’ll find many amazing coastal North Shore MA towns & cities that are ideal for families, retirees, young professionals, and residents from all different walks of life. So, to help you find the perfect place to live, here is a complete guide to all the communities in Boston’s North Shore.
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Where Is the North Shore in Massachusetts?
The Massachusetts North Shore refers to the area directly north of Boston, south of the New Hampshire border. Most of the North Shore Mass is within Essex County; however, some municipalities closer to Boston are within Suffolk County. The Merrimack Valley also starts at the northern part of the North Shore area, and Cape Ann is also in the region, a peninsula in northeastern MA that is home to the city of Gloucester.
Although, different organizations have unique definitions of the exact boundaries of the North Shore. For instance, the metropolitan area planning council (MAPC) defines the North Shore as strictly the area between Cape Ann and Boston. However, that’s because they are a public agency and their territory only covers that region. The North Shore Task Force, which is run by MAPC serves the communities within their purview.
The North Shore Chamber of Commerce has a broader definition that covers the majority of Essex County and parts of the Merrimack Valley, which is essentially the entire area north of Boston that is in Massachusetts. However, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone defines the region based on watershed and only considers coastal towns to be part of the North Shore and excludes any inland towns. So while the exact boundaries are up for debate, it generally refers to the region of Massachusetts north of Boston.
This Boston North Shore map shows which areas are considered part of the region by the Office of Coastal Zone management and which are often included by other parties.
North Shore Boston Towns and Cities
There are 20 different towns and cities in the North Shore of Massachusetts, ranging in size from 5,000 to over 100,000 residents. You’ll find a great mix of coastal New England towns, amenity-rich cities, and mid-sized communities that make a great place to raise a family. Here is a complete list of all the coastal North Shore MA towns & cities, listed from south to north starting just outside of Boston.
Winthrop – 19,316 residents
Winthrop is a coastal town in Suffolk County located just outside the city of Boston on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of the closest towns north of Boston and one of the oldest communities in the country. It’s also centrally located, not far from the Boston Logan International Airport. Living in Winthrop offers breathtaking ocean views, easy access to amenities, and some of the most desirable real estate in the North Shore Boston.
Revere – 58,528 residents
Revere is a city in Massachusetts located just five miles from downtown Boston. Originally known as the “Coney Island of Boston”, Revere was once a seaside entertainment district, although these days it’s primarily residential. Living in Revere offers easy access to outdoor recreation with plenty of parks, nature areas and shoreline at Revere Beach. Plus, it’s only a quick drive into Boston for more entertainment options.
Saugus – 28,619 residents
Saugus is another one of the top North Shore Massachusetts towns in Essex County. The community is known for being home to the historic The Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, the site of the first integrated ironworks facility in North America. Living in Saugus offers a family-friendly environment, low crime, and gorgeous tree-lined streets. Residents can find plenty of outdoor adventure at the 600-acre Breakheart Reservation, plus the drive into Boston is only about 30 minutes.
Lynn – 101,623 residents
Lynn is the largest of all the North Shore cities by population, with just over 100,000 residents, making it also the largest city in Essex County and the eighth largest municipality in the state. The city has a proud industrial heritage, and the first jet airplane engine in the United States was built at the local GE plant in 1942. Living in Lynn offers a laid-back New England atmosphere with plenty of amenities and things to do in North Shore, such as sunbathing at Lynn Beach or watching live entertainment at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium.
Nahant – 3,334 residents
Nahant is a picturesque town on the north shore of Boston, situated on an archipelago off the Atlantic coast. With a population of just 3,334 residents, Nahant is the smallest town in Essex County and the smallest municipality in the state by area. It’s a quiet resort town offering stunning coastal views and sandy beaches. It’s also a fisherman’s paradise and offers some of the best things to do in North Shore, from Lodge Park to Nahant Beach.
Swampscott – 15,111 residents
Swampscott is a town just north of Lynn in Essex County about 15 miles up the shore from Boston. It’s one of the more affluent North Shore towns in Massachusetts, with a median household income of $114,086. Living in Swampscott offers beautiful beaches and a central location with easy access to Boston, Lynn, and other parts of the North Shore area. Plus, it has a quaint, old-New England charm with great schools and low crime.
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Marblehead – 20,441 residents
Located just north of Swampscott on the Atlantic coast is Marblehead, another one of the most peaceful North Shore towns. Along with Swampscott, Marble Head is also one of the richest areas in the North Shore of Massachusetts, with a median household income of $154,049. Known as a popular suburb of Boston, Marblehead is one of the best places to live in North Shore Mass, with fantastic schools, low crime, and plenty of economic opportunities. Residents living in Marblehead will also find some of the top things to do on North Shore MA, like Chandler Hovey Park and Warwick Place.
Salem – 44,480 residents
Known for being the site of the infamous witch trials, Salem is a city in Essex County adjacent to Marblehead. It’s one of the most historic cities North of Boston, offering fun museums and exhibits on its colonial past. If you’re looking for things to do north of Boston, you’ll find plenty in Salem, from the House of Seven Gables to the Witch Dungeon Museum. Outside of its historic attractions, living in Salem offers walkable streets, affordable homes, and a good place to raise a family.
Peabody – 54,481 residents
Peabody is a city in Essex County located just west of Salem, about 20 miles northeast of Boston. Known for its rich industrial history, in the early 20th century, Peabody was the largest producer of leather. Today, living in Peabody offers prime real estate, low crime, and friendly residents.
Danvers – 28,087 residents
North of Peabody is Danvers, another one of the top North Shore Boston towns. Danvers is known for its association with the Salem Witch trials, as well as being the site of one of the state’s famous 19th century psychiatric hospitals. Living in Danvers also offers easy access to shopping and local businesses at the Liberty Tree Mall, as well as other unique attractions like Endicott Park and the Rebecca Nurse Homestead.
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Beverly – 42,235 residents
Beverly is a city in Essex County located about 3 miles from Salem and 26 miles from Boston. It’s a coastal suburb with quiet neighborhoods and a low crime rate that is ideal for families. Known as the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, Beverley has a proud history as home of the country’s first cotton mill. The cost of living in Beverley is also reasonable for all it offers residents with a median home price of $606,000, which is 17% lower than the amount in the rest of the state.
Manchester-By-the-Sea – 5,354 residents
Manchester-By-the-Sea is a scenic town on Cape Ann in Essex County. It’s an idyllic North Shore town with a quaint New England charm, scenic ocean views, and a charming, walkable downtown. It’s known for being the setting of several movies, including the Academy Award winning 2016 film Manchester-By-the-Sea. Outdoor enthusiasts will love living in Manchester-By-the-Sea as the area is a haven for yachters and commercial fishing.
Gloucester – 29,730 residents
Gloucester is another coastal city located on Cape Ann in Essex County. It’s the largest city on the peninsula and a major nexus for the fishing industry as well as vacationers. Some of the Boston North Shore’s best things to do are in Gloucester, including the Hammond Castle Museum and the Eastern Point Lighthouse. There is also a vibrant creative community living in Gloucester, and it offers low crime, breathtaking scenery, and plenty to keep you entertained.
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Rockport – 5,010 residents
Right beside Gloucester on the eastern tip of Cape Ann is the town of Rockport, a seaside oasis offering low crime and a welcoming community. It’s a popular destination for young families looking for an idyllic place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life in Boston. Rockport is also known for its fantastic arts colony, which is one of the oldest in America and home to over 13 galleries.
Essex – 3,675 residents
On the opposite side of Gloucester is the town of Essex, which is located about 26 miles north of Boston and 13 miles southeast of Newburyport. Known as a former hub for the shipbuilding industry, Essex is another boaters paradise offering amazing views of the Ipswich Bay. It’s also one of the best towns in the Boston North Shore for antiquing, with plenty of quaint shops selling artisan goods and hidden treasures.
Ipswich – 13,785 residents
Ipswich is a town located just northwest of Essex along the Atlantic coast. Living in Ipswich offers an abundance of outdoor recreation with Willowdale State Forest and Sandy Point State Reservation, which is great for birdwatching, hunting, camping or spending the day at the beach. Ipswich is known for having some of the best seafood in Boston’s North Shore and hosts an annual chowderfest every October.
Rowley – 6,283 residents
Rowley is a town above Ipswich in Essex County. Known for its rich history, historic homes and lush acres of farmland, Rowley is one of the best North Shore Mass towns for those looking to retire. It has a small town charm with a good mix of suburban and rural living that is full of charming colonial homes and tree-lined streets.
Newbury – 6,695 residents
North of Rowley is the town of Newbury, a beautiful community that covers the villages of Old Town, Plum Island, and Byfield. The town is full of gorgeous walkable marshes, delightful boutiques, and historic architecture. Several buildings in Newbury are in the National Register of Historic Places and the town is full of natural splendor at Newbury Beach or the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.
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Newburyport – 18,289 residents
Newburyport is a city along the Merrimack River in the northeastern corner of Essex County. It’s a laidback and historic area offering low crime, good schools, and access to public parks and beaches. It has an iconic, bustling downtown area full of antique stores, restaurants, shops, and cafes. Notable attractions include Maudslay State Park and the Plum Island Lighthouse. Living in Newburyport offers the best aspects of the top cities in the North Shore including New England charm, picturesque views, and a family friendly atmosphere.
Salisbury – 5,629 residents
At the far northeastern tip of the Massachusetts North Shore is Salisbury, a small coastal paradise along the New Hampshire border. Known for its fantastic shopping, sandy beaches, and happening nightlife, Salisbury is a great place for vacationers, retirees, families, and young professionals alike. It features five miles of coastline and some of the best things to do in North Shore MA, with public beaches and busy boardwalks. Plus, it offers great real estate and affordable prices for beachfront properties.
Boston North Shore Map
Explore the area with this Boston North Shore map.
Ready to make one of these fantastic locations in the Massachusetts North Shore your new home? Trust our team of reliable North Shore Boston movers to make your upcoming move smooth and stress-free. Call 978-587-3775 today for a free, customized quote.