A Cape Ann Getaway-The Historic Emerson Inn

Oct 2017

As empty nesters, my husband and I like to take advantage of short getaways in New England as often as possible. Recharge with a quick romantic overnight and then back to reality. In Massachusetts, there are plenty of destinations for these timely escapes. One of the prettiest stretches of coastline nearby is Cape Ann where a getaway leads to the historic Emerson Inn.

Historic Emerson Inn Rockport, MA


Little more than an hour from our home, the area is a world apart and steeped in all things maritime. Seaside, in an area founded by the Pilgrims in 1623 and named after England’s Queen Ann, one quickly forgets city life. Cape Anne’s beautiful rocky shores include four communities: Gloucester, Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and our escape: Rockport and the historic Emerson Inn. Like so many small towns in Massachusetts, it’s perfect for a weekend escape.

Cape Ann Historic lighthouse

Charming harbors, lighthouses, islands and sandy beaches draw visitors from all over the world to the scenic beauty. The landmark Emerson Inn, Cape Ann’s only historic hotel is perfectly located to take advantage of grand ocean views. The bed and breakfast experience there is casual, yet with all the sophistication one expects in such a grand old lady by the sea.

Historic cape ann seaside

Rockport’s History

Before the colonists settled in Cape Ann, the area was inhabited by the Agawam tribe. Early contact with Europeans brought disease to the Native Americans and by the time the permanent settlement was established in Gloucester in 1623, most of the Agawam had been killed from exposure.

Natural resources were plentiful, providing timber for shipbuilding and granite from the area quarries. Fishing was abundant, and Rockport was home to one of the biggest maritime fleets in the area.

The Temperance Movement had a large influence on Cape Ann, and in 1856, a group of women swept through the town destroying anything that had the slightest whiff of alcohol. Rockport’s Revolt against Rum kept the town dry (except for a brief period in the 1930’s) until 2005. Alcohol can now be served in restaurants, but there are no liquor stores in Rockport. It was fortuitous that in the 1850’s William Norwood, the Emerson’s then owner, turned the famous tavern into the Pigeon Cove Inn.

Motif #1 Rockport, Massachusettes

Motif #1 Rockport, MA

As a summer retreat, the Pigeon Cove area has been welcoming guests for more than 160 years. Ralph Waldo Emerson spent time in the area with his family and found inspiration for his poetry in Pigeon Cove. The beautiful rocky coastline provides endless inspiration and as a haven for artists, still thrives today, drawing creatives from around the world. One of the most photographed and painted fishing shacks on the globe-Motif #1– is in the local harbor on Bradley Wharf.

The Historic Emerson Inn, Rockport, MA

The property’s current owners, the Migis Hotel Group, purchased the grand hotel in 2015 and after an extensive renovation reopened an inn that allows guests to experience a feeling of days gone by. Like the rest of their properties, The Emerson embodies the meaning behind the Migis name-a place to steal away to rest. Walking through the doors, one immediately feels the sense of relaxation and hospitality Migis is known for.

The property offers 36 tastefully decorated rooms with all the accouterments one would expect at a luxury property. Spa tubs, luxury linens, plush robes and sweeping views of the Atlantic add up to a sophisticated experience.

Photo via The Emerson Inn

Antique furnishings and accents are right at home in the elegant inn. A mix of classic maritime artwork hangs alongside interpretations by more contemporary artists. A sense of place is evident, and every window on the east side of the property has views out to the sea.

Emerson Inn, Rockport, MA

Bar area, Emerson Inn, Rockport, MA

A classic, vintage bar is featured in one corner of the parlor where creative cocktails using seasonal herbs are shaken and stirred. Enjoy in the cozy space or sit a spell in one of the outdoor Adirondeck chairs overlooking the sea as the sun sets. Rocking on the porch is another outdoor option.

Emerson Inn, Rockport, MA

Walking distance to nearby Rockport, the property is privately tucked away in a secluded cove.


Emerson Inn, Rockport, MA

The seasonally heated pool over looks the cliffs and over to the Atlantic. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are available.

Outdoor games like corn hole entertain kids during cocktail hour. There is an interior game room, and several entertaining spaces. Complimentary wifi is available in all rooms and public spaces on the property. Parking is also available on site.

One of the best amenities is the access to walking paths in the area, including the Atlantic Trail, a picturesque walk that moves in and out of the waterfront. Halibut Point State Park is about a 20 minute by foot; on a clear day you’ll see views across Massachusettes, New Hamphsire and Maine.

Emerson Inn, Rockport, MA

Pigeon Cove Tavern, the on site restaurant, offers a menu of locally sourced seafood and farm fresh ingredients. Meals can be enjoyed on a classic New England porch overlooking the ocean. The location is magical, perfect for summer breezes with live jazz playing in the background.

The varied menu features ingredients from purveyors in the area. My husband and I started with an appetizer plate filled with local artisan cheeses, house made preserves , spiced honey and crostini. A personal favorite were the golden beets topping an arugula salad with goat cheese and honey roasted pistachios. I loved the addition of red-beet pure that mixed so well with the white balsamic dressing.

This is fish country and fish and chips with panko crust did not disappoint. The pan seared scallops were sweet as only New England scallops can be, accompanied with faro, roasted delicata squash and rainbow chard. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of leaving no room for dessert, but I’m sure they were just as tasty as the rest of the meal.


Much to my husband’s dismay, I left the blinds open to be awakened by the sun rising over the Atlantic. Welcome to another beautiful day at the historic Emerson Inn.

Breakfast at the Emerson is a self serve affair with freshly made muffins, fresh fruit, strong coffee and egg sandwiches. While it’s hard for the food to compete with the view, I can’t think of a better way to start the day.

Recharged and refreshed, we headed back to Boston ready for the challenges ahead. The historic Emerson Inn provides an unforgettable location to explore Cape Ann.  Take part in land or sea adventures, visit galleries galore and of course taste the delicious flavors of New England. All await  when you visit this lovely maritime area of the Massachusetts coastline.

Pin Me: A Visit to the Historic Emerson Inn, Rockport, MA

Rockport, MA Emerson Inn

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Rockport's historic Emerson Inn

Disclosure: I was hosted at the historic Emerson Inn for review purposes;  as always, opinions are my  own.

  1. Wish I lived closer and could visit. Maybe next summer. It looks so relaxing there.

  2. Donna Janke says:

    Wow. Emerson Inn looks like a wonderful place to steal away to rest. I enjoyed reading a bit about Rockport’s history too.

    • alison says:

      Thanks Donna. I had no idea about the temperance movement playing such a big role in Rockport’s history. So interesting to learn these tidbits when you travel.

  3. Romance isn’t isn’t in my cards right now. But all I could think of when reading this post is, this looks like an amazing destination in which to write! I would love to have a Cape Ann getaway!

    • alison says:

      You don’t have to be looking for romance to enjoy the Emerson. I was just lucky that my husband could join in for a quick getaway. And as Ralph Waldo demonstrated, it certainly an inspirational writing location!

  4. What a fabulous hotel. New England has been high on my wishlist for more years than I care to remember. And the Emerson Inn looks like the perfect base from where to explore the area mixed up with a little R&R.

    • alison says:

      Hi Kat, New England is a wonderful destination and so many great spots to give you a flavor of the lifestyle here. Make sure you get in touch when you make plans to visit.