Seafood Lovers, This Coastal Road Trip Is The Tastiest Slice Of Heaven

Ahh, the Bay State! Surrounded by kettle ponds and tidal wetlands, pressed against the Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts is a hub for seafood connoisseurs seeking the best marine fare. Weathered clam shacks and hole-in-the-wall oyster houses scattered throughout the state's coastal seaports give the state its New England charm — they also make for tasty roadside snacking spots when road-tripping its coastal perimeters. The seafood scene in northern Massachusetts is such an integral part of the state's heritage that locals have even designated a sacred route deemed "The Seafood Trail."

Route 127 A, running from Gloucester and connecting travelers to the northern tip of Plum Island, marks the beginning of an indulgent trip highlighting the best seafood stations in the state. This seafood-laden route hugs the northeastern coastline and hovers just north above Boston. A true ocean-to-table community, Gloucester is the oldest seaport in the country and an integral piece of New England's maritime history. The neighboring towns of Newburyport, Ipswich, and Essex make for a scenic and peaceful backdrop as travelers weave their way through the coastal villages dotting the edge of the Atlantic. Lobsters, clams, oysters, and New England's famous clam "chowda" provide enviable stopping points along the journey, all of which should be at the top of every foodie's bucket list. Just over 30 miles long, the route may be short, but it more than makes up for the distance with its tantalizing aromas, irresistible to the seafood connoisseur.

Tour the birthplace of fried clams

Things are done the old-fashioned way in Gloucester, and it's not uncommon to "catch" fishermen casting their nets from dawn until dusk in search of a respectable harvest to share with the community. All the hard work pays off when you sit down to dine at the local seafood shacks, where every clam and oyster presented on your plate is fresh off the boat. Twin Light Smokehouse is a local gem in Gloucester. The artisanal seafood smokehouse was founded by Cape Ann Fresh Catch, an organic seafood wholesaler and the largest community-supported fishery in America. Its smoked salmon spread and smoked mussels are house specialties and should never be passed up!

Traveling west along MA-133, Essex County is the home territory of fried clams and New England clambakes. Located on Eben Creek along the Essex River, J.T. Farnhams is an award-winning seafood outlet known for its exceptional seafood chowder and famous fried clams. The worn-in baby blue exterior and nostalgic entry sign invite guests into a homey atmosphere to enjoy its renowned coastal fare. Woodman's of Essex is an equally exceptional maritime eatery located in the county of Essex. A family-owned and operated seafood shack since 1914, boiled lobsters and fried clam boats are irreplaceable offerings on its menu, beloved by locals. Its fried clambakes are the real star of the show, recognized by several notable media outlets as a signature staple of the restaurant. Its top-deck raw bar is the ultimate place to be for shrimp cocktails, oysters, and clams!

Indulge in Northeastern clam shacks and upscale eateries

Just a short 10-minute drive north from the heart of Essex, it's said that Ipswich clams are a culinary treasure in the community. While Essex may be the birthplace of fried clams, native Ipswich clams are characterized by a briny texture and notable sweetness, and their unique essence allows them to stand out from other contenders. The Clam Box, featuring a distinctive trapezoidal shape and an adorable red and white themed exterior, is a traveler's one-stop shop for all things seafood, particularly clams. Featured in iconic TV shows and magazines, including The Food Network and Yankee Magazine, it would be a shame not to pay a visit to this local obsession.

Heading up the US-1 to Newburyport, indulge in a trendy, creative experience at Brine. Situated in Newburyport's Market Square District, this petite oyster bar elevates the average seafood shack to new heights. Brine combines an eclectic nautical interior with impeccable aquatic dishes that have garnered it a strong reputation among locals. As New England's first oyster, crudo, and chop bar, the seasonal menu features market-driven catches that will have guests eagerly ordering seconds of their Clam and Pork Chowder and Biscuits and Caviar. End the trip with a visit to Bob Lobster in Plum Island, a casual, laid-back seafood shack on the Merrimack River. This seafood restaurant and market is famous for its lobster rolls, brimming with butter-poached lobster meat, which come in a variety of customizable styles.