Iconic Sights and Captivating Sets: Exploring the Enthralling Landmarks and Locales of Gloucester

June 04, 2024 / Good to Know, Things to Do & See

Nestled along the picturesque coast of Massachusetts, Gloucester exists as a rich combination of history, culture, and natural beauty. From its iconic landmarks steeped in maritime heritage to the picturesque locations that have been immortalized on the silver screen, Gloucester offers a captivating journey through time and ample cinematic allure. Join us as we embark on a virtual tour to discover the landmarks that define Gloucester’s identity and the film locales that have served as captivating backdrops for award-winning productions.


Man at the Wheel Statue

Perched majestically on Gloucester’s scenic waterfront, the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial stands as a symbol of the city’s seafaring legacy. Erected in 1925, this iconic bronze monument pays homage to the countless fishermen who have braved the tempestuous waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It serves as a poignant reminder of Gloucester’s maritime heritage and the resilience of its fishing heritage.

Dicover Gloucester on water Front

Gloucester’s Working Waterfront

At the heart of Gloucester lies its bustling working waterfront, where fishing vessels bob rhythmically against the backdrop of historic buildings and bustling docks. Here, visitors can witness the vibrant pulse of the city’s maritime industry, from the unloading of freshly caught fish to the repair and maintenance of traditional wooden schooners. The working waterfront is not just a place of commerce but a living testament to Gloucester’s deep connection to the sea.

Schooner Thomas E. Lannon

Gloucester’s Schooners

Gloucester’s skyline is adorned with the graceful silhouettes of schooners, a timeless symbol of the city’s seafaring tradition. Majestic vessels, including the Schooner Adventure and the Schooner Thomas E. Lannon stand out as living relics of Gloucester’s maritime past. These historic schooners offer visitors the opportunity to experience the thrill of sailing on the open seas while learning about Gloucester’s rich maritime history.

Whale Breaching the Ocean Surface with mouth open

Open Mouth Humpback by Tina McMahon, Cape Ann Whale Watch

Gloucester Whale Watching Adventures

Venture beyond the harbor and embark on an unforgettable journey into the realm of the majestic whales. Gloucester’s whale-watching adventures like Cape Ann Whale Watch and 7 Seas Whale Watch offer visitors the chance to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, against the backdrop of Gloucester’s scenic coastline. From humpback whales to fin whales, these tours provide a thrilling and educational experience for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

Interactive programming and touch tank at Maritime Gloucester

Maritime Gloucester

Immerse yourself in Gloucester’s maritime heritage at Maritime Gloucester, a dynamic waterfront museum dedicated to preserving the city’s seafaring legacy. Here, visitors can explore interactive exhibits, historic vessels, and educational programs that bring Gloucester’s maritime history to life. From shipbuilding to navigation, Maritime Gloucester offers a fascinating glimpse into the skills and traditions of Gloucester’s salty community.

Rocky Neck Art Colony

Rocky Neck Art Colony

Nestled along Gloucester’s scenic coastline lies the Rocky Neck Art Colony, a vibrant hub of creativity and inspiration. Established in the late 19th century, Rocky Neck has long been a haven for artists, writers, and creatives seeking solace and inspiration amidst its picturesque landscapes and charming waterfront.

Today, the colony is home to a diverse community of artists and artisans, whose studios and galleries showcase a dazzling array of paintings, sculptures, and crafts. Visitors to Rocky Neck can explore its winding streets lined with colorful cottages, visit galleries showcasing works by local and renowned artists alike, and immerse themselves in the vibrant cultural scene that defines this historic enclave. From plein air painting workshops to lively art festivals, Rocky Neck offers a dynamic and enriching experience for art enthusiasts and visitors alike, adding yet another layer to Gloucester’s appeal.

Model of Gloucester's working waterfront at the Cape Ann Museum

Cape Ann Museum

Delve into Gloucester’s rich artistic and cultural heritage at the Cape Ann Museum, home to a vast collection of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts that celebrate the city’s storied past. From the works of renowned artists such as Fitz Henry Lane to exhibits highlighting Gloucester’s maritime history, the museum offers a comprehensive exploration of the city’s cultural identity.

Hammond Castle Museum courtyard

Hammond Castle Museum

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the opulent world of Hammond Castle, a medieval-style fortress perched atop Gloucester’s rocky shoreline. Built in the early 20th century by inventor John Hays Hammond Jr., the castle is a marvel of architectural grandeur, featuring intricate stonework, secret passageways, and a vast collection of medieval artifacts. Visitors can tour the castle’s lavishly decorated rooms, explore its lush gardens, and marvel at its panoramic views of Gloucester Harbor.

Exterior of the Beauport Sleeper McCann House

Photo credit: Historic New England

Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House

Experience the elegance and charm of Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, a historic mansion renowned for its eclectic architectural style and exquisite interior design. Built in the early 20th century by noted interior designer Henry Davis Sleeper, Beauport is a masterpiece of American craftsmanship, featuring a whimsical blend of architectural styles, vibrant colors, and decorative motifs. Visitors can tour the mansion’s 40 uniquely themed rooms, each adorned with antiques, artwork, and mementos that reflect Sleeper’s eclectic tastes and colorful personality.

Eastern Point Lightout

Eastern Point Lighthouse

Perched atop a rocky promontory overlooking Gloucester Harbor, the Eastern Point Lighthouse stands as a beacon of hope and guidance for seafarers navigating the treacherous waters of Massachusetts Bay. Built in 1832, this historic landmark has witnessed centuries of maritime history, from the age of sail to the modern era of navigation. Visitors can explore the lighthouse grounds, learn about its storied past, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding coastline.

Good Harbor Beach. Photo by John Abisamra

Photo credit: John Abisamra

Good Harbor Beach

Escape to the pristine shores of Good Harbor Beach, a picturesque stretch of sand nestled between rocky outcrops and dunes. Renowned for its natural beauty and crystal-clear waters, Good Harbor Beach offers visitors the perfect setting for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. With its gentle waves and panoramic vistas, it’s no wonder why Good Harbor Beach is considered one of Gloucester’s most beloved seaside destinations.

CODA still (Apple TV)

With so many fascinating landmarks set against this historic seaside New England city, it’s no surprise that Gloucester has served as a premiere destination for film and television, where its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant waterfront attract the eyes of talented producers and movie makers. Gloucester has served as the backdrop for numerous iconic films, capturing the imagination of audiences around the world. From the heartfelt drama of Manchester By the Sea (2016) which features Gloucester’s Beauport Hotel and Cape Ann Marina, to the whimsical charm of Moonrise Kingdom (2012), which was filmed at Gloucester’s Good Harbor Beach, Wingaersheek Beach, and Stage Fort Park, Gloucester’s cinematic heritage is as diverse as it is enchanting.

Other notable films shot in Gloucester include CODA (2021), The Equalizer (2014), The Love Letter (1999), The Leftovers (2014-17), and Finestkind (2023), each offering a unique glimpse into the city’s cultural identity and scenic beauty. Try to recognize Gloucester’s landmarks, rugged coastline, and quaint town the next time you give these films a watch! And no discussion of film in Gloucester is complete without mention of The Perfect Storm (2000), the award-winning film released in 2000 which stars George Clooney and portrays actual events of Gloucester’s fishing community.

Gloucester’s claims to fame are steeped in its rich history and maritime heritage, offering visitors endless opportunities to appreciate and admire the city’s enduring spirit and cultural legacy. Whether exploring historic sites, embarking on whale-watching adventures, or discovering the cinematic magic of Gloucester’s movie locations, visitors are sure to be captivated by the beauty and charm of this coastal gem.