Marblehead is a wonderful place for aimless wandering; to add some structure, consult the walking tour available on the chamber of commerce's website. Whatever else you do, be sure to spend some time in Crocker Park, on the harbor off Front Street. Especially in the warmer months, when boats jam the water nearly as far as the eye can see, the view is breathtaking. The park has benches and a swing, and it's a great place for a picnic. The view from Fort Sewall, at the other end of Front Street, is equally mesmerizing.
Just inland, the Lafayette House is at the corner of Hooper and Union streets. A corner of the private home was chopped off to make room for the passage of the Marquis de Lafayette's carriage when he visited the town in 1824. In Market Square on Washington Street, near the corner of State Street, is the Old Town House, in use for meetings and gatherings since 1727. The Marblehead Museum & Historical Society maintains a small Civil War museum on the second floor. It's open every other Saturday in the summer, starting on Memorial Day weekend.
For the Birds -- Across the causeway from Devereux Beach on Marblehead Neck, one of the ritziest neighborhoods on the North Shore, is the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary (tel. 800/283-8266 or 781/259-9500; www.massaudubon.org). Turn east on Ocean Avenue south of downtown and follow it less than a mile until you see a little sign to the left at Risley Avenue. Park in the small lot and follow the path into the sanctuary, where you can see the varied species of birds that use the Atlantic flyway, especially in spring and fall. Admission is free. To return to Marblehead proper, continue on Ocean Avenue, which becomes Harbor Avenue and forms a loop. En route, at the end of "the Neck," you can park near the decommissioned lighthouse and take in a breathtaking view.
Architectural Details -- On the hill between the Jeremiah Lee Mansion and Abbot Hall, notice the private homes at 185, 181, and 175 Washington St. Like the Lee Mansion -- and hundreds of other residences in the tiny downtown area -- these are good original examples of the architecture of the colonial and early national period.
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