How to Have the Perfect Day in Plum Island Massachusetts 

Plum Island Massachusetts 

Just over the bridge from Newburyport in Massachusetts is beautiful Plum Island! Plum Island is the perfect place to take a day trip to and experience the beaches, nature, and local New England specialties. Here are our favorite things to do in Plum Island MA and how to have the best day ever on your visit.

Where is Plum Island Massachusetts?

So how do you get to Plum Island MA? The popular summer destination draws in travelers from all over New England for its pristine beaches and Wildlife Refuge. The closest town is Newburyport and it’s directly across the bay from Salisbury Beach. 

Aside from taking a guided walking tour of the area, the easiest way to get to Plum Island MA is by car. Many travelers fly into Boston and pick up a rental car to explore northeastern Massachusetts.

We always use this company when searching for rental cars. It allows you to compare companies and rates to find the best deals. On our last visit we booked a car out of Boston and paid just over $30 a day. 

From Boston it’s about a 1 hour drive north on US Route 1. However, we highly recommend staying overnight in one of the nearby towns and making a day trip to Plum Island Massachusetts. Jake actually has family in Newburyport which is why we visit here so often! 

Plum Island in Massachusetts

Where to Stay Near Plum Island MA

While a day trip is an awesome way to experience Plum Island, you can actually stay overnight here! Yet, know that it’s very small and mostly made up of residential homes along the beaches and salt marshes. 

The only Plum Island hotel option is the Blue Inn on the Beach if you want to spend the night. You can also check out other websites like Airbnb or VRBO for rental homes. There are many more options available in Newburyport which is a quick 10 minute drive away.

If you plan to stay in Newburyport you’ll also have tons of restaurants, shops, and everything else you need for a great visit. Two of the best accommodations within walking distance to town are Essex Street Inn & Suites and Clark Currier Inn

Plum Island Mass Hotels

One Perfect Day in Plum Island Massachusetts

Breakfast at Mad Martha’s Island Cafe

Our adventures usually start the same every visit to Plum Island, and you’re about to see why! This local spot serves up a hearty breakfast to get you ready for a full day of exploring.

The menu at Mad Martha’s is a mix of American-style breakfast and brunch options that come with an endless supply of coffee. We ordered the breakfast burrito and the big shag on our last visit and it was amazing.

One thing to know about Mad Martha’s Island Cafe is that it’s a very small restaurant. There are only a few tables inside and it does get very busy! For this reason, we recommend getting there right when it opens in the morning.

If not, you can expect to wait up to an hour to get seated. There is a beach right across the street if you end up having to wait for a bit.

Plum Island Cafe

Morning at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge 

Once you’ve had your morning meal it’s time to hit the walking trails of Plum Island. After you cross over the bridge from Newburyport you’ll see a turn-off to the right before heading into town. 

This is the beginning of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. There is an entrance fee if you aren’t a member so make sure to plan for the extra cost. 

The first section will take you along the marsh for scenic views of Plum Island MA. This is one of the best places for bird watchers in all of Massachusetts and you can take in the picturesque sights and natural beauty as you drive slowly along the water. 

Eventually, you’ll start seeing parking lots along the drive which are the start of several walking trails through the refuge. The paths are completely flat and have numerous wooden bridges which makes them easy for all ages. Honestly, none of the trails we did were too long so it’s great to combine a few different routes. 

Also, keep an eye out for the over 300 bird species that call the Plum Island Wildlife Refuge home. Nature lovers will have the opportunity to see such birds as warblers, piping lovers, egrets, and tree swallows. If you’re lucky, you may even spot rare migratory birds like snowy owls in Plum Island MA.

Plum Island Wildlife Refuge 

Afternoon at Plum Island Beach

After a fun morning in nature it’s time to hit the Plum Island beaches! In the summer months, the soft sand of the Massachusetts coastline is a great spot for families and couples on vacation. 

Our favorite spot to walk and catch some rays is Plum Island Point Beach on the northern end of the island. This is also where you’ll find the Plum Island Lighthouse and views of Salisbury Beach across the bay. 

Another long sandy beach to enjoy is Newbury Beach on the east side of the island. If you didn’t know, Plum Island is named for the beach plum shrubs that grow in the sand dunes. Pay attention to the parking lot fees at Plum Island’s beaches during the summer on your visit.

Plum Island Beach

Plum Island MA Beach

Dinner & Drinks on Plum Island

One of the best things to do after a day at the beach is to hit the Sunset Club for drinks! You’ll see it just as you get on the island after the entrance to the Wildlife Refuge. This is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail or even live music during the summertime. 

The menu is a mix of American and International food that everyone will love. Be sure to try the fish tacos and Mexican street corn here if you get a chance!

As you may have guessed, there isn’t a ton of places to eat on Plum Island. A fun option for dinner is the Plum Island Grille which is across from the Sunset Club.

Bob’s Lobster is also a great place to stop on your way into town for lobster rolls or clam chowder before you pass over the bridge. You can even head to the Cottage Creamery for an ice cream to end your day right! 

Plum Island Restaurant

Is Plum Island MA Worth Visiting?

Most definitely! We’ve had so many great visits here over the years and can’t recommend it enough. Plum Island Massachusetts makes for the ultimate day trip from the nearby towns to the beautiful beaches in the summertime.

Even if you’re not there during the peak season, the hiking trails of the Wildlife Refuge are a great place to get out into nature in the spring and fall. November through February is not the best time to visit as this area of Massachusetts can get hit with hectic winter storms. 

The entire island is scenic and the views are impressive even if you’re not taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s easy to spend an entire day on Plum Island. Still, if you’re short on time, then just a few hours is enough to experience most of it.

Is Plum Island MA Worth Visiting

Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite things to do in Plum Island Massachusetts? Leave us a comment below. 

​Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake



New England Travel Planning 

 Flights: We always find great flights using Skyscanner and Kayak. This way you can plan your trip around the cheapest and most direct routes.

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld can be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic road trip! 

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. Book a tour of Fenway Park in Boston, skip the line at the Empire State Building in NYC, or go on a Scenic Boat Tour in Portland Maine! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

New England Travel

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