There’s an awful lot to be said for heading south of Boston to Cape Cod for a summer break. But there’s maybe more to be said for heading north to Cape Ann for a lazy summer Saturday or whole weekend. Fewer people think to head north than south, so there are less crowds. Mass transit makes all the crucial stops along the way, so there’s no sitting in traffic for hours on end (you’ll want the Newburyport-Rockport line). But even if you do decide to drive, Route 127 with its two lanes and stunning views of rocky shoreline offers a first-class ride. Here are our picks for some shopping and style in one of Cape Ann’s jewels, Manchester-by-the-Sea. – By Cathy Huyghe

(Credit: The Stock Exchange)

The Stock Exchange

3 Beach Street
Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944
website and reviews

Even the well-heeled need to clear out their closets at some point, and they enlist the services of the nearest consignment shop to help. That’s why you’ll find labels at The Stock Exchange like Coach, Chanel, and Max Azria.

You may have to dig a bit – the brand-name shoes, handbags, and women’s clothes are dispersed throughout the store and on mannequins – but no one minds. Look hard enough and you’re likely to walk away with a diamond in the (not so) rough.

(Photo courtesy: Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce/Facebook)

Singing Beach

119 Beach Street
Manchester, MA 01944

Walking distance from the train station is one of the North Shore’s most picturesque public beaches, both from an environmental and a people-watching perspective. There’s one road that gets there (called Beach Street, naturally). There’s one entrance. And there’s one shack to buy food and drink. It’s run by a new vendor this year with both healthy options and not-so-healthy but usual beach food suspects. Residents can purchase beach passes and parking stickers that last all summer but visitors pay a nominal walk-on fee. If you forgot your sunscreen or any other beach necessity you can pick it up at Allen’s Pharmacy located right on Beach Street.

(Credit: Captain Dusty's/Facebook)

Captain Dusty’s

60 Beach Street
Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944
website and reviews

No trip to Manchester would be complete without a stop at the tiny, crowded, and still very charming ice cream shack called Captain Dusty’s. Sure you’ll find hand-dipped and soft-serve, chocolate and rainbow sprinkles, and ice cream sandwiches and waffle cones. But you’ll also find special house flavors like Rubber Duck (black raspberry ice cream with Oreo cookies mixed in) and Mint Cookie Dough, as well as frozen pudding. Conveniently located between the train station and Singing Beach, it’s impossible to miss.

(Photo credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Coolidge Point

Summer Street (Rt. 127)
Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944

After all the shopping, the ice cream, and the laying about on the beach, you might be ready for a little exertion.

Just up the road, between Manchester and Gloucester on Route 127, you’ll find Coolidge Reservation, a property of the Trustees of Reservations. It’s free to walk in. Follow the not-strenuous trail a mile or so to what’s called the Ocean Lawn, an enormous open green space overlooking the ocean. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Boston’s skyline far in the distance. Look out and be happy for all that’s between you and it. At least for now.

(Credit: Vidalias)

Vidalia’s Market

9 West Street
Beverly Farms MA 01915

In the other direction on Route 127 (or the Beverly Farms train stop) you’ll find Vidalia’s Market on West Street in Beverly Farms. It is mostly a super-fresh produce and sandwich shop – perfect for beach provisions to tuck in your sack – but keep an eye out for very small-scale-produced accessories from local artisans that they carry as well. Currently available, for example, are whimsical, vibrant cotton scarves lined with mini pom poms that come in colors as varied as taupe with lavender and hot pink with tangerine.

Cathy Huyghe is the founder of Red White Boston a location-based wine recommendation service available as a mobile app and online. Red White Boston also provides client entertainment and event management services.