Hard to believe that Newburyport was a hardscrabble port town with a seedy waterfront scant decades ago. The polished little brick burg gleams like a pearl in an oyster shell, begging to be plucked. Much ado can be made of the numerous restaurants strewn about town like driftwood, or sparkly little shops scattered like beach glass, but the fact of the matter is there’s no escaping the water or the history embedded in the bricks. You feel it breathing up from the cobblestones. It’s a walking town for sure, where you can soak up some serious Federal-style architecture, tuck into an Upper Crust pizza, or satisfy an endless craving for seafood. Then polish off the day with a Dolce Freddo mascarpone gelato and a stroll along the banks of the mighty Merrimack, winding to the sea, as pretty, pitiless, and ever-present as it was in the 1630s.