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Volante: Lucire travel featureNewburyport, Mass.

Alicia Le Blanc finds true New England style in Newburyport, Massachusetts, with the most stylish boutiques in the city

Photographed by the author
Expanded from the November 2005 print issue of Lucire


United Travel Kilbirnie



Initial capASSACHUSETTS' smallest city, Newburyport, offers an abundance of history, New England charm, and fine shopping. While breathing the lightly salty air down on the water in Newburyport, you can watch the lazy activities of boats or sign up to take a whale watching tour at this historic port where the United States Coast Guard was born. Up the street, cozy brownstone buildings house tremendously exciting boutiques and restaurants, outlined by old world brick walkways that make for a wonderful evening stroll.
   Newburyport makes a great weekend destination offering museums about its ship-building and maritime history and fabulous restaurants for replenishing your energy after a day of shopping. The shopping itself is reason enough to visit Newburyport because the stores that you will find here carry some of the most distinctive and elegant styles mixed together in surprising harmony.
   Garden of Delights (22 Pleasant Street, 1 978 462-7115, 1) features delectable accessories, home furnishings, jewellery, and clothing from local and regional artisans, as well as imported items. Proprietor Gale Monterio, who operates the boutique with her son Todd, prides herself on bringing ‘a little bit of New York to Newburyport’; and she certainly does. Everything is fashionable and of the moment, but rest assured that you will not find any flash in the pan fads in this store. Much of the clothing is of Asian influence, showcasing Gale's preference for simple and elegant design. I loved the silk shoes and blouses that encompass a classy and worldly style and would be great additions to any wardrobe. Garden of Delights also designs custom interiors, weddings, and florals.
   Around the corner at 26 State Street is French Lessons (1 978 499-0499, 2), the boutique that brings sex appeal to downtown Newburyport. The staff prides itself on an ability to bring ‘head to toe’ sexiness to its customers with luscious, imported French and Italian lingerie, and gorgeous denim and blouses that are purchased three times a year in New York and LA. The people who work here know what they are talking about and will find you the perfect fit and look for your personality and your body type. Unlike many other lingerie stores, everyone is welcomed at French Lessons, where styles are always stocked for the petite and the voluptuous.
   For some truly unique accessories, try your hand as a designer at Anna William (1 Merrimack Street, 1 978 465-4199, 3), where you can create your own handbags. You get to choose your bag style from an ample selection, as well as the closure type. Once the basic shape is chosen, you can pick up to four fabrics from their collection. The fabric selection is very preppy-oriented so they won't be taking the place of your favourite Gucci tote, but the finished product is absolutely adorable. Not only will your bag be fun to create, but also when you get compliments for it, you'll be able to say that you designed it yourself. Anna William also does house parties, which would make a fabulous girls' night party.
   Newburyport's funky and eclectic destinations are Ganesh Imports, Cool Jewels, and Milagros. Ganesh Imports (33 State Street, 1 978 463-8626, 4) houses all of the funky sarongs and hippie-styled dresses that a person could need for a beach party on a hot New England day. They also carry distinctive jewellery, art and sculptures that add the perfect finishing touches to your eclectic wardrobe. For hand-made art, head down to Milagros (2 Market Square, 1 978 463-6693) for creations from Mexican artist villages. You will also find crafts and fashions from around the world, including India, Tibet and Japan. Cool Jewels (29 State Street, 1 978 499-7766, 6) features all of the fun and striking jewellery you could need, with most of the pieces done in silver. The shapes, stones, and designs found here are anything but ordinary.
   Shopping in Newburyport isn't just for women: ample opportunities exist for the fashionable male. My favourite boutique devoted to men's fashion is Peter Mark at 10 Market Square (1 978 463-4008) because many of the men's boutiques in the area really only offer special events’ clothing. This is not the case with Peter Mark, which carries European-style sportswear for men who have grown out of the clubbing age and into adulthood. The store is exquisitely designed and laid out comfortably with an eye towards displaying a variety of lush colours and fabrics suitable for daily life, work, and social events. The comfortable atmosphere and wonderful selection explain why people come all the way up from Boston to shop here.
   What better way to recuperate after a day of shopping than sitting down to a great meal? For a fairly quick lunch or dinner, Purple Onion (44 Inn Street, 1 978 465-9600) is utterly incredible. Self-described by the owners as ‘charmingly quaint and comfortable,’ the laid-back café atmosphere and openly visible kitchen area produces some of the most satisfying, surprising dishes (wraps, rice bowls or salads) served anywhere in the area. My absolute favourite is the Black Bean Lime Chicken Wrap that features a punch of lime and a spicy hot sauce that melts seamlessly into the chicken and black beans, layered with sour cream, guacamole, rice, Monterey jack cheese, tomatoes and onions. Everything here is made to order from the freshest ingredients. The fact that they hold a beer and wine license only adds to the perfection of this Newburyport hot spot.
   For a special night out, Agavé Mexican Bistro and the Kiwi Grille are can't-miss restaurants. Agavé (50 State Street, 1 978 499-0428) features absolutely delicious and authentic Mexican cuisine: they even fly in their cheese from Oaxaça. They carry an overwhelmingly extensive list of over 60 tequilas served either with your dinner or at the bar on the first floor. If the sometimes spicy, always hearty dishes here aren't your style, the Australasian flair at the Kiwi Grille (26 Green Street, 1 978 463-5494) may suit you better. At the Kiwi Grille, you can explore Australian specialties such as ostrich and wild boar, and taste-test the creative spins put on traditional favourites like poultry and fish. Everything that comes out of this kitchen is delectable and worth multiple visits.
   The boutiques and restaurants mentioned here are merely samplings of the fine things that Newburyport has to offer. Unique and fabulous gift shops and beauty stores are everywhere, and don't forget to visit the Tannery, a collection of stores and art galleries not far from the downtown area. Although conventional wisdom would say that the best season for those planning to visit—especially by boat—would be in the summer, take the advice of this Newburyport lover and avoid the throngs of summer tourists if you can. Newburyport is a charming and multi-faceted destination all year round. •


Alicia Le Blanc is a guest correspondent for Lucire.

The shopping itself is reason enough to visit Newburyport













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Lucire: fashion magazine homeLucire Fashion FeaturesLucire Living and Beauty Lucire Volante: travel, accommodation guide Lucire fashion news, bulletins and events Fashion shopping guide and directory
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