Newburyport’s heyday was during the late 18th century, when this town at the mouth of the Merrimack River prospered as a shipping port and silversmith center. Not too much has changed in the last 200 years, as Newburyport’s brick buildings and graceful churches still show off the Federal style that was popular back in those days. Today the center of this town is a model of historic preservation and gentrification. Visitors enjoy creative restaurants, pubs, museums and entertainment. Newburyport is also the gateway to the barrier Plum Island, a national wildlife refuge with some of the best bird-watching in New England.