I love this city. I lived in Europe for 18 years, and when I came back to live in New England, I briefly lived in my home town of Winchester before discovering Newburyport in 1999. Newburyport has all of the great qualities of a small American seaport, combined with the walkability and atmosphere of some of the European cities I have lived in. I have lived here ever since.
OK, I like good food, and Newburyport has plenty of it. There are some great restaurants in town - I think Ten Center St. is handsdown the best. It has a cozy, pub-like atmosphere in it's downstairs wine bar and an imaginative cuisine. I hear complaints about the service but have never had a bad experience there myself. The waterfront location of The Black Cow is its claim to fame; my personal feeling is that the food is mediocre, but that is not agreed to by all. Another famous waterfront location is Michael's Harborside, until recently great food, but now slipping into mediocracy also. Glenn's Bar and Grill, a great place with great food, but on a busy night it can take some time to be served. Joseph's Winter Street Cafe has great atmosphere and Chef J.P. has turned the place around from the hit-or-miss experience it used to be.
Great night life too, and it's not Boston, which is fine with me. The Thirsty Whale is a real local hangout, very popular with a very talkative crowd in the weekends. The Grog is the "nightclub", very good live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for a mostly younger crowd, with a blues band paying Sundays starting early in the evening for a great night of endless dancing, heavily populated by an older crowd and plenty of singles.
There a plenty of other good restaurants, clubs and bars that keep Newburyport alive all year long.