The South Shore of Massachusetts is a great getaway for people who live in Boston or want the beaches of Cape Cod without the summer crowds. In the summer, many of these quaint South Shore MA Towns spring to life as people escape the city in search of sun, the perfect wave, and a place to reconnect to nature. Discover South Shore Massachusetts including the South Shore MA towns and South Shore Massachusetts beaches
The South Shore of Massachusetts
The South Shore of Massachusetts runs from just outside of Boston from the town of Hingham down the coast to Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The towns transition from wealthy surburban enclaves with their yacht clubs and tennis courts to charming coastal towns and rural areas. They are great for visitors with their many historical sites, beautiful beaches and recreational activities.
The South of Boston area can go down as far as New Bedford and Fall River in Buzzards Bay. The Massachusetts South Shore though is generally recognised as only going as far south as Plymouth.
South Shore Massachusetts Towns
The South Shore MA towns are more than a part of the metropolitan Boston area or bedroom communities of Boston.
These South Shore towns have a long rich history dating back, for example, in the case of Plymouth to the Pilgrims. Nearby towns like Duxbury were settled by Pilgrims as well leading to it being the land of Pilgrims.
During the centuries that passed, many of the south shore towns MA has were involved in the profitable martime trade and shipbuilding industry. Each of these south shore communities has their own distinctive personality.
It’s easy to do a road trip using Route 3A goes through many of these South Shore Massachusetts towns.
Cohasset is a quiet, quaint town in Norfok county in the South Shore of Massachusetts is well known for its high quality beaches and nature. John Smith explored this area in 1614 when he explored New England. Originally part of Hingham, Cohasset became it’s own town in 1770.
You can only get to pretty and wealthy Cohasset after a beautiful local roads drive. Alternatively take a 45 minute train ride from Boston’s South Station making it great for a day trip from Boston.
You can see the famous Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse from Cohasset which is considered one of the most romantic lighthouses in the United States because it flashes a pattern that some interpret to mean “I Love You.”
Straddling both the towns of Cohasset and Hingham, the 600 acre Whitney and Thayer Woods are run by the Trustees of Reservation. There are 10 miles of hiking trails to enjoy as well as a wild garden created in the 1920s. It’s near to the 75 acre Weir River Farm (also a Trustees of Reservations property).
Also, pretty and wealthy, Hingham lies just 8 miles southeast of Boston in close proximity to Cohasset but in Plymouth County. You can get from Boston to Hingham in 35 minutes by train, You can also take a ferry to Hingham from Rowes Wharf in Boston which will take about 25 minutes.
Why is there a replica of Daniel Chester French’s famous sitting statue of Abraham Lincoln in Hingham? It commemorates that Honest Abe’s first American ancestor came to Hingham, MA in 1637 from Hingham, England.
During World War 2, Hingham Shipyard built 227 warships. Nowadays, Hingham Shipyard, is a multi-purpose space with restaurants, stores and a movie theater.
The Trustees of Reservations run World’s End, a beautiful park converted from a 400 acre estate landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted. You get fabulous views of Boston’s downtown from Hingham’s World’s End.
Nature lovers will also like the 3526 acre Wompatuck State Park which has facilities for camping, hiking, biking and boating. In winter, you can add cross-country skiing to the list at this Massachusetts state park in the South Shore area.
Located 35 miles south of Boston, Duxbury was named by Mayflower emigre and military leader, Myles Standish, for woods near his hometown in England.
Duxbury is a hidden gem in South Shore Massachusetts with both an excellent outdoor facilities as well as lots of historic sites.
Myles Standish has a monument to his memory on the highest hill in Duxbury at the Myles Standish Monument State Reservation. You can find the graves of the early Pilgrims, including Myles Standish, at the Myles Standish cemetery (supposedly the oldest maintained cemetery in the country).
Duxbury also made a fortune for its citizens from shipbuilding. Visit King Caesar House built in 1809, a museum of the house that belonged to the local Weston family who had the largest merchant fleet in the world in their day.
By 1871 though the clipper ship was being used in the China Trade (like those made in Newburyport MA) and Duxbury’s heyday was over.
Visit the Duxbury beach or head out to the 1000 acres of Mass Audobon’s North Hill Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary.
For a local dining experience, try one of Duxbury’s many popular oyster restaurants. You can even take an oyster farm tour at Island Creek Oyster Farm.
Located on the North River about 20 miles south of Boston, Norwell was settled in 1634. Norwell used to be another rich shipbuilding town using its location on the North River which leads into the Atlantic Ocean.
Norwell has a charming and pretty Main Street full of historic homes, a small town vibe and an agricultural community. Blessed with many ponds and preservation areas, Norwell is also great for outdoor activities.
For example, the 189 acre Jacobs Pond Conservation area has an annual fishing derby at Jacobs Pond. The Black Pond Nature Preserve has a hiking trail that abuts the trails at Cuffey Hill Reservation. There’s also 130 acres of the Trustees of Reservation-run Norris Preservation.
As the original settlement to the Pilgrims who landed on the Mayflower, Plymouth is rich with history and a must-do on any things to do in Massachusetts, or, indeed, New England bucket lists.
The town offers a plethora of sites to see to take you back to the time of the early Pilgrim settlers, including Plymouth Rock, a replica of the Mayflower ship in Plymouth Harbor and the Plimouth Patuxet living history museum.
Inland from Plymouth, you will find Carver named after the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Carver has the distinction of having New England’s largest and oldest renaissance fair, King Richard’s Faire. For kids, there is the Edaville Family Theme Park.
Located inland, Hanson is 20 miles south of Boston. Hanson deserves a mention for being the start of Ocean Spray when three cranberry bog farmers set up a cooperative to promote cranberries.
Fittingly, Ocean Spray is now headquartered in Plymouth because Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving as celebrated nowadays without canned cranberry sauce from Ocean Spray.
One of Massachusetts’ larger cities, Quincy is famous for being home to the second and sixth presidents, John Adams and, his son, John Quincy Adams. Their home is now a national park, The Adams National Historical Park. The Adams men are buried at the United First Parish Church along with their wives.
Quincy was also the home of John Hancock, a President of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Thanks to these illustrious men, Quincy is known as the “City of Presidents”.
Like some of the towns of Cape Cod, Scituate is a coastal town made up of a several villages. So if you see mentions of Minot, Humarock, Egypt, North Scituate, the Glades, Rivermoor and First Cliff, you are still in Scituate.
If you’re looking for somewhere less busy than Cape Cod but with all the charm, Scituate is a great choice. Things to do in Scituate include visiting Scituate Lighthouse as well as the other historic buildings preserved by the Scituate Historical Society. There’s even a water tower that was hidden as a castle tower which you can climb for great views.
Scituate Lighthouse is open for public visits at scheduled times. Built in 1810, Scituate Lighthouse was retired once the Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse was built in 1860. The Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum tells the story of the town’s maritime history as well as the shipwrecks nearby.
South Shore Massachusetts Beaches
Just like the North Shore, the South Shore of Massachusetts has some very nice beaches.
Sandy Beach Cohasset
Sandy Beach at Cohasset is a beautiful white sand beach run by a private association. The Sandbar is a small cafe selling sandwiches and snacks. The town of Cohasset runs the beach parking lot. You need a town sticker on your car to use the parking lot.
Nestled between the beautiful Nantasket Beach and Cohasset, Gunrock Beach is a small, quiet alternative to Nantasket.
The beach attracts local families, and parking is hard to come by, but if you’re staying in the area, you won’t want to miss the views from here.
Duxbury Beach Park
Spend the day at Duxbury Beach Park! Whether you prefer to walk along the beach in the bay or take a swim oceanside, Duxbury Beach is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. With 7.5 miles of beach, it is an easily accessible, well-maintained place to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding you.
You do need to pay for parking at Duxbury Beach Park but you do not need to have a beach sticker for your car.
If you have a boat or want to take a ride in a beach buggy to the southern hook, Saquish Beach is a more secluded option.
Scituate boasts five public beaches: Minot, Sand Hills, Egypt, Peggotty, and Humarock, all with stunning views of Cape Cod Bay.
These beaches offer a variety of activities to do such as surfing, swimming, sunbathing, and walking along the beach.
Hingham Bathing Beach
If you’re looking for a free, family-friendly beach, look no further than Bathing Beach. Make sure you arrive at high tide though to enjoy this Massachusetts South Shore beach.
Home to 27 miles of shoreline, Quincy is home to many South Shore Massachusetts beaches with Wollaston, Mound Street, and Avalon being some of the most popular.
The 2.5 mile long Wollaston Beach belongs to the Quincy Shores Reservation. From this beach you get views of the Boston Harbor Islands.
There is plenty to do at this South Shore MA Beach in addition to swimming and sunbathing. This family-friendly beach has a lifeguards in the summer, a play area and picnic tables. Part of the Quincy Shores Reservation, the beach also has lifeguards in the summer.
Nantasket Beach, the busiest beach on South Shore Massachusetts, is located in Hull. Nantasket is a beautiful, clean, fine sand beach that’s great for swimming, surfing, and body boarding. There is a
There are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby for when you need to take a break from the sun.
Map of South Shore Massachusetts
To help you plan your trip to South Shore Massachusetts, here’s a map of South Shore MA towns and South Shore Massachusetts beach towns.
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