South Shore Massachusetts Towns, Things to Do and Historical Sites
The South Shore of Massachusetts is an area stretching from south of Boston to Cape Cod and includes the towns of Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, Scituate, Marshfield, Pembroke, Norwell, Hanover, Weymouth, Duxbury, Kingston, and Plymouth. Other towns are sometimes included in these towns. With a flavor all its own, the South Shore has beautiful beaches, great restaurants, and many historical sites. Find more information on each of these South Shore towns here, including videos, things to do, photos, recommendations, places to stay, and more!
Located just 8 miles southeast of Boston
Hingham is one of the most well-rounded towns on the South Shore, and also one of the most affluent. It has one of the most recognized main streets in America, the dramatic and historic Main Street of downtown Hingham (aka Route 228). From the historic homes that line Main Street to Hingham harbor and Wompatuck, the scenery keeps getting better. If you’re the kind of person that likes big backyards, your own quiet space, forests, and proximity to your own marina, then you’ll love Hingham.
The quaint New England seacoast town on the South Shore
Scituate is a town made up of several villages, a New England tradition for coastal towns. Minot, Humarock, Egypt (yes, you head right — Egypt), North Scituate, The Glades, Rivermoor, and First Cliff are just a few of the individually named neighborhoods of town that make Scituate so unique. Scituate has its own lighthouse that guards the harbor, Scituate Light. On the northern part of town, you can see Minot’s Ledge Light in Cohasset just offshore.
Directly south of Boston, the South Shore’s largest city by population
The definition of the South Shore sometimes includes towns further inland/west like Brockton, but most consider it the communities that are within 12 miles or so from the shore, south of Boston. That makes Quincy the largest city by population. It sits just south of Boston, neighboring Dorchester and Milton. Quincy’s biggest attractions include Marina Bay, Wollaston Beach, and Quincy Center. Quincy was also home to the Fore River Shipyard, a now-defunct shipyard that built some of WWII’s most famous boats like the USS Massachusetts. This was where the famous “Kilroy was here” doodle originated and became popular during the war.
The South Shore’s most famous beach, Nantasket, located in Hull
Hull is the most unique town on the South Shore and is comprised of seven hills that make up the town, connected via sand bars. Hull’s east-facing beach, Nantasket Beach, is one of the busiest beaches in Massachusetts, and also one of the most interesting. Nantasket is the former location of Paragon Park, but today still remains a vibrant and vital part of the South Shore. Hull has also participated in wind energy programs to increase the number of clean energy-producing wind turbines in town. A trip to Hull is certainly memorable, and a great drive. If you’re visiting Hull, be sure to drive all the way to Pemberton Point to catch a glimpse of the Boston skyline.
Oldest town on South Shore of Massachusetts, first settled by the Pilgrims
When the Pilgrims first arrived in 1620, they settled in Plymouth, MA. Not only was the first-ever Thanksgiving held in Plymouth, but the town is the biggest municipality in Massachusetts. Driving from one end of Plymouth to the other, north to south via backroads, will take you approximately 35 minutes (traffic pending). One of the best things to do in Plymouth if you have the chance is to experience the 4th of July celebration. Plymouth has an impressive fireworks display on the harbor that can be seen perfectly from anywhere on the waterfront.
One of the most beautiful downtowns in America
Cohasset is one of the South Shore’s hardest to get to towns. There are no divided highways that enter through Cohasset, instead only backroads like Route 3A which lead to the town. For an unforgettable drive in this town, head to Jerusalem Road which hugs rocky cliffs overlooking Massachusetts Bay. This road is also known for some of the most expensive properties on the South Shore. From many parts of Cohasset’s shore, you can spot Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse offshore. Known as the “I Love You” light for its 1-4-3 flashing sequence, the 1860 lighthouse is as romantic as it is striking.
Home of the North River
Pembroke may not be directly on the ocean, but has a direct relationship with the water. Five shipbuilding yards were once located on the banks of the North River in Pembroke. Further inland in Pembroke, there are several large ponds like Great Sandy, Furnace Pond, Oldham Pond, Silver Lake, and Hobomock Pond. These ponds were once summer vacation destinations for Boston residents looking to escape the heat of the city. Those cottages have since been converted to full-time residences. Pembroke also has an active Herring Run along Route 36, just before the center of town.
Residential South Shore town along the North River and Indian Head River
Hanover is a very residential town, known for its quiet back streets and historical homes. The North River forms the border between Pembroke and Hanover, which then, in turn, becomes the Indian Head River. On the other side of town near Route 3, you can find the busiest part of town near the Hanover Mall. Hanover is also home to South Shore Vocational Technical High School, serving much of the South Shore.
One of the South Shore’s busiest towns
Weymouth sits between Quincy, Braintree, and Hingham, making it one of the busiest towns on the South Shore. You can also find South Shore Hospital, which is situated on Route 18, serving most of the South Shore communities. The coastline of Weymouth is small, but the town is close to both Wollaston Beach and Nantasket Beach. The Weymouth Back River separates Hingham and Weymouth. Along the banks of the river, you can find Abigail Adams Park, Bare Cove Park, and Stodder’s Neck.
Home of Brant Rock, Fieldston, Green Harbor, and Rexhame
Marshfield is a town of many names. Green Harbor, Fieldston, Brant Rock, Rexhame, Marshfield Hills, and Ocean Bluff are a few of the neighborhoods you can find in town. Marshfield has some of the best public and private beaches on the South Shore, most of which are very easily accessible. The most popular is the Green Harbor and Brant Rock.
Home of Duxbury Beach and the Powder Point Bridge
Duxbury has some dramatic scenery in several spots across town, which is evident as soon as you drive to Powder Point Bridge. The Bluefish River Reservoir, which empties into Plymouth Bay, winds next to picturesque homes along King Caesar Road, culminating at Powder Point Bridge. Over the bridge, you can find Duxbury Beach and Marshfield’s Green Harbor nearby, or further out on Gurnet Road, the small private village of Saquish.
Find the Jones River and Silver Lake in Kingston
Kingston, like Weymouth, is located along the shore but has a little coastline. The main beach of Kingston is Gray’s Beach, which offers views of Plymouth Harbor. The town has 3 exits off of Route 3, and a historic homes section along Route 27 (Main Street). Kingston also houses Silver Lake Regional High School, which serves the towns of Plympton, Halifax, and Kingston. The school is adjacent to Silver Lake, which feeds the Jones River.
Historic colonial homes on Main Street & beautiful views of the North River
Norwell is located along the North River, which serves as a boundary between Marshfield and Norwell. The North River runs parallel to much of Main Street, which has rows of historic Colonial homes. Sections of Wompatuck State Park can also be found in Norwell. The most notable crossing over the North River can be found at Bridge St., which turns into Union St. when you cross over the river and the town line into Marshfield.
Home of Ocean Spray’s first cranberry bog
Hanson is a rural town on the South Shore between Pembroke and Whitman. Much of the town is residential but has some commercial buildings in the town center and at the intersection of Route 14 and Route 58 (at Shaw’s Plaza). Hanson shares its high school with Whitman, which is known as Whitman Hanson Regional High School.
Where you’ll find Edaville Railroad, King Richard’s Faire
Carver is one of the South Shore’s biggest towns in square miles, just behind Plymouth and Middleboro in size. This is where you’ll find Edaville Railroad (now known as Edaville USA) and the New England Renaissance Fair, King Richard’s Faire. You can get to Carver by taking Route 58 or Route 44. Route 58 will head directly into the town center, and eventually south towards Wareham.
Onset and the Weweantic River of Wareham
Wareham is often considered part of Cape Cod, and has dubbed itself the “Gateway to Cape Cod.” Whether the town is actually part of Cape Cod or not, you can find beautiful scenery in Onset and Wareham’s many winding rivers, including the Weweantic River.
The beaches of the South Shore might not be as well known as some of the ones on Cape Cod, but they’re actually just as impressive. The long peninsula of Gurnet in Duxbury provides beautiful sand dunes backdrops, Brant Rock has an active coastline and quaint New England style village, and Nantasket is the quintessential “close to the city” beach. Here are some of the best beaches on the South Shore, including the ones previously mentioned.
Hotels on the South Shore
A few of the South Shore’s most well-known hotel areas:
Holiday Inn Rockland
The Holiday Inn is located on Route 228 (Hingham St.) in Rockland. It is directly off Route 3, convenient to both Boston and Cape Cod. Also nearby is the Italian restaurant Bella’s, as well as many more restaurants further east on 228 heading towards Hingham.
Comfort Inn Rockland, Rockland,MA
The Comfort Inn is also located on Route 228, across from the Dunkin’ Donuts in Rockland. Located on Hingham Street, this is also right off the highway and adjacent to the other hotels in Rockland.
Best Western Rockland, MA
The Best Western in Rockland is in the general area of the rest of the Rockland hotels, right on Route 228. A great location for trips north or south, and a good stopping point.
Hotels in Plymouth
Plymouth is approximately 25 minutes south of Hanover along Route 3. Plymouth is a convenient town for travel between both Cape Cod and Boston, as well as the South Shore area. Stop by the Mayflower II, stroll along the historic waterfront, take a harbor cruise, or take a whale-watching on Cape Cod Bay in Plymouth. There’s plenty to do in Plymouth, especially in the warmer months of the year. Plymouth also has a vibrant downtown area with shops, restaurants, and cafes. Here are some hotels in Plymouth, MA, along with some information on each hotel:
Plymouth Comfort Inn
The Plymouth Comfort Inn is located not on the waterfront, but about a mile inland to the west. The waterfront area is a quick drive or walk from the Comfort Inn. Also nearer to the hotel is the downtown area. It is located conveniently off Route 3, which heads to both Cape Cod and Boston.
Hampton Inn & Suites Plymouth, MA
The Hampton Inn & Suites is located in the Route 44 shopping area in Plymouth known as Colony Place. This part of Plymouth is about 2 miles from the downtown Plymouth area, with ample parking and a Bertucci’s restaurant, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Olive Garden, and other shops and restaurants in the outdoor shopping area. Route 44 also leads to I-495.
Hilton Garden Inn Plymouth MA
The Hilton Garden Inn at Plymouth MA is located at Exit 5 off of Long Pond Rd. in Plymouth. It is south of the waterfront area, but still only approximately 3 miles from the waterfront and downtown. Also adjacent to the Hilton Garden Inn at Plymouth are restaurants like Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse, Uno Pizzeria, and the Shops at Five. One of the best-reviewed hotels in the Plymouth area.
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