12 Best Things to Do in South Shore, MA: Lighthouses, Lobsters, and Living History

by Jen
Best Things to Do in South Shore, MA
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Planning to check out the South Shore anytime soon? I’ll guide you through the top attractions and things to do in Massachusetts’ South Shore. From catching waves at Nantasket Beach to stepping back in time at Plimoth Patuxet, the South Shore turns every visit into a thrilling mix of sun, sea, and history!

Ahh the South Shore! It’s that slice of Massachusetts where every turn reveals something unexpected, from hidden beaches to historic ships. You know, I’ve always thought of this place as a little secret, tucked away just a heartbeat from Boston but worlds apart in vibe.

Whether you’re here to soak up some sun on Duxbury Beach, get a history lesson aboard the USS Salem, or just find that perfect spot to enjoy a local brew, there’s no shortage of cool things to do in the South Shore, MA. Trust me, as someone who’s always hunting for the next great adventure, the South Shore has surprises that keep me coming back.

Ready to explore? I’ve got the inside scoop on the must-sees and hidden gems that’ll make your trip unforgettable. Let’s dive into the best things to do in this charming corner of New England.

The top places to visit in South Shore, MA right now

Best places to visit in South Shore, Massachusetts

Ready to discover the hidden gems of the South Shore? From the serene shores of Duxbury Beach to the scenic trails of World’s End in Hingham, there’s no shortage of exciting things to do on the South Shore, MA.

Whether you’re kayaking along the tranquil North River or exploring the historic grounds of Plimoth Patuxet, every corner of the South Shore is ripe with adventure. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best South Shore attractions. Believe me, each one is a must-experience!

1. Explore World’s End in Hingham

Ever feel like you just want to escape to the end of the world? Well, in Hingham, you sort of can. World’s End isn’t just a dramatic name. It’s a promise of an escape that delivers. This place is a stunning mix of natural beauty and designed landscapes, where rolling hills meet the sea, and walking trails wind through forests and along shorelines.

Picture this: you’re strolling down a tree-lined path, the Boston skyline peeking through the leaves in the distance, and the only sound is the chirping of birds and the rustle of leaves underfoot.

What makes World’s End truly unique is its history and design. Originally intended as a housing development, it was transformed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted into a series of carriage paths and sweeping vistas. Now, it’s a tranquil haven for walkers, photographers, and anyone looking to catch a breath of fresh air.

For those of you looking for fun places to visit in the South Shore, adding World’s End to your itinerary is a must. If you’re an avid hiker, a nature lover, or just someone craving a peaceful afternoon, this place has something for everyone. And hey, it’s also a fantastic spot for a picnic with a view that’s hard to beat. Pack a lunch, grab your camera, and lose yourself in the beauty of World’s End. It’s a true hidden gem in Massachusetts.

Visiting World's End is one of the best things to do in South Shore, MA.
Visit World’s End in Hingham, where nature’s beauty meets the sea on rolling hills with winding trails.

2. Relax on Duxbury Beach

Imagine a place where the sand stretches out like a golden runway, inviting you to kick off your shoes and let the waves tickle your toes. That’s Duxbury Beach for you—a local favorite that whispers ‘slow down and breathe’ the moment you step onto its shores. It’s a slice of coastal bliss where you can truly unwind.

Here’s a little secret between us: Duxbury Beach is the perfect spot for anyone looking to escape the buzz of city life. Whether you’re aiming to perfect your tan, dive into a good book, or just enjoy a quiet stroll along the water’s edge, this beach has got you covered. And if you’re into shell collecting or bird watching, you’re in for a treat. The beach is home to some pretty neat finds and feathered friends.

Now, if you’re wondering about the best things to do in the South Shore while staying in Massachusetts, spending a day at Duxbury Beach should definitely be on your list. Pack a picnic, bring your sunscreen, and maybe a kite—trust me, the wind here is perfect for it.

Experience coastal bliss at Duxbury Beach, where golden sands and inviting waves offer a tranquil escape.
Experience coastal bliss at Duxbury Beach, where golden sands and inviting waves offer a tranquil escape.

3. Tour the USS Salem in Quincy

Picture this: a massive ship with stories etched into every corner, waiting for you to discover them. That’s the USS Salem, docked in Quincy, inviting you on a journey back in time. It’s not every day you get to explore a piece of naval history that’s as imposing as it is fascinating.

Stepping aboard the USS Salem, you’ll feel a sense of awe. This ship has seen the world. Today, it serves as a reminder of the power and complexity of naval engineering. Each corridor and room tells a tale, from the tight living quarters of sailors to the command rooms that decided fates. It’s a real-life history lesson, but trust me, way more engaging than any classroom.

For anyone looking for what to do in the South Shore that mixes a bit of education with a ton of intrigue, the USS Salem is a no-brainer. It’s a chance to dive into the past and experience life at sea without ever leaving the dock. Plus, the views of Quincy Bay from the deck are unbeatable.

The ship hosts some pretty unique events, from overnight stays to ghost tours. Yes, you heard that right—ghost tours. If you’re up for a little thrill or a night to remember, this is your spot. Believe me, the USS Salem offers an experience you won’t find anywhere else on the South Shore, MA.

Explore naval history aboard the USS Salem in Quincy, a fascinating journey back in time.
Explore naval history aboard the USS Salem in Quincy, a fascinating journey back in time.

4. Walk the Scituate Lighthouse

Ever dreamt of standing in a spot where you can watch the ocean stretch out endlessly before you? That’s what you get at the Scituate Lighthouse. This spot, located on Cedar Point, offers some of the most breathtaking views around.

The Scituate Lighthouse is more than a picturesque landmark. It’s a place where you can feel the pulse of the sea and the whispers of the past. Taking a walk around here, especially during sunset, is like stepping into a postcard. The way the light dances on the water? Absolutely magical.

It’s the perfect spot for a stroll or a romantic walk. The area around the lighthouse is serene. Plus, the history lovers among us will love diving into the stories of maritime heroism associated with this iconic structure.

If you’re compiling a list of fun things to do in the South Shore, make sure a visit to the Scituate Lighthouse is right up there. It’s not every day you get to enjoy such stunning views wrapped up in so much history. Don’t forget your camera—this is one place you’ll want to remember long after you’ve left.

At Scituate Lighthouse, experience breathtaking views of the endless ocean stretch before you.
At Scituate Lighthouse, experience breathtaking views of the endless ocean stretch before you.

5. Kayak on the North River

There’s something about being on the water that just does it for me—peace, adventure, and nature all rolled into one. That’s exactly what you get kayaking on the North River. It’s this perfect escape where every stroke of the paddle pulls you away from the hustle and pulls you deeper into tranquility. Trust me, it’s as rejuvenating as it sounds.

The river itself is a gem. Winding through beautiful landscapes, it’s calm enough for newbies but still holds little surprises for the experienced. I always find something new here, be it a hidden spot along the bank or a new type of bird I’ve never noticed before.

You don’t need your own kayak to dive into this adventure. Rentals are available right on the riverbank. It’s super easy to just show up and get on the water.

If you’re anything like me and love a bit of guidance to uncover the river’s secrets, there are guided tours. They can take you to spots you’d never find on your own. My personal recommendation? Go for an early morning paddle. The water is like glass, and the quiet? It’s otherworldly.

Making time for a kayak trip down the North River is hands-down one of the coolest things to do on the South Shore, MA. It’s a fantastic way to see the area from a different angle.

Kayak the North River for tranquility and nature's peace, an escape from the hustle.
Kayak the North River for tranquility and nature’s peace, an escape from the hustle. | Image Source: https://www.norwellsocial.com/

6. Hike in the Blue Hills Reservation

Have you ever had one of those days where you just need to switch off and get lost in nature? Whenever I feel that way, I head straight to the Blue Hills Reservation. It’s this sprawling haven of greenery that makes you forget you’re even near a city. With over 125 miles of trails, this place is a hiker’s dream.

My favorite thing about the Blue Hills is the variety. You can find trails that lead you to quiet ponds, through dense forests, or up to rocky summits with views that are seriously scenic. I highly recommend the Skyline Trail. The panoramic views of the Boston skyline mixed with the lush landscape below are stunning.

Here’s a tip from me: don’t miss out on a sunset hike. There’s something magical about watching the sun dip below the horizon from the top of Great Blue Hill. Just make sure to bring a flashlight for the trek back down.

If you’re an avid hiker or just looking to escape the hustle for a bit, the Blue Hills Reservation is one of the coolest places to visit in the South Shore, MA. It’s a chance to recharge, to take a breath, and to soak in the beauty of the natural world. Check it out!

Exploring Blue Hills Reservation is one of the best things to do in South Shore, MA.
Escape to the Blue Hills Reservation, a sprawling green haven with over 125 miles of trails.

7. Enjoy the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury

I stumbled upon this spot on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and let me tell you, the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury is a hidden gem that deserves a spot on your South Shore things to do list. It’s not your typical museum. It’s more like a quiet sanctuary where art and nature blend seamlessly together.

Nestled in a stunning woodland setting, this museum offers a unique mix of American and international art, ranging from modern pieces to ancient works. The collection is thoughtfully curated. What caught my eye? The Japanese tea ceremony held in an authentic tea hut on the grounds. It’s an experience that’s as enlightening as it is serene.

Don’t rush here. Take your time to wander through the galleries, then step outside to explore the sculpture garden. It’s like walking through a living art piece.

Visiting the Art Complex Museum is one of those places to go in the South Shore where you can easily lose track of time. It’s perfect for art lovers, of course, but even if you’re not an art buff, the peaceful ambiance and beautiful surroundings make it a worthwhile stop. And the best part? Admission is free! It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in culture without spending a dime.

Explore the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, a serene blend of art and nature.
Explore the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, a serene blend of art and nature.

8. Catch a Show at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset

One of my favorite places to go in Massachusetts is the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset. This venue is an absolute must-visit for anyone looking to add a dash of entertainment to their South Shore adventure.

The Music Circus is one of those rare, in-the-round theaters. This means that the stage is surrounded by the audience. This setup ensures there’s not a bad seat in the house and creates an intimacy between the performers and the audience that’s hard to find elsewhere.

I saw a concert there last summer, and let me tell you, the atmosphere was electric. There’s something about being so close to the action that really amps up the experience. Whether you’re into concerts, comedians, or family shows, the Music Circus has a lineup that caters to all tastes.

Here’s a little insider tip: make a night of it. The area around the venue is charming, with plenty of spots to grab dinner or a drink before the show starts. It turns the whole experience into a perfect evening out.

The South Shore Music Circus is a true gem in the South Shore, MA. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on this place.

Don't miss the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset for a dash of entertainment on your adventure.
Don’t miss the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset for a dash of entertainment on your adventure.

9. Sample Local Brews at Untold Brewing in Scituate

There’s something special about visiting a local brewery—it’s like you can taste the heart and soul of the place in every sip. That’s exactly the vibe at Untold Brewing in Scituate. I had the pleasure of swinging by last month, and let me tell you, it’s not just about the beer (though, of course, that’s a huge part). It’s about the whole experience.

Located in a converted schoolhouse, Untold Brewing has this welcoming atmosphere that makes you want to settle in and stay awhile. Their selection of beers is impressive, ranging from crisp IPAs to rich stouts, and everything in between. I highly recommend their seasonal ales.

There’s often live music, food trucks parked outside, and a crowd that’s always happy to recommend their favorite brew or share a story. It’s the perfect spot to kick back after a day of exploring the South Shore, MA.

Dropping into Untold Brewing for a pint or two is one of the best things to do in the South Shore that gives you a real taste of the local scene. Whether you’re a beer aficionado or just curious, it’s a welcoming place to relax and enjoy some of the best brews the area has to offer. Plus, you’re supporting local craftsmanship—always a win in my book.

Experience the heart and soul of Scituate at Untold Brewing, where every sip captures the essence of the place.
Experience the heart and soul of Scituate at Untold Brewing, where every sip captures the essence of the place.

10. Take a Day Trip to the Boston Harbor Islands

When anyone asks me where to go in the South Shore, I always recommend taking a day trip out to the Boston Harbor Islands. I had the chance to do this last summer, and it was a highlight of my year. Each island has its own personality, from the historical significance of Georges Island to the natural beauty of Spectacle Island.

Hopping on a ferry from the mainland feels like you’re stepping into a different world. My top pick? Spectacle Island. It’s got trails that offer some of the most stunning views back towards the city and the sea. Plus, the swimming beach is a perfect spot to cool off on a hot day.

What I appreciate about the islands is how they provide such a unique escape. You can explore forts, hike trails, or just find a quiet spot to picnic and watch the boats sail by. It’s the ideal way to experience the South Shore’s natural and historical sights in one go.

Bringing a camera is a must because you’ll want to capture the skyline views and the serene landscapes. And, if you’re like me and enjoy a bit of history, Georges Island’s Fort Warren is fascinating to explore.

A day trip to the Boston Harbor Islands is an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, history, and some of the most breathtaking sights around the South Shore, MA. Whether you’re solo or with friends, it’s an experience that’s both refreshing and enlightening.

 Venture to the Boston Harbor Islands, where each island offers its own unique charm and history.
Venture to the Boston Harbor Islands, where each island offers its own unique charm and history.

11. Stroll Through Historic Downtown Plymouth

If there’s one thing I always tell friends visiting the South Shore, it’s that you can’t miss a stroll through historic downtown Plymouth. Walking these streets is like stepping back in time. It’s not just about the history, though. This place has a vibe that’s both quaint and lively.

Right from the get-go, you’re greeted with sights that blend the old with the new. The waterfront area, with its stunning views of Plymouth Harbor, is a perfect starting point. From there, you can meander through the streets, popping into unique shops and cozy cafes.

Downtown Plymouth is packed with historical landmarks. The Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a depth of history here that’s palpable. It’s easily one of the best places to visit in the South Shore for anyone looking to connect with America’s roots.

If you ask me, it’s the little coffee shops, the local boutiques, and those unexpected street performances that truly bring out the flavor of Plymouth. So, grab an ice cream, find a bench by the waterfront, and let the atmosphere work its magic. It’s moments like these that you’ll remember far longer than any guided tour.

Explore historic downtown Plymouth for a step back in time with a unique, lively vibe.
Explore historic downtown Plymouth for a step back in time with a unique, lively vibe.

12. Visit Plimoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth

Honestly, I was blown away by how cool history could be after a day at the Plimoth Patuxet Museums. From the moment you arrive, it’s like you’ve traveled back to the 17th century, and I’m not just talking about the costumes.

The thing that gets me every time is how interactive everything is. You can chat with the Pilgrims (well, actors who are incredibly good at staying in character), watch craftsmen at work, and even get a taste of what life was like back then.

For a truly immersive experience, try your hand at some of the activities. Whether it’s helping to grind corn or learning about traditional cooking methods, it’s these hands-on moments that make the visit memorable. Plus, it’s a hit with both kids and adults alike.

Ending your day at Plimoth Patuxet Museums is a blast. Picture yourself tossing a 17th-century-style ball back and forth or laughing as you attempt to navigate a Pilgrim’s daily chores. It’s this blend of learning and play that makes a visit to the museum one of the best things to do in the South Shore with kids. Come ready to explore, laugh, and maybe leave with a greater appreciation for your modern comforts!

Exploring Plimoth Patuxet Museums is one of the best things to do in South Shore, MA.
Discover Plimoth Patuxet Museums, where history comes alive in a cool and captivating way.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the best things to do in South Shore, MA:

Looking for more content on the top things to do in South Shore? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the South Shore.

What is the South Shore of Massachusetts known for?

The South Shore is known for its charming coastal towns, beautiful beaches, and rich history, making it one of the top places to live and visit in Massachusetts. From the historical sites in Plymouth to the scenic beauty of the Hingham coastline, it’s a place where you can enjoy both nature and New England’s gem. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a mix of outdoor activities and cultural experiences.

What is the difference between the North Shore and the South Shore of MA?

The North Shore is known for its maritime history, stunning rocky beaches, and art communities like Gloucester and Salem. In contrast, the South Shore boasts calmer beaches, historical landmarks related to the Pilgrims, and a more laid-back coastal vibe. If you’re deciding where to go in Massachusetts, think about whether you prefer exploring historic witch trials and art colonies or soaking up early American history and enjoying sandy beaches.

Scenic view of South Shore, Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA.
Scenic view of South Shore, Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA.

Is Boston considered South Shore?

No, Boston isn’t considered part of the South Shore. The South Shore starts just south of Boston, stretching from Quincy down through Plymouth. While Boston has its own rich history and urban attractions, the South Shore offers a more relaxed pace with its coastal towns and natural landscapes.

What are the biggest towns and cities on the South Shore?

Some of the biggest towns and cities on the South Shore include Quincy, known for its historical sites; Brockton, with its diverse community and cultural offerings; Plymouth, the iconic landing place of the Pilgrims; and Braintree, offering great shopping and dining options

The top things to do in South Shore, MA for all types of travelers
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