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Discover the Rich History and Picturesque Beaches of Massachusetts’ South Shore

By Bojura Angelova

If you’re hosting an event in Boston during the summer months and looking for fresh ideas for post-event activities and extracurricular breaks, look no further than the South Shore of Massachusetts! This region is easily accessible via car, bus, train, and ferry and offers a plethora of activities, perfect for history buffs and nature lovers.

Cohasset – 22 miles South of Boston

Cohasset is a beautiful and unique coastal town with a rich history and spectacular views. The Town covers a nine square mile area and is home to approximately 8,000 residents. You might have never heard of Cohasset, but you have probably seen it in Hollywood productions like The Witches of Eastwick, Housesitter, and The Finest Hours.

Cohasset is probably best known for its beautiful beaches, many of which have been kept private to be enjoyed by local residents. Sandy Beach, known as the Jewel in the Crown in Cohasset, is open to the public – although visitors need to be accompanied by a resident or walk in from parking on a side street (there is no parking for non-residents).

When visiting Cohasset, you can also stop by nearby Hingham which is slightly larger and has many quaint shops and restaurants - it’s home of the original Talbots store. Also worth a trip is Nantasket Beach (a 13-minute drive from Hingham). The old Paragon Park, which operated from 1905 to 1984, is no longer there, but the vintage 1928 carousel and arcades remain. You can also visit the Paragon Park Museum to learn more about Nantasket Beach’s fascinating history as a playground for the rich and famous.

Plymouth - 40 miles South of Boston

Plymouth is the oldest municipality in New England and one of oldest in the United States. Known as “America’s Hometown”, Plymouth was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Mayflower Pilgrims.

A must-see attraction is the Plimoth Plantation - a world-class living history museum overlooking Cape Cod Bay. This immersive experience features a 17th Century English Village, Wampanoag Homesite, Plimoth Grist Mill, and Mayflower II docked in picturesque Plymouth Harbor (the ship is currently at Mystic Seaport, receiving a full restoration ahead of Plymouth’s 400th commemoration of the Pilgrims’ arrival on New England’s shores).

While you’re in Plymouth, don’t forget to visit the famous Plymouth Rock - the site where William Bradford and other Pilgrims first set foot on land, according to oral tradition. Although no historical evidence exists to confirm Plymouth Rock as the Pilgrims’ actual steppingstone to the New World, the boulder was identified as this spot in 1741, 121 years after the arrival of the Mayflower. Thomas Faunce, a 94-year-old church elder who said his father, who arrived in Plymouth in 1623, along with several of the original Mayflower passengers assured him the boulder was the exact landing spot.

But, Plymouth offers so much more than a trip to the past: visitors can enjoy water sports, whale watching, golfing, culinary tours, and more! Visit https://www.seeplymouth.com for more ideas for things to see and do.  

Fall River - 53 miles South of Boston

Fall River is the 8th largest city in Massachusetts and is heaven for military history enthusiasts!

Fall River’s Battleship Cove boasts the world’s largest collection of US Naval vessels. It is home to five National Historic Landmarks: Battleship USS Massachusetts, Destroyer USS Joseph P Kennedy, Jr, the World War II Attack Submarine USS Lionfish, and PT Boats 617 and 796. The centerpiece of the museum is the USS Massachusetts, which arrived in Fall River in June of 1965 after a successful campaign by the wartime crew of “Big Mamie” to save the ship from the scrap yard.

Before your visit to The Cove, take a walk in the Fall River Heritage State Park. This small park features a mile long wooden walkway along the beautiful Taunton River and offers a great view of the World War II battleships at Battleship Cove.

Another famous Fall River attraction is the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum, a spot sure to be a hit among fans of history and the supernatural. For those not familiar with the story, Lizzie Borden garnered notoriety as the main suspect in the August 4, 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother. To this date, the murders remain unsolved. This is the original house where the brutal, double murders occurred and many believe that the house is haunted by Lizzie herself.

Check out the visitor section of Fall River’s website for more information about the city and more ideas for things to see and do.

New Bedford - 59 miles South of Boston

New Bedford is nicknamed “The Whaling City” because in the 19th century, it was one of the most important whaling ports in the world, along with Nantucket, Massachusetts and New London, Connecticut. The city is also the inspiration behind Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

The city is home to one of the most well-known museums in Massachusetts, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which features the largest collection of whaling artifacts in the entire country. Visitors can take a tour through maritime history and examine the 66-foot long skeleton of a baby blue whale (one of only six complete skeletons on display in the word). Visit the museum’s website for hours, directions and admission information.

Another must see landmark is the Schooner Ernestina, a 100-year-old ship designated by the Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark. The vessel was built in 1894 at the James and Tarr Shipyard for the Gloucester fishing fleet. Under Captain Bob Bartlett she sailed to within 600 miles of the North Pole, and later brought immigrants to the U.S. under the power of sail. Returned to the US in 1982 as a gift from the newly independent Cape Verdean people, she sailed as an educator until 2005.

If you decide to visit New Bedford, we also recommend making a stop at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum. The museum is named after the three prominent families who resided at its 396 County Street address. The house and gardens chronicle 150 years (1834-1981) of economic and social life in the city, as reflected in the lives and stories of those who lived and worked at the property. Furnished period rooms display the decorative arts, furniture and belongings of the families and timeframe. The Museum offers permanent and changing exhibits, lecture series, community and educational programs. Check out their website for the most up to date information on hours and admission schedules.

In addition, The New Bedford Harbor provides a lovely backdrop for much of the city scenery, with plenty of space along the waterfront for walking and exploring. You can also hop on a boat tour for a harbor expedition, where whaling history comes alive.

Looking for more things to do in or around the city of Boston? Check out our guide of What To Do for shopping, dining, arts & music, historic landmark, and sports & entertainment suggestions.

The Destination Services Team of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau can also provide recommendations and resources for pre- and post-event activities both in and around Boston.