Over the past year I have had a lot of excitement travelling in Europe, living in New York City, and then living and working on a college campus in Boston this summer. A couple weeks ago, my summer job ended and I moved back home to the Massachusetts South Shore where I’ll be until I move to Australia in November. Most people who travel to Massachusetts either choose to go to Boston or Cape Cod, both of which are great places. But most people don’t realise that the area between those two places has a lot to offer too. This area is called the South Shore. This is the area where I grew up and location-wise, it’s probably the best place to be in the whole state. Really close to the north you have the excitement of Boston, and to the south you have the beautiful beaches and quaintness of Cape Cod. If you are planning a trip to Boston or the Cape anytime soon, you might want to consider spending a couple of days on the South Shore too to get a taste of authentic New England. While you’re on the South Shore, here is your guide to everything you need to do in order to get the best experience possible:
Spend some time on the Plymouth Waterfront
While there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of most towns on the South Shore, there’s a pretty good chance you learned about Plymouth when you were in school, I say this because I took one of the high school courses Ontario and I still got to here about it. It’s the town where the Pilgrims settled when they arrived in America and the place where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated. If you like history, there are so many historical spots to check out in Plymouth like Plymouth Rock, a recreation of the Mayflower ship, the Grist Mill, a recreation of the Pilgrims’ village called Plimoth Plantation, and so much more. And in addition to the history, the downtown area of Plymouth is so beautiful and the perfect place to spend a day. The harbour is the main spot to be and it’s lined with great restaurants and shops. During the warmer months, a lot of the restaurants offer outdoor seating with a great view and there are lots of benches to sit and take it all in. My favourite restaurant on the waterfront is called Mamma Mia’s. It’s an Italian restaurant that has a few locations on the South Shore, and everything there is delicious. And to get an even better view of the harbour, there is a rock jetty that you can walk on. Lastly, if you head over one block from the harbour, you’ll be on Main Street. You can find even more shops and restaurants here, particularly antique shops, and the whole street has a great authentic New England feel to it.
Get a coffee from Marylou’s
If you’ve ever met anyone from the South Shore, you’ve probably heard them mention Marylou’s, aka the best coffee shop ever! There are lots of locations all over the South Shore, and you’ll easily be able to spot it from its bright pink signs. Even if you don’t normally like coffee, give Marylou’s a chance. It’s the only coffee I’ll drink! If you just want standard coffee that’s fine, but what they really specialise in are flavoured iced coffees which taste more like a dessert than coffee! They probably have about a hundred flavours in pretty much everything you could imagine. My favourites are Girl Scout Cookie and Turtle, and other customer favourites are the Minty Lou and Twix. If you’re going to Marylou’s for the first time, you have to try one of their muffins too. My favourite is banana chocolate chip, but they are all amazing! Just writing this has made me really crave some Marylou’s 🙂
Spend an entire day at the beach
If you visit the South Shore during the summer or early autumn, spend a day relaxing like the locals do: by heading to the beach! There are lots of great beaches to visit on the South Shore—Nantasket Beach in Hull, Duxbury Beach in Duxbury, White Horse Beach in Plymouth, and Brant Rock Beach in Marshfield. Sunbathe and enjoy the beach during the day, and when night comes continue the fun with a bonfire, burgers, and s’mores!
Try the local seafood
While there’s lots of great food to find on the South Shore, the specialty is definitely the fresh seafood! The area south of Boston is known for producing some of the best seafood in the country, and you’ll often see South Shore oysters, lobsters, etc for sale all over the US. The most popular thing to try is some authentic New England clam chowder which you can order as an appetiser or main dish at pretty much every restaurant on the South Shore. Something else super popular are lobster rolls which you can find at seafood restaurants and most sandwich shops in the area. And something a little more different, but just as authentic, local oysters. You can order oysters at pretty much any seafood restaurant on the South Shore, but the most fun experience is to buy some from a local fish market and shuck them yourself. I tried this for the first time a couple weeks ago, and it’s definitely challenging but a really cool experience!
Go shopping at the South Shore Plaza or Wrentham Outlets
If you want to shop while you’re visiting the South Shore, you have some great options to pick from! For a big mall with all the stores you could imagine like H&M, Forever 21, J Crew, American Eagle, Target, Banana Republic…(I could go on for ages) check out the South Shore Plaza in Braintree. In addition to the great stores, there are also a lot of great options for food too: a huge food court with lots of choices, Cheesecake Factory, and American Joe’s. And if designer labels are your thing but you don’t want to go completely broke, check out the Wrentham Village Outlets in Wrentham. There are designer stores including everything from Michael Kors to Burberry to Saks to Banana Republic, and the best part is, everything is sooo much cheaper than it would be in a regular store! I have gotten some great deals at the outlets, and it’s also a really pretty outdoor shopping experience.
Take a day trip into Boston
If you are spending some time on the South Shore, there’s no way you can go without a day trip into the most exciting city in New England! Take a break from the slow-paced beachy South Shore and explore the cosmopolitan city to its north. There are so many different places to check out around the city: history, museums, great restaurants, shopping. For a more detailed list on some of the best places to check out while you’re in Boston, check out another of my blog posts here.
Take a day trip to Cape Cod
And another beautiful part of the state not far from the South Shore is the super famous Cape Cod. For a classic Cape experience, make the short drive to Falmouth. There are some beautiful beaches, my favourite being Old Silver Beach. There’s also a really cute and quaint downtown area lined with restaurants and independent shops which look so quintessentially New England. For a different Cape experience, catch a ferry to Provincetown on the tip of the Cape. There’s a big LGBT influence in the town, and there’s always something exciting going on there! And like Falmouth, the downtown area is really quaint and has lots of cool shops and waterfront restaurants.
Do everything on this list, and you’ll be experiencing the South Shore like a local! Whether you visit for a day, a week, or longer, the South Shore is a great change of pace from Boston and Cape Cod!
What are your favourite things to do on the South Shore? Let me know in a comment!
Hi I’m Christie, a 28-year-old girl originally from Boston who has spent time living in New York City, North Carolina, France, Australia, and New Zealand. I love moving to new places and exploring them as a local, and I can’t see my nomadic expat life stopping any time soon! I have no greater passion than travel, and when I’m not exploring I spend my free time reminiscing on past trips and daydreaming about future travel.