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10 Best Things to Do South of Boston This Summer

Duxbury Beach
Duxbury Beach. Massachusetts Bureau of Travel and Tourism / flickr

South of Boston are numerous historic and scenic destinations full of summer fun, says Paula Fisher, deputy director of See Plymouth, the tourism organization for the city and county of Plymouth.

“You can come here and enjoy beautiful scenery, great restaurants, wineries and breweries, and also be immersed in early American history through all these towns on the South Shore,” Fisher said.

Ahead, check out 10 things to do south of Boston this summer.

Built in 1928, on Nantasket Beach in the seaside town of Hull, the Paragon Carousel has been in use for almost 100 years and was a former part of Paragon Park, an amusement park open from 1905 to 1984.

The carousel, the park’s last remaining attraction, contains the original 66 carved wooden horses and two rare Roman chariots.

“It’s so cheap,” Fisher said. “A single ride costs $3 and a 10-ride pass costs $25. There is also a creamery there, so you can get ice cream.”

Visitors can make a day of it by ordering ice cream and snacks from the nearby Carousel Creamery and visiting the Paragon Park Museum, which displays artifacts, videos and memorabilia from the amusement park.

Additionally, visitors can stop by the Restoration Studio and watch restoration curator James Hardison painstakingly restore the carousel horses.

The carousel is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m

The coastal town of Scituate is an excellent place for a meal, according to Patrice Maye, a 20-year resident and founder of the Scituate Harbor Cultural District.

“We have a wealth of restaurants, and I’m proud of that,” Maye told Boston.com in a travel article about what to do in Scituate.

Some excellent restaurants for hungry visitors, according to Maye: Satuit Tavern and Mill Wharf Restaurant & Pub for seafood, Salt Society for sushi, Crust for pizza, the waterfront pub TKO Malleys for a burger, Galley Kitchen & Bar and Hibernian Tavern for live music , and Oro for a great date night.

Travelers can then stroll through the Scituate Harbor Cultural District, which stretches along the harbor from Cole Parkway and Front Street at St. Mary’s Church to the historic Scituate Lighthouse. People can shop, eat out and enjoy Scituate’s bustling harbor.

While in Scituate, visitors can check out a historic tower in the evening with fun programming, Fisher said.

Guests can climb the 150-foot-tall Lawson’s Tower, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and billed as “the most beautiful, most photographed, and most expensive water tower in the world.” In 1902, Thomas Lawson, described as “a giant of the stock market in the early 20th century,” fell in love with Scituate and built a farm there. He had the tower built to enclose an ugly water tank after sending his architect to Europe to research tower designs.

“The tower is open for people to purchase tickets to go to the top of the tower for the full moon,” Fisher said.

The Scituate Historical Society hosts “Trips to the Top” on select full moon evenings throughout the summer. After guests climb the 121 steps to the top, the society shares the tower’s history and members of the South Shore Astronomical Society offer telescopes for moon viewing.

Full moon tower tours cost $10 and this year will take place on June 21, July 20, August 19 and September 19, among others. The tower is not accessible to the disabled.

Trustees of Reservations’ beautiful properties throughout Massachusetts are perfect for experiencing slow travel, or exploring an area mindfully and slowly, Kate Fox, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT), told Boston.com in a recent article.

At the 129-acre Norris Preserve in Norwell, visitors can hike several loop or out-and-back carriage roads. The Patriot Ledger recently named the preserve one of the best places south of Boston for hikes that will give you a special reward or surprise.

At the reserve you can “walk past a former mill pond, cross a boardwalk over a wetland area and explore a pine and oak forest on your way to a boathouse on the banks of the tidal River North,” according to the Trustees.

The reservation is free and open daily from sunrise to sunset.

It’s worth spending a summer day at Duxbury Beach, Fisher said.

“It’s well maintained,” Fisher said. “It is a very long beach, there is plenty of room for people.”

The scenic, family-friendly beach has parking, lifeguards, bathroom facilities, a snack bar, and is ADA accessible.

Duxbury was recently named one of the best, less crowded summer vacation destinations on the East Coast Conde Nast travelerwho wrote: “Walk across a historic wooden bridge to the town’s 10-kilometre-long sandy beach for a dip in the calm waters of the bay, or take a lovely stroll through the charming center full of old captain’s houses and shops.”

Duxbury Beach Park is open from 9am to 8pm during the summer months. Horses, dogs, kites, fire and alcohol are not allowed on the beach and parking costs $25 per day.

Visitors can enjoy a side of history while having breakfast at the Major John Bradford Homestead in Kingston.

The 1714 house was once owned by John Bradford (1653-1736), who founded the city of Kingston and was the grandson of Mayflower passenger governor William Bradford.

“They give a tour of the building and they provide these nice breakfasts,” Fisher said.

Summer Breakfast starts on July 14 and includes children’s activities, car shows and more. Visitors can also tour a threshing barn dating from 1798, a garden, exhibitions and a gift shop. Breakfast costs $15 for adults and $8 for children ages 5 to 10. Children under 5 years old are free.

The historic house, maintained by the Jones River Village Historical Society, is open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon in July and August. There is also a farm-to-table dinner planned by the association for July 20.

Plimoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth. – Kristi Palma / Boston.com

Step back in time at Plymouth’s Plimoth Patuxet Museum, recently named America’s Best Outdoor Museum by USA today readers.

Visitors can explore a historic Patuxet homestead, a 17th-century English village, climb aboard the Mayflower II—a full-size replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America—see the Plimoth Grist Mill, and more. The ship and mill are located almost three miles from the main museum campus in downtown Plymouth.

“Visitors will be immersed in a living history experience, interacting with historical interpreters who portray both Pilgrims and Wampanoag residents and show daily life during the period,” wrote USA today.

The museum is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets for all three living history sites cost $46 for adults and $29 for children ages 5 to 12.

Whale watching, a popular pastime in New England, is on the rise in Plymouth, Fisher said.

“One of the reasons people come here is to watch whales,” Fisher says. “Captain John Boats whale watching is a huge summer event.”

Founded in 1946, Captain John Boats organizes daily fishing and whale watching excursions. The whale watching tours depart from Town Wharf, last four hours, are narrated by naturalists and travel to Stellwagen Bank. Stellwagen Bank is a marine reserve and one of the most important feeding grounds for whales.

Whale watching tickets for Captain John Boats cost $73 for adults and $53 for children ages 4 to 12.

Can’t get enough of whales? Follow the Massachusetts Whale Trail.

Road trippers can drive along Routes 3A and 53 between Boston and Plymouth to discover the “Back Roads of the South Shore.”

“There are a number of different historical sites along the route that you can visit along the way,” Fisher said.

The trail consists of 40 historic sites in 12 towns along the south coast. It starts with the Hull Life Saving Museum in Hull and ends at the Jabez Howland House in Plymouth. In between, visitors can explore historical societies, museums, Abigail Adams’ birthplace, and more.

Interested travelers can pick up a map at See Plymouth at 4 North St. in Plymouth.

“Back Roads of the South Shore offers historic, hidden treasures in a relaxing and scenic atmosphere,” the map states.

King Richard’s Faire in Carver, named one of the top Renaissance festivals in the U.S. by the Travel Channel, returns this summer for its 43rd season. It is billed as the longest-running Renaissance festival in New England.

Hundreds of performers, from minstrels to acrobats, fire eaters to knights, dazzle the crowds during the weekend festival of food, rides, games, shopping and entertainment. Period clothing is optional.

“From August to October, hundreds of people gather on the 200-acre site to watch knights on horseback battle, beggars battle in the mud and performers perform an acrobatic show,” Travel Channel wrote.

The festival also has themed weekends and special events.

This year’s event takes place from August 31 to October 20 and tickets cost $46 for adults and $26 for children ages 4 to 11.

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