This town on the South Shore has special ties to the Civil War. For some 20 years Abington was the site of an annual Abolitionist meeting, held at what is now Island Grove Park, a picturesque public space next to a pond.
In the 1810s the mass-production of iron tacks was pioneered in Abington, and laid the groundwork for a burgeoning shoe and boot industry.
Almost half of all the footwear manufactured for the Union Army in the Civil War came from factories here in Abington.
This aspect of Abington’s heritage can be appreciated at a Civil War encampment at Island Grove Park during the town’s Founders’ Day festival.
For half a century from 1941 an enormous naval air field occupied a big piece of Abington, and you can access a lot of this space on conservation land at Thompson’s Pond.
1. Ames Nowell State Park
In a residential neighborhood, quite a long way from major arteries, this 700-acre state park is easy to miss if you’re just passing through.
Ames Nowell State Park is a delight, with ten miles of paved and unpaved trails on the wooded (pine, oak, beech) shores of a man-made pond dating back to the 18th century.
In the 1920s this was laid out as a bird sanctuary and hunting ground before being purchased by a member of the wealthy Ames family and donated.
Along the trails you’ll encounter wetland areas crossed by board planks, and boardwalks by the lakeshore, with fascinating traces of history in the old stone walls that appear in the woods.
Cleveland Pond is an excellent fishing spot known for its largemouth bass, chain pickerel, black crappie and bluegill.
2. Island Grove Park
The finest of Abington’s public parks is on more than 50 acres, donated to the town in 1882. From 1846 to 1865 this was the site of an annual meeting of Abolitionists, led by William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879).
The site of these “August First” gatherings is now marked by a bronze plaque in a large stone. Island Grove Pond was first dammed for industry at the turn of the 18th century and from the mid-19th century became the anchor for an amusement park.
There’s a sand-bottomed swimming area here, open to residents and non-residents late June to late August, while the park’s evergreen woods are perfect for a relaxed walk. A bridge across the pond leads to the town’s Civil War monument, composed of a triumphal arch.
3. Founders’ Day
The Abington Celebrates Committee is responsible for a few annual events in the town, most notably an action-packed weekend to kick-off the summer season in early June.
Marking Abignton’s Birthday, which is now well into its 310s, Founders’ Day features a cookout, the cutting of the town’s cake, a 5k road race, a fishing derby, and a thrilling fireworks show, sponsored by a number of local businesses.
A highlight is the traditional Civil War encampment at Island Grove Park, with reenactments, and demonstrations of historical skills including old-time folk music, cooking and medicine.
4. Dyer Memorial Library
The wealthy Dyer family had been an integral part of Abington life since the turn of the 18th century, before the town was even incorporated. In the 1890s Marietta White Dyer (1853–1918) inherited a fortune from her banker uncle Samuel Brown Dyer (1809-1894).
When she died, she bequeathed this to a fund to build and maintain a historical and biographical library. In a Georgian Revival building, completed in 1932. The Dyer Memorial Library is still privately funded.
This serves as an extraordinary resource for the history of Abington, Rockland and Whitman, with curated exhibits and genealogical records going back to the Mayflower. Walk-ins are welcome during open hours, and you’re free to take a self-guided tour.
5. Fuller Craft Museum
The only museum in New England dedicated exclusively to crafts is a 10-minute car ride west in Brockton. Founded in 1946, the Fuller Craft Museum deals with contemporary decorative arts, from ceramics to jewelry, woodwork, textiles, furniture, mosaics, and glass.
There’s also 22 acres of beautiful grounds on Upper Porter Pond, and outside you’ll be met by captivating works of sculpture in stone and wood.
The galleries have as many as five concurrent exhibitions at any time, and the gift shop is a must, filled with work by local and regional artists. Look out for regular art-making activities, talks, performances, film screenings and open studios.
6. Hanover Branch Trail (Abington Rail Trail)
Opened in 1868, the 7.8-mile Hanover Branch Railroad linked the Old Colony Railroad main line here in Abington with the town of Hanover.
This later became part of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and since the 2000s the right-of-way has gradually been turned into a rail trail.
When we put this article together you could get onto the Hanover Branch Trail at the corner of Birch and Monroe St, and walk or ride 2.6 miles to West Hanover. In 2022 the trail was awarded funding for an eastward expansion towards Hanover.
Passing mostly through quiet residential areas, the path is ten feet wide, and users have the right of way at road crossings. At the crossing with Union Street in Rockland you can check out a section of the original rails, partnered with an interpretive kiosk.
7. J.P. Ryan’s Tavern
With live music, satisfying pub food and lots of beers on tap, unpretentious neighborhood taverns like this are a mainstay of South Shore communities.
If there’s one menu item that you simply have to try it’s the bar pizza, which is a culinary signature of the South Shore.
These come in 10″ personal pans, with a crispy crust and a wide selection of toppings and specialty options. There’s live music most weekends, and you can find out who’s playing via the website.
8. 10th District Brewing Company
Founded by two childhood friends who grew up here in Abington, 10th District Brewing Company opened in 2014, and is now available at a number of bars and restaurants from Hull to Holbrook.
You can go to the source in Abington, where there’s a taproom with ample dog-friendly outdoor space.
Among the beers on tap at the time of writing were a choice of IPAs, a Gose, a Kolsch, a peanut Stout and some less conventional creations like a jalapeño ale and a lime sour.
You can purchase cans or fill growlers here, while flights are available if you’d like to sample four beers in manageable quantities.
9. Naval Air Station Weymouth (Control Tower)
From 1941 to 1997 a US Navy Airfield occupied a large expanse of Abington, Weymouth and Rockland. Naval Air Station Weymouth was a blimp base during World War II, and then became part of the Naval Air Reserve Training Command.
The land has gradually been handed over to the respective towns since the mid-90s, partly for redevelopment projects like Union Point.
Other areas have been left open, and you can visit the Wildlands Trust preserve to gauge the amazing scale of the airfield, where the runways were once as long as 7,000 feet.
We’ll talk about Thompson Trail below, but some way north of there, off Adams St, you can get to the old control tower, still intact although now showing its age, and accompanied by a few decaying hangar bays.
10. Thompson Pond Trail
The former site of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station is massive, and can be traversed along this trail system.
The Thompson Pond Trail is managed by the Wildlands Trust, and accessed from Spruce St on the Abington-Rockland line.
Out-and-back, the Thompson Pond Trail is just under two miles long, crossing the perennial French’s Stream, and bringing you to the picturesque northern shore of the pond where you’ll find a section of boardwalk and benches.
At the trailhead you can also head off along the Twin Ponds Trail into Rockland, while south of Spruce St is the 40+ acre Rockland Town Forest, waiting to be discovered.
Since the mid-2010s, Abington has put on a family oriented celebration on the second weekend in October.
Oktoberfest mixes German and Halloween themed events and activities, with light-hearted fun like a dog costume contest, carved pumpkin contest, an open house at the Dyer Memorial Library, and a children’s costume parade.
There’s a marketplace on the Saturday, with vendors, crafters and music, as well as a family celebration on the Sunday, with a host of activities for kids, a beer garden for grownups, and a performance by the Double Eagle Oktoberfest German Band.
12. Barrett’s Haunted Mansion
One of the top scares in the region, Abington has a haunted house that is now into its fourth decade.
Barrett’s Haunted Mansion is two attractions in one, with a terrifying trail through the main house, and Condemned (at the time of writing), in which you enter an old chemical lab, sealed off and crawling with mutants.
There’s a number of special events throughout the season in September and October, including lights-on visits on Saturdays, when you can appreciate the craft and love that goes into the scenarios, props, costumes, and makeup.
13. Abington Summer Concerts
Summers in Abington wouldn’t be the same without this annual series of concerts in July and August.
The stage is the Catherine and Joseph Nisby Bandstand next to Abington Town Hall, with the expansive field accommodating surprisingly large crowds for these shows.
Concerts take place on Sunday evenings, featuring performers from a range of genres, whether you’re in the mood for soul, classic rock, country, doo-wop, jazz or 80s pop hits.
One night during the season is especially for kids, with balloon art, educational exotic animal demonstrations and face painting.
14. High Voltage Paintball
Hidden in more than 20 acres of woods close by in Holbrook, High Voltage Paintball welcomes walk-ins on Saturdays and Sundays.
There’s a great variety of terrains on offer here, from the deep cover of the woodsball fields to the open speedball field.
The facility is also primed for all kinds of game modes, whether you’re attack/defending a strategic hilltop or bunker, or playing bomb the base, or capture the flag.
All the gear you need to get started is available here, and the attentive staff make sure the game stays safe.
15. Strawberry Valley Golf Course
For a no-frills round of golf, Abington has an excellent municipal course in mostly open parkland on the south side of the town.
Strawberry Valley Golf Course is a 9-hole track that plays relatively short, so is ideal if you’re just starting out, or want to work on your iron-play and short game.
The course is well maintained, has a good pace of play, and represents amazing value for money. In the winter the course’s rolling layout becomes perfect sledding terrain for local kids.