At the mouth of the Jones River and right next to Plymouth, Kingston is a seaside town known historically for its shipbuilding industry.
Those shipyards were based along the riverbanks and flourished from the late 18th century to the middle of the 19th century, building vessels for the Old China Trade but also for the whaling industry.
Now you can access much of the riverfront at beautiful town-owned conservation lands, which are crossed by the Bay Circuit Trail, close to the southern trailhead in Duxbury.
In several you’ll come across retired cranberry bogs, another signature of rural southeastern Massachusetts.
1. Gray’s Beach Park
The only public beach in Kingston is a small sandy cove fringed by a large grassy area that pitches gently towards the bay.
The location has a lot of history, having been the site of a likely Wampanoag encampment long before the days of the Plymouth Colony.
Later, at the turn of the 19th century, this is where the finishing touches were made to Kingston’s newly built ships before they were seaworthy.
The park’s land was purchased by the town in the 1930s, and is the town’s favorite summer escape, requiring a parking sticker April through October.
For amenities you’ve got a short boardwalk, tennis courts, a basketball court and there’s a stage on that large lawn, hosting a summer concert series on Tuesday nights, mid-May through August.
2. Bay Circuit Trail
Kingston is blessed with a lot of conservation land, purchased by the town since the mid-20th century.
Much of this is along the Jones River, or on its watershed, which also happens to be the route of the 230-mile Bay Circuit Trail as it passes through Kingston.
From Duxbury in the south to Newburyport in the north The Bay Circuit Trail winds its way through Boston’s outer suburbs in a giant semicircle, mostly using pre-existing trails in parks and conservation areas.
In Kingston the trail will take you through the Bay Farm Conservation Area, the Sampson Forest & Memorial Park, the Hathaway Preserve, the Cranberry Watershed Preserve, and the Silver Lake Sanctuary, several of which appear later in this list.
3. Major John Bradford Homestead
At 50 Landing Road, this fine old house overlooking the Jones River is owned by the Jones River Village Historical Society, and is open to the public in the summer months.
The Bradford Homestead was built around 1714 by Major John Bradford (1652-1736), whose grandfather, William Bradford (1590-1657) was a passenger on the Mayflower and served as Governor of the Plymouth Colony.
Inside you can pore over the historical society’s collection of 17th and 18th-century artifacts, including pottery, furniture, tools and textiles is on display in the house.
In the newly restored barn on the property you can also check out an animated film documenting three generations of the Bradfords.
“America’s Hometown” is less than ten minutes down the coast from Kingston, and is sure to figure in your plans if you’re in the area.
This is the place where the Mayflower landed in 1620, marking the birth of the second successful colony founded by the English in the United States.
This is the oldest municipality in New England, and one of the oldest in the country. There’s much to see, including elements of the historic settlement like Burial Hill, where the meetinghouse and fort once stood.
You can see artifacts from the crossing at Pilgrim Hall Museum, tour a reconstruction of 17th-century Pymouth at Plimouth Patuxet Museums, board the faithful replica Mayflower II in the harbor, and visit the famously modest landing site at Plymouth Rock.
5. Cretinon’s Farm Stand
At Loring Street, near the trailhead for the Bay Circuit Trail there’s a charming rural farm stand that has been open since 1959.
Cretionon’s Farm Stand is typically open from March to around mid-October. The season begins with annuals, perennials and vegetable plants.
Then as the summer progresses you can drop by for delicious fresh produce, beginning with asparagus and fiddleheads.
Depending on when you visit you’ll find lettuce, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, corn, beets, peas, tomatoes, pumpkins and tons more. The farm stand also sells freshly laid chicken and duck eggs, as well as homemade jams and preserves.
6. Cranberry Watershed Preserve
Waiting for you in Kingston’s interior are a handful of town-owned conservation lands, a few of which are on the Bay Circuit Trail.
This is the case with the Cranberry Watershed Preserve, covering 240 acres on the watershed of the Jones River, in a landscape of wetlands, ponds and former cranberry bogs.
Those retired bogs, traced by wide and sandy bog roads and cart paths, bring to mind the countryside on Cape Cod, and with more than five miles of trails you should set aside plenty of time to explore these landscapes.
7. Silver Lake Sanctuary
Near the Cranberry Watershed Preserve, this 100-acre conservation property is on the eastern shore of Silver Lake. In the 18th century Silver Lake was a major source of bog iron.
In fact, some 3,000 tons of ore were dredged from these waters, and later,in the 19th-century, the lake got its current name as the site of an ice harvesting enterprise.
Much of this land was purchased by the town in the mid-1990s and has a tangle of trails leading through pine and hardwood forest.
You can hike up to a high ridge with a beautiful view of the water, and down past ponds and wetlands by the shore.
8. Kingston Farmers’ Market
In the summer, the grassy space at Gray’s Beach Park hosts the town’s flourishing once-monthly farmers’ market. This is on the first Sunday of the month, and always has an excellent turnout.
Think seasonal fruit and vegetables, artisanal cheeses, honey, fresh roasted coffee, farm raised meats, salsas, seafood straight from the Atlantic, homemade candy, breads, oils, vinegars, baked treats, kombucha, and so much more.
Craft vendors are also prominent at Kingston Farmers’ Market, selling ceramics, organic soaps, face creams, pet accessories, and soy candles.
9. Jones River Trading Post
One of the most idyllic sights in Kingston is this 1890s mill building on the Jones River, rented out for private functions like weddings.
The Jones River Trading Post sits next to a former dam site, now replaced by a fish ladder used by alewife herring during the migration upriver in spring.
It’s worth stepping out of the car here to take some photos of the verdant riverbanks, the fish ladder, and the historic water department building on the other bank.
A little further along Elm Street you can access the Sampson Forest & Memorial Park, with over a mile of woodland trails and some more gorgeous views of the Jones River.
Next to a sheltered bay and also renowned as a shipbuilding center in the 19th century, Kingston’s neighbor to the north also warrants a closer look.
Duxbury is barely ten minutes away, and has a stunning stretch of beach (Duxbury Beach Park) on the barrier island protecting the harbor.
For history, Washington Street is where the town’s shipbuilders and merchants built their mansions. The historic district here preserves more than 140 buildings, most raised in Federal style in the first two decades of the 19th century.
Closer to Duxbury, the 116-foot Myles Standish monument stands close to where the military leader of the Plymouth Colony, Myles Standish (1586-1656) once lived.
11. Alley Kat Lane
This popular bowling alley has been a fixture in Kingston for some 40 years now. Alley Kat Lane features 26 lanes of candlepin bowling.
If you’re new to this variation, invented in Worcester in the 1880s, the pins are taller and narrower, and you use a ball that fits in the palm of your hand.
Everything is a bit more challenging and strikes are almost unheard of, but that’s all part of the fun of the game.
There’s a snack bar and an arcade with 45 games, while Alley Kat Lane is in a complex with Kingston Ten Pin, offering 16 lanes of ten pin bowling if you prefer something more familiar.
12. Island Creek Oysters
One of the only shellfish hatcheries in the entire Northeast is just a couple of miles away in Duxbury Bay, and is open to the public for tours.
In the 1990s, the founder Skip Bennett worked out that the cold, salty and boisterous waters of Duxbury Bay can produce world-class oysters.
What started out as a faltering one-man operation is now a major enterprise, distributing to some 700 chefs around the country.
Guided tours take place in the summer, and take you from the hatchery to the nursery, and then out into the farm aboard a 27-foot Carolina skiff. Naturally, oyster tasting is integral to the experience, and you’ll even be taught how to shuck your own.
13. The Bog Ice Arena
If you’re up for some ice skating, this rink in Kingston has at least a couple of public sessions each week.
The Bog Ice Arena first opened as a single NHL-size rink in 2006, and in 2012 added another full-size rink and a mini rink. Among the amenities are a snack bar at the Red Line Cafe, and a full-service pro shop.
Among others, this facility is home ice for the Bay State Breakers hockey club, and hosts youth hockey games in the Bay State Hockey League (BSHL).
If you or your family wants to learn to skate, develop freestyle skills or learn to play hockey, there’s a program to suit your needs at this rink.
14. Regal Independence Mall & RPX
When we put this list together the former Independence Mall, now “Kingston Collection”, had lost all of its national retailers apart from Macy’s and Target.
But there were still a few reasons to visit, and one was for this 14-screen multiplex theater, which opened with the mall in 1990 as a Hoyt’s Cinemas.
When you come, try to see a movie at the new RPX (Regal Premium Experience) screen, boasting state-of-the-art projection and sound quality, perfect for movies with big visual effects.
Crown Club members are entitled to a bunch of specials, including half price on popcorn and discounted tickets on Tuesdays.
15. Sky Zone Trampoline Park
There’s a branch of this national chain of indoor trampoline parks at the Kingston Collection mall. For parents Sky Zone is primed for children’s birthday parties, or somewhere to simply drop by.
The park is filled with engaging, not to mention tiring, attractions including a freestyle zone with trampolines on every surface, a dodgeball court, a foam pit, a warped wall, a battle beam, a Ninja Warrior-style course, a zip-line and a basketball court for big slam dunks.
In the evenings you’ve also got “Glow”, when the whole place turns into a family-friendly club with blacklight, lasers and music.