On the South Shore, Scituate is a coastal town with an adorable village center next to a natural harbor.
Much of Scituate’s best dining and shopping can be done around the harbor, which is also the base for fishing charters, and a backdrop for all kinds of community events in the warmer months.
The Scituate Historical Society looks after a roster of centuries-old houses and structures around the town, and a great time to visit is for Scituate Heritage Days in August when these are all opened to the public.
The town also maintains five public beaches, and is on the north side of a vast and ecologically-rich wetland area at the estuary of the North and South rivers.
1. Scituate Lighthouse
At Cedar Point on the northern edge of Scituate Harbor stands the 11th lighthouse to be built in the United States.
Completed in 1810, the Old Scituate Light soon gained renown in 1814 during the War of 1812 when Rebecca and Abigail Bates (The Lighthouse Army of Two) averted an attack by British soldiers by playing their fife and drum, making them think they were the town’s militia.
The lighthouse was in service until the mid-19th century with the completion of the Minot’s Ledge Light, one mile offshore, and was bought by the town in 1917. You can enter during the Scituate Historical Society’s open house days.
At any other time, it’s worth making the trip just to sit and appreciate the harbor, and bask in some of the best sunrises and sunsets you could hope to see.
2. Scituate Harbor
Now designated a Cultural District, Scituate’s award-winning town center is a quaint seaside village with lots of restaurants, shops, maritime businesses and other local amenities behind lovely old storefronts.
The waterfront is accessible and you can bask in the views of the harbor, First Cliff and the many yachts and sailboats anchored in the protected waters.
The Harborwalk is more than half a mile long, and passes the Morrill Bandstand, which is a venue for outdoor events in summer. One is the Harbor Bandstand concert series, on Thursday evenings until late October.
First Fridays meanwhile is a town-wide event, with artists and artisans taking center stage at businesses around Scituate Harbor.
These are just two of the many happenings over six+1 months between the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Halloween in the Harbor.
3. Lawson Tower
Designed like a fairytale castle turret, the 153-foot Lawson Tower was erected in 1902 to conceal a steel water tank.
The driving force behind the construction was the rich investor Thomas W. Lawson (1857-1925), who had recently established his Dreamworld farm nearby and wanted the water tower to be more pleasing to the eye.
Lawson is also responsible for the ring of bells in one of the upper chambers, which are still played by a carillonneur on special occasions.
Lawson Tower is an abiding icon for Scituate, and for a stirring view of the South Shore and Boston skyline you can climb the stairway (123 steps) on one of Scituate Historical Society’s open house days.
One of the joys of being on the coast in Massachusetts is the chance to treat yourself to some world-class seafood, straight from the ocean.
Scituate will never let you down for time-honored New England dishes, like lobster rolls, baked haddock, swordfish, clam chowder, lobster stew, clam strips, crab cakes and fried scallops.
In a prime location on Scituate Harbor is Mill Wharf (23 Mill Wharf Plaza), with all of those faves and more on the menu.
Also be sure to check out Satsuit Tavern (39 Jericho Rd), Oro (227 Chief Justice Cushing Hwy), Barker Tavern (21 Barker Rd), and Roht Marine (2205 Main St), just over the line on the Marshfield bank of the North River.
5. Driftway Park
A place of exceptional natural beauty, Driftway Park protects some 330-acres of salt marsh on the estuary of the Herring River.
You can spot migratory birds in spring and fall, and take in the wide open scenery here from Lookout Hill, while these lower reaches of the Herring River are a beloved paddling location in the summer.
There are also clues around the salt marsh point to recent industrial history. From 1914 up to 1963 this was a sand and gravel quarry, providing the material for mega-projects like Boston Logan International Airport. A remnant from this period is the decaying wharf where sand barges were loaded, bound for Boston.
6. Kathleen Laidlaw Center (Schoolhouse)
The headquarters for the Scituate Historical Society are found in this handsome schoolhouse, completed in 1893 as Scituate’s high school.
At that time the building was next to the old Town Hall, but was moved to its current location at 43 Cudworth Rd in 1919, shortly after a new school building had been constructed.
The schoolhouse was bought from the town in the 1980s, and now contains exhibit spaces, a library, map archives, genealogical research center, offices and a meeting room.
The structure was given a thorough restoration in 2020, with the help of photographs of the building in the society’s archives. You can pay a visit on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
7. Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum
You can discover Scituate’s centuries-long connection with the sea at this museum in one of the many fine old houses in the care of the Scituate Historical Society.
This is the First Period Capt. Benjamin James, built around 1700. Exhibits deal with topics as diverse as lifesaving, the historic shipbuilding trade on the North River, fishing and the Irish-led sea mossing industry, which boomed in Scituate from the mid-19th century until the second half of the 20th century.
There are riveting accounts of the vessels stranded or wrecked on Scituate’s shoreline, as well as the vicious Portland Gale (1898), a brutal storm that forever altered the town’s coast. The Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum is open on Sunday afternoons.
8. Bates Lane Conservation Area
In the very west of Scituate the town owns almost 350 acres of woods, on what was farmland some 200 years ago.
This was taken over by pine and hardwood forest around the mid-19th century, but the only stone walls delineating the farmland remains.
Also compelling is the quantity of glacial erratic boulders, deposited around 10,000 years ago and visible along the orange-blazed Maxwell Trail and the blue Carl Pipes Trail.
The most magnificent geological specimens can be seen on the former, which brings you to Teepee Rock, an outcropping of Avalon granite dating back 430 million years.
The property also has five certified vernal pools, supporting rich wildlife, including salamanders and wood frogs.
9. Peggotty Beach
Half a mile long, this public beach is a short but scenic walk from Scituate Harbor, passing the sweeping expanse of the Kent Street Marshes on the way.
Angled quite steeply into the ocean, Peggotty Beach is laid with coarse, hard-packed sand on a relatively protected bay.
In the winter the beach bears the full force of coastal storms, and the pair of abandoned houses on stilts in the wash illustrates how much the shoreline changes.
In season, head to the Scituate Treasurer’s Office for non-resident beach parking stickers, while visitor passes can be obtained from the Harbormaster’s Office on Tuesdays and Thursdays for this beach.
10. Old Stockbridge Grist Mill
Where First Herring Brook drains the Old Oaken Bucket Pond stands one of the oldest surviving mills in the country.
The Old Stockbridge Grist Mill dates around 1650, and was erected by one John Stockbridge, next to a sawmill for which the brook was dammed in the late 1630s. The Stockbridge family ran this pair of mills for more than 160 years until the Greenbush family took over in the 1830s.
They remained for a century, before deeding the pond to the town and donating the grist mill to the Scituate Historical Society.
An incredible amount of original detail survives, including a lot of the grinding equipment. The mill sits next to a lovable wooded pocket park, with picnic tables overlooking the brook, and you can visit the interior on frequent Society Open House days.
11. Untold Brewing
This craft brewery opened in Scituate in 2017, and has a special taproom, in an historic schoolhouse built in 1852.
The founder of Untold Brewing grew up in Scituate, and the brewery is community-focussed, with a calendar of public events and charitable activities.
The beers also have a sense of place, reflecting the New England coast and the changing seasons.
Four ever-present beers are Seatown Lager, Sunny Sea (Hazy IPA), Pale 143 (American Pale Ale), and East by Northwest (West Coast IPA), to go with a wealth of seasonal, limited-run and collaborative brews, from a honey IPA and a Stout made with Taza chocolate.
There’s indoor and outdoor seating at this one-of-a-kind spot, just a minute or two on foot from Greenbush MBTA station.
12. Humarock Beach
While this beach and its oceanfront community are part of Scituate, you have to travel through Marshfield to get there.
For this you can thank the Portland Gale in 1898, which changed the shoreline irrevocably, separating Humarock and neighboring Fourth Cliff from the rest of the town.
Backed by the South River, the barrier beach here is three miles long, with very different characters in winter when the coast is rocky but scenic, and summer when there’s an accommodating strip of sand.
The public beach area at 30 Marshfield Ave is relatively small, but you’re free to walk up and down the shoreline for miles. Parking is limited, and you’ll need a Scituate sticker to use the main parking lot.
13. Mann Farmhouse
South of the Town Common and cemeteries, this delightful Cape-style dwelling is another Scituate Historical Society set within a little public park.
The Mann Farmhouse was built by the descendants of Richard Mann, who settled in Scituate as early as 1636.
The Mann family is famous for its record-keeping, and can trace its history from Richard Mann’s arrival to the death of the last resident Percy Thomas Mann in 1968.
The Manns also meticulously preserved family heirlooms, and the Mann Farmhouse is packed with the tools of every trade, from carpentry to beekeeping, seafaring, sailmaking, shoe making and teaching.
Outside you can see what’s left of the Buick that Percy abandoned in the yard in the 1920s. You can visit the grounds for free daily, while the house can be visited on open days.
14. Old Oaken Bucket
In the 19th century this homestead and accompanying well was a prime visitor attraction in Scituate, and this is all down to the locally-born Romantic poet Samuel Woodworth (1784-1842).
The stone well and its wooden bucket inspired his most famous work, Old Oaken Bucket (1817), which was set to music in 1826 and this became Scituate’s town song in 1835 by popular vote.
The oldest portion of the homestead is from 1675, which was adapted as an ell on the main Cape-style structure in 1826. In front is a Scituate Historical Society sign and an old cast iron historical sign erected by the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission in 1930.
15. Scituate Heritage Days
Every year the town celebrates its enviable maritime heritage with three days of events on the first weekend in August.
Based at the harbor, but with something happening all over town, Scituate Heritage Days is a blend of live music, artisan crafts, great food, local wine and beer, historical appreciation, family amusements and tons more.
This is a fantastic opportunity to experience many of the historical sites on this list, with open houses at the likes of the Scituate Lighthouse, Lawson Tower, Mann Farmhouse and Old Stockbridge Grist Mill.
There’s no shortage of fun for youngsters, at a petting farm, mobile gaming trailer, and pirate and princess activities at the Morrill Bandstand.