boston's south shore

This coastal county has become New England’s romantic enclave

Plymouth County, Massachusetts

Anyone who has taken the ferry to Provincetown or spent the weekend driving along Boston’s South Shore region has probably spotted Plymouth, Massachusetts. This lovely enclave boasts a rich tapestry of American history. And it also embraces its LGBTQ+ community with open arms.

Located on the shores of New England’s Cape Cod Bay, about an hour’s drive south of Boston, Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the surrounding area, offers a unique blend of cultural heritage, scenic beauty, and a queer-friendly vibe. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or just seeking a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere, the South Shore has something for everyone.

Whenever you choose to visit the South Shore, there are plenty of hidden gems to uncover…

Boston’s South Shore – New England’s best-kept secret

Imagine streets lined with colonial homes resembling life-sized dollhouses. Shops, cafes, galleries, and boutiques — all a stone’s throw from gorgeous waterfront views. This vision comes to life in Plymouth town center.

Plymouth County, Massachusetts

A stroll along Main Street and Water takes you through colonial history. Walking through Brewster Gardens and Pilgrim Memorial State Park, you’ll be met with harbor views at the Coles Hill Burial Grounds. A quick detour down Water Street leads to the Mayflower II, a full-size replica of the 17th-century Pilgrim ship, where exhibits and tours are available.

Get inspired on the Boston South Visual Art Trail

The Art Complex Museum
Photo: The Art Complex Museum

Begin your journey at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, where you can attend portrait and pencil classes, available by appointment. As you meander through its galleries of abstract art and photography, your creative spirit comes alive.

To extend your creative afternoon, take a trip along the Boston South Visual Art Trail. This trail links the Plymouth Center for the Arts with a network of museums in the South Boston region, including the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, Attleboro Arts Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, and South Shore Art Center, uniting these cultural destinations into a tapestry of visual art experiences.

The Art Complex Museum
Photo: The Art Complex Museum

A highlight along the trail is the Japanese tea house at The Art Complex Museum in Duxbury. Named Sho-fu-an or “Wind in the Pines,” this tea house originated in Kyoto, Japan, in 1969 and found its new home at the museum in 1975 after being carefully reassembled. Immerse yourself in the museum’s tea garden, an oasis where visitors harmonize with nature, preparing both body and mind for the tea ceremony experience.

Watch a drag show by the Trailer Park Girls

The Trailer Park Girls, New England's premiere drag troupe.
Photo: The Trailer Park Girls

The Trailer Park Girls, New England’s premier drag troupe, have been hosting shows in Plymouth for years. The Trailer Park Girls are based out of Providence but tour throughout New England. The group features the talents of Ava Unit One, Ninny Nothin, Ally P Sha, Avery Goodlay, and Kelly Square. They love to put on a good show, especially when brunch is involved.

Rock out at The Spire Center 

The Spire Center, hosted by the Greater Plymouth Performing Arts Center
Photo: The Spire Center

The Spire Center, hosted by the Greater Plymouth Performing Arts Center, is a nonprofit that wants to add a little flair to the South Shore performing arts scene. The Spire hosts festivals that welcome various musical genres, from jazz and blues to rock, classical, country, and bluegrass. Its unique venue, a colonial church that has been transformed into a concert space, offers an intimate, almost religious experience at its shows.

Explore the Plymouth Bay Cultural District

Plymouth Bay Cultural District

As you journey through this quaint coastal town, passing by Plymouth Rock, a symbol of freedom and American spirit sitting prominently near the town square, explore the Plymouth Bay Cultural District.

Originally established to enhance the experiences of residents and the South Shore’s many yearly visitors, the Plymouth Bay Cultural District is one of the most charming parts of the region. The district, covering both the waterfront and downtown areas roughly between Court Street and Water Street, packs in retail shops, museums, historical sites, and tours galore.

Go whale-watching in Cape Cod Bay

A boat of full of people views a whale as in dives into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Nature enthusiasts will love all the beauty surrounding Plymouth. For a more adventurous experience, embark on a whale-watching boat tour or explore the nearby hiking trails in Myles Standish State Forest. The South Shore’s landscape provides the perfect backdrop for adventure in the great outdoors.

Take a journey through history at Pilgrim Hall Museum

Pilgrim Hall Museum
Photo: Pilgrim Hall Museum

For those intrigued by the intricate history of American migration, Pilgrim Hall Museum is a worthwhile destination. The museum houses a unique collection of artifacts dating back to Colonial times, narrating the stories of resilient individuals forging new lives in an unexplored world.

Open since 1824, Pilgrim Hall Museum continuously gathers artifacts, documents, and books. With three galleries offering a visual history of the pilgrims along with temporary exhibitions covering various topics, the museum provides a comprehensive look into the Pilgrims’ journey.

Find your inner artist in New Bedford

A DJ in downtown New Bedford
Photo: Downtown New Bedford Inc.

For even more South Shore charm, head to New Bedford in Bristol County, a short drive south of Plymouth. The Seaport Cultural District serves as the epicenter for the town’s vibrant creative community and is undeniably cool.

A female couple enjoys drinks in downtown New Bedford.
Photo: Downtown New Bedford Inc.

Don’t miss the AHA! Cultural Night—an extravaganza of art, history, and architecture featuring dozens of local organizations, such as Gallery X, The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, and the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra.

Boston's South Shore

Boston’s South Shore blends history, scenic coastal beauty, and art into a vibrant cultural scene. Every corner tells a story of America’s beginnings, a story of freedom and the right to live life authentically.

As you bid farewell to this coastal haven, you’re sure to take away the warmth of its welcoming community, the enduring spirit of exploration that defines it, and memories that last a lifetime.

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