The wareham river, which flows into the extreme northwestern corner of upper buzzards bay, has a rich maritime history dating back to pre-colonial times
I’ve lived on the South Shore for the last fifteen years, and although I don’t live in Scituate, I’ve spent a good deal of time there and have developed a tremendous attachment to it. With 21 miles of coastline, including five beaches and four rivers, there’s no shortage of adventures to be had. Scituate is special.
Of course the locals have known this all along. Incorporated in 1636 and named after the Wampanoag word for “cold brook”, Scituate is rich with history. Many large sailing ships were built along the North River in the 1800s, and the harbor has served as a commercial fishing port for more than a century. Not surprisingly, the town has an extremely active Historical Society, as well as a motivated Economic Development Commission. When you take a peek at the town’s events and festivals calendar, you get the sense that Scituate clearly celebrates its past and present. Scituate has a lot going on.
There are several different recognized and named parts to the town including First, Second, and Third Cliffs; The Glades, Hummarock, Egypt, Sand Hills, Minot, Greenbush, North Scituate and The Harbor. Our focus of the episode was The Harbor, which encompasses both the inner harbor and the thriving business district that surrounds it. Once a quiet fishing village, Scituate has grown into a vibrant community worthy of a visit by car, rail or, of course, boat.
The harbor is picturesque, but also well protected and easy to navigate. Boaters approaching from any direction can simply pick up the red-white “SA” gong a half-mile east of the harbor then follow the well-marked channel through the breakwater and past the iconic Old Scituate Lighthouse.
In terms of transient accommodations, Scituate is served by a yacht club and several marinas, including two managed by the town and harbormaster’s office: Cole Parkway Marina and the Maritime Center at Scituate Marine Park. The latter is a multi-use facility with a fully operational boatyard, as well as slips, showers and a function room with an outside deck.
Other harbor marinas include Scituate Harbor Marina, Scituate Boat Works and the Quarterdeck. We kept our Pursuit C260 at Mill Wharf Marina. Over the last several years, Mill Wharf Marina has received many upgrades, and offers a host of transient amenities, such as floating slips, WiFi, showers and a fuel dock. It was the ideal place for us to keep the center console and take advantage of the area’s fabulous fishing and sailing.
Trailerboat access is equally good, as the harbor has a free, all-tide ramp with a courtesy float and ample parking
Front Street, the main street along the harbor, just steps from the Inn, has everything a visiting boater could want or need. And I mean everything. There are boutiques, nautical gift shops, art galleries, ice cream and coffee shops, breakfast spots, wine and gourmet shops, a movie theatre, a bowling alley, a hardware store, a bank and the Village Market, perfect for provisioning your boat.
The Harbor also boasts many restaurants that appeal to all tastes. Local favorites include TK O’Malley’s, Satuit Tavern, Barker Tavern and Maria’s Sub Shop. Scituate offers ultra foodiessomething to talk about as well, with contemporary gastro pubs like Galley, chic Restaurant ORO and award-winning Riva, each with a cool urban vibe you wouldn’t expect in a small seaside town.
In the summer, the harbor is bustling, but it doesn’t feel touristy at all. It feels like an authentic year-round community filled with folks who are genuinely delighted to welcome you to their waterways and walkways. And speaking of that, Scituate is extremely pedestrian friendly. There are sidewalks everywhere, and people make good use of them. From early morning to sunset, you can find walkers and joggers enjoying the sunshine and salty air.
BEYOND THE HARBOR
Visitors interested in exploring farther afield can bike or take a cab to North Scituate Village. The village is one of the two commuter rail stops in Scituate, and comprises several shops and restaurants.
Another option for getting around the town and the harbor is the Scituate Sloop, a $1 shuttle that makes stops at the Irish Mossing Museum, Wheeler Park and other area attractions. The Sloop also stops at the Widow’s Walk, an 18-hole golf course adjacent to the scenic North River.
Speaking of which, the river is a boating destination in itself. It’s idyllic. When we visited, we met a group of plein air painters capturing its beauty in oils and watercolors. This lovely, marsh-lined waterway is also great for canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Paddlers can put in at James Landing and follow the river upstream or head south toward the Spit, a large sandbar at the mouth of the river.
When the tide recedes, the Spit reveals itself as a beach-lovers playground, with acres of soft, white sand and tidal pools for kids to play in. Boaters can nose their bow right onto the sand and unload their beach toys, chairs, coolers and grills. We filmed a short segment on the Spit during which we talked to several families who referred to it as a slice of paradise. We couldn’t have agreed more.
Scituate is a destination like no other. It doesn’t have the mansions of Newport, nor is it a Presidential retreat, like Kennebunkport. Scituate has a more subtle appeal—traditional and trendy, historic and hip—a breathtakingly beautiful place made up of artists, executives, fisherman, and others who all who seem to agree on one thing: it’s perfectly scituated!
Boaters approaching Scituate Harbor from any direction in Cape Cod Bay can simply pick up the red-white “SA” gong a half-mile east of the harbor then follow the well-marked channel through the breakwater and past the iconic Old Scituate Lighthouse. Do not try to “short-cut” the buoys without local knowledge, as a series of large boulders pepper the waters on both sides of the inlet. Mean low water in the channel is at least 12’.
Dockage, Moorings & Service
Scituate Maritime Center (781) 545-8740
- Municipal marina at head of the harbor with transient slips, kayak ramp, bathrooms and showers.
Cole Parkway Marina (781) 545-2130
- Town-managed marina near head of the harbor. Offers transient slips, moorings and dinghy dock. Offers short-term dockage on weekdays.
Mill Wharf Marina (781) 545-3333
- Large marina with transient slips, floating docks, fuel dock, WiFi, electric, water, showers and more.
Scituate Harbor Marina (781) 545-2165
- Fuel dock, transient slips, electric, water, ice and showers.
Scituate Harbor Yacht Club (781) 545-0372
- Offers transient moorings and reciprocal privileges to members of affiliated yacht clubs.
Scituate Boat Works (781) 545-0487
- Slips, storage, engine and hull repair, haul out, detailing, electronics installation, canvas work and more.
Scituate Launch (781) 545-4154
- Launch service and harbor tours.
- (781) 545-8724
An excellent, free public launch ramp with ample parking and quick access to open water is located on the northern part of the harbor, off Jericho Lane. Kayaks and other hand-carried boats can be launched at the Maritime Center or at James Landing on the North River.
Village Market (781) 545-4896
- Produce, meats, cheeses, beer and more on Front St. near the harbor.
Satuit Hardware (781) 545-8370
- Old-fashioned hardware store carrying a variety of marine items.
Where to Eat
TK O’Malley’s Sports Café (781) 545-4012
- Dock-and-dine restaurant with outdoor seating and great harbor views.
ORO (781) 378-2465;
- Fine dining with menu featuring produce from small farms and fresh seafood from local fishing boats.
Galley Kitchen & Bar (781) 545-3663
- Contemporary gastropub specializing in small plates, local brews, shucked oysters and anything and everything that’s fresh and local.
Satuit Tavern (781) 545-2500
- Harbor restaurant known for its fresh seafood, chowder, pizza and sandwiches.
Barker Tavern (781) 545-6533
- Fine dining in a restored 17th century house and garrison.
Maria’s Sub Shop (781) 545-2323
- Local favorite for submarine sandwiches and pizza.
- Large waterfront restaurant and bar overlooking the harbor.
Lucky Finn Café (781) 378-2932
- Boathouse cafe on the harbor featuring fine coffees, desserts and espresso.
Things to See & Do
Irish Mossing Museum (781) 545-5565
- Explore the history of this unique seaweed-harvesting industry. Also features a Shipwreck Room with exhibit on the Portand Gale of 1898 and its effect on Scituate and the surrounding area.
- Visit the iconic lighthouse on Cedar Point, at the northern side of the inlet. Tours available.
Lucky Finn Schooner Tours (781) 378-2932
- Sail aboard a classic, round-stern bugeye schooner in and around Scituate Harbor.
Widow’s Walk Golf Course (781) 544-7777
- Eighteen-hole course bordering the scenic North River.
Satuit Bowlaway (781) 545-9726
- Cool retro bowling alley near the harbor. Good rainy-day escape.
Mill Wharf Cinemas (781) 545-3130
- First-run movies near the harbor.
Where to Stay
Inn at Scituate Harbor (781) 545-5550
- Comfortable, convenient inn overlooking the harbor. One of a handful of accommodations on the waterfront, the Inn provides a Continental breakfast and harbor views from every room.