VOGUE.com – The conundrum of the Northeast’s summer resort towns (the Hamptons, Montauk, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard) is that you will inevitably run into many of the same city folk from whom you’re seeking a weekend’s reprieve. Enter Duxbury, long believed to be the best-kept secret of Massachusetts’s South Shore—the stretch of coast between Boston and Cape Cod. A haven for people who prefer the quiet seclusion of a small town to the social offerings of city life, Duxbury includes a sprinkling of notable residents who keep their day-to-day out of the limelight, like Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and former Citigroup chairman John S. Reed. Completely escaping city life is Duxbury’s value proposition—Truman Capote stayed nearby the summer he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
At about a four-hour drive from New York City and just under an hour from Boston, Duxbury may not be the most accessible town, but the rewards of finally getting there are manifold: an historic, picturesque town completely unmarred by tourism; world-class waterfronts; a bustling community with active sports, arts, and social goings-on; impossibly fresh seafood; and more New England charm than an L.L.Bean catalogue. So grab your best monogrammed weekend tote and get ready to explore this authentically New England summer destination.
Hit the Beach
In the summers, all roads lead to Duxbury Beach, which is truly a geographic wonder to behold. At six miles long and just fifty yards wide at points, this barrier beach separates Duxbury Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. While nonresidents have to park on the mainland and get there on foot across the wooden Powder Point Bridge, the scenic ten-minute walk over Duxbury Bay is worth it. When the tide is low, amateur clamdiggers rake up fresh shellfish to go grill on the beach. Arrive on Friday morning before Town Hall closes, shell out for a shellfishing license of your own, and you can join them.
Explore the Culture
History runs deep here. Incorporated in 1637, Duxbury was not only one of the first towns settled after the Pilgrims began to disperse from nearby Plymouth, but also served as an important fishing and shipbuilding town. Several of the town’s oldest houses have been preserved and turned into museums. The King Caesar,Bradford, and Nathaniel Winsor, Jr. Houses are must-sees for history buffs. TheArt Complex Museum houses a collection of more than eight thousand pieces, mainly in the categories of Shaker furniture, works on paper, American paintings, and Asian art.
You don’t have miss a beat on your workout routine while weekending. Group training enthusiasts should drop in on a UBH Sport Fitness class, which combines strength and conditioning circuits with high-intensity cardio intervals. The town’s quiet roads are ideal for runners—start on Washington Street in town, admire the hydrangea-framed shingle houses along the way, and loop around Powder Point Avenue via King Caesar Road to soak in even more picturesque views of the bay. And for the nautically inclined, the Duxbury Bay Maritime School offers a range of one-day workshops for adults and children alike in sailing, paddle-boarding, and kayaking.
Mornings start at French Memories. Take your iced coffee and cranberry-walnut croissants to go, then walk out back to the Maritime School’s docks, and enjoy breakfast while watching boaters head out for their early morning sail. For a heartier greasy spoon breakfast, order the pancakes and baked beans atWildflower Cafe.
Lunch is best picked up in town and then carried to the beach. Try the cashew chicken sandwich or decadent Lobster BLT from The Foodsmith, a breakfast and lunch spot opened in 2015 by former Boston Herald writer Laura Raposa. Grab a bag of bivalves from the global headquarters of nearby Island Creek Oysters and you have more than enough for a decadent lunch spread.
For dinner, walk straight over from the beach to Blakeman’s, where you can find perfectly fried clams and literally-couldn’t-be-fresher New England lobster rolls. If you would rather change out of your swimsuit and try some local fine dining, however, consider the Crispy Duck Two-Ways with rhubarb compote at The Sun Tavern or the Local Lobster Pizza at the Winsor House Inn.
Where to Stay
Duxbury is not necessarily built for tourists, so lodging options are limited. If all the rooms at the Winsor House Inn or the Duxbury Tall Pines Bed and Breakfastare unavailable, consider overnighting in nearby Kingston or Plymouth. Better yet, live like a local and search Airbnb for the perfect waterfront rental.
Get the most out of your Duxbury weekend by timing your stay to coincide with one of their many summer events, such as the Opening of the Bay cocktail party in May, the Duxbury Music Festival in July, or the Duxbury Food & Wine Festival in September. And of course, should you be in town for July 4th, there is a parade of fire trucks, streamers and American flags down Washington Street that Norman Rockwell could not have imagined better himself.
By Todd Plummer, cover photo by Jill Erickson