By Alyson Young Gregory Photo by Liz West
Whether it's a day trip to escape the city swelter or an "on the way" trip to your long-awaited sojourn to the Cape, these hidden gems of the South Shore are worth taking your foot off the gas and pulling over for some old-fashioned family fun. Roll down your windows, head south to where the locals go, and check out these favorite summertime picks! Go on a quest Questing is a fun activity for the whole family that turns a walk into an educational treasure hunt. Each quest is an outdoor trail filled with fun facts about the area wildlife and history, where you can discover ponds, rivers, and forests throughout the South Shore. Kids will love using the clue-directed maps using fairies, elves, and trolls to uncover letters that assemble the last clue -- a treasure box filled with a guest book and a rubber stamp where questers can leave their mark. This nature-based activity started in Devon, England, in the 1800s, where these pursuits are called Letterboxes. The hobby was brought to New England in 1993 as a way to increase community appreciation. South Shore Quests. Speaking of local picks... What better place to start a tradition of your own than at a four-generations-old family farm where you can pick your own blueberries right off the bush? Scituate's Tree-Berry Farm is known for its high-quality crops and old-fashioned fun. They will even outfit you with a tin coffee can to hang around your waist for hands-free picking (and tasting). Once you're back home, you can submit your favorite blueberry recipe to their online cookbook, which is still being compiled for publication. And not that anyone is thinking about winter, but file it away because you can go back in December to cut your own Christmas tree Griswold-style or take your annual holiday family photo. Cash and checks only. Call (781) 545-7750 for peak picking times. From cow to cone It's pure, it's wholesome, it's handcrafted from the milking barn and scooped at the Dairy Bar. Hornstra Dairy Farm in Norwell is the place to belly up for ice cream from one of the last working dairy farms on the South Shore. Visitors are welcome to see the young calves in the calf barn and will no doubt spot the milking cows grazing in the nearby pasture. A farm store open daily to the public offers the same farm-fresh products and seasonal specialties that still roll off the refrigerated home delivery trucks every week. Merry-go-round by the sea Step back in time and take a nostalgic spin on a beautifully carved flying horse or Roman chariot on this historic seaside carousel in Hull. Complete with old-time organ music and a boardwalk stretching along the shores of Nantasket Beach, this 1920s relic from beloved, long-gone amusement park, Paragon Park, will be sure to delight riders of any age. Stop into the boardwalk arcade to lighten your pockets, then stretch your legs and take in the panoramic ocean views as you head down a wide-open, five-mile stretch of Nantasket Beach. Got small children? Check the tide tables and have a pail and shovel at the ready for them to dig for sea creatures in the acres of shallow tide pools. Paragon Carousel, Hull. Visit the barnyard Have you ever heard a real hee-haw? You just might at Holly Hill Farm in Cohasset. Get up close and personal with the barnyard animals seemingly sprung to life from the pages of Charlotte's Web, and meet the gang's newest member, Benji, a Sicilian miniature donkey. When your family is done making new friends, grab a map and hit the farm's 140 acres of extensive walking trails, open dawn until dusk. Skip rocks across a pond, eye-spy toads in the wetlands, and slip native wildflowers behind your ear. Farm stand hours Saturday and Sunday feature local organic harvests of greens, herbs, and flowers, as well as goodies from farm partners. Insider travel tip: Head for the back roads and wind your way around Jerusalem Road for one of New England's most scenic coastal drives on your way to or from the farm.
Alyson Young Gregory is a writer, mother, and holistic health counselor specializing in Ayurveda. She has a passion for maximizing vitality through nutrition for all ages, and opened the first juice bar on the South Shore, where she now resides. In her next life, she hopes to be a midwife!