Get out into the countryside around Norwell to enjoy fascinating glimpses of the past and ever-changing perspectives on our classic New England landscapes. From the tranquil banks of the North River to the famous Cape Cod shore, there’s plenty to enjoy just outside your door.
Continue reading for some amazing outdoor senior activities you can enjoy in Norwell whether you’re on your own or with family and friends.
Take the Path Less Traveled
The great thing about our corner of Massachusetts is you’re never more than a few minutes from a gorgeous outdoor spot. Take 20 minutes out to stroll our local woods or plan a whole day to explore somewhere new. The choice is yours.
The heart of Massachusetts’s shipbuilding industry for more than 200 years, quiet now reigns along the North River in the Norris Reservation, just south of Norwell town center.
The reservation includes 129 acres of pine and oak forest and historic riverfront preserved from the 1920s onward by Albert and Eleanor Norris. Two miles of carriage trails take visitors past an old mill pond and across a wetlands boardwalk to a favorite picnic stop on the deck of an old boathouse. Enjoy wading birds, hawks, and the voices of wetland frogs.
The reservation is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free. The trail system features benches but is not wheelchair accessible.
Located in Norwell, the South Shore Natural Science Center is a unique facility providing environmental education to our local community. Run by the YMCA, it includes a nature trail with interpretive exhibits and the kid-focused EcoZone Museum, as well as six interpretive trails on 30 acres of land, a children’s garden, and an outdoor amphitheater.
This is a great outdoor senior activity to bring along the grandkids for some hands-on fun in the EcoZone or Children’s Garden followed by a picnic. The center also offers summer camp and preschool programming and is a valuable community asset that you can support by volunteering. You can even borrow snowshoes for an exhilarating winter hike!
The center is open 9 am-5 pm year-round, but is closed on Sundays during the summer months. Entrance is free for members but $5 for non-members/$4.50 for seniors. Children under two are free. The center has been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, so do call ahead before visiting.
Blast From the Past
All is peaceful now at the Wompatuck State Park, just northwest of Norwell, but during World War II the area was used as a naval ammunition dump. Visitors can see military buildings and signage from the period while enjoying miles of bike paths and trails in the 3500-acre park.
Established on land deeded to colonial settlers by a local Wampanoag leader in 1665, the park was an important source of wood, grazing, and freshwater. While easily accessible from Norwell itself, the park also offers 242 campsites for out-of-town visitors. It is a great place for an afternoon stroll or a summer family get-together.
Entrance to Wompatuck State Park is free. Camping requires a paid reservation. The park offers wheelchair-accessible restrooms and 1.25 miles of accessible trails, as well as two accessible campsites.
Sundown Sounds at Weir River Farm
Grab your picnic blanket and chairs and head down to Weir River Farm this summer for their new Sunset Picnic series. Sample food and beverages from a selection of local food trucks, then enjoy an eclectic mix of music while watching the sun set behind the Boston skyline.
This new event brings the Trustees’ annual summer concerts series to the historic Weir River Farm in Hingham every Thursday night between June 2 and September 29. Featured music includes jazz, folk, blues, and Afropop. Take time, too, to greet the farm’s famous Belted Galloway cows and sample locally grown dairy, meat, and produce at the farm store.
Gates open at 5 pm and performances run until sunset — that is around 8:30 in June, earlier by October. Tickets cost $9 for Trustees members and $15 for non-members, while children’s tickets cost $6/$10. Infants under two enter free. Book early as shows sell out fast!
Bracing Beach Walk
Get a real taste of the shore with a visit to Humarock Beach, a three-mile barrier beach at the mouth of the North River. While technically still part of Scituate, the beach was cut off from the town when the North River broke through New Inlet in the Portland Gale of 1898 and is now reached through Marshfield to the south.
The beach offers ample walking on a mix of sand and cobbles with views of the river mouth and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as opportunities for paddling, boating, and shellfishing in the adjacent marshlands.
Access is free but visitors without a Scituate beach pass sticker will need to park in one of the public lots along Marshfield Avenue. Porta-potty bathrooms are available in season. Note that the beach is not ADA accessible.
Head north of Hingham to explore the military history preserved at the Webb Memorial State Park. The park, overlooking Hingham Bay was the site of the Grape Island Alarm, the second skirmish of the War of Independence when local militiamen prevented British troops based in Boston from resupplying their horses at nearby Grape Island.
Later, the same site was used by the military to house a Cold War-era Nike anti-aircraft system, designed to protect Boston. The industrial site was transferred to the state in 1974 and following a major cleanup and restoration effort opened as a state park with views of Grape Island and the Black and Fore rivers.
Webb Memorial State Park features an easy wheelchair-accessible one-mile gravel loop trail that runs past several memorials. Entrance is free.
Evenings Under the Stars
Join the South Shore Conservatory for their Evenings Under the Stars series at the Jane Carr Amphitheater in Hingham on Saturdays in July. Enjoy an inspirational blend of classic and new pieces in orchestral, chamber, folk, and jazz performances at this wonderful outdoor venue.
Tickets can be bought through the South Shore Conservatory website and run between $30 and $50 per person for each performance. All performances start at 7 pm at the Jane Carr Amphitheater at 1 Conservatory Drive in Hingham.
When the hurricane of 1938 cut the Old Colony Railroad bridge over the North River, service on the line was permanently discontinued. Today the rail bed has been transformed into the Bridle Trail and Rail Trail, a lovely graded 3.5-mile path that takes you through the heart of Marshfield to the Keville Bridge across the South River.
The trail is part of a major greenbelt project in the area and is accessible from several points in Duxberry. Walking the route provides fascinating glimpses into the area’s agricultural and industrial past while linking many parts of the modern community.
Park at the Bridle Trail lot in Ferry Street or Library Plaza. The trail is wheelchair accessible and there are benches along the route. The path is open year-round and access is free.
Get to know the fascinating story of how cranberries are grown and harvested at Duxbury Bogs. This historic site — first farmed in 1927— features 39 acres of working cranberry bogs plus 191 acres of conservation land and is easily accessible via a 4.5-acre trail network.
The property, also known as the East Street Bogs or Loring Bogs, was bought by the Town of Duxbury to preserve its cranberry-growing heritage. The site continues to produce cranberries for both juice and sauce from vines over 100 years old.
The bogs lie just off Route Three east of Duxbury and are open from dawn to dusk year-round, except at harvest times. Trails are flat and wide but are not considered wheelchair accessible. Entrance is free.
Enjoy sand, sea, and scenery at the Scusset Beach State Reservation, a short drive south from Norwell. Located on the north side of the Cape Cod Canal, this is a great place to watch shipping entering and exiting the canal from Cape Cod Bay.
Scusset Beach offers a plethora of outdoor senior activities from walking and swimming to birdwatching or beach picnicking. There’s good fishing from the pier, too! And, with 98 RV sites for reservation, this makes an excellent base for out-of-towners wanting to explore the South Shore!
Entrance to Scusset Beach State Reservation is free, although Massachusetts residents will pay $14 for parking in season and visitors more. RV camping requires a paid reservation. The reservation features an accessible jetty, pier, and picnic areas. Sunbathing and floating wheelchairs are available for use on the beach.
Go Bay to Bay
Running between Sagamore and Bourne, the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway parallels the Cape Cod Canal, which connects Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay. Popular with bikers, runners, and walkers, the route provides easy access for fishing, birdwatching, or walking. Signs provided by the Army Corps of Engineers indicate points of interest.
Reach the bikeway from the Sagamore Recreation or the Canal Visitor Center in the Sandwich Recreation Area on the north end or the Tidal Flats or Buzzards Bay recreation areas at the south end of the trail. There is also access from the Bourne road bridge. The routes on each side are roughly seven miles long, so this is a good outdoor senior activity to explore in leisurely segments.
The bikeway is flat and wide and runs for its whole length on smooth concrete. The route is wheelchair accessible with regular benches. There are accessible bathrooms and picnic facilities at the Tidal Flats, Buzzards Bay, and Bourne, Midway, Sagamore, and Herring Run recreation areas along the way. Access is free, although there might be a parking charge.
Stay Healthy & Social with Outdoor Senior Activities in Norwell
Whether it’s an invigorating day hike, music at sunset or under the stars, or just a 20-minute walk before coffee, our area abounds in wildlife refuges, state parks, and other great places to get some fresh air and appreciate the beauty of the natural world.
Get together with friends for a brisk stroll, plan a summer family reunion at the beach, explore our area’s history or just enjoy a little quiet time with a book or a pair of binoculars. There are so many choices of outdoor senior activities. That’s what makes our area such a great place to retire!
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