Despite its beginnings as a shipbuilding town, this seaside spot (population 15,300) a half hour south of Boston is sometimes referred to as “Deluxe-bury.” Look for the old Yankee preppy factor, with lots of J. Crew and Lilly Pulitzer. But you’ll also see many just-arrived-to-town young families, with parents who either work from home or commute to Boston via train, a 35-mile drive, or a ferry. Families also are attracted by the public schools and library, which cluster together to give the feel of a small, classic New England campus.
One local business, Island Creek Oysters, put Duxbury Bay on the map as one of the nation’s go-to oyster sources almost two decades ago. With a strong emphasis on boating (the Duxbury Bay Maritime School) and the arts (the Art Complex Museum and Ellison Center for the Arts), the town feels like Cape Cod without the crowds. As one resident says, “We get busy in summer because of kids returning from college, not from tourists.”
A picture-perfect Colonial-scape of historic ship captains’ homes, complete with hydrangeas and well-kept yards. With most of the ocean frontage zoned residential, you’ll be looking at beachside homes rather than open water, unless you can afford to live in one yourself.
Your Main Street has: A strip of stately Colonial homes on Washington Street, with a strong dose of Americana on holidays. Hangouts include French Memories bakery and locally favored pubs The Milepost Restaurant & Tavern and the Sun Tavern. Perhaps the best part is hidden Shipyard Lane Beach, which sits off Washington Street and makes for a great midday lunch escape to watch the oystermen.
Duxbury Beach, a half-mile wooden bridge away (with residents-only parking). It’s five miles of white sand with no big development or retail, just one little beach shack selling burgers and sodas.
Your favorite place to eat could be: Winsor House, the watering hole where everyone goes for cocktails and fireside chats.
On the weekend you might: Head to the beach or join one of the many small boat regattas in summer. The Duxbury Bay Maritime School offers year-round sailing and crew opportunities. In winter, escape four hours north to New Hampshire or Vermont for skiing.
Cultured. The town has long been a sort of artsy escape for Bostonians, some of whom founded the Duxbury Art Association 93 years ago. It now shares a space with the music conservatory at the Ellison Center for the Arts. There’s always music, art workshops for kids and adults, and gallery shows to go along with the beach fun—and, of course, summertime boating.
Visiting Duxbury: Stay a week: The Winsor House Inn is an old classic and a centerpiece of the town. Rooms from $120/night; 781/934-0991 or winsorhouseinn.com. Stay a month: A one-bedroom studio perfect for a couple, a few minutes from a private beach, $1,200/month; homeaway.com (Listing ID 180452).