Looking for a quick escape from the hustle-bustle of the city and the summer heat? The tiny seaside town of Cohasset, about 20 miles south of Boston, has been luring weary travelers for more than 300 years. The town was once home to ship builders and fishermen in the early 1880s; later, wealthy Bostonians moved here to build summer vacation homes. Today, the tree-lined streets are flanked by historic buildings and impressive private residences, and a small cluster of restaurants and boutiques line Main Street and surround the picturesque Village Green. This is a place to slow down and recharge.
The sprawling Red Lion Inn (71 South Main St., 781-383-1704, www.redlioninn1704.com; rooms $200-$280) in the center of town, features pocket gardens and 15 cozy rooms with country French decor and working fireplaces. Some rooms have original 18th-century woodwork and ceiling beams. Chances are you’ll share the property with an enthralled bride and groom and their happy guests; the historic inn is a popular venue for weddings, especially spring through fall. For simple, hotel-style accommodations stay at the Cohasset Harbor Resort (124 Elm St. 781-383-6650, www.cohassetharborresort.com; $134-
$259). Cookie-cutter rooms have basic furnishings, but the no-frills property commands a premier spot on the harbor.
The popular 5 South Main cafe
(5 South Main, 781-383-3555, www
.5southmain.com; $3-$9), with only a handful of tables, is the local hangout for breakfast and lunch. Start your day with the signature French toast made with cinnamon bread, or the crab cakes topped with poached eggs. Lunch favorites include the Caprese sandwich with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and pesto, and the veggie wrap with homemade hummus and fresh-picked sprouts. For some of the best Italian dishes on the South Shore, head to Ava Cucina (107 Ripley St., 781-383-8300, www.avacucina.com; $14-
$22), known for its homemade pasta and tasty sauces. The award-winning Bia
Bistro (35 South Main, 781-383-0464, www.biabistro.com; most entrees $20-
$27) features contemporary Mediterranean cuisine in a candlelit, romantic setting. Start with the Wellfleet oysters encrusted with Maine crab, followed by a bowl of Portuguese seafood stew or the Tuscan lamb shank. For more casual fare, snag a seat at Mangia (13 Depot Court, 781-383-2900, www.eatmangiapizza
.com; $14.95-$17.95), known for its surprisingly light and crispy, thin-crust whole wheat pizzas. There are more than 20 specialty pies on the menu, but the Tuscany, with oven-roasted tomatoes, homemade pesto, fresh basil, walnuts, and Asiago and Gorgonzola cheeses,
remains a favorite. Satisfy your sweet tooth at French Memories Bakery (64 South Main, 781-383-2216) with a slice of Key lime cake or luscious chocolate truffle.
DURING THE DAY
Spend time in the village browsing shops such as Twist (21 South Main, 781-383-4002), filled with colorful handbags, scarves, jewelry, and knickknacks, and Ports and Company (23 South Main, 781-383-1020, www.portsandcompany
.com), with fashions from designers such as 3 Dot, Johnny Swain, Tracy Reese, My Tribe, and others. Stop by the Cohasset Historical Society Headquarters (106
South Main, 781-383-1434, www.cohas
sethistoricalsociety.org, free), located in the 1903 Pratt Building, to learn about the history of the town and to view its collection of maritime artifacts and 19th- century paintings. The 1810 Captain John Wilson House (4 Elm St., 781-383-1434, www.cohassethistoricalsociety.org, free) and the circa 1750s Bates Ship Chandlery and Maritime Museum (6 Elm St., 781-383-1434, www.cohassethis
toricalsociety.org, free) are also open to the public during the summer months.
Unwind with a walk along pretty Cohasset Harbor, where you can watch lobster boats come and go, and get a view of the historic Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse. Or, head to 3,526-acre Wompatuck State Park (off Free Street, 781-749-7160, www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/southeast/womp.htm, free) to hike or bike miles of woodsy trails. At Holly Hill Farm (236 Jerusalem Road, 781-383-1455, www.holly
hillfarm.org, free), tour vegetable, flower, and herb gardens, and meander trails that crisscross 130 acres of fields and forests, dotted with ponds and rippling streams.
The South Shore Music Circus (130 Sohier St., 781-383-9850, www.themusic
circus.org), now housed in a state-of-the-art tent, has offered summer theater performances and live concerts for more than 100 years, and is reason enough to visit this South Shore town. This season, world-class artists, including Willie Nelson, Trace Adkins, Diana Krall, and Joe Walsh, take the stage. Mr. Dooley’s Olde Irish Village Pub (9 Depot Court, 781-383-3366, www.somerspubs.com) is a lively, come-as-you-are hangout with a decent selection of craft brews, above-average pub grub, and traditional Irish comfort food. There’s also live entertainment on summer weekends. Or, grab a seat along the water’s edge, soak up the briny sea air, and watch the sun head to the other side of the world.