For many years, Scituate was known as a quiet little fishing village tucked away from the traffic and commotion of Route 3. Today, this South Shore community is a desirable destination for visitors and residents who enjoy beautiful coastal scenery, gourmet dining, outdoor recreation, fascinating history, and shopping at local businesses and galleries — all with a small town feel. Scituate is earning a well-deserved reputation as a dining destination that caters to all palates. With upscale and casual cuisine options ranging from Italian to Mexican to tapas to seafood, Scituate is a pleasant surprise for diners looking for a variety of locally sourced, quality food without the citified pretense.
The Inn at Scituate Harbor (7 Beaver Dam Road, 877-477-5550, www.innatscituate.com, from $179 through September) offers a new on-site Mexican restaurant, continental breakfast, an indoor pool, an outdoor terrace, harbor views, and complimentary beach passes to each of the five beaches in Scituate. The Oceanside Inn (8 Oceanside Drive, 781-544-0002, www.bnboceansideinn.com, $109-$249, 3-night minimum weekend stay through Sept. 5) is Scituate's only oceanfront bed-and-breakfast offering breakfast on its outdoor deck, a beachstone fireplace, and private oceanfront balconies in each room for viewing the sunset. The Cliffside Inn (6 Bridge Ave., 954-591-3234, www.cliffbedandbreakfast.com, rates $100-$225) is steps from Peggotty Beach and offers basic amenities including in-room cable TV, air conditioning, and continental breakfast.
Scituate's variety of dining options is one of the best-kept secrets on the South Shore. Sam's on the Harbor (146 Front St., 781-545-0050, breakfast $5-$11) offers hearty breakfast fare with excellent omelets, pancakes, and even crab eggs Benedict. The Coffee Corner (1 Cole Pkwy., 781-545-8225) has excellent coffee and fresh bagels. You might even see some of the local fishermen grabbing their morning coffee. JW's Burger Bar (17 New Driftway, 781-378-2438, www.jwsburgerbar.com, burgers $11-$15) offers creatively crafted grass-fed hamburgers including the Caveman with bacon, cheese, baby back rib chunks, and a fried egg. Wilburs North (367 Gannett Road, 781-545-8118, www.wilbursnorth.com, sandwiches $5-$7) is the perfect place to pick up inexpensive sandwiches for the beach. They also have delicious ice cream. Maria's Subs and Pizza (47 Front St., 781-545-2323) is another local favorite that has been making sandwiches in Scituate for nearly 50 years. Riva (116 Front St., 781-545-5881, www.rivarestaurant.net, entrees $18-$30) has classic Italian dishes such as sweet Italian sausage ragu, and original seafood dishes such as pancetta-wrapped hake that can be enjoyed on the outdoor patio with live acoustic music. Oro (162 Front St., 781-378-2465, www.restaurantoro.com, entrees $18-$30) offers sophisticated dishes sourced from local ingredients such as the crispy Scituate lobster cake, with spinach, grilled onion, and lobster tomato crema. Oro also has dollar oysters on Wednesdays, and Sunday brunch with warm maple doughnuts.
The Barker Tavern (21 Barker Road, 781-545-6533, www.barkertavern.com), a fully restored 17th-century house, offers casual selections like baby back ribs and such upscale options as grilled Atlantic salmon fillet with lentils, sweet soy glaze, and basmati rice. The recently opened Galley (95 Front St., 781-545-3663) focuses on tapas and smaller dishes such as cubano sliders ($5) with pulled pork, ham, house pickles, Dijon, Manchego, and potato sticks. For more casual options, the Mill Wharf
(23 Mill Wharf Plaza, 781-545-3999, www.millwharf.com, entrees $9-$26) offers scenic views of Scituate Harbor, excellent chowder, lobster rolls, and wood-fired pizzas. T. K. O'Malley's sports cafe (194 Front St., 781-545-4012, www.eattkomalleys.com) has hearty sandwiches and reasonably priced pub food, including four-topping pizzas for $9.95. You can enjoy these favorites while sitting on a deck overlooking Scituate Harbor. The Satuit Tavern (39 Jericho Road, 781-545-2500, www.satuittavern.com, entrees $5-$25) also has excellent pizza and flavorful, lightly battered fried clams. For fresh guacamole and creative Mexican dishes, Tesoro (7 Beaver Dam Road, 781-378-2145, www.tesorokitchen.com, entrees $8-$15) at the Inn at Scituate Harbor is the place to go.
Scituate has five town beaches: Egypt, Humarock, Peggotty, Minot, and Sand Hills. All are open to the public, but a beach sticker must be purchased from Town Hall (600 Chief Justice Cushing Highway, 781-545-8700, www.scituatema.gov). A non-resident sticker for all beaches is $200 for the year, and a Humarock-only beach sticker is $75. North and South River Rides (Humarock, 781-545-2845, www.northandsouthriverrides.com, $100-$150) and the Lucky Finn Schooner Co. (Scituate Harbor, 800-979-3370, www.luckyfinn.com, adults $35, children under 12 $25) offer sunset cruises and other trips to help visitors enjoy a day on the water. For a day on the links, Widow's Walk Golf Course (250 The Driftway, 781-544-7777, www.widowswalkgolf.com, rates $14-$47) was voted the best course on the South Shore. To help keep the kids busy, the Little House of Arts (157 Front St., 781-545-9326, www.thelittlehouseofarts.com) has weeklong art adventures or weekly classes that involve drawing, painting, photography, or jewelry making among other crafts. For those looking to explore Scituate's rich and fascinating history, the Scituate Historical Society (43 Cudworth Road, 781-545-1083, www.scituatehistoricalsociety.org) is the place to start. The Society will give tours of hidden historical gems like the Stockbridge Grist Mill, a rare and functional grist mill, and the Bates House, home to War of 1812 heroes Abigail and Rebecca Gates. There are 18 total sites on the Society's map, but the most well-known landmarks are the Lawson Tower and Scituate Lighthouse. The Lawson Tower (330 First Parish Road, www.scituatehistoricalsociety.org/tower) has been referred to as "the most beautiful, the most photographed, and the most expensive water tower in the country." Millionaire businessman Thomas Lawson built the tower in 1902 to house a 276,000-gallon water tank across from his expansive "Dreamworld" estate. With more than 120 steps and over 150 feet tall, the tower has sweeping views of Scituate and Minot Light, Boston, and Provincetown. Scituate Lighthouse (100 Lighthouse Road, www.scituatehistoricalsociety.org/light) is celebrating a big bicentennial anniversary. In September 1814, lighthouse residents the two Bateses played a fife and drum and created enough noise and commotion to thwart a British invasion. The lighthouse also has a newly constructed stone wall protecting it from the rising coastline. Tours are offered for both landmarks through the Historical Society, and there are open houses in August and September.
Scituate may be a quiet community, but there are ample night life options including live entertainment on weekends and trivia on Thursday's at T. K. O'Malley's (see above). Jamie's Pub (360 Gannett Road, 781-545-6000, www.jamiespub.com) features Thursday night karaoke, and Saturday team trivia. Mill Wharf Cinemas (1 Mill Wharf Plaza, 781-545-3130, www.sscinemas.com, $6-$9) features two first-run movies and a Nona's Homemade Ice Cream stand.
Matt Taylor can be reached at www.matthewgtaylor.com.