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The Seven Most Exciting Suburbs Outside Boston

You could use a little space.

Island Creek Oysters
Island Creek Oysters

It’s hard to beat city living—except the traffic, crowds, dirt, and high stress levels. Time to shake up your urban ideals and start socializing farther afield. Whether you seek shopping, sightseeing, beach time, or a restaurant scene that rivals Boston, each of these spots could make you reconsider your Never Suburbs stance. And when we say “suburbs,” for the record, we’re not talking Brookline or Newton; at minimum, there must be a commuter rail involved (eventually, that is—we know you’re probably still driving). Here are the most exciting suburbs to visit outside of Boston.

Plum Island Beach | Harvard Street/Shutterstock

Newburyport

Distance from Boston: One hour
The first time you visit, you’ll go home grumbling about your own dirty-city existence. The second time, you’ll start perusing real estate. The tiny coastal city is a charming enclave that still grants you big-city trappings. You’ll start the day by strolling the streets and gawking at the 19th-century New England homes. Amazingly, you can also rent and launch a kayak right in town, but exercise can also be had on the walking trails on nearby Plum Island. Enjoy walking to fine-dining spots? BRINE is reopening in May, Sea Level Oyster Bar gives you your fish fix now, Michael’s Harborside provides the classic waterside dining experience, and the newly reopened The Poynt grants your palate and international experience.

Sunset Tiki Bar and Grill

Groton

Distance from Boston: One hour
Looking to convene with nature? You need only head northwest for less than an hour to get your fix. The Luina Greine Farm lets you meet up with alpacas, miniature donkeys, and dwarf goats. Then see what critters you can spot at the Rocky Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (we’re gunning for baby porcupines). Get some exercise by hiking the Nashua River Rail Trail, then toast your back-to-nature habits with some locavore drinking at Nashoba Valley Winery, which also houses a brewery and distillery. Giblet Hill Grill might be the best steakhouse you’ve experienced and the buzzy Forge & VIne, which specializes in wood-fired fare and interesting wine pours, offers plenty of safe indoor dining seats thanks to its barn-like space. And looking ahead, you should make time for the swimming pool and swim-up tiki bar at Nashoba Valley. The pool is slated to reopen sometime in May (and yes, it was able to stay open during COVID-19 last summer).

Wahlburgers

Hingham

Distance from Boston: 45 minutes
Just a ferry ride away from the city—perhaps the safest mode of public transport these days—Hingham is the ideal refuge for haughty yachtie wannabes. The Hingham Shipyard is where you can stare at beautiful boats for hours—and it’s also a shopping and dining haven that includes Alma Nove and Wahlburger’s, Paul Wahlberg’s high- and low-end dining ventures, as well as the new Trident Galley and Raw Bar. And you’re also visiting a town whose public parks rival Boston’s: World’s End, Womaptuck State Park, and Weir River Farm combine to provide more than 600 acres of outdoor shenanigans. Hingham is also minutes from Nantasket Beach and did we mention that the water ferry has a bar on board?

Walden Pond | Alizada Studios/Shutterstock

Lexington/Concord

Distance from Boston: 30 minutes
We Bostonians tend to take all our landmark history for granted. But a stroll through the Minute Man National Historical Park could inspire the most Revolutionary War-indifferent. That’s only the start of the charms of this twofer suburb. Shopping in downtown Concord is a throwback charmfest, between the indie bookstores (The Concord Bookshop and Barrow Bookstore) and The Concord Cheese Shop, beloved for its wines and sandwiches as well as its global cheese selection. But the dining is great, from Il Casale Lexington to Woods Hill Table to 80 Thoreau. And then, of course, there’s the famous Walden Pond.

Island Creek Oysters

Duxbury

Distance from Boston: One hour
Who wouldn’t want to live in the same town as Island Creek Oyster Farm? Or a place dotted with shingled saltbox homes, the likes of which you normally only see on the Cape? Or a South Shore shelter so revered that locals never want to leave? It’s all about fulfilling your coastal fantasies in Duxbury, where you can take sailing lessons at the Duxbury Bay Maritime School, tavern hop from Sun Tavern to Milepost to Winsor House—just purchased by the ICO team, so you know exciting things are in the works—and revel in the residents-only parking at Duxbury Beach.

L'Andana Grill

Burlington

Distance from Boston: 30 minutes
Who knew one of the best dining scenes in the state would pop in unassuming Burlington, of all places? Yet there’s The Bancroft, a fantastic, classic steakhouse; L'Andana, a special-occasion trattoria; and what will soon become the suburban outlet of oyster bar Row 34. But this northwest suburb has multiple appeals. There’s also the stunning natural oasis Landlocked Forest, history to be discovered, and a beautiful overnight boutique spot in the Archer Hotel.

The Trustees - Crane Estate

Ipswich

Distance from Boston: 50 minutes
For starters, there’s Crane Beach and its miles of pristine shoreline, where you can hike, fly kites, and walk the dog—and it’s pretty much all yours in the off-season. There’s also a true taste of Gilded Age thanks to the stunning Crane Estate. To bring you back down to earth, there’s the iconic Clam Box (and, if you dare cross the border into Essex, additional fried clam options at Woodman’s and J.T. Farnham’s). There’s a higher-falutin’ dining world beyond fried clams in this town, too, especially at spots like Salt and 1640 Hart House. If you’re a cycling enthusiast tired of the mean streets of Boston, you’ll be thrilled by the expansive mountain biking scene, or if you’re more into horses, stables are plentiful in this bucolic, stone-walled area.

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Meaghan Agnew is finally, maybe, sort of feeling a little bit of optimism? See how long that lasts by following her on Instagram.
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