One of the things I'm truly loving about living in the 'burbs now that the weather's nice is the opportunity to be close to nature. The South Shore is known for its beautiful forests and marshes, and is home to a wide variety of birds, seals, and other forest friends. Mass Audubon's South Shore Sanctuaries—North River, Daniel Webster, and North Hill Marsh—are ideal places to discover the area's natural treasures.
North River serves as the indoor base for the three sanctuaries, with a nature center featuring a discovery room for kids, turtles, fish, an archeological station, bathrooms, and a gift shop. As we drove up the winding road to the North River Sanctuary's main building, we felt transported into a different world. Everything was so vibrant and bright, lush and crisp. Once inside, my son had a blast playing with the toys and exploring, while I learned about the variety of programs and things to do at the three sanctuaries.
Things to do at North River
2000 Main Street, Marshfield MA 02050
- Take a short walk over to the outdoor nature play area. Build a fort with real logs and play in a real tee pee. Give your child the opportunity to create through natural elements and unstructured exploration.
- Check out the sensory trail. The trail will soon include tactile natural history information for visitors with vision impairments, a trail and boardwalk with a compacted smooth surface that meets ADA requirements, and information in large print and braille. Follow along on the knotted rope and don't miss the 3D replicas of caterpillars and other creatures!
- Grab a Bingo sheet and walk the trails. Find an oak leaf, fiddleheads, a butterfly, and other signs of nature.
- Take a discovery booklet and circle sounds you've heard, tracks, scats, and nibbles you've found and draw something special you observed.
- On the second Tuesday of each month, "Little Naturalists" (age 3-5 with caregiver) at the North River Wildlife Sanctuary learn about New England animals through walks, stories, songs, and crafts. ($)
On Saturday mornings, during a drop-in program called "Sense n Story: Habitats," kids (ages 3-5, with caregiver) share a fun and engaging story and then investigate touch tables with specimens. ($)
On the third Saturday in October, celebrate Farm Day at the sanctuary! Enjoy farm animals, hay rides, owl presentations, live music, games, crafts, and more.
Things to do at North Hill Marsh
Mayflower Street, Duxbury, MA 02332
- Head over to Duxbury Beach for an activity on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, June-August. Program topics might be Mollusk Madness, Visit the Lighthouse, Treasure Hunts, or A Lobster's Life.
- Walk the dog around the marshes (just make sure to keep your canine friend on a leash and out of the pond.)
- Explore 5 miles of well marked trails that circle ponds, cranberry bogs, and forest.
Things to do at Daniel Webster
Winslow Cemetery Rd., Marshfield, MA 02050
- Bring binoculars and a field guide for a walk through the grasslands. Stop at two observation blinds to look for sunning turtles.
- Look for the purple martin colony, housed in an array of white nesting gourds near Webster Pond.
- Take in a panoramic view of the grasslands from the platform at Fox Hill
- Bring a picnic lunch!
- There is a changing table in the back room at North River, just ask at the front desk.
- Pack snacks or a lunch, because there aren't any snack bars.
- Enjoy food on the picnic tables in front of the main building at North River.
- The trails at North River are jogging-stroller friendly.
- Make sure to check out more news and events here!
Mass Audubon's North River Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 2000 Main Street in Marshfield, Mass. It is open Monday - Friday from 9am-4pm and Saturdays, April-December, from 10am-3pm. Member admission is free; non-member admission is $4/adult and $3/child (3-12).