Ten Reasons to Vacation in Onset, Massachusetts This Year: I’m Set On Onset!

Briefly, I am not a travel writer, nor am I being paid for this post. But I want to give some love to my home town and share with you Ten Reasons to Vacation in Onset, Massachusetts this year:

Onset Beach, Photo Courtesy of Onset Bay Association
Courtesy of Onset Bay Association

REASON ONE AND TWO: My first reason to encourage you to visit Onset, is Onset Beach. It is a family friendly beach with many opportunities. See the people in this picture? This could be you, while other folks are sitting bumper to bumper on the Bridge to the Cape. While they are fuming, you could have your vehicle parked, your blanket spread, sunscreen on and ready for action: avoiding Bridge Traffic is my second reason.

The Cape Cod Canal, view facing the Village of Buzzards Bay

REASON THREE: The Cape Cod Canal. If all you do is fish along the canal, sit and picnic at one of the viewing areas and drink in the serenity it offers on a day like the one pictured above, you will have gained something special. But you don’t just have to look, there are Canal Cruises that you can take from the Onset Pier and there is also a Deep Sea Fishing boat, docked at the Onset Pier. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that.

Sign on the dock, with a view of thte canal and the railroad lift bridge to the left of the picture.

REASON FOUR: The Massachusetts Maritime Academy, in near-by Buzzards Bay, is a full college with male and female students, a training ship and more. Gone are the Quonset huts of old. Visit, not just for a good view of the canal, or just to view the campus, but also to take a tour of the newly opened library (Information Center). I do not mean to imply that the entire campus is open to the public, but the library is open to the public and from what trusted friends tell me, worth the visit.

REASON FIVE AND SIX: The Onset Bay Center, that is scheduled to open in June of 2020, through the Buzzards Bay Coalition, offers “on the water programming for kids and families.” The programming includes, but is not limited to watercraft of all kinds, environmental studies and more. For a full picture of services and opportunities go to http://www.savebuzzardsbay.com. Kayak rental will be available again this summer and the Nemasket Kayak Company has space in the newly built Onset Bay Center. You can find out more about their services here: http://www.nemasketkayak.com.

REASON SEVEN Summary: Swimming, boating, fishing, sailing, kayaking, serenity seeking and family fun.

A view from Onset Pier

REASON EIGHT: The Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center, in Sandwich. Although Sandwich is not Onset, that is the location of the Visitor Center, (at the other end of the Canal) and, it is rich in resources, information about the canal, the historic reasons and current use (no pun intended). The canal is operated and maintained by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Like many of the places listed here, the Visitor Center provides a great family outing. You can learn more here at: http://www.capecodmuseumtrail.com.

REASON NINE: The Edaville Railroad! (Actually, now the Edaville Family Theme Park) http://www.edaville.com. Again, this is not in Onset, but is in Carver, which is a short drive from Onset. It was one of my favorite spots as a child taking a train ride around the cranberry bogs in the winter and enjoying the lights and sights. Edaville has gotten new life as an amusement park.

Postcard of The Union Villa, Courtesy of Angela Dunham

REASON TEN: History! Onset/Wareham is an area with a rich history and lots of local folks that are glad to share it with you. The town of Wareham boasts an active historical society: see, http://www.warehamhistoricalsociety.com and the Wareham Free Library.

RESOURCES: One important resource that will prove helpful for your visit to Onset, is the folks at the Onset Bay Association. They keep things lively, interesting and up to date on local activities. From large festivals of all kinds, to small group craft opportunities, they can keep you informed. There is a Blues Festival and also a Cape Verdean Festival scheduled, and Fourth of July Fireworks, just to name a few. You can also find them on Facebook, and you will also find them friendly and welcoming.


One place to start looking for short term rental housing would be the local real estate agents. When I was planning for my trip home last fall, I was surprised to find that my “go to” hotel search site, also listed vacation rentals for apartments, rooms, houses and bed and breakfasts. Many are listed in multiple locations. I found the perfect place for me at Airbnb. Since many hotels now offer in room refrigerators and microwaves, a hotel may be a good choice. But choosing where to stay is personal, so I leave you with those suggestions, but if you think you want to visit this summer, start looking now.

I promised you Ten Reasons to Vacation in Onset, I can offer you 400 more. You might know, or perhaps it sliped your notice, that this year is the 400th Anniversary of the landing of the Puritans in Plymouth. There are lots of activities planned. Again, you might be thinking, Beach Girl, Plymouth isn’t Onset! No, you are correct, but it a short drive. Think about making Onset your base of operations, the place you come back to again and again. There are some big celebrations planned for this spring, with the return of The Mayflower II, after an absence of three years. It will sail into Boston Harbor for a week of celebration from May 14, 2020 to May 20, 2020 and then will move to Plymouth for celebrations and shipboard visits May 21, 2020 to May 25, 2020. You can learn details about events and ticket prices at http://www.mayflowersails2020.com.

The town of Plymouth, Massachusetts and Plimoth Plantation are two more things you will not want to miss. I visited Plimoth Plantation as a child and it was nice, but it was relatively small, a total of 6 houses, maybe more, with gardens and the type of furnishings that would have been in use at the time. Today it is a comprehensive historic site with a lot of attention to detail and accuracy and living history. There are special programs, hands on crafts that are culturally specific. I look forward to going back and spending more time there. I cannot begin to do it justice in this short space, but you can find everything you might want to know at http://www.plimoth.org.

Visiting Plymouth this year and participating in the 400th Anniversary celebration, does invite some sensitivity. Many of us above a certain age learned a very “white-washed” and sanitized version of the early history of our country, especially in regard to relationships between the original residents and the newcomers. Not everyone is celebrating this anniversary, so sensitivity, humility and a willingness to learn by listening to the stories of others can help us grow beyond inaccuracy, and give us something to celebrate. One book that helped me with this is “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick. http://www.nathanielphilbrick.com/books/mayflower. Now, bear in mind, I am not a travel writer, no one is paying me for this post, and I do not do Book Reviews either. But if you decide to visit Plymouth, the book may be a good read.

Photo Courtesy of Onset Bay Association

There are many things I haven’t addressed in this post: I have tried to provide lots of websites that will give you more information, pictures and details than I could possibly include here. I have also not mentioned food, but there are many places in and around Onset/Wareham, good pizza, seafood restaurants, new or recent night spots, but that won’t matter as much until you decide to go. There is a lot I have left off, we haven’t talked about searching for seashells, other areas of water exploration or activities. perhaps you will go through my list of Ten, Plus the Four Hundred (400) and make your own list. Perhaps, if you go, you won’t be able to wait until you get to go back again. I know that is true for me.

Not holding back the tide,


Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

One thought on “Ten Reasons to Vacation in Onset, Massachusetts This Year: I’m Set On Onset!

  1. Right here is the perfect site for anyone who hopes to understand this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject that’s been discussed for ages. Excellent stuff, just great!


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