The South Coast of Massachusetts offers two tucked-away gems of places that can provide hours of fun for kids of all ages.
The first is the Lloyd Center for the Environment, in Westport MA. Their nature center is on a beautiful stretch of Westport Beach and provides 5 miles of hiking trails and a broad range of animal exhibits, programs and seminars.
Not to be missed is their observation deck, which was named one of 15 "special places" in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. From there you can see Cuttyhunk and other of the Elizabeth Islands, ospreys and migrating birds in flight, harbor seals basking in the sun (during the winter) and much more.
A salt water touch tank lets the kids touch crabs, sea stars and other local sea creatures. A variety of aquariums provide appropriate coastal environments and information on local fish, shellfish and other invertebrates.
While the Lloyd Center’s primary focus is on students and teachers in grades K-8, younger children will also enjoy a visit there. Best of all, there is no charge to enjoy the center or the wooded trails, but a donation is always welcome!
According to their website, the Demarest Lloyd State Park “is one of the best kept secrets in the Massachusetts forest and park system”. I would heartily agree, since on a recent sunny Sunday when the line to Horseneck Beach stretched for miles, this pristine park with saltwater beach was just moderately busy, with lots of available parking and no lines of traffic to get in.
Perfect for families with young children, the surf is calm, the waters shallow and because of this the water temperatures are delightfully warm and agreeable. Plan to picnic in the shady groves, nicely equipped for you with tables and barbecues. You could spend the entire day here, and the kids will busy themselves exploring in the tidal pools, building sand castles. Bring a nature guide and see if you can spot egrets, herons, ospreys, terns and hawks overhead. The beach is a real winner!
The Lloyd Center for the Environment, Westport Ma
430 Potomska Rd
Dartmouth, MA 02748
Demarest Lloyd State Park,
Barney’s Joy Road, Dartmouth, MA