Looking for long walks on the water and fried clams? We’ve got you covered
Some readers may recall an article from a couple of years back that focused on food and hiking, or more specifically, on taking hikes in the woods or along the water that would ultimately lead you to restaurants. Now that the warm weather is with us, it seems like a good time to revisit this topic in a slightly different way, this time looking at places where you can walk or hike and enjoy some of the region’s seafood shacks along the way. Most of the areas below are places where you can literally walk to these joints, though a couple do require a short drive.
Seaport District Harborwalk + James Hook and Yankee Lobster (Boston)
Yes, there are seafood shacks within walking distance of downtown Boston, and yes, if you’re really hungry you can hit both of these old-fashioned eateries in one fell swoop, thanks in part to a particularly scenic section of the Harborwalk that runs along the water behind the newly formed urban canyons of the Seaport District. Starting at South Station, you can walk along the west side of Fort Point Channel to James Hook, enjoying a lobster roll before crossing the channel and following the Harborwalk through Fan Pier, past the ICA and the No Name Restaurant, and along a short boardwalk behind a few dining and drinking hotspots before reaching Yankee Lobster where you can have another lobster roll if you wish.
Castle Island + Sullivan’s (South Boston)
OK, so it’s not really a true seafood shack, but Sully’s does have its fair share of excellent seafood, including great takes on lobster rolls, fried clams, scallops, shrimp, fish and chips, clam chowder, fish sandwiches, and more. And this is really the perfect location to wrap up a walk with some seafood, as the pathway around Pleasure Bay (also known as the sugar bowl) that goes right past the snack spot has some of the finest views in all of Boston. It doesn’t get much easier, too, as you can start and end at Sullivan’s, doing approximately three miles in the process if you include some of the walkways that go around the fort at Castle Island.
Deer Island + Belle Isle Seafood (Winthrop/Boston)
Unlike the two above, you can’t really walk directly to your dining destination unless you have a lot of time on your hands, as Belle Isle is about three miles from Deer Island—and oddly enough, both are located on the Winthrop/Boston line but in completely different areas. If you have a car, this is a pretty easy one to do, wandering around the spectacular seaside walkways around Deer Island (and doing your best to ignore the fact that you’re at a wastewater treatment plant) before taking a pleasant drive to Belle Island for such classics as clam chowder, lobster rolls, and swordfish while enjoying some more water views.
Wollaston Beach and Marina Bay + Tony’s Clam Shop and The Clam Box (Quincy)
For a long walk followed by food at one of two classic seafood joints (or both if you’re starved), this is an excellent option, as you can walk northward part or all of Wolly Beach, then take a right onto Squantum Street and a left on Victory Road to enjoy the boardwalks and walkways of Marina Bay. You can easily get upward of 10 miles in on this one, especially if you include the remote-feeling Squantum Point next to Marina Bay, or as few as three or four miles if you go from the northern edge of the beach to Marina Bay then back, then take a short ride down to Tony’s or the Clam Box. Speaking of which, both places are known for their outstanding fried clams, but you can also choose from a wide variety of other seafood dishes as well—or burgers and dogs if you’re more of a landlubber.
Crocker Park and Fort Sewall + The Barnacle (Marblehead)
The Old Town section of Marblehead is about as close as you’ll get to being in a small British village, and this historic North Shore area certainly has its share of beautiful outdoor spaces, including two small parks that are within walking distance of one another. Crocker Park and Fort Sewall, which basically bookend the southern and northern edges of Old Town respectively, both sit high above the ocean and have jaw-dropping views from their little pathways, and just south of the Fort Sewall entrance is the Barnacle, an old-fashioned spot that is perhaps more restaurant then seafood shack but sits right on top of the ocean and has all the faves for seafood lovers.
More info at marblehead.org/about-marblehead/pages/parks
Cedar Swamp Conservation Area + Woodman’s and J.T. Farnham’s (Manchester/Essex)
This is another one where you have to drive for a few minutes once you’re done hiking, but the rewards are so worth the effort if you have a car to get up to this gorgeous part of Cape Ann. The hike can be as short or long as you want it to be, starting with an easy 15-minute boardwalk stroll over the bucolic Cedar Swamp (accessed from School Street just north of Route 128) and, if you want, continuing for many miles through nearly 2,000 acres of woods beyond the swamp. Then it’s off to Route 133 in Essex to two of the most famous seafood shacks in New England, each of which is known in part for its ridiculously great fried clams.
Plymouth Seaside Rail Trail + The Lobster Hut (Plymouth)
If you want Cape-like views of the ocean and Cape-quality seafood without actually having to hit the Cape, this hidden trail is a real gem and the restaurant is a perfect stopping point along the way; the trail starts next to a historic mill complex in North Plymouth and continues southward along the water until it ends just north of the town wharf where you’ll find the Lobster Hut, an old-school joint that serves up every kind of seafood imaginable at downright cheap prices. You can then continue on into the heart of Plymouth, hitting such great old sites as the Plimoth Grist Mill before returning to the bike path.
Halibut Point + The Lobster Pool (Rockport)
Perhaps saving the best views for last (though honestly, all of the above have terrific scenery), Halibut Point is an awe-inspiring place on Cape Ann that used to be a quarry, and the combination of the water-filled quarry and the ocean beyond is like nothing you’ll really see along the Mass coast. After some short and mostly easy walking here, you have about a 30-second drive to the Lobster Pool, a classic old seafood shack with clam chowder, lobster rolls, and more, and because it faces westward, it’s a perfect spot for catching a sunset over the water.