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Exploring the Cities and Towns of Massachusetts' South Coast

The South Coast of Massachusetts is a large area encompassing 13 municipalities, and featuring countless beaches and recreational opportunities for its more than 300,000 residents.

Aerial photograph of south coast, MA

The region has parks, marinas, golf courses, zoos, universities, museums, historic districts, and waterfront homes, making it an incredibly appealing place to live near Cape Cod.

If you're searching for a home in buy on the South Coast, you'll have many communities to consider. Here's some information on each of them.


Although it seems like a suburb of New Bedford, Acushnet is a separate town with over 10,000 residents. The community is known for Acushnet Process Company, which produces Titleist golf equipment, and features a river and multiple ponds. 


The town of Dartmouth sits just west of New Bedford and is home to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. There are numerous golf courses and hiking areas in Dartmouth, making it a popular place for those who love the outdoors, and the community extends south to Buzzards Bay, where there are some scenic beaches.


Across the Acushnet River from New Bedford is Fairhaven, a town with about 16,000 residents and an incredible oceanfront lifestyle. West Island Town Beach and Fort Phoenix are some of the most popular waterfront locations, and there are quite a few marinas in the downtown area, as well.

Fall River

The second-largest community on the South Coast is Fall River, a city with about 89,000 people. Fall River has a bustling downtown area, including the Corky Row Historic District, and is home to Battleship Cove, featuring the world's most extensive collection of battleships from World War II. 

Fall River also has ocean access through the Taunton River and numerous hiking areas east of Watuppa Pond. 


Sitting just north of Fall River, Freetown is one of the country's oldest towns, having first been settled by Pilgrims in 1659. The two villages in Freetown - Assonet and East Freetown - are separated by forests and appear independent of each other. In fact, Assonet is an unofficial suburb of Fall River, and East Freetown acts like a suburb of New Bedford, due to their proximity to these larger communities.


Beaches, golf courses, marshland, and forests make-up much of Marion, a town with just 4,900 residents and plenty of outdoor space to explore. The Sippican Harbor, which sits in the heart of the community, is incredibly popular with boaters in the summer, and Front Street is often bustling with activity.


You'll find Mattapoisett just west of Marion, and it has many of the same features. Most of Mattapoisett's 6,000 residents live in the town center, which is home to restaurants, shops, golf courses, and the ever-popular Mattapoisett Town Beach. There's a pier in the heart of town where you can launch a boat into Mattapoisett Harbor, which connects directly to Buzzards Bay, too.

New Bedford

The largest city on the South Coast is New Bedford, which has over 95,000 residents. New Bedford is home to Fort Rodman, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Buttonwood Park Zoo, West Beach, and the New Bedford Cove Walk, all of which are popular with residents.

You can take the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cuttyhunk Island from New Bedford Harbor, as well.


Rochester, Massachusetts, is an inland community that borders Marion, Wareham, Acushnet, and Mattapoisett, giving it a unique geographical location. You'll find plenty of woodland and farmland in Rochester, as it's pretty spread out and doesn't feature much industry. 


Across the Taunton River from Freetown is Somerset, a dense, unofficial suburb of Fall River with a population of about 18,000. This community is mostly residential but has an industrial area just off the I-195, and a couple of small beaches that locals frequent.


Swansea is to the west of Somerset, right on Massachusetts' border with Rhode Island. The top attraction in town is Swansea Town Beach, which has plenty of space to spread out and a boat ramp. Swansea, MA, offers a nice mix of residential and commercial properties, along with some recreational sites north of downtown.


Wareham is known as the Gateway to Cape Cod because it's just across the Cape Cod Canal from the region. Wareham has beautiful waterfront areas, including Onset Beach, along with a bustling downtown, numerous marinas, forests, farms, and shopping venues. There's a little bit of everything in Wareham, making it one of the more diverse places on the South Coast.


Finally, there's Westport, a town of 15,000 people on Buzzards Bay that borders Little Compton, RI, Dartmouth, and Fall River. Westport's Horseneck Beach is incredibly popular in the summer, while Dunham's Brook Conservation Area and the Old Harbor Wildlife Refuge allow you to get away from it all.

Buying a Home on the South Coast

As you can see, a lot is going in Massachusetts' South Coast region, as each of these communities has unique aspects to offers its residents. As a bonus, the South Coast is close to Boston and Providence, so commuting is possible if you want to enjoy a slower pace of life while working in a major center. 

If you're considering buying a home on the South Coast, look at each town's main features and decide based on what's best for you.

Published June 24, 2020 in Exploring Our Area