If you want a truly lo-fi, analogue, old-fashioned vacation take a trip to a little seaside town about 45 minutes northeast of Boston, MA called Nahant--which means 'almost an island'. It truly lives up to it's name as it's connected to the 'mainland' by a causeway that was built-up to accommodate a road. This lovely 1.2 square mile town is worlds away from the hustle-and-bustle of the big city of Boston that is visible just across the Bay on a clear day.
If you want a truly lo-fi, analogue, old-fashioned vacation take a trip to a little seaside town about 45 minutes northeast of Boston, MA called Nahant—which means ‘almost an island’. It truly lives up to it’s name as it’s connected to the ‘mainland’ by a causeway that was built-up to accommodate a road. This lovely 1.2 square mile town is worlds away from the hustle-and-bustle of the big city of Boston that is visible just across the Bay on a clear day.
As I said, there’s a causeway to get you into town and it’s the only way in or out. Once there you will see beautiful old homes, many built in the 1800’s, still in great shape and filled with families. Nahant was once a vibrant vacation destination for Boston’s elite and was home to the country’s first amusement parks, which are unfortunately long gone but if you take a hike out to East Point you can still see parts of the foundation of an old, wooden hotel that burned to the ground in the 1900’s.
There was an Army installation on the same site after the hotel burned down where you can still see sub look-out towers and bunkers standing. The story goes the Army was testing one of it’s enormous large-caliber anti-aircraft guns back in the 1940’s and when they shot it all the windows in town were shattered because of the noise and shock waves caused by the explosion. East Point is now home to Northeastern University’s marine studies center but you can still hike up to the highest point of the island and enjoy the view from the old hotel grounds.
No longer a tourist destination Nahant is a sleepy little town with many year-round residents who take pride in it’s old-fashioned charm. I say old-fashioned for a good reason. This is a town that likes to do things their own way and that would be the un-technological way. Check out the Nahant Public Library where you can still look up books using the card catalog. When you’re ready for check out the librarian will look through a file to find your library card and hand-stamp the due date onto a sheet of paper on the back cover of your book. The town police seem to know every resident and have some kind of out-of-town radar so please don’t try to park anywhere without a parking permit or you will be towed.
The end of summer is celebrated with an old-fashioned block party and lobster bake held at the corner of Kelly Street across from the 9-hole golf course in front of the Miller’s home. A little friendly competition is good for the community and this year was no different. The second annual “Battle of the Beaches” was held while we were visiting which pits two teams representing two popular beaches (Tudor Beach and Short Beach) against each other in games such as Volleyball, Tug-of-War and Water Balloon Tossing.
Speaking of beaches, there are many to choose from, all with a very different character about them. Our favorite, Joe’s Beach is a semi-private one on the Massachusetts Bay. It is sandy with lovely tide pools to the East. Walk to the west and the sand gives way to rocks and pebbles and ends in cliffs of large boulders. It’s the perfect place to take the kids and let them roam for hours finding hermit crabs, starfish, snails and sea glass. There’s also Short Beach, a beautiful white sand beach with lovely, small rolling waves. Located in the main part of town it’s where everyone seems to go to hang out on a sunny summer day.
The old Life Saving Station is still standing on the West side of Short Beach and was renovated a few years ago. If rocks are your thing, check out the beaches at 40 Steps or East Point. They face the frigid Atlantic Ocean and are made up of nothing but steep, craggy boulders which will give even the most avid rock climber a good workout. A word about the geology in this part of the world—many icebergs floated down this way from the Arctic and deposited rocks here during the ice age. As a result you’ll find rocks that are striped, half black and half white, yellow, red and all shapes and colors you could possibly imagine.
Sailing is also a big part of the community. Down at the Town Wharf you can take some sailing lessons or watch the local lobster and fishermen bring in their catch of the day. If you go to Nahant Fish and Lobster Company, located across from Short Beach, you might find some of those critters fresh off the boat and waiting to become tonight’s dinner.
Nahant is truly an analogue community. It’s full of endless lomographic-friendly sites and filled with those who embody the lo-fi spirit that’s sometimes lacking in our big cities. Next time you’re in the area mosey on over the causeway and take a tour. You won’t be disappointed. And tell the Millers is said Hi.