Exploring South Dartmouth, Massachusetts

 If you’re thinking about making the move to southern Massachusetts, Dartmouth should be high on your list of places to consider. Ok I admit it…. I may be a little biased. I’m born & raised in Dartmouth and have called this my home for many years. I’ve traveled all over the world, studied abroad, and have always love to travel, but there is something so magical about Dartmouth. This town of about 34,000 people is located in Bristol County and was one of the earliest settled locations in New England, so there’s plenty of history to explore.

Photograph of Round Hill Beach in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Not only that, but Dartmouth is right on Buzzards Bay and just half an hour from Cape Cod, providing an unmatched oceanfront lifestyle without the crowds of some of the nearby tourist destinations. Boating, swimming, beaches, and fishing, Dartmouth has everything you would expect in this part of the world, minus the crowds.

A Brief History

Dartmouth has an incredibly long history, as it was first settled in 1652 and incorporated in 1664. In fact, it was the first area settled in southern Massachusetts. The land was acquired by Puritan members of the Plymouth Colony by trading goods like cloth, shoes, and tools to the Wampanoag chiefs. The Puritans later sold the land to the Quakers, who were seeking religious freedom.

While the town was mostly agricultural in nature at first, it became a hot spot for the rich in the late 1800s due to its expansive stretch of coastline that opens up onto Buzzards Bay. Dartmouth once included the towns of Fairhaven, Acushnet, and Westport, in addition to the city of New Bedford, but these other areas separated in 1789, with Fairhaven and Acushnet remaining part of New Bedford.

Looking at the Geography

There are two main parts to Dartmouth: north and south. North Dartmouth is the town’s principal commercial district and home to Dartmouth Towne Center, Dartmouth Mall, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. While this part of the township doesn’t have access to Buzzards Bay, unless you head into New Bedford, it does feature Cornell Pond and Lake Noquochoke, along with the Shingle Island and Paskamansett rivers.

The south part of town enjoys its oceanfront location right on Buzzards Bay. As a result, it is a boating and fishing oriented community with a large seasonal population. South Dartmouth is where most of the town’s affluent neighborhoods are located, including Mishaum Point, Round Hill, and Nonquitt. This part of town is also known for its coastal real estate, so if you’re in search of a house near the ocean, this is where you’ll want to look.

Dartmouth has the third-largest area by land of any town in Massachusetts at 60.9 square miles. In fact, it’s about 16 miles from the town’s furthest point north to its southern tip. As far as neighboring communities go, you’ll find New Bedford to the east, Westport to the west, and Freetown and Fall River to the north. The villages of Russells Mills, Smith Mills, Hixville, Bliss Corner, and Padanaram are found within Dartmouth, as well.

Things to Do in Dartmouth

Once you buy a home in Dartmouth, you’ll definitely spend a lot of time outdoors because there are so many activities. For starters, South Dartmouth is full of beaches, with the largest being Round Hill BeachDemarest Lloyd State Park BeachApponagansett Beach, and Little Beach. All of these beaches have sandy areas with Round Hill and Demarest Lloyd State Park having large parking areas, as well. Nonquitt Beach and Anthony Beach are private parks, so you’ll need to become a member to visit, while Jones Park is a quiet beach on Clarks Cove.

Photograph of South Wharf in Dartmouth that offers transient and permanent slips to boaters in front of a boat house

Even if you aren’t a big fan of the beach, you can still find things to do on the water, especially since the New Bedford Yacht Club is located in South Dartmouth. The club has a full marina that is available for members and guests alike, so you can dock your boat there at any time. South Wharf Yacht Club is right next door, and they also offer transient and permanent slips to boaters.

Dartmouth Regional Park & Trails is a new park in North Dartmouth with hiking trails, an off-leash dog park, basketball and tennis courts, a picnic area, and baseball diamonds. It’s the type of place where your family can spend an entire day, and it’s rarely busy, so you can enjoy the peace and quiet. Paskamansett Park is in South Dartmouth and has a slow-moving stream that is perfect for paddling, along with hiking trails.

As you can see, you’ll never run out of outdoor activities in Dartmouth. And since the town borders New Bedford, you’ll remain close to all of the city’s amenities, while living in the serene paradise that only coastal Massachusetts can provide.

Jobs and Education

Unless you’re retiring in the area, you’ll have to find a job in Dartmouth or its surrounding area. Some of the top employers in the town include Hawthorn Medical Associates, Bristol County Field Service Division, and the Bristol County Sheriff Offices. Many residents of Dartmouth work in New Bedford, since it is minutes away from most neighborhoods, and there are more job opportunities available. It is also possible to commute for work to Cape Cod, Fall River, or even Providence, Rhode Island, which is only 32 miles away.

The education system in Dartmouth is handled by Dartmouth Public Schools. There are four elementary schools, Cushman, DeMello, Potter, and Quinn, along with Dartmouth Middle School and Dartmouth High School. Some students attend Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School once they reach grade nine, and there are other private schools in nearby New Bedford, Marion, and Fall River. For post-secondary education, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus sits in the town’s Smith Mills neighborhood.

Moving to Dartmouth

As you can see, there’s a lot going on in Dartmouth and its surrounding area, even though the town might not have the same notoriety as neighboring towns, cities, and villages. That’s good news if you plan to buy a home in Dartmouth, however, as you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment without the busyness that can make a day at the beach more stressful than it needs to be.

Take the time to look at everything that Dartmouth has to offer and remember that you can work in any of the neighboring cities and towns before returning to this paradise each and every evening. If you have any questions about Dartmouth… I’m your girl!!

Molly Armando


Molly Armando, a Dartmouth realtor, excels in client management with a marketing background. “Your goals, my commitment.” Expert guidance for real estate.
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