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North America > United States of America > New England > Massachusetts > Cape Cod > Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore

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Cape Cod National Seashore is a National Seashore in the state of Massachusetts in the United States of America.

Understand[edit]

Marconi wireless site, South Wellfleet

Cape Cod National Seashore stretches over 43,500 acres (176 km²) of dunes, ponds, woods and almost 40 miles (64 km) of Atlantic shoreline. It is located on Cape Cod, principally in the towns of Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, and Eastham, but also covers some shoreline in Orleans and Chatham.

History[edit]

Cape Cod is relatively young geologically at 18,000 years or so. American Indians began using the land at least 9,000 years ago.

In 1620, a group known as "The Pilgrims", a group of English Separatists seeking to establish a settlement in Virginia were forced to land here. They sent out three separate "discovery" expeditions to see what the area had to offer. During these "discoveries" they found their first fresh water, took some Indian corn, and almost had a battle (called the First Encounter) with some Native Americans. Cape Cod had many good features, but after a month of searching, it was decided to finally settle in Plymouth.

In 1902 Guglielmo Marconi built one of two North American wireless stations at South Wellfleet. On January 18, 1903 the first public two-way communication (in Morse Code) between Europe and America occurred through this station. The station was closed in 1917 and scrapped in 1920, with the communication station being relocated to Chatham. Cable stations were later established in North Eastham and Orleans.

Seashore history also includes shipwrecks and lifesaving. Two lighthouses (Highland or "Cape Cod" and Nauset) have been moved to keep them from toppling down eroding cliffs.

The Cape Cod National Seashore was created on August 7, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.

Landscape[edit]

The park includes beaches, high cliff dunes, sand spits, tidal flats, salt marshes, and soft-bottom benthos. Inland there are kettle ponds, vernal pools, sphagnum bogs, and swamps. Vegetation includes pitch pine and scrub oak forests, heathlands, dunes, and sandplain grasslands.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Hog Cranberry & Thorn Lichen spotted in Wellfleet

As a result of almost total deforestation by European settlers between 1650 and 1900, globally rare heathland habitats have resulted here. Bayberry and beach plum are common.

Twenty-five federally-protected species occur in the park. The Seashore is a significant site for the piping plover, with roughly 5% of the entire Atlantic coast population nesting here. Cape Cod National Seashore also supports 32 species that are rare or endangered in the state of Massachusetts. Some of these, such as the common tern, are conspicuous. Much less visible is the spadefoot toad which spends most its life buried in the sand, emerging only on warm nights with torrential rainfall.

Climate[edit]

Spring is generally cool and damp with temperatures of 40°F-60°F (4°-15°C). Summer brings temperatures in the 70s and 80s°F (20-30°C), and cool nights. Autumn is drier than spring with similar temperatures. Winter is milder than inland, but dampness and wind chill can make winter days bitter cold. Temperatures range between 30°F and 40°F (-1° to 4°C) in mid-winter, but intervals of below 0°F (-18°C) as well as milder temperatures are also possible.

Visitor information[edit]

Beech forest lilly pond, Provincetown

Generally, the Cape Cod National Seashore—encompassing all beaches, parking areas, and trails—is open year-round from 6AM through midnight. The Seashore is additionally served by two visitor centers, with different hours. Although it sounds important, don't waste your time at Park Headquarters (99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet). Passes are not sold at Park Headquarters, this is an administrative facility primarily for park personnel.

  • 1 Salt Pond Visitor Center, 50 Nauset Road (Eastham), +1 508 255-3421. 9AM-4:30PM daily. Open year-round, with extended hours during from late spring through early fall. The Seashore's main visitor facility offers views of Nauset Marsh and the Atlantic, with frequent orientation movies, a comprehensive museum, bookstore and restroom facilities. Five short films daily on a rotating schedule in an indoor theatre. This visitor center is convenient to the Nauset Marsh and Buttonbush trails, and the Nauset bicycle trail is also nearby. A museum collection reflects the vast range of natural and cultural themes represented on Cape Cod. Artwork from prominent artists is displayed, and in the atrium, the museum highlights the Cape's complex and diverse natural history of the Outer Cape. Displays cover salt marsh plants and animals, beach dynamics, upland plant communities and prominent residential and migratory birds. Free.
  • 2 Province Lands Visitor Center, Race Point Road (Provincetown), +1 508 487-1256. 9AM-5PM daily. Open seasonally from mid-April through mid-October. Perched high atop a prominent sand dune, an observation deck provides a 360-degree view of the Province Lands dunes, the Outer Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. From this location you can see Race Point Ranger Station, Race Point Beach, the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station and the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown. Exhibits about local plants and animals and the Pilgrim's landing in Provincetown are featured. Five short films daily on a rotating schedule in an indoor theatre. Bookstore with books, tapes, videos, toys and gifts related to Cape Cod. Free.

Get in[edit]

Map of Cape Cod National Seashore

By car[edit]

Route 6 is the main Cape Cod "highway". All areas have signs from this road. From Boston travel south on Interstate 93 and Route 3 to the Sagamore Bridge where Route 6 begins.

By bus[edit]

  • Plymouth & Brockton (Street Railway Co), +1 508 771-6191. Offers four round trips daily from Hyannis to Provincetown and several other lower and outer Cape towns during the summer. After Labor Day, this is cut to two trips past Hyannis per day, mostly used by down Cape residents heading to Logan. $19 one way, $34 round trip for South Station, $25 one way, $45 round trip for the Airport.
  • The Flex (Cape Cod Transit), +1 800 352-7155, toll-free: +1 800 352-7155. 5AM-7:45PM M-Sa. Makes a variety of stops throughout the Lower and Outer Cape; between Harwich and Provincetown. The Flex can be flagged down anywhere, except along Route 6 (it's too dangerous). You can schedule a pickup pretty much anywhere along the National Seashore if you call ahead and give them at least 2 hours notice. $2 one way, $4 off route.

By plane[edit]

  • Cape Air, 660 Barnstable Road (Hyannis), +1 508 771-6944, toll-free: +1 800 227-3247. This small regional airline offers connections to all the tourist hotspots throughout Cape Cod and the Islands. The closest airports to the National Seashore are in Provincetown and Hyannis. Both routes connect through Boston. Boston to Provincetown will run you around $79-179 one way, depending on the season.

Fees and permits[edit]

Entrance fees are collected daily at all six swimming beaches from late June through early September, when lifeguards are on duty. Fees are also collected on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to the end of September. The daily fee per vehicle is $20. Motorcycles are $10 a day, while pedestrians and cyclists are charged $3 per day. For repeat visitors, a Cape Cod National Seashore annual pass is offered for $60. All fees waived for active duty military and their dependents (with proper ID), and children under the age of 16. Fees may be paid at all beach entrances, annual passes may be purchased at either visitor center.

Rules and regulations[edit]

Due to the fragile ecosystem, and the relative popularity of the Cape Cod National Seashore, there are a fair number of rules and regulations for visitors to follow. At the end of the day, they're really not that inconvenient, and following the rules helps keep the park healthy and beautiful for the next generation to enjoy.

Do not disturb natural or cultural features, all are protected by federal law. Glass containers, flotation devices (like rafts and rubber-tubes), snorkels, and masks are prohibited on any life-guard-protected beach. Pets must be leashed and under control at all times. Leashes may not exceed six feet. Pets are not permitted in public buildings, picnic areas, on protected beaches, or on self-guided trails. Climbing slopes is hazardous and prohibited, sand here is constantly shifting and collapses easily. Digging holes above knee level is also prohibited.

There are plenty more rules too, depending on your interests. Want to make a campfire? See the "Drink" section. Want to drive on the beach? See "Do". For rules regarding sleeping on the beach, look to the "Sleep" section.

USA National Park passes[edit]

There are several passes for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes provide free entry at national parks and national wildlife refuges, and also cover standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. These passes are valid at all national parks including Cape Cod National Seashore:

  • The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. Military personnel can obtain a free annual pass in person at a federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over can obtain a Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site for $80, or through the mail for $90; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can obtain an Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site at no charge, or through the mail for $10; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
  • Individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program can receive a free Volunteer Pass.
  • 4th graders can receive an Annual 4th Grade Pass that allows free entry for the duration of the 4th grade school year (September-August) to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid Outdoors website is required.

The National Park Service offers free admission to all national parks on five days every year:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January); next observance is January 20, 2020
  • The first day of National Park Week (third Saturday in April); next observance is April 18, 2020
  • The National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
  • National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September); next observance is September 26, 2020
  • Veterans Day (November 11)

Get around[edit]

  • Most people would use a car in order to explore all areas of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
  • Experienced bicyclists could use that method. The Cape Cod Rail Trail connects the Marconi area and the Salt Pond Visitor Center.

See[edit]

Herring Cove Beach, Provincetown
  • 1 Atwood-Higgins Historic District (Atwood-Higgins House), Bound Brook Island Road (Wellfleet). The Atwood-Higgins House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. In 2010, the scope was expanded to the general area around the home, including several 20th-century out buildings. Thomas Atwood House (Q7787206) on Wikidata Atwood–Higgins Historic District on Wikipedia
  • 2 Doane Rock, Near Salt Pond Visitor Center (Eastham). 24 hours daily. Pay a visit to Doane Rock to see the largest exposed boulder on Cape Cod. This massive boulder was deposited here by glaciers, maybe around 15,000 years ago. It's all of 18 ft (5.5 m) high, and probably goes an additional 12 ft (3.7 m) below the surface. Free. Doane Rock (Q1233103) on Wikidata Doane Rock on Wikipedia
  • 3 Highlands Center (North Truro Air Force Station), Old Dewline Road (North Truro), +1 508-349-3785 x208. This area is under development by partnership with AmeriCorps Cape Cod, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Highlands Center, Inc, and Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro, with the mission of fostering "the unique cultural and natural heritage of Cape Cod by facilitating scientific research, the arts tradition, and educational programs". The eighty acre site is the former North Truro Air Force Station, set atop dramatic sea cliffs. North Truro Air Force Station (Q7057038) on Wikidata North Truro Air Force Station on Wikipedia
  • 4 Highland House Museum, 13 Truro Center Road (Truro), +1 508 349-0200. M-Sa 10AM-4:30PM; Jun 1-Sep 29. Built in 1907, the artifacts in this building imagine what life was like for folks in the area. Covering a period from the first peoples to today. $7, students and children $5. Highland House (Q5758850) on Wikidata Highland House (Truro, Massachusetts) on Wikipedia
  • 5 Old Harbor Life-Saving Station, Race Point Beach (Provincetown). 10AM-2PM daily. Built in Chatham in 1897, it was moved to its current location in 1977. It was then rehabilitated and furnished exactly it as it would have been at the time, and opened to the public in 1978. Included with beach access fee. Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Station (Q15263794) on Wikidata Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Station on Wikipedia

Lighthouses[edit]

Race Point Lighthouse gets a fresh coat of white paint

These six lighthouses each possess their own poetic beauty, most visitors tour at least one during their time on the Seashore. The grounds of Wood End, and Long Point lights are accessible, but the towers themselves are not open to the public.

  • 6 Highland Light (Cape Cod Light), 27 Highland Light Road (North Truro), +1 508 487-1121. Generally open mid-May to mid-Oct. The current tower dates from 1857; it's the oldest and tallest lighthouse on Cape Cod. In the early 1990s, due to beach erosion, Highland Light was in danger of falling down a cliff. During the summer of 1996 it was moved to its current resting place, 450 feet to the west. Closed during 2019 for extensive renovations, although the Keepers Shop store and exhibit areas should remain open. $6 adults; $5 students & seniors. Highland Light (Q5758878) on Wikidata Highland Light on Wikipedia
  • 7 Nauset Light (Nauset Beach Light), 120 Nauset Light Beach Road (Eastham). Mid-May to early Oct. Nauset Light was built in Chatham in 1877. It was moved to Eastham in 1933, and first painted with its iconic red stripe in 1940s. This lighthouse has also been moved from its original location, at one point being just a few dozen feet from the ocean's edge. The move was completed in 1996, the same time it was donated to the National Park Service. Free. Nauset Light (Q6981401) on Wikidata Nauset Light on Wikipedia
  • 8 Race Point Light, Walk 45 min across the sandy beach (Northwest of Provincetown). First and third Saturdays from June until October, 10AM-2PM. First built in 1818 as the third light on Cape Cod, the current 45-foot iron tower dates from 1876. The location is quite beautiful, and two outbuildings here can be rented out overnight to those planning way, way, way in advance. Suggested $5 donation. Race Point Light (Q7278912) on Wikidata Race Point Light on Wikipedia
  • 9 Three Sisters Lighthouses (Three Sisters of Nauset), Cable Road (Eastham). First constructed of brick in 1836 the original towers quickly fell into the ocean. The lights were rebuilt again, this time on movable wooden platforms. This strategy proved successful, and the Three Sisters have been moving around the Cape ever since. The most recent restoration was completed in 1989, and tours have been available at their current home in Eastham ever since. Three Sisters of Nauset (Q7797819) on Wikidata Three Sisters of Nauset on Wikipedia

Do[edit]

  • Oversand Beach Driving (Provincetown), +1 508 487-2100 (x.0928). 8AM-4:30PM, Apr 10-Nov 15. The shoreline between Race Point Light and Head of the Meadow Beach can be driven for those with the right permits and equipment. 400 permits are available per week on a first come, first serve basis. To get started, head over to Race Point Beach for an inspection. To pass you must own a properly licensed 4WD vehicle with special tires and additional kit. Rentals are verboten. Once you fork over the cash and watch a quick safety video, you're free to hit the dunes. Some areas may be off limits due to nesting birds, time of day, and around high tide. $50-75.
  • Ranger Guided Activities. Ranger-guided programs are offered from spring through fall. Explore the many facets of Cape Cod National Seashore through guided walks, talks, performance and music events, canoe trips, campfires, open houses at historic buildings, yoga, and more! Most activities depart from the Salt Pond Visitors Center during normal business hours. Check in when you arrive to see what's being offered that day. There are usually a good mix of programs suitable for children and adults.
  • Saltwater fishing. Licenses are $10 each, and are required. If you're younger than 16 or older than 59, you don't have to pay but you'll still need the license.
  • Shellfishing. Even if you don't know your Cherrystones from your Littlenecks, you can still strike out and try your hand at shellfishing. You will need some gear, but it ain't fancy and can be procured at any local bait and tackle shop. Varies by town, but expect to pay about $50-100 for a license valid for one week.
  • Surfing (Windsurfing). Permitted in waters outside lifeguarded beaches.
  • 1 Highland Links, 10 Highland Light Road (North Truro), +1 508 487-9201. 6AM-7PM seasonally. Highland Links is certainly Cape Cod’s oldest golf course, and arguably its most scenic. Founded in 1892, the course is perched atop windswept dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This course was conceived in the Scottish tradition, and has been celebrating that heritage for over 100 years. Ownership was transferred to the Federal Government in 1961 with the establishment of the Seashore. A small clubhouse serves small snacks, sandwiches, and pizzas. Tee times can be booked up to 60 days in advance. $35 for 9 holes, $65 for 18, food $6-12.

Beaches[edit]

Atop a sand dune at Marconi Beach, Cape Cod

These six swimming beaches are all a part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Access to any of these beaches is included in your entrance fee, see "Fees and permits" section above. All beaches have paved parking, showers and rest rooms (seasonal, except at Salt Pond Visitor Center), changing rooms, drinking water, and water quality testing. Lifeguards are on duty late June through Labor Day. Beachside passenger drop off and pick up prohibited. Coast Guard Beach in Eastham and Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, are handicapped accessible and can provide wheelchairs capable of traveling over sand.

  • 2 Coast Guard Beach (Eastham). The most popular swimming beach, especially during the high summer season. Parking area closed from mid-June to Labor Day, those with disability placards exempt. When open, it fills between 11AM and 1PM daily with moderate turnover. Beach access via Little Creek Shuttle and parking area, a half mile away. Seasonal restrooms and wheelchair-accessible beach access ramp. Coast Guard Beach (Q49320412) on Wikidata Coast Guard Beach on Wikipedia
  • 3 Nauset Light Beach (Eastham). This beach is wide and sandy, backed by a somewhat imposing coastal bluff. Walking the beach during winter months, you may discover the exposed brick foundations of earlier "Three Sisters" lighthouses. The trail up to the modern lighthouses will wind you through an emergent forest. Parking area always fills during July and August, barring bad weather. Arrive before 9:30AM to ensure a space. Arrive earlier if it's really hot. Seasonal restrooms and bathhouse available.
  • 4 Marconi Beach (South Wellfleet). The excellent observation platform here offers some of the best views along the Seashore. From here you can see a landscape slowly recovering from centuries of abuse, which today provides homes for several rare species. Parking area rarely fills during late June and July. In August, parking fills occasionally with moderate turnover. The first successful transatlantic wireless communication was sent from this site in 1903. It travelled straight across the Atlantic Ocean and all the way to England's Poldhu village. Seasonal restrooms and bathhouse available. Marconi Beach (Q14715696) on Wikidata Marconi Beach on Wikipedia
  • 5 Head of the Meadow Beach (North Truro). Parking area rarely fills. Good beach for young children. During low tide, the wreck of the Frances may still be seen poking out of the sand. This vessel was wrecked during a powerful December gale in 1872. Seasonal restrooms available.
  • 6 Race Point Beach (North of Provincetown). Providence Lands Visitor Center located at the entrance to this beach. Quite close to Provincetown and the Pilgrim Monument. Parking area rarely fills during June and July. When the parking area does fill, it is usually one to two hours after the Herring Cove lot fills. Great beach for watching sunset. Popular with fisherman. Seasonal restrooms, showers and changing rooms all available.
  • 7 Herring Cove Beach (West of Provincetown). Quite close to Provincetown and the Pilgrim Monument. Parking area fills between 10AM and noon most days throughout the summer. Moderate turnover after 1PM. Access to Herring Cove Beach is also available on the Provincetown-Truro shuttle. Great for watching sunset. Seasonal restrooms and snack bar.

Self-guided walking trails[edit]

A Pitch Pine forest begins to return in Wellfleet

The Seashore has twelve self-guided trails, all are open year round. Individual route maps are available at some trailheads. Many have picnic areas.

  • Fort Hill Trail, along Governor Prence Road (Eastham). This 1.5-mile, moderately difficult trail offers great views and connects with Red Maple Swamp Trail.
  • Red Maple Swamp Trail, branches off Fort Hill Trail (Eastham). One-half mile trail of moderate difficulty has boardwalk sections winding through the swamp. Can take you to the Fort Hill Area, with some nice panoramic views of Nauset Marsh. Some tree roots in trail. Great fall walk.
  • Nauset Marsh Trail, adjacent to Salt Pond Visitor Center (Eastham). Easy one-mile trail along the shore of Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh over fields and through a recovering forest. Great views.
  • Buttonbush Trail, adjacent to Salt Pond Visitor Center (Eastham). This quarter-mile trail with a boardwalk bridge over Buttonbush Pond features a guide rope and Braille and large text. Blindfolds optional! Thirty minutes without.
  • Doane Trail, on the way to Coast Guard Beach (Eastham). Easy half-mile paved trail loop through pine and oak forests to large glacial rock with marsh views.
  • Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, at the Marconi Station area (Wellfleet). An award-winning 1.25-mile trail descending through a stunted oak and pine forest into a mature woodland where a boardwalk leads through the picturesque swamp. Moderate difficulty, return route is 1/2 mile in soft sand.
  • Great Island Trail, along Chequesset Neck Road (Wellfleet). Six-mile (or optionally eight-mile) trail that runs along Great Island and Great Beach Hill, skirting salt marshes and giving great views on the way to Jeremy Point. The park's most difficult trail with soft sand, some log steps and portions submerged at high tide. Optional routes can be confusing. Caution: do not attempt when tide is rising.
  • Pamet Area Trails, along North Pamet Road (Truro). One-mile trail with a steep quarter-mile spur to overlook. Old abandoned cranberry bog. Moderately strenuous with many log steps.
  • Woods Walk at Highlands Center, along Old Dewline Road (Truro). A one-mile trail of moderate difficulty, takes about 30 minutes to complete. Views include forest, heathlands, and dramatic ocean bluffs.
  • Small's Swamp Trail, in the Pilgrim Heights area (Truro). Easy 3/4-mile loop. Provides access to Pilgrim Heights and High Head sites, where archaeological evidence of ancient inhabitants remains.
  • Pilgrim Spring Trail, in the Pilgrim Heights area (Truro). Easy 3/4-mile loop through recovering pine and oak forest. A marker commemorates an area representative of where the Pilgrims first drank. This trail also provides access to Pilgrim Heights and High Head sites.
  • Beach Forest Trail, at Race Point Road parking lot (Provincetown). One-mile easy walk in sand, past pond and through dunes.

Bicycle trails[edit]

Whether you ride or not, you'll find cycling to be a popular activity on the Seashore. All public facilities will provide bike racks where you can lock up. Bikes are basically allowed anywhere you can ride them, except for hiking trails and beaches.

  • Cape Cod Rail Trail. This easy relatively flat trail runs 22 mi (35 km) from South Wellfleet to South Dennis. You'll have to cross a few busy intersections.
  • Nauset Trail, Salt Pond Visitor Center (Eastham). This easy trail with a few hills runs 1.6 mi (2.6 km), connecting the Salt Pond Visitor Center, Doane Picnic Area, Coast Guard Beach, and several hiking trails.
  • Head of the Meadow Trail (Truro). This easy, flat trail stretches 2 mi (3.2 km) and connects High Head Road to Head of the Meadow Beach. You'll pass a few berry bushes along the way.
  • Province Lands Trail (Provincetown). This intermediate 5.5 mi (8.9 km) trail loops around the Province Lands, connecting to both Herring Cove and Race Point beaches with short spurs. You'll pass by pine forests, sandy dunes, and low-lying cranberry bogs, but keep a sharp eye. This older trail has steep hills and several sharp turns. Take it easy!
  • Old Colony Rail Trail. This easy to intermediate level trail runs 8 mi (13 km) from Harwich to Chatham.

Buy[edit]

  • Eastern National runs bookstores at the Visitor Centers, selling books, tapes, videos, toys and gifts.

Eat[edit]

Additional food options may be purchased at the Highland Links clubhouse, in Truro. See the "Do" section for more information.

  • 1 Herring Cove Snack Bar (Far Land on the Beach), Province Lands Road (Provincetown), +1 508 487-0045. 11AM-5PM daily. Offers lobster rolls, pulled pork sandwiches, cod cake sliders, deli sandwiches, and a wide selection of novelty ice cream. Cash only, no ATM. $8-16.

Drink[edit]

While there are no bars or clubs here, there is one option for fun after sundown. If you're staying at the beach into the night, it's possible to make a beach fire with a free permit. There are a limited number available every day, and they can be reserved by calling one of the visitors centers. However, it is recommended, by far, to actually go and pick up the campfire permit in person. Demand is extremely high during popular summer months, and phone reservations may not be accepted then.

  • 1 The Beachcomber, 1120 Cahoon Hollow Rd, +1 508 349-6055. 11:30AM-1AM daily; Memorial Day to Labor Day. This restaurant/bar is located right on the bluffs in the scenic National Seashore. Sip on your beer while looking out over the Atlantic. Voted “best live entertainment on the lower cape” and “one of the best seaside dining spots in New England”. Tends to cater to the party bus crowd. Starters $6-12, mains $15-25.

Sleep[edit]

There are no hotels, motels, b&b's, caravansaries, or lodging of any kind within Cape Cod National Seashore. You can; however, find umpteen options in any of the nearby towns: see Provincetown, Truro, Eastham, or Orleans for options. But if you absolutely positively must spend the night on the Seashore, you do have one option: camping. Not camping in a tent, mind you, but camping in a "self contained vehicle". If you don't already know, an SCV is any vehicle that has had a permanent toilet installed. Additionally, this vehicle must have 4WD capabilities so it can be driven around on the beach. About 100 camping spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis. To find out if your rig qualifies, visit the NPS SCV site to find out what makes the cut.

  • 1 Surfside Cottages, 370 Wilson Ave (Wellfleet), +1 508 349-3959, . This charming 18 cottage village is located within the Cape Cod National Seashore, steps away from the beach. Pets allowed off season with approval. Open from April to October, and you must rent by the week during the summer. Varies by cottage, but expect to pay around $150/day, $1200/week.
  • 2 Fort Hill Bed and Breakfast, 75 Fort Hill Rd (Eastham), +1 508 240-2870. This Greek revival Farmhouse was built in 1864, converted to a B&B in 1990, and constantly wins "best of" awards. Overlooking Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Marsh and the Atlantic, you'll be near everything on the Cape Cod National Seashore. Offers both cottages and luxury suites. $280-365.
  • 3 Cook's by the Ocean, 420 Lecount Hollow Rd (Wellfleet), +1 508 255-4783. Cook's offers 14 cottages available for weekly rentals, Saturday to Saturday. The rental season runs from Friday before Memorial Day through Columbus Day weekend in October. Each charming cottage was built at different times, and are moved whenever erosion demands. All have kitchens, grills, and bathrooms, none have televisions. Book early, families have been returning here for 5 generations.

Stay safe[edit]

  • Rip currents and undertow are common, dangerous conditions along ocean beaches. Swim in lifeguard protected areas and if caught in a rip current free yourself by swimming parallel to the beach first.
  • Take precautions to avoid contact with ticks and mosquitoes. Deer ticks may carry lyme disease. Mosquitoes may carry encephalitis or the West Nile virus. Stay on trails and out of tall grasses. Use repellent and wear proper clothing.
  • Poison ivy is prolific on Cape Cod and the rash it produces can cause severe discomfort. “Leaves of three, let it be.”
  • Be alert for bicycles and pedestrians on the Seashore's narrow roads.

Go next[edit]

  • Check out the seals and multitudes of wild birds in Chatham's Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Many folks will either arrive or depart to Boston, New England's unofficial capital.
  • Tired of all that nature? Tour the gilded age mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.
  • If you're not ready to leave, but you'd like someone else to make dinner, Provincetown's got options.
  • Keep exploring the area's shifting sands on Nantucket island. Similar landscapes, but totally different vibes.


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