Are you ready to make a stop in the quintessential New England summer destination? Visit Cape Cod (which means "Cape Cod") means embarking on a journey of continuous discovery, which unravels through villages and small fishing communities, a wild and primeval nature where some of the best beaches on the East Coast flourish, ancient lighthouses, mills and d 'houses. era, characteristic fish resale kiosks (the clam shack), scenic trails in close contact with nature and places where art and literature still vibrate.
The itinerary itself is quite short (just under 100 km) and can be covered entirely in a whole day, but if you really want to enjoy every single stage and fully explore the whole area, the land of the Cape will require you. much more! I remind you that you can also find other useful information on our article on New England lighthouses. Let's see now what to see in Cape Cod.
- Cape Code Canal: how to enter the land of cod
- Sandwich: the oldest town
- Chatham: waiting for the fishing boats on the marina ...
- The pristine nature of Cape Cod National Seashore
- Eastham: between paths and period buildings
- Wellfleet village
- Provincetown: hunting for whales!
- Route map
- Other useful resources
Cape Code Canal: how to enter the land of cod
Cape Cod was once not an island, but it became one in 1914, when, for navigation purposes, the canal of the same name was dug, still crossed today by the 2 bridges (Bourne on Hwy-28 and Sagamore on Hwy-6) which flow on the only 2 viable roads to reach the island from the mainland. Let's take the second one, it will be our landing point for the land of cod!
Be prepared to find quite a bit of traffic, especially in the summer months and on weekends; it will take patience, sometimes a lot ... better to leave as soon as possible. Of course, there are alternatives: you can reach Cape Cod by ferry or plane, and so, in addition to taking a nice ride, you will avoid the queues, but in this way you will also have to give up the freedom to move by car at your leisure and with maximum freedom. How to resist the temptation of an adventurous on the road on the most famous coast of New England? Few stories, let's rent a car and go!
As soon as you cross the bridge, you will notice that the canal is bordered by a beautiful cycle path; it can be pleasant to take a walk, perhaps reaching the beach or the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center, where you will find interesting interactive exhibits and a scale patrol boat. However, there's no need to linger too long, the best of Cape Cod is yet to come!
Sandwich: the oldest town
No, we are not going to eat a sandwich, rather we are headed to the oldest town in all of Cape Cod, dating back to 1637. A Sandwich we will find a placid historic center, where a fairy-tale pond of swans is surrounded by period houses, whitewashed bell towers and an ancient mill still working, but we will also find more. Here is a list of things to see, to you the choice!
- Heritage Museums & Gardens (67, Grove Street): What are a collection of vintage cars and an antique carousel doing inside a refined 100-acre park full of trees, shrubs, gardens and colorful flowers? If you are curious, go and find out ...
- Dexter Grist Mill (Water Street): the old mill from 1654 still working, perched on a pond full of swans, is a bit of the symbol of the city. At least one photo is a must! Take advantage of it to make a leap to the Hoxie House, house dating back to the times of the first settlers.
- Sandwich Boardwalk: a long wooden walkway that extends between wild nature and marshes for a stretch of over 400 meters.
- Definitely strange houses ...: in an area called Capo Merluzzo it is quite normal that they are obsessed with the sea, but perhaps they exaggerated a bit when they decided to build Masthead, East Sandwich's ship-shaped house.
- Sandwich Glass Museum (129 Main Street): How they make glass in Sandwich they don't make it anywhere. See for yourself at this beautiful museum filled with artifacts and works of art.
- The best place to sleep: Annabelle Bed & Breakfast
- Find a hotel in Sandwich
Chatham: waiting for the fishing boats on the marina ...
With its characteristic whitewashed houses and an enviable natural position on the open sea, Chatham is one of the most picturesque towns on Cape Cod, the ideal place to take a relaxing stroll through the streets of elegant Main Street, or to visit the marina, to watch the seals and wait for the fishing boats to unload the day's catch. But there is more:
- Chatham Lighthouse (37 Main Street): from this 1878 lighthouse you can enjoy a panoramic view that you will remember!
- The beaches in the area: it's time to take a bath. Here you will find some of the most beautiful beaches on Nantucket Sound (the channel between Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket).
- Specialty of the house: in addition to the catch, of course, there is more! Stop by Marion's Pie Shop (2022 Main Street, Chatam) and try the delicious bumbleberry pie (a special berry pie).
- Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge (30 Wikis Way): a natural reserve of 3100 hectares that will please those who love birdwatching. Canoe excursions are also available.
- Recommended hotel: Captain's House Inn
- Find a hotel in Chatham
The pristine nature of Cape Cod National Seashore
Virtually the entire Atlantic side of the island (about 65 km) is part of the Cape Code National Seashore, a protected natural air strongly desired by President Kennedy, who wanted to preserve its original and authentic natural aspect. It is an expanse of beaches, sandy dunes, marshy marshes, hiking trails and primeval forests, a real boon for those who love being in contact with unspoiled nature.
If you are curious you can go to the Salt Pond Visitor Center (50 Nauset Road, Eastham) and, once you have learned about the history and geology of the area, stop and admire the view. Numerous interesting activities start from the center, many for free.
It's time to get back in your car and explore! Along the beaches of the reserve, parking is subject to a fee, 15 dollars for 1 day, a figure that will allow you to park on any beach in the area. There are many interesting beaches, here are 3 that will not disappoint you:
- Coast Guard Beach: supervised beach with services and a splendid view of Nauset Marsh.
- Nauset Light Beach: another beautiful beach surmounted by a picturesque red and white lighthouse.
- Head of the Meadow Beach: a vast expanse bordered by sandy dunes, whose main singularity consists in the wrecks of old ships that emerge from the sand in moments of low tide.
In correspondence of the National Seashore there are a series of towns that are worth visiting, these above all:
Eastham: between paths and period buildings
Reaching Eastham from the main road one would think that it does not have much to offer, other than the beautiful ones beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore, yet there is much more than one might expect.
- Fort Hill Trail: if you love hiking you can't really miss the Fort Hill trail. Not only will you enjoy the most beautiful view of Nauset Marsh, but you will venture on a fascinating walk, crossing wooden walkways, swampy landscapes and gorgeous colors (especially at sunset).
- Historic buildings: in the city you will also find many buildings of historical value:
- the old town windmill (1680)
- la Captain Penniman House, villa dating back to 1868 that belonged to a navy captain, with an eccentric whale's jaw as an entrance gate
- Three Sisters Lighthouses: visit them if you want to discover the strange effect produced by 3 XNUMXth century lighthouses transplanted one after the other in a clearing (above Nauset Light Beach)
- Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar: one of the best Clam Shacks on the Cape
- Recommended hotel: Whalewalk Inn
- Find a hotel in Eastham
Ready for a nice dip in the 50s? The town of Wellfleet not only has it remained almost frozen in its placid old-time fishing village appearance, but it has also retained one of its most typical attractions: an authentic Cinema Drive-In (51 US 6), where everything has practically remained as it was a weather! If a nostalgic dip doesn't seem like enough reason to stop in this town, then know that Wellfleet can also offer:
- refined art galleries
- renowned oysters (taste them at Mac’s Seafood Market, 265 Commercial Street)
- Uncle Tim’s Bridge: suggestive walkway on a marsh near the city port. One of the most photographed and painted subjects in the whole area.
- Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary: a spectacular nature reserve to be explored
- Recommended hotel: Even Tide Resort Motel & Cottage
Provincetown: hunting for whales!
We get back in the car, our last stop awaits us, the town of Provincetown, at the north end of the Atlantic side of the Cape; this is where our itinerary ends, beyond there is only open sea. Provincetown is a bustling fishing village, arguably the most interesting on the island, featuring quaint log cabins, beautiful gardens and intricate streets. Along the main road (Commercial Street) are crowded with shops, bars, art galleries, bohemian characters of all kinds and various shops aimed mostly at gays, feminists and environmentalists.
The village is overlooked by the Pilgrim Monument, a granite tower that will remind you of something (the tower in Piazza del Campo di Siena!), built between 1907 and 1910 to celebrate the first landing of the Pilgrim Fathers (did you also think it happened at Plymouth Rock? It is not so). Don't be put off by the 116 steps leading to the top, you will be rewarded with a remarkable view.
At the northern tip of Cape Cod the Province Lands, immense expanses of vegetation, dunes and sand close to the sea (start from the Visitor Center at Race Point Road), but in Provincetown, above all, you must not miss one of the many excursions that will take you to admire the humpback whales, whale typical of the coast particularly known for their acrobatic skills and who will not have particular scruples to perform at a fairly close distance from your boat.
- Recommended hotel in Provincetown
Other useful resources
If you are thinking of embarking on a New England itinerary, I would like to point out some resources that may be useful for planning your trip.
- Our guide on how to plan a tour of New England.
- Our tips on Country Inn: the best Bed & Breakfasts in the region.
- All you need to know about Acadia National Park, New England's most fascinating natural park.
- Our advice on the city of Boston, a reference point for visiting the region.
- Our section with all the recommended itineraries in New England.