Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod Beach.

For many, we think of Cape Cod as that tony New England seaside resort for the rich and famous, or for the baseball fan, the place where amateur players go for summer ball to get their first real test of wood bats, as seen in the movie Summer Catch.  But, that's only a very small part of the Cape Cod area, of which much resides in the National Seashore that spreads all along the coast, including lighthouses, beaches, beautiful scenery, and a whole lot of history.  There's nearly 44,000 acres of fun and wonder here.  Yes, it's that big.  So bring your sand chair and prepare for a wide open mouth, it's awe-inspiring, and it doesn't cost a ton to see it.  It stretches nearly twenty miles from its southernmost point near Chatham up to Provincetown.  The main Visitor Center at Salt Ponds is about half way up the park; a second center open Spring to Fall is outside Provincetown.

From the breathtaking views along this New England stretch of the Atlantic springs lots of opportunities for recreation and vacation.  Take a hike on one of the many trails, take a swim on one of six swimming beaches, take a ride up and down the twenty miles of coastline, or take a ranger guided hike to a lighthouse or learn about Marconi and his transatlantic attempts to wireless across the sea way before cell phones or find out the mysteries of Fort Hill.  You can walk by yourself or guided, see seals, marshes, oceans, and dunes, even snorkel.

There's Cold War history here, too, in the Truro Air Force Station, which is now turning itself into the Highlands Center right on the bluffs of the ocean.  It can be viewed both for its beautiful setting, its Cold War past, and its future.

Things You Should Not Miss

1. Take in a film.  Sure, you're really hankering to get to the beach and see the sites, but spend a little time inside either of the visitor centers, ... great for a rainy day, and learn more about Cape Cod.  There are films on maritime history, the Revolution, Marconi, Thoreau, and the formation of Cape Cod.

2. Take in a beach.  There are six swimming beaches inside the park itself, others outside, with a variety of charms; Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Light Beach, Marconi Beach, Head of the Meadow Beach, Race Point Beach, and Herring Cove Beach.

3. Take in a Lighthouse.  There's a whole lot of charm and history within the walls of these beacons to sailors, fishermen, and now tourists.  Within Cape Cod National Seashore, there are a variety of lighthouses, from those of the Three Sisters and Nauset Light to the Highlands Light to Race Point Light, and also Chatham Lighthouse and more outside the park.

Cape Cod crab
Some of the wildlife at Cape Code National Seashore  (Photo NPS)

What is There Now

Park Visitor Centers

Salt Ponds Visitor Center - The main visitor center to the park is located in Eastham and includes a theatre with five films about the park, which rotate throughout the day, plus exhibits, views of Nauset Marsh, and hiking trails.

Province Lands Visitor Center 
- Located near the northern end of the park one mile from Provincetown, this visitor center is open May to October and includes films, exhibits, and a great view of the Outer Beach and Atlantic Ocean.

Lodging and Camping

Lodging - There is no lodging or camping within the park itself, but plenty nearby.  See your favorite online site such as Expedia or the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce for the type that might meet your needs.  

Camping - There's no camping in the seashore either, but if that's what you're looking for, there's Nickerson State Park close by Brewster, Massachusetts.  They have 420 campsites.

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Cape Cod Links

Cape Cod National Seashore
Provincetown Museum and Pilgrim Monument
Cape Cod Summer Baseball League
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce
Cape Cod Highland Lighthouse

Nearby Attractions

Nickerson State Park
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism
Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Boston National Historic Park
Boston African American National Historic Site
Minute Man National Historic Park
Boston Harbor Island National Recreation Area

Cape Cod Then and Now

Cape Cod lighthouse

Cape Cod Then

History didn't begin with Marconi at Cape Cod, but it is an interesting story of how ingeniuity and scenery intersect. It was 1903 when Henry communicated from the beaches of Cape Cod to Europe with the first two way wireless communication on January 18.  For fifteen years after that, the Cape Cod station at South Wellpoint was the main U.S. wireless telegraph point.  Ask why the residents weren't too thrilled about that fact.  It has something to do with loud sparks.  (Photo above: Courtesy LOC)

Cape Cod Now

Lighthouse at Cape Cod

- It can begin with a hike, or a swim on the beach, and continues with canoe trips (fees required) that guide you to Salt Ponds and Nauset Bay.  You can go shellfishing, cast into the surf for fish, or walk through or near the history of Cape Cod Then.  There's history in architecture at the Atwood-Higgins House; history of a whaling family at the Penniman House, as well as other hikes to nature of the present or history of the past.   (Photo courtesy NPS)

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Visitor Statistics

Cape Cod National Seashore
4,501,898 visitors

#13 Most Visited National Park Unit

Park Size

Cape Cod National Seashore

27,482 acres (Federal)
43,607 acres (Total)

Source: NPS, 2013 Visitor Statistics; Visitor Rank among 369 units.

Cape Cod National Seashore Fees

Beach Entrance Fees:
Car - $15
Individual - $3
Season Pass - $45

Fees subject to change without notice.

Cape Cod National Seashore Weather

Be prepared for anything, it's New England.  Generally warm in the summer with cool nights with thunderstorms and humidity in the height of the summer. Remember, a National Seashore in New England is not the same as in Florida, so the temps can get cooler on certain days. Bring a variety of clothes and be prepared to change.

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