Things to do that aren’t at the beach

With over 40 miles of shoreline and six wide sandy beaches backed by windswept sand dunes, what more could there possibly be to occupy visitors to Cape Cod National Seashore?

More than many visitors can imagine. The national park is home to a wide range of activities and programs that take place on over 68 square miles of land on the Outer Cape.

The park’s Salt Pond Visitor Center (50 Nauset Road, Eastham) and Province Lands Visitor Center (171 Race Point Road, Provincetown) each offer spectacular views of the marshes, dunes and the ocean. Each also welcomes travelers with a variety of excursions, tours, and information about the park’s many features, as well as daily screenings of the park’s award-winning orientation film “Standing Bold.”

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Bright blue skies surround the Cape Cod National Seashore's Race Point Ranger Station.

The Salt Pond location contains a comprehensive museum and outdoor performance space, and both centers feature changing exhibits and information that showcase Cape Cod’s unique natural beauty as well as its human history – from the Wampanoag, its first peoples, to the last European settlers. In the summer, outdoor presentations on Tuesdays and Wednesdays “Evenings at Salt Pond” feature live music and performances

Additionally, a limited number of advance permits are available for private evening campfires on the beach for groups of up to 25 people.

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Through tours and lectures, visitors to the park can learn about the area’s fishing and cranberry industries, its significant contributions in the areas of maritime rescue, and its role in the development of communications technology. wireless. “Ranger’s Choice” presentations at both centers cover a variety of topics from the ecology of beaches and salt marshes to the age of shipwrecks, to the rapidly expanding summer populations of sharks and seals in the region.

For a complete schedule of August programs and activities, visit

According to Seashore visual information specialist Linzy French, the park had been in a COVID-19 “waiting model” for the past two years, but its activity-packed schedule is now “up and running again.”

Nauset Light in North Eastham is one of eight lighthouses on the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Visitor numbers so far, she said, indicate the park is on track to receive nearly 4 million visitors this season. “We offer as much variety as possible,” to appeal to visitors of all ages, she says, with plenty of choices for kids and teens.

Nature activities

The National Seashore’s more than 43,000 acres provide opportunities for a host of outdoor activities in its landscape of salt marshes, ponds, dunes and pine barrens. Bird watchers and nature lovers have ample opportunity to see the park’s abundant flora and fauna.

The region’s 11 hiking trails criss-cross the park’s varied terrain. The trails vary in length and difficulty, and two – the Doane Trail (Eastham) and Pilgrim Spring (Truro) – allow pets on a leash.

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On a 2.5-mile “Art in the Dunes” walk, French says, hikers can experience the unique quality of Cape Cod light and terrain that has helped transform the outer lands into an environment that has attracted generations of artists and authors.

The park’s three bike trails range from 2 to almost 6 miles in length and range from easy to relatively difficult. The 2-mile Head of the Meadow Trail (Truro) allows pets on a leash seasonally, with pet permits on the other two available after November 1.

Along the Great Island Trail from the Cape Cod National Seashore to Wellfleet.

Cape Town’s centuries-old tradition of surfcasting invites anglers to come and fish for summer strippers. An introductory ranger program to shore fishing is available for beginners or those looking to hone their skills.

Those who love golf and greenery can test their skills at the Highland Links course in North Truro, with its emerald links rolling to cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. The course, founded in the late 1800s, has been welcoming golfers for over 100 years.

Tours and trips

The park is also home to a host of scenic and historic destinations for less athletic adventurers, from Fort Hill in Eastham to Cape Curvy Fist in Provincetown. These include tours of historic buildings and lighthouses within the boundaries of the National Seashore.

The French call Fort Hill (Eastham) “the park’s most popular destination.” … (It is) the gateway to the National Seashore (and) unique with its high elevation,” making it a favorite spot for nature photographers.

Eastham's Karen Kollar paints the landscape of Fort Hill, a popular tourist destination on the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Fort Hill offers tours of the historic Penniman House, the home of a whaler captain from 1868, and contains a popular and accessible 1 mile loop trail that winds through the marshes to the sea.

The 1730 Atwood-Higgins House in Wellfleet showcases the iconic Cape Cod house style as it developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Other tours include the Pamet Cranberry Bog House and the historic Highland House (Truro). The latter hosted summer visitors during the heyday of Cape Cod’s summer hotels in the early 20th century.

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Tours of the Old Port (Provincetown) Lifesaving Station tell a fascinating story of the US Lifesaving Service. Guided tours of eight historic lighthouses, led by local experts, tell unique adventures in each location.

Cape Cod National Seashore

When: Visitor Centers open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Where: Salt Pond Visitor Center, 50 Nauset Road, off Route 6, Eastham (508-255-3421); Province Lands Visitor Center, 171 Race Point Road, off Highway 6, Provincetown (508-487-1256).

Information: Park schedule and accessibility updates are posted regularly on

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