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Spotlight: Cape Cod National Seashore

Spotlight: Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a classic Thanksgiving destination

the cape A Cape Cod "lobstah" shack. This town is one of the best places to eat fresh, local seafood...it may be worth swapping that turkey for some shellfish.

"The sea-shore is a sort of neutral ground, a most advantageous point from which to contemplate this world. It is even a trivial place. The waves forever rolling to the land are too far-traveled and untamable to be familiar. Creeping along the endless beach amid the sun-squall and the foam, it occurs to us that we, too, are the product of sea-slime."
-Henry David Thoreau

What You’ll Find

Forty miles of pristine beaches, sand dunes, several working lighthouses, ponds, marshes, cranberry bogs and a quintessential New England seaside community with an old-fashioned maritime feel. Cape Cod, more commonly known as “the Cape,” is a large headland that juts out into the North Atlantic from Massachusetts.

It’s one of the largest barrier islands in the world and Cape Cod National Seashore offers a home to many ecosystems, wildlife and flora and fauna.

Getting There

Fly into Boston’s Logan International Airport or Rhode Island’s Providence T.F. Green Airport. Then, by car you will need to cross the Cape Cod Canal on the Sagamore Bridge (buses also service the area). You can also take a ferry from Boston, Provincetown or Nantucket, a water taxi or your own boat via the Cape Cod Canal.

National Seashore Park Headquarters is located at 99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet. Call them at (508) 771-2144.

Make Sure You

Travel the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which connects the Marconi area and the Salt Pond Visitor Center by foot or by bike (or check out Cape Cod’s other trails). Head to the beach and keep yourself busy with an endless list of activities to do here, from exploring the National Seashore to kayaking some of the marshes and bogs, biking to the shops, fishing, clamming, surfing, sailing or just enjoying the coastal views.

Don't Forget

Soak in the history of the place. Remember that the Mayflower landed here in 1620, met by the Wampanoag, who had been farming and cultivating the land and living off local seafood. Visit the countless landmarks and historical sites, including the National Monument to the Forefathers that commemorates the Mayflower pilgrims in nearby Plymouth.

Eat This

From authentic, no-frills, traditional, "wicked good," seafaring restaurants (think lobster traps, clam bars, fish ‘n’ chips—but it’s the real deal, no gimmicks) to the newer generation of creative, gourmet dining, you’ll be hard pressed to find a bad meal on the island.

The key is to eat local seafood. Codfish, flounder, haddock, halibut, monkfish, striped bass, tuna, swordfish, lobster, clams, oysters, scallops and mussels should be on your menu. Oh, and make sure you try at least one cup of “chowdah.”

Get Started

Though the Cape Cod National Seashore itself does not offer camping, Nickerson State Park and Scusset Beach State Reservation do. But other opportunities abound; Cape Cod is known for its beds and breakfasts, inns ranging from farmhouses to historic maritime homes, hotels and motels.

For a comprehensive list of facilities, sites, resources, and stories about Cape Cod National Seashore, check out the Guides Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore—guiding you from south to north as you tour the Cape!