Spotlight: Cape Cod National Seashore
Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a classic Thanksgiving destination
"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.
Fly into Boston’s Logan International Airport or Rhode Island’s Providence T.F. Green Airport. Then, by car you’ll have to cross the Cape Cod Canal on the Sagamore Bridge or the Bourne 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.
Park Headquarters are 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 park 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.
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.”
Though the Cape Cod National Seashore itself doesn’t offer camping, Nickerson State Park does. But Cape Cod is known for its beds and breakfasts, inns ranging from farmhouses to historic maritime homes, hotels and motels.
Your Fee Dollars at Work
Check out the three new picnic shelters at Doane Rock Picnic Area, built using beach entrance fees, which are collected from June through early September when lifeguards are on duty, and on weekends/holidays from Memorial Day to the end of September. After you admire the picnic shelter, be sure to look for Doane Rock—the largest exposed glacial boulder on Cape Cod—accessible via a short pathway.