"Cape Cod" Massachusetts Travelogue by tayloretc

Massachusetts Travel Guide: 7,459 reviews and 17,086 photos

I like Cape Cod, although I don’t really get it. It shouldn’t be my kind of place – a lot of studiously quaint mixed with a little actually old in some places and tacky-touristy in others, and I’ve never been a beach person. I’ve kind of grown to love it, though. The history is interesting, some of the towns are (and I hate to use this word) adorable, and it all really is beautiful once you start to see the nuances of a relatively flat and until recently denuded landscape. I love the layers of water, earth, and sky.

I also love used bookstores, and there are a lot of them on the Cape.

I’ve never lived anywhere where the tides are so much a part of daily life, or anywhere with a “season” and an “off season.” I’ve been here mostly during the off season, when huge stretches of towns are empty or closed for the season, or under repair in anticipation of the season.

I like outdoorsy things, so I’ve been looking around and will add to this page as I get to new places. My travelogs for places or things to do outdoors are listed below.

Nature-y places on the Cape

Barnstable

Old Jail Lane Conservation Area
Sandy Neck

Brewster

Cape Cod Natural History Museum and Interpretive Trail
Nickerson Park Trails

Chatham

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

Provincetown

National Seashore Herring Cove, Race Point, and environs
Whale watching I went with The Dolphin Fleet, but there are others.

Wellfleet

Great Island Trail One of the most remote trails on the Cape.

Yarmouth

Callery-Darling Conservation Area

Nature-y References

Cape Cod Trails Conference
Descriptions of all the long hiking trails on Cape Cod – and there are more than you’d think – and many of the shorter trails.

Cape Cod National Seashore
The National Parks Service official site for the entire National Seashore system.

Cape Cod Natural History Museum
A really nice little museum – informative, with friendly staff who love what they’re doing. Which is, introducing kids to the unique natural world of the Cape (and, by extension, everywhere else). There’s a lot of classroom space, a gorgeous viewing room overlooking the marsh and shore, and a small aquarium with local creatures (and including a couple of students surprised to see a visitor in March). There’s an interpretive trail that covers every kind of Cape landscape in less than 2 miles (Wing’s Island), and what look like exceptional programs for kids (summer) and a few for adults (year round).

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

Nickerson State Park

Walking the Cape and Islands: A Comprehensive Guide to the Walking and Hiking Trails of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, David Weintraub (Menasha Ridge Press, 2006)
– The title is a mouthful, but it is what it says. Maps and descriptions of each of 72 trails is included, as well as info like difficulty, what scenery you’ll see, whether you can bring your dog, the trail surface, and exposure to sun. The appendices list walks based on various criteria (best scenic vistas, best walks where hunting isn’t allowed), recommended reading on Cape Cod and its natural history, and lots of information sources.

Cape Cod, Henry David Thoreau
– Walden Pond wasn’t the only place he went. Thoreau came to Cape Cod to see the ocean, and commented on everything along the way. Thoreau has been called the first tourist to the Cape, and the Cape he visited was very different both from what the first settlers found and also from what’s there now. It’s actually a fun read.

…If you’re reading that, you might also want to read the related In the Footsteps of Thoreau: 25 Historic & Nature Walks on Cape Cod, Adam Gamble (On Cape Publications, 1997, ISBN: 0-9653283-0-9). It’s a strange thing, mapping Thoreau’s 1850s long walk to what is here now. I love the idea of this book, though.

The Nature of Cape Cod, Beth Schwarzman (University Press of New England, 2002, ISBN: 1-58465-107-5).
– A geologist’s view of Cape Cod, including how and why the Cape exists at all, general information about dunes, swales, and forests, and descriptions of specific areas.

Audubon Field Guide to New England (Knopf, 2008, ISBN: 0-679-44676-1).

Just for fun...

This guy has collected all kinds of interesting links ranging from old literature about the Cape, to official town websites, to the history of crime and scandal on the Cape.

It Happened on Cape Cod, Shawnie M. Kelley (Globe Pequot Press, 2006)
– Short descriptions of twenty-six events and people from Cape Cod history. A quick and entertaining 114 pages.

Haunted Cape Cod and the Islands, Mark Jasper (On Cape Publications, 2002, ISBN: 0-9719547-2-0)
– Short tales of contemporary haunted houses and ghost stories from all over the Cape.

  • Page Updated Jul 16, 2010
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