Our 4 Favorite Things to Do in Cape Cod National Seashore

With more than 44,000 acres of pristine land, Cape Cod National Seashore is one of the region’s most popular destinations, drawing visitors from across the globe. “What are the best things to do in Cape Cod National Seashore?” is a frequent question from many of our guests at our historic inn on Cape Cod.

Fort Hill Area

1. Explore the Fort Hill AreaLocated just five miles from the inn, this delightfully underutilized area in Eastham has some of the best trails on Cape Cod. Explore the grounds of the Penniman House, a grand historic home painted in historically correct bright colors. Walk the Fort Hill Trail, an easy one-mile loop that winds around the ancient hill. For a longer walk, add on the nearby Red Maple Swamp Trail: always gorgeous, especially in the fall. Go just a bit farther and check out Hemonway Landing, a town-owned boat landing with a distant view of Coast Guard Beach.

Coast Guard Beach

2. Spend a Day at the Beach: Speaking of Coast Guard Beach, also in Eastham, it is this Atlantic Ocean beach that is considered one of the best beaches on Cape Cod and regularly earns a top 10 spot on Dr. Beach’s best beaches in the country list. Parking is in an offsite lot with shuttle service provided by open-air trams. The beach is wide with plenty of room to spread out, even at high tide. Walk south to the end of the beach for a great view of Nauset Inlet. There are several other beaches within Cape Cod National Seashore, including Nauset Light Beach, Marconi, Head of the Meadow, and Race Point and Herring Cove, both in Provincetown. If we had to pick a second favorite (other than Nauset Beach, of course!), it would be Herring Cove, which offers a lengthy beach with gentle surf, Far Land at the Beach (a fun eatery literally on the sand), fabulous sunsets, and ample parking.

3. Discover the Magic of Lighthouses: Lighthouses have been an enduring symbol of the sea for centuries. While most are no longer used for navigation, there are a couple of lighthouses within Cape Cod National Seashore that are still operational. In Eastham is Nauset Light. This is the famed lighthouse that appears on every bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips. Although it was moved inland many years ago, its light still burns bright. Close by are the Three Sisters, a trio of small wooden lighthouses that were decommissioned and are now owned and preserved by the Seashore. Further down-Cape is Highland Light, perhaps our favorite Cape Cod lighthouse. Although it was moved inland in 1996, this light is still active and visible from the sea. It is also open for tours from early May through October. A quick talk offers a history lesson. After that, visitors are allowed to climb to the very top of the lighthouse.

Atlantic White Cedar Swamp

4. Go for a Walk: There are many trails within the Seashore, some well utilized, others that are more off the radar. Although it’s very much on the radar, the Nauset Marsh Trail never seems to be especially crowded, and it’s one of our favorites. Park at Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham. At the back of the visitor center is an elevated terrace that offers an Insta-worthy view of Salt Pond. From there, head to the amphitheater just down the hill to the left. To the right of it is the trailhead. The path meanders around Salt Pond before it starts to wind along Nauset Marsh. Rustic plank footbridges provide safe passage over streams. There are several fields with tall green grass bending in the breeze, and the view of the marsh is nearly constant and always breathtaking. The trail offers a 1.3-mile loop with a 1.5 spur that ends at Coast Guard Beach. The otherworldly Atlantic White Cedar Swamp in Wellfleet is also very worthy of exploring.

Orleans Vacation Guide

Enter your email address below and we will send you our guest vacation guide so you can start planning your Cape Cod getaway!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.