Cape Cod National Seashore

#3 in Best Things To Do in Cape Cod
Cape Cod National Seashore picture1 of 6
Cape Cod National Seashore2 of 6
Ronald Wilson Photography/Getty Images

Key Info

50 Nauset Rd.

Price & Hours

$20 per car; $10 per motorcycle; $3 for pedest...
6 a.m.-midnight daily; visitor center open 9 a...

Details

Beaches, Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.5

scorecard

  • 3.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

In 1961, summer native President John F. Kennedy designated the east shore of the Outer Cape a national park. Today, the 40-mile stretch of coast is recognized as having some of the best beaches on Cape Cod, including Nauset Beach in Eastham, Marconi Beach in Wellfleet and Race Point and Herring Cove beaches in Provincetown.

Beyond the shores, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails for you to explore, and two helpful visitor centers that are worth a pit stop. Plus, the seashore is a great place to attend lecture series and take in the spectacular scenery along the beach. Past visitors called sunsets along the shore "magical," and recommend stopping at the visitor centers to learn more about the area.

The Cape Cod National Seashore is open year-round. Official parking lots are open from 6 a.m. to midnight with daily parking stickers costing about $20 a day; $10 for motorcycles; and pedestrian and bicyclist beach entrance fees costing $3 from May through September. An annual pass costs $60. The Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, and the Province Lands Visitor Center in Provincetown welcomes visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, from mid-April through mid-October. Check out the National Park Service's website for more information on permits, parking fees and special events. 

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#1 Cape Cod Rail Trail

Popular with bikers, rollerbladers and horseback riders, this 22-mile paved trail is a breezy ride through the Lower Cape's diverse ecosystems. Previously known as the Old Colony Railroad corridor, the Cape Cod Rail Trail is considered one of the best bike trails in New England. 

Many outdoor enthusiasts highlight the trail as one of the best ways to experience the natural attractions across the Cape. They also praise how well-marked and clean the trail is, and report that it's mostly flat and easy to navigate. Some of the Cape's best beaches and ponds are scattered throughout the area, especially in Orleans and Wellfleet. Unique snack shacks and lunch spots are perfect pit stops when your stomach starts to grumble. And don't forget to explore the area's smaller villages for a taste of the Old Cape.

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Courtney Rose Photography/Cape Cod Chamber
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