Salt Pond

Crowne Pointe Historic Inn & Spa

The Cape Cod National Seashore is, in my opinion, a must-see on any visit to Provincetown.  Even folks from other towns on Cape Cod make sure to visit the “Outer Beach” when they venture to the outer arm of the Cape.  Why?  By far, some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.  Other added perks: exercise, nature watching (specifically birds, whales, and seals), special programs and exhibitions, bike trails.  Spanning several towns, with six beaches and twelve trail systems, CCNS never disappoints.  It is Cape Cod at its most rugged¾and its best.  Here’s what you need to know to check it out:

 

Start at a Visitor Center

Cape Cod National Seashore

There are two.  The Salt Pond Visitor Center, 50 Nauset Road, in Eastham, is the main one and has a well-stocked bookstore, restrooms, and a museum with special exhibitions on local geography, history, and culture.  The Province Lands Visitor Center, 171 Race Point Road, about a mile from the center of Provincetown, has a 360-degree observation deck to see views of the dunes and beaches.  Both visitor centers have trail guides and additional information on tours and activities, so they are an ideal first stop.

 

Take a Tour

Dawn at Long Point

Lighthouses, nature walks—take your pick!  There are three lighthouses in the CCNS and all offer daily tours (in season): Nauset Light (Eastham), Highland Light (Truro), and Three Sisters (Eastham).  Highland Light is also next to a fabulous, well-known links golf course, so bring your clubs.   If nature is more your style, the park has a diverse schedule of Ranger guided walks/hikes, lectures, and exhibitions.  For a full list of activities, click here.

 

Get to the Beach!

Herring Cove Sunset

The CCNS beaches are some of the most memorable on the Cape—and that is saying something.  The two Ptown beaches: Race Point and Herring Cove, are spectacular.  Race Point has ample parking, handicap access, a short walk from parking lot to beach, and the chance to see whales offshore.  Herring Cove, located on the West-facing side of Ptown, is an ideal place to see the sunset.

 

If you are looking to explore beyond Ptown, Coast Guard Beach and Marconi Beach (Wellfleet), and Nauset Light Beach (Eastham) feature massive dunes, expansive beaches and fun waves (depending on the weather).  Since all of the CCNS beaches are on the Atlantic Ocean, expect brisk winds, decent waves, plenty of seals, and often, a strong undertow.  Head of the Meadow Beach, in Truro is the most kid-friendly, with no stairs or dunes to walk down and plenty of sandbars at low tide for easy swimming (free from the undertow).  Marconi is a convenient option for those on the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT).  Many of the beaches are handicap accessible, with parking and thick mats that lay atop the sand.  Even folks who may not be that sturdy on their feet are now able to enjoy the beach.

 

Daily fees for any of the CCNS beaches are $20 per vehicle or $3 per pedestrian/bicycle.  A season pass is $60.  The CCNS website is a great resource to plan your visit.  Click here for more information.