If you are visiting Cape Cod during the summer, chances are nearly 3.5 million others tourists are coming and going during this high-season. Luckily, the Cape offers several naturistic escapes from the busy, tourist-heavy locations, all of which are low-cost and easily accessible by car or by bike. Whether you are an outdoors enthusiast or simply curious about the Cape’s nature, there is an escape for everyone! Here are five of the most recommended places:
Nickerson State Park - 3488 Main St Brewster, MA 02631
1,900 acres of woodlands and kettlehole ponds - an excellent place to reconnect with nature and take advantage of the varied outdoor activities that this state park offers: overnight camping, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and mountain bike riding. If you are coming with little ones, the park also has a playground, open amphitheater, and great picnicking spots fun for the whole family. Click here to learn more about the park or to reserve a campsite.
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Parking Fees: $8 MA resident, $15 non-MA resident
2. Heritage Museum and Gardens - 67 Grove Street Sandwich, MA 02563-2147
This floral escape is not only for the greenthumbs; Heritage Museum and Gardens offers exhibits on different themes such as Cars and Stars of the Indy 500, American Art and Carousel gallery, and artwork from Wendell Minor’s America in addition to exhibiting the largest public garden in Southern New England. Take a walk through their elaborate map of nature trails, visit the Dexter Rhododendron Garden, take a rest by the Flume Fountain, or if you want to surprise the kids with a fun activity, visit the Adventure Park inside Heritage Gardens for an exhilarating zip-lining experience!
Hours: 10 am - 5 pm
Tickets for Heritage Museum & Gardens:
Adult - $18
Youth (3-11) - $8
Child (0-2) - Free
3. Cape Cod Rail Trail - 3488 Main St., Brewster, MA 02631
A beautiful 22 mile long trail perfect for walkers, runners, bikers, and skaters hoping to get some fresh air and scenic views. This flat trail runs through 6 Cape Cod towns and offers free parking for visitors at Route 134 in South Dennis, Headwaters Drive in Harwich, and Route 137 in Brewster. Bike rental facilities are located on the trail in Yarmouth, Dennis, Brewster, Orleans, and Wellfleet.
Hours: From dawn until dusk
4. Nauset Beach 250 Beach Rd, Orleans, MA 02653
For those interested in swimming, surfing, or a relaxing sunset stroll, Nauset Beach is one of Cape Cod’s most beloved spots because of its calm, cool waters and striking views . Although it is busiest in the summer, locals claim that a brisk winter walk along the beach is just as lovely and may even bring out the rare local wildlife during these colder seasons. In addition to plenty of free parking, there are restrooms, showers, and food stands available near the beach.
Hours: From dawn until dusk
5. Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary 291 State Highway, Route 6 S. Wellfleet
Peaceful hillsides, a shoreline that overlooks Wellfleet Harbor, extensive trails that lead to a panoramic salt marsh, sandy beaches, pine woodlands - all of this and more can be found at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Besides their beautiful conservation of nature, this sanctuary offers courses on the area’s unique coastal environment and wildlife, which are available to all ages and include hands-on activities as well as conservation projects. They also include a universally accessible trail and an award-winning “green” nature center with numerous exhibits and aquariums.
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 8:30 am -5 pm
Members - Free
Nonmembers - $5 Adults
$3 Children (2-12)
$3 Seniors (65+)