Cape Cod National Seashore
When planning for our trip to Cape Cod National Seashore we knew wanted to visit the wide variety of sights it had to offer. Top on the list was walking along one of the many beaches, visiting a lighthouse (iconic to New England), taking a hike, having a picnic, and checking out the visitor centers. From when we arrived at Province Lands Visitor Center to the end of our hike at Fort Hill, we spent about 6 hours taking in the National Seashore. While there is so much more to do and more time to be spent here, it is nice to know you can explore so much of a park in a day trip too.
See below for the break down of our trip:
STOP 1: Province Lands Visitor Center
- We drove all the way out to the tip of the Cape to Provincetown to start our visit. Logan loved digging through an exhibit at the visitor center that featured shells, sea creatures, and more while Stew enjoyed walking around their viewing decks trying to spot whales. We also took in the intro video, picked up a hiking map, and got our passport stamps here.
STOP 2: Race Point Beach
- Just down the road from the visitor center was Race Point Beach. Despite the chilly wind, we walked along the beach, dipped our toes the in the ice cold ocean, hunted for seashells and rocks, and enjoyed breathing in all that fresh air. It was nice and quiet on the beach and we did not see many other people. We were visiting a bit early in the season (mid May) which may be why we saw small crowds here.
STOP 3: Herring Cove Beach
- This beach was not on our original itinerary for the day, but due to the wind gusts over on Race Point Beach, we headed around the tip of Cape Cod to Herring Cove Beach to set up shop for our picnic. There was little to no wind here and it was a beautiful way to spend some time enjoy our lunch.
STOP 4: Highland Lighthouse
- Lighthouses are iconic for New England, and even though we have lived here most of our lives, we have never been inside to tour one. We chose to check out Highland Lighthouse since it bills itself as Cape Cod's first lighthouse. While we were eager to tour the lighthouse, our plans were foiled as anyone who enters is required to be 48" tall for safety reasons. Logan was just a couple inches shy of the cut off, so we scrubbed that idea and just walked around the exterior of the structure. We will have to keep this on our bucket list for another day!
STOP 5: Marconi Wireless Station Site
- I had read about this spot while doing my research on the park and I knew Stew would find it interesting but I wasn't sure we would have time for it in our day. We passed the signs for it on our way out Province Lands Visitor Center and decided we would pop by it on our way back out. It did not take up too much so we were happy we stopped for a few minutes to walk to the viewing area, read the information plaques and gaze out at the ocean a bit more. This is the site of the first transatlantic wireless communication between the United States and Europe.
STOP 6: Salt Pond Visitor Center
- We wanted to check out both visitor centers to see what they had to offer. This is clearly the main visitor center for the park with a large building that includes a museum, auditorium and outdoor amphitheater. To be honest, since we had already visited Province Lands Visitor Center and other areas of the park, we really stopped here for a photo opp with the park sign, to refill our water bottles, and pick up another passport stamp.
STOP 7: Fort Hill/Red Maple Swamp
- There were quite a few walks/hikes to choose from all along the seashore but I selected the Fort Hill Trail in Eastham, as it was a short trail (1 mile loop) and the location was ideal for our last activity of the day. We parked a first lot on the left on Governor Prence Rod at the start of the trail head. We saw signs for a boardwalk trail through Red Maple Swamp and decided to take a little detour to check it out. This detour turned out to be the best part of the hike! We enjoyed ducking in out of the sand dunes into the secluded wooden marsh area. We followed the raised boardwalk as it ducked under massive trees and rose over wetlands. Unfortunately part of the boardwalk was closed for construction so we could not complete the loop and had to double back instead but we would recommend you add this on to the Fort Hill Trail for sure! The entire hike which lasted a little more then hour takes you through a variety of landscape from marsh, to shoreline, to fields with rock walls, to forests. It was really enjoyable.