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Meander Cape Cod’s Beaches and Nature Trails in the Off Season

by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers

Dec 9, 2020


December 2020

With long, white-sand beaches lining its shores, Cape Cod is an idyllic summer vacation spot, only 90 minutes from Boston. Finding a place to park your car — or your towel — may be a challenge in August, but not for travelers who join locals to enjoy their Cape Cod neighborhood in its “quiet season.”

The sands are deserted except for walkers, runners and beach- combers gathering shells and sea-carved driftwood; the Cape’s 100-plus walking trails reach into woodlands, dunes and bird-filled marshes. Because of its mild winters, Cape Cod is a birders’ hot spot, with shore birds and many other species in residence year-round.

The Cape Cod National Seashore offers vast areas of unspoiled natural coastline with beaches, dunes, cliffs and pine forests. From Head of the Meadow Beach at North Truro, you can see the 1872 wreck of the Frances at low tide, and at Marconi Beach an observation platform overlooks views of the Outer Cape. The 1.5-mile Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail leads into an ethereal world of moss-covered roots and dark pools.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail stretches across 25 miles of mostly flat terrain through a wide variety of natural landscapes; the trail has a wide, unpaved shoulder for walkers and runners. In Hyannis follow the Kennedy Heritage Trail to sites recalling the time when the family’s beach estate was the summer White House.


Indoor activities, too, are uncrowded, with plenty of room for social distancing. Admire antique glassware and watch glassblowers at the Sandwich Glass Museum as they transform blobs of molten glass into beautiful vases and goblets.


The Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis is dedicated to the works of famous artists who worked here. The interactive Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth displays the actual artifacts recovered from a pirate ship sunk off Wellfleet in 1717. In Hyannis, Cape Cod Maritime Museum features boat building and an impressive collection of scrimshaw. All have winter hours, as does the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.

Exposed to the sea on three sides, lively Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod, offers a prime spot for storm watching. The best — and most comfortable — spot for watching the sea swell and the waves crash is a luxurious, window-surrounded guestroom at Lands End Inn, perched atop a hill at the end of busy Commercial Street.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.


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