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A whale watch is a must when visiting Cape Cod. Step aboard a 100-foot boat and travel past the Cape Cod National Seashore to the open ocean. The boats concentrate on an area known as the Stellwagen Bank - a deep fissure in the ocean floor that is home to a favorite whale delicacy, the sand eel. Naturalists narrate during the cruises. There is a snack bar on board and passengers can bring their own picnic. The trip takes about four hours.
These former Plantations are a complex of museums devoted to early American life. The art museum contains antique toys and the largest collection of Currier and Ives lithographs in the country. A 1912 carousel is a favorite with children. A replica of a Shaker roundhouse contains antique cars. Antique firearms and uniforms are on display in the Military Museum. Charles Dexter, the original owner, spent years here planting and perfecting varieties of rhododendrons. Please note the museum and gardens are open seasonally.
This brick tower is not remarkable for its architecture; it does, however, have a great view. Located on top of the 160-foot (50-meter) Scargo Hill in Dennis (the highest point on the Cape), a clear day allows views of the Provincetown Monument and mainland Massachusetts. In almost any weather condition you can see Scargo Lake, which was named after a Native American princess. You may find it a romantic spot too, especially for sunsets and star gazing.
Although referred to as the bike trail, this paved path also welcomes walking, running, horseback riding and rollerblading. And if there is enough snow, (which is rare), you may cross-country ski, too. Built on an old railway bed, the scenic 25-mile (40-kilometer) trail takes you from Dennis to Wellfleet via cranberry bogs, lakes and towns. Nickerson State Park, off Route 6A in Brewster, maintains the trail and is at the halfway point. See the website for a map with other rest areas and access points.
Marine Biological Laboratory is what Lewis Thomas called the National Biological Laboratory. The laboratory is well furnished and equipped to carry advanced research and training on several topics related to marine biology, including bio-medicine and ecology. Regular tours are conducted here and there is a special visitors center that gives you in-depth details on the facility and the work conducted. To know more, check the website.
This living museum recreates Plymouth as it was in 1627, and does a great job at separating fact from the enduring (and completely inaccurate) legend of the First Thanksgiving. Historians and curators have paid great attention to detail, from the street plans to furniture, tools, and cooking equipment. Specially bred 17th-century livestock occupies the barns and pastures, and trained reenactors and artisans demonstrate how life was lived among the Pilgrims. In addition to information on the European colonists, visitors can find information on the Native American population at Hobbamock's Homesite. Hobbamock, a Wampanoag Indian, lived with his family in Plymouth from 1621-1641, as part of a peace treaty agreement. The plantation is open seasonally.
First designated as protected by the United States government in 1961, the sprawling, 43,604-acre (18,000-hectare) Cape Cod National Seashore offers stunning vistas and a glimpse into the natural and cultural history of the area. The park boasts six swimming beaches, but also nature trails, picnic areas, freshwater ponds, historic lighthouses and Cape Cod-style residences. The seashore makes a great day trip, but for those who would like to stay longer there are several resorts, hotels and motels nearby, but not along the shore.
The Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 937 acres (379.19 hectares) of unblemished forest and scrubland. The sanctuary is home to hundreds of birds, mammals, reptiles, and plant life, making this place perfect for casual strolls amidst the beauty of nature, a bit of bird-watching, and photography. The Silver Spring Trail is a highlight of the sanctuary and should not be missed. The marvelous nature center displays numerous wildlife exhibits that you have probably never seen before. This place is a wondrous green oasis in the midst of Cape Cod's touristy bustle and deserves a visit.
There are few better ways to get an overview of what Provincetown has to offer than to take a picturesque trolley ride. The trolleys leave every half-hour from Town Hall on Commercial Street, and tour the National Seashore and other interesting sites for about 40 minutes.
Few people know that the pilgrims first struck land in Provincetown, on November 21, 1620, before continuing on to Plymouth. While anchored in Provincetown Harbor, the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact, dedicating themselves to a community governed by rudimentary democratic rule. This tower, built in 1910 to commemorate that landing, was modeled after the clock tower of the Palazzo Pubblico (specifically the Torre del Mangia) in Siena, Italy. A climb to the top affords one of the best views on the entire Cape.
Provincetown, one of the most well known towns on Cape Cod, offers rich cultural and artistic history as well as plenty of contemporary pleasures. The Pilgrims made their first New World landing here and the historic Mayflower Compact was written and signed just off the coast. Later, an artists' colony developed, attracting the intellectual elite and resulting in many artistic and literary institutions. Today, Provincetown thrives as a cultural center and vacation destination, known for plentiful inns and restaurants, great shopping, beautiful sunsets and a vibrant gay and lesbian community.