The town of Eastham is often referred to as the gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore. It’s a fitting nickname considering this seaside's community’s natural beauty, which includes two of the Cape’s most sought after spots for hiking – Fort Hill Trail and Red Maple Swamp Trail.
Fort Hil crosses open fields, offers breathtaking views of Nauset Marsh and is a popular destination for birders. While there, make sure to visit the Captain Edward Penniman House, which was built in 1868 and once owned by one of the Cape’s most famous sea captains. Red Maple Swamp Trail features an elevated boardwalk over Red Maple Swamp, and its surrounding woodlands are at a glorious peak in fall.
Additional trails are accessible from the Salt Pond Visitor Center, which serves as the National Seashore’s main visitor facility and is open year-round.
Outdoor enthusiasts will flock to the Cape Cod Rail Trail and Nauset Bike Trail, both of which are accessible right from the Salt Pond Visitor Center. Whichever trail you choose, you can rent a bicycle at Little Capistrano Bike Shop, situated at the heart of both paths.
The Nauset Bike Trail is the shorter of the two and connects to several scenic hiking trails, as well as Coast Guard Beach, long considered one of America’s finest beaches thanks to its majestic dunes and stunning marshlands.
Nauset Light Beach is another gem situated along the National Seashore. Part of its popularity is due to Nauset Light, which was originally built in 1877 in Chatham and eventually dismantled and relocated to Eastham in 1923. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lighthouse is perhaps best known for being featured on the Cape Cod Potato Chips bag.
Among Eastham’s other historic structures is the Eastham Windmill, built in 1680 and moved to the Cape in 1793. Though it ceased operations in 1900, the windmill serves as the backdrop to many community events throughout the year, including summer concerts, craft fairs and the popular Eastham Windmill Weekend in September. Once a year, the town lights up the windmill as a traditional kick off to the holiday season.
Eastham also boasts the calm First Encounter Beach, located on Cape Cod Bay, which has historical significance. It’s the site of the first encounter between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans; a plaque on the beach commemorates this landmark moment.
With all the outdoor adventures that await, you’ll need to fill up before, during and after you go exploring.
Start your day at Hole In One, a bakery and coffee shop that is best known for its delicious hand-cut donuts (you can thank us later). Directly next to Hole In One is Fairway Restaurant, which has become a go-to spot for hearty breakfasts and mouth-watering pizzas. The 4940 Brickhouse Restaurant is another family-friendly spot that focuses on American cuisine infused with Caribbean flavors.
For a seafood fix, a must-stop is Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar, which has been a Cape Cod institution for more than 40 years. The seasonal eatery also features an 18-hole mini-golf course.
The best way to end the day? Treat yourself to a tasty cone at Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop.
Bring Eastham Home with You
No trip to the Eastham is complete without bringing some authentic Cape Cod goodies home with you. The Gift Barn on Route 6 sells everything from local jams & jellies and souvenirs to custom-made Cape Cod calendars, blankets, and wood-carved signs.
Blogger's Note: This is part of a series of "Road Trip" blogs spotlighting each of Cape Cod's distinctive towns and villages!