Cape Cod Historic Sites
By: Stephen Kota
The Dexter Grist Mill (the oldest mill on Cape Cod) located in Sandwich, Massachusetts
Cape Cod and the Islands provide visitors with a window into our nation’s rich history. People from all over the world come to see the Cape Cod historic sites and visit many of America’s “firsts.” It includes attractions like the Pilgrim Monument, which honors the Pilgrims’ first landing in Provincetown; the Flying Horse Carousel in Oaks Bluff, our nation’s first carousel; and Pairpoint Glass Company, the oldest glass company in America who once provided glass to the Queen of English in the late 19th Century.
To explore the quaint towns of the Cape, cruise the historic Route 6A, also known as Old King’s Highway, for breathtaking views of the Cape Cod National Seashore and seashore towns. Route 6A spans approximately 62 miles and is one of the most scenic byways in the U.S., providing visitors with easy access to all the Cape has to offer. While you’re at the Cape, go to Hyannis and visit the John F. Kennedy Memorial, built to overlook the bay John F. Kennedy would sail into on his trips. Visitors looking to explore the water can board one of the many boats and ferries from MacMillan Pier to the Harbor, the National Seashore, Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary, fishing, or whale watching boats. If you’re more of a land creature, stay on the pier and shop at any of the artisan shops, visit the pirate museum, or stop to grab a bite to eat. The Chamber of Commerce can also provide you with options for how to spend your Cape Cod vacation.
A popular historic attraction is the grist mills (also known as corn mills), located in the town of Sandwich(Dexter Grist Mill) and Brewster(Stony Brook Grist Mill). These historic mills are still water-powered and provide visitors a look back in history. For purchase, is the freshly ground corn which makes an excellent take-home gift for family and friends.
Many come to relax on the seashore and delight in finding the iconic lighthouses that still dot the seashore. Some are still active, and many offer tours or are museums detailing their importance during the 19th Century.
What better way to see a different side of Cape Cod than by train. The Cape Cod Central Railroad takes passengers on a scenic route, including places only visible by rail. The fun begins mid-Cape in the town of Hyannis and travels through West Barnstable, Sandwich, and down to the Cape Cod Canal. Along the way, passengers pass through salt marshes and sand dunes, with viewings of cranberry bogs and the bay. They offer a variety of trips, everything from dining opportunities while taking in the scenery; narrated rides reliving the history of the canal, and even a journey paired with a visit to see glass blowing or pressing at Pairpoint Glass.
Whichever way your journey takes you on your Cape Cod adventure and whatever you decide to do, you won’t regret a visit to our nation’s beginnings.