Blake Walsh

21 Best Things to Do in Eastham, MA

  • Published 2022/10/13

Known as the gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore, located immediately north, Eastham is a coastal town bordered by Cape Cod on its west side and the Atlantic Ocean on its east side.

It abounds with historical landmarks, a lot of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are historic lighthouses, too, which served to guide travelers as they tread the rocky waters of Cape Cod.

Aside from studying the area’s history, you can enjoy the gorgeous beach scenery and exciting water activities.

For an unforgettable stay, read on for the best things to do in Eastham, Massachusetts.

Watch the Gorgeous Sunset at Coast Guard Beach

Coast Guard Beach during Sunrise

Allison Coffin /

A popular summer vacation spot for tourists, Coast Guard Beach is a long stretch of sand perfect for fun activities with the whole family.

The beach is over 20 miles long.

You can bring all your necessities and beach toys in your car.

Vast sandy Coast Guard beach stretching over horizon

Jay Yuan /

It’s perfect for a lazy afternoon and watching the gorgeous sunset.

There’s an old white Coast Guard building located on a nearby dune, which the beach was named after.

Shorebirds frequent the beach, and you’ll be able to find the occasional seal near the shoreline.

Look for Interesting Finds in Buddha Bobs

Shop around Buddha Bobs to see rare, interesting finds from around the world.

Pick out your favorite among a plethora of statues and miniature sculptures.

They sell all kinds of items, such as quirky décor and antiques.

Take a look at its large collection of beautiful rocks and crystals—perfect pieces to add some color to your home’s interior.

Before your visit, check out its website so you can have a glimpse of the products they sell.

Check Out The Marketplace Home and Garden Center

If you want to hire someone to reinvent your garden or to keep it in great condition, The Marketplace Home and Garden Center is the place to be, as they offer landscaping services.

Check out its online store for supplies and more.

You can get all sorts of trees, bushes, and flowers to decorate your garden with.

Get a few exotic fruit-bearing plants to create a paradisiacal setting.

Stock up on supplies, like fertilizers, seeds, and more.

You can also buy equipment and tools to help make your gardening easier and more efficient.

It hosts a number of events, too, so make sure to check out its website for information.

Read Your Favorite Book in a Peaceful Setting in the Eastham Public Library

Image of Eastham Public Library after a snowstorm in Eastham, Massachusetts

M. Magane, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to read all sorts of books in a peaceful, quiet setting, pay a visit to the Eastham Public Library.

It is a large, well-designed building with modern spaces.

Grab a book and lounge in the comfy seating areas.

To add to that, the library is equipped with huge floor-to-ceiling windows that let in plenty of natural light and offer scenic views.

If you need to gather information, they have genealogy databases as well.

You can also purchase museum passes for different museums here.

For a complete educational experience for your kid, get yourselves one of its many kits, with books, fun tools, and more.

The museum owns a lot of resources and provides different services too, including assistive services and Wi-Fi.

Use the computer if you need to type something for school or work.

There’s a printer too if you need documents right away.

Check out its online catalogs on its website for an easy time navigating its resources.

You can also take a look at its digital products, including eBooks, audiobooks, and more.

Take a Scenic Walk in the Fort Hill Rural Historic District

View from Fort Hill Rural Historic District, Massachusetts

John Phelan, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fort Hill Rural Historic District boasts 100 acres of varying landscapes, including forests, fields, and salt marshes.

The district is over 200 years old and consists of two farmsteads with lush flora and fauna.

Have a scenic walk on its many trails, where you’ll see wildflowers and enjoy spectacular views.

Another thing to see here is Indian Rock, a community grinding rock that the Nauset Indians Tused to create tools.

If you’re bringing a car, there’s a parking lot off the road too.

Bond with the Whole Family at Arnold’s Adventure Mini Golf

Bond with the whole family at Arnold’s Mini Golf, filled with challenging obstacles for you to overcome.

It’s a scenic, nature-filled course with tons of fun statues, perfect for kids and adults alike.

When you’re done playing, you can enjoy succulent seafood in the on-site Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar.

Experience fresh, high-quality seafood straight from the nearby waters.

For dessert, try out its ice cream from Arnold’s and Richardon’s Dairy.

You can also have a taste of award-winning Ritchie’s Italian Ice.

If you want your loved ones to enjoy playing mini-golf here or appreciate its delicious food, you can get them a gift certificate too.

Visit its website for more information.

Learn about the Town’s History at Salt Pond Visitor Center

Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham, Massachusetts

John Phelan, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Salt Pond Visitor Center by Cape Cod National Seashore is an orientation center where you can learn more about the town’s history, geography, and more.

In the lobby, you’ll find a large topographical map of Cape Cod.

Visit its museum and study various aspects of the area, including the culture of its natives, its history, whaling, its industries, and more.

You can do this through the museum’s exhibits, with artifacts, photos, and more.

Make sure to watch its award-winning orientation movie – Standing Bold.

Take your pick among the short films played in its theater or, if you have some time, you can watch them all.

Check out the books featured in its bookstore.

Ride the Currents of the Atlantic Ocean at Great Marsh Kayak Tours

To explore the eastern waters of Eastham, book a reservation at Great Marsh Kayak Tours.

You’ll start off your tour from Nauset Marsh and head towards the Atlantic Ocean, with amazing views throughout the trip.

Gaze at the sand flats during low tide and the deep marsh channels during high tide.

Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife, including different species of migratory birds and marine life.

It’s a three-hour tour, so make sure to bring your essentials and wear appropriate clothing.

Your kids are welcome here, too, and you can ride a kayak with them.

Get a gift card for your loved ones, so they can have a wonderful experience.

Explore the Inside of a Working Gristmill at the Eastham Windmill

Front View of Eastham Windmill at Cape Cod


Check out the inner workings of an old windmill in Eastham Windmill.

It is the oldest and last operating gristmill on Cape Cod.

The windmill is public property, and it is part of the National Register of Historic Places.

If you’re driving along Route 6, consider making a stop at this easily accessible landmark.

Weekend market at Eastham Windmill

PimmyTan /

Make sure to check the date of the annual “Windmill Weekend” celebration.

During this event, you can groove to the music, enjoy delicious local food, join a parade, and much more.

Imagine the Lives of the Former Students of the 1869 Schoolhouse Museum

The 1869 Schoolhouse Museum, part of the National Register of Historic Places, was a functioning schoolhouse until 1936, when its students moved to a newer building.

It is owned and operated by the Eastham Historical Society.

Explore its halls and imagine the day-to-day lives of its former students.

Enter the schoolroom, designed to depict the actual school setting as close as possible.

It’s equipped with the schoolmaster’s deck and multiple student desks.

Kids can sit on their desks and read old books.

In addition, the museum also hosts numerous artifacts and pieces about different aspects of the area’s history and culture.

Appreciate the Architecture of the Captain Penniman House

Outside View of the Captain Penniman House, Eastham, Massachusetts

Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A marvelous piece of architecture, the Captain Penniman House is a Second Empire-styled building built in 1868 at the end of the Victorian Age.

Visit the historic building and explore its stunning interior, with high-quality woodwork and finishes.

The building is also equipped with plumbing and heating through its fireplaces.

It was installed with wallpaper that resembles its former design, based on photographs and other guides.

It sits on a 12-acre property and several other structures from the original plan of the site.

Go Hiking with Your Kids in Buttonbush Trail

A great way to introduce hiking to your kids, Buttonbush Trail is an easy 1.9-km loop trail with lush flora and fauna.

Have a scenic walk with your kids, admiring the scenery.

It is home to local wildlife as well, and it is an ideal place for birdwatching.

There are also interpretive panels where you can learn more about the area.

Walk your way to Buttonbush Pond, which you can cross using the boardwalk bridge.

The trail has a guide rope so you won’t get lost and has braille text.

Discover the History of Nauset Light

Nauset Lighthouse at Nauset light beach

Marc Lechanteur /

Managed by the Nauset Lighthouse Preservation Society, Nauset Light rests on top of a bluff above a beach called Nauset Light Beach.

The lighthouse, built in 1877 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is painted red and white, serving as a daytime indicator.

It has two rotating aero beacons and provided a guide for mariners, as a lot of shipwrecks happened in the area because of Cape Cod’s rocky coastline.

Coastal erosion in Cape Cod is fast, so the lighthouse was moved away from the cliff.

You can get a membership at the Nauset Lighthouse Preservation Society, and volunteers are always welcome.

Check out its website for more details and to read about its history.

If you want to have a stroll or a nice swim after touring the lighthouse, you can head to the beach—full of sand, with a glacial scarp behind it—below.

You can have a peaceful time, especially during the offseason when the beach is usually quiet and less crowded.

Watch the Sunset at First Encounter Beach

Sandy shore at First Encounter Beach

Julie Forward /

First Encounter Beach, aptly named, is where the Nauset Indians of the Wampanoag Tribe first encountered the Pilgrims.

It’s a great place to watch the sunset, with a long stretch of sand.

Wade in the tide pools created by the low tide.

First Encounter Beach at Eastham, Massachusetts

Donna Carpenter /

You can also find and catch crabs, hermits, crabs, fish, and much more in the pools.

Watch as birds fly around the area.

There’s a parking area close by as well.

Also, a lifeguard protects the area, so you can play safe and sound.

Check Out the Antique Furniture and Décor in the Swift-Daley House

A historic house built in 1741 by Joshua Knowles, the Swift-Daley House offers a chance to see antique furniture and old tools.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with items from the Colonial and Victorian periods.

This is due to the fact that it was occupied for a long time.

You’ll see all sorts of things that you normally see in a home, like clothes, china, and more.

Check out its collection of glass and other artifacts.

Right behind the Swift-Daley House is the Ranlett Tool Museum.

You’ll find a lot of unique tools and equipment, some of which can only be found here.

The blacksmith uses the on-site forge occasionally too.

Learn about the History of The Three Sisters Lighthouses

Tall White buildings of Three Sisters Lighthouses

melissamn /

The Three Sisters Lighthouses were built in 1836 to guide mariners.

They were said to look like women in white dresses with black hats, hence their name.

To preserve them and protect them from the cliff’s erosion, they have been moved away from their original location.

Two of them were auctioned off as they weren’t functioning effectively anymore.

They were restored in the 1980s and had been welcoming tourists since 1989.

Check out Doane Rock

You can’t talk about the best of Eastham without mentioning this peculiar rock.

This glacial erratic stands at 18 feet, making it the tallest boulder in the world-famous Cape Cod National Seashore.

While it may not be as spectacular as the area’s sandy beaches, this enigmatic geological phenomenon has fascinated people for millennia.

Additionally, it is close to helpful amenities like a picnic park.

Discover what makes this landmark so unique by reading the accompanying interpretative sign.

You may also hike the pathways around the rock or climb to the summit.

Go Swimming at Herring Pond

Go to Eastham’s kettle ponds if you’re looking for a somewhat warmer swimming option or in need of some shade.

These areas are ideal for a peaceful canoe trip or a refreshing dip without the need for salt water.

For example, Herring Pond, a freshwater kettle pond that spans 43 acres and is 18 to 30 feet deep, is a perfect place to go swimming or boating.

The shallow pond has a sandy bottom, so it is easy to swim in.

Slightly over a mile of the beachfront is dotted with scattered single-family homes and cottages, making this region a moderate level of development.

Cycle through Cape Cod Rail Trail

Cycling in Cape Cod Rail Trail

Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Two bike lanes and several hiking trails wind through Eastham’s stunning natural landscape.

Both paved give bikers and walkers a unique chance to experience Cape Cod’s enchantment and beauty.

Enjoy the sights of forests, lakes, salt marshes, calm kettle ponds, and twisting streams on and around the routes.

Cape Cod Rail Trail is one of these.

It’s a long trail that spans the length of Eastham, starting at Route 134 and finishing at Wellfleet’s LeCount Hollow.

The path traces the route of the defunct Penn Central Railway.

The rails may no longer exist, but the area is still quite accessible for everyone in Eastham.

It’s possible to find fishing piers and seaside beaches, rural stores and stunning villages, picnic spaces, parks, lodging, and dining options just off the beaten road.

Visit Coast Guard Station

Facade of Coast Guard Station

Danita Delimont /

Nauset was the site of nine stations, one of which was the Coast Guard Station.

It stood around 350 feet to the southeast of the current structure.

Up until 1958, the existing building served as a Coast Guard station.

View of Coast Guard Station

david lada /

The facility underwent a renovation to house the Cape Cod National Seashore’s environmental education program for residents.

It’s called NEED and gives school groups a taste of Cape Cod’s rich cultural heritage and beautiful landscapes.

If you and your organization wish to tour the facility, book an appointment ahead of time.

Although the actual structure is off-limits to the public, the grounds and ocean views are available for wanderers.

Take Snaps with the Historic French Cable Hut

Exterior view of French Cable Hut

Rosemarie Mosteller /

It was from this modest shack near Eastham’s Nauset Beach Light that the French Cable Company, with its headquarters in Orleans, transported the first cable over the Atlantic.

The interior was unfinished, and the studs were apparent.

No household goods were present.

The chamber was empty but for a connecting box fastened to the southwest corner of the wall, just above where the cable entered the building.

France’s capitulation to Germany in June 1940 meant the end of cable service provided by the French Cable Company.

There was no one living in the cable hut during the duration of the war and for some time afterward.

The National Park Service eventually bought it.

You may visit French Cable Station, precisely as it was when it closed in 1959.

Final Thoughts

Eastham, bordered by waters on two sides, offers multiple opportunities to enjoy exciting water activities.

Ride a kayak on the Atlantic Ocean or get your beach equipment and have a leisurely time wading in its beaches,

It has a rich history, too, evident in the abundance of historic locations in the area.

If you’re looking for activities to enjoy, check out the best things to do in Eastham, Massachusetts, listed above.

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