5 things to do when visiting Eastham


From lighthouses to beaches to hiking trails.

Nauset Light in Eastham. Nauset Light Preservation Society

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The Cape town of Eastham, known as the gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore, is “a quintessential paradise,” according to Jim Russo, executive director of the Eastham Chamber of Commerce.

More than a third of Eastham lies within the National Seashore, which includes nearly 40 miles of beaches, ponds, marshes, uplands and historic sites. It is one of the most visited national park sites in the United States

Eastham offers the best of both worlds, Russo said, with bay beaches on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. In between, he says, there are ponds, trails, marshes, historical landmarks and more.

Ahead, Russo offers his picks for what to see and do in Eastham.

Hikers will enjoy the “spectacular” Fort Hill Trail, according to Russo.

The trail, a one-mile loop, takes about an hour and takes in Nauset Marsh, Nauset spit, and the Atlantic Ocean. The trail is also great for bird watchers, according to the National Park Service.

For those wishing to extend their hike, the trail joins the Red Maple Swamp Trail, a 0.8 mile round trip that takes about 30 minutes. The trail, which takes hikers through the heart of the Red Maple Swamp, is at its most colorful in the fall, according to the National Park Service.

Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod.
Coast Guard Beach at Eastham. – AP Photo/Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Margo Tabb, file

Russo said it was worth catching a sunset on the beach in Eastham.

Eastham has several beaches, including two Cape Cod National Seashore beaches: Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light Beach.

Coast Guard Beach was recently named one of America’s Top 10 Beaches by “Dr. Beach” and named one of the best beaches in Massachusetts by readers of

“Bring food, friends and family. Drink a book. Bring games. Enjoy. And then wait. As the day draws to a close, the best is yet to come as one of our majestic sunsets will crown your day,” advised Russo, who added, “Don’t leave yet; now it’s time to stargaze.

5 things to do when visiting Eastham
Visitors stroll through the Salt Pond Visitor Center in the Cape Cod National Seashore. –Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

The Salt Pond Visitor Center, the Cape Cod National Seashore’s year-round visitor orientation center, has a museum, outdoor amphitheater, and indoor auditorium.

“Not only will you find orientation films, a museum, lectures, concerts,
programs, [and] indoor exhibits, outdoors you can have lunch overlooking a salt pond and finish with a walk to Coast Guard Beach, one of the many trails that can be found here “said Russo.

You can experience the Nauset Marsh Trail, Nauset Bike Trail, and Buttonbush Trail from the center. The latter is designed for visually impaired or blind visitors and has guide ropes and Braille signs.

Eastham has many historic buildings and monuments.

“Eastham is culturally rich,” according to Russo. “Eastham is proud of its designations on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Lighthouse enthusiasts can visit the iconic red, white and black lighthouse featured on Cape Cod potato chip bags: Nauset Light. The structure, built in 1877, was moved from Chatham to Eastham in 1923. You can check the lighthouse calendar for tour dates.

Visitors can also see the Three Sisters Lighthouses, named so because “from the sea they looked like women in white dresses with black hats,” according to the National Park Service.

Arnold's lobster and clam
Fried clams at Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar in Eastham. –Dan Cutrona

5. What readers recommend

For food and beverages:

Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar — @sulips, @kennyfrank, @abigailsousa_, @samarteka44, @kathybeens, @chris_ferg3

Hole in one – @kendallnewton16, @mettagiese

Sam’s grocery store — @nicolechristinemck

The friendly fisherman — @christabel02460

For activities:

Cycle paths – @melipru, @katiebug610, @nicolechristinemck

Cape Cod National Coast — @angelacorreia

Cape Cod Rail Trail — @thatgirlkillah

Coastguard Beach — @buckmasterinn1998, @ric.lish, @dranklizard, @chris_ferg3

Large pond — @mettagiese

First Encounter Beach — @melipru, @kennyfrank

Fort Hill Trail — @christabel02460, @vivskitchencc, @vhamaine, @newberry49711

Herring Race — @dranklizard

Sunsets – @vivskitchencc

Nauset Light Beach — @kennyfrank, @mettagiese

Salt Pond Visitor Center — @dranklizard


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