From the colonial days of 1621 when the Pilgrims had their first encounter with Eastham's Nauset Indians, to inventor Guglielmo Marconi's first transatlantic wireless radio transmission, residents of the Outer Cape have made monumental contributions to the development of modern America.
Approaching along 6A, formally known as Old King's Highway, you'll wind past hundreds of homes, historic structures, and marshes along the same path as did the Indians and early settlers. Driving on Highway 6, also known as the Mid-Cape Highway, you may begin to notice what's missing... not a fast food place in sight.
In their place you'll find clam shacks, surf shops, bait shops, and long stretches of perpetually shifting sand dunes. Life slows down on the Outer Cape, and with that comes a special environment to savor.
Artists from every media continue to flock to this end of Cape Cod, where the saturation of sunlight and the beauty of the natural world can at times seem unearthly. Reflecting waters and seemingly endless vistas can nearly hold you hostage; visit one of the hundreds of galleries and you’re bound to find a rendition to bring home.
Originally a fishing village, Wellfleet hosts its annual OysterFest, a weekend street festival drawing thousands of oyster lovers. Provincetown, affectionately known as P-Town, is a haven for galleries, theaters, restaurants, clubs, and the thriving counterculture. Whale watching tours sail from P-Town’s Macmillan Pier, as do seasonal ferries to Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and Boston.
At the elbow of Cape Cod's arm, Chatham proudly claims coasts on three sides: Pleasant Bay, Nantucket Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean. The “Break” at Chatham's Lighthouse Beach is where the Atlantic broke through the channel and flowed into Chatham Harbor. Metered parking is available here, affording a front row view of the continuous and dramatic reshaping of the Cape’s coastline.
One of only three fruits native to North America, cranberries crop up often in local recipes, even ice cream! Visit a working cranberry bog in Harwich and learn why the cranberries used for juice are harvested differently from those destined to be baked into muffins.
Continue in the vein of native fruits with a visit to the Truro Vineyards for a taste of locally grown wine, situated on an estate first established in 1813. In Orleans, kids play pirate for the day aboard the Sea Gypsy as it sails the waters of Town Cove, freeing up the grownups to charter a sportfishing boat out of Rock Harbor.
A music scene is very alive in Eastham where Windmill Park hosts free outdoor concerts of varying genres every Monday evening throughout the summer; just up the road on Samoset, the Chapel in the Pines sponsors a weekly acoustic concert series where national acts play in an intimate indoor setting.
The Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 22-mile paved bike path, continues through the Outer Cape, terminating in Wellfleet. Bike rentals are available in most towns, and there are opportunities to take connecting bike paths to several beaches along the way.
If it floats, sails, or paddles, take it to a waterway and explore to your heart's content. Kayaking is a favorite pastime, as are sailing, sunfish, and other crafts. Kettle ponds, formed by retreating glaciers, are fresh water ponds found in wooded areas and are delights to swim in when you want to get away from beach crowds.