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Cape Cod Museums, Sanctuaries & Historical Sites

Cape Cod derives its beauty and rich history from the land and sea, and local museums celebrate the diversity and heritage of our landscapes and people. Outdoors, visitors can see for themselves that the Cape is a special locale, but at the museums and outdoor venues listed below, they can learn the how and why of the region's past.

Cape Cod Maritime Museum, 35 South St., Hyannis. Celebrating and preserving the Cape's maritime past, present and future, the museum offers permanent and rotating exhibits and hands-on activities for children.  Seasonal sails available on Crosby catboat replica Sarah.  Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays and by appointment.  Admission: $5, $4 seniors and students, free for children under 7. Information: 508-775-1723 or info@capecodmaritimemuseum.org.

Coast Guard Heritage Museum, 3353 Main St. (Route 6A), Barnstable Village. Exhibits and artifacts on display, including scale-model ships, aircraft, navigation lights, lightships, lighthouses, ship's bells, artwork, books and commemorative coins. New this year: Lightship Sailors Association Room; “Women in the Coast Guard”; “The Coast Guard at War (World Wars I & II, Korea, Vietnam and Southwest Asia)”; and Coast Guard aircraft models. “Village Smithy” Jim Ellis working his forge in the old Carriage House.  Hours:10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission: $5, free for children under 10. Information: 508-362-8521 or coastguardheritagemuseum.org.

Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, Active Coast Road, Barnstable. Ponds, vernal pools, buttonbush swamp, salt marsh and other habitats in a 110-acre sanctuary. Along trails are groves of tupelo, holly and spruce trees. Large oak trees, along with red maple, interspersed throughout property. Trails easy to walk with gentle slopes along mowed grass paths ending with views of Barnstable Harbor. Programs and activities offered. Hours: Nature center/trail open daily, dawn until dusk. Admission: $4, $3 seniors and children ages 3-12. Information: 508-362-7475 or http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Long_Pasture/index.php.

Zion Union Heritage Museum, 276 North St., Hyannis. Mission is to celebrate African-American and Cape Verdean population as well as other ethnic and demographic diversity of the town of Barnstable, Cape Cod and the Islands. Cultural exhibits with artifacts and art, local arts and crafts, and opportunities to promote oral, public and local history projects. Admission: $5, $2 children. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Admission Fees Senior Citizens (65 and older) $4 Adults $5 Ages 10-17 $3 Children Under 10 Free Museum Members Free. Information: 508-790-9466 or http://www.zionunionheritagemuseum.org/.

Aptucxet Trading Post Museum, 24 Aptucxet Road (off Shore Road), Bourne. Museum is a replica of a trading post (built in 1930) on the site by the Plymouth Colony in 1627 for trade with the Native Americans and Dutch. Replica contains some of the oldest remnants of a Pilgrim building. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission: $5, $4 seniors or AAA members, $2 children, $10 family. Information: 508-759-8167 or http://www.bournehistoricalsociety.org/aptucxettradingpost.html

Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Route 6A, Brewster. Eighty acres abutting 300 acres of town-owned conservation land. Exhibits on flora and fauna of Cape Cod, including whales, indigenous birds and coastal change. Special rotating exhibits on Cape Cod artists, writers and organizations. Renovated aquariums with more than 65 freshwater and saltwater marine animals. Marshview Room with amphibian terrariums, interactive nature activities and seasonal ospreycam, library, gift shop and nature trails. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission: $8, $7 seniors, $3.50 ages 3-12, free under age 3. Information: 508-896-3867 or www.ccmnh.org.

Salt Pond Visitor Center, Cape Cod National Seashore, Route 6 and Nauset Road, Eastham.  Exhibits, films, bookstore, museum. Expansive views of Nauset Marsh and the Atlantic; walking and biking trails nearby. Ranger-guided programs include archaeology, history and nature walks, marsh explorations, beach campfires, canoe trips, tours and open houses at historical buildings. Many free and family-oriented programs. Check Web site for complete schedule. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.  Information: 508-255-3421 or www.nps.gov/caco.

Highfield Hall, 56 Highfield Drive, Falmouth. Changing art and history exhibitions; estate and nature walks; concerts; culinary programs. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays. Admission: free. Information: 508-495-1878 or www.highfieldhall.org.

Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Visitor Center, Route 28, East Falmouth.  Located on a bluff overlooking Waquoit Bay, the headquarters is the site of research on coastal waters and how people affect them. Displays and activities; nature trails. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Admission: free. Information: 508-457-0495 or www.waquoitbayreserve.org.

Nantucket Historical Association, 15 Broad St., Nantucket. The association maintains several historical buildings and properties (see below).  Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday, April 29 to May 9 and Nov. 3 to Dec. 19; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, May 12 to Oct. 10; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily,  Oct. 11-30. Admission to Whaling Museum and historical sites: $18, $15 seniors, $9 ages 6-17; groups of 20 or more: $15, $13 seniors, $7 ages 6-17. Historical sites only: $6, $3 ages 6-17; no group rate. Information: 508-228-1894, ext. 0, or www.nha.org.

Whaling Museum, 13 Broad St. at Steamboat Wharf, Nantucket.  Ongoing exhibitions about Nantucket history, local decorative arts, scrimshaw and interactive, hands-on learning opportunities for children 12 and under. Museum includes a restored 1847 candle factory with its original whale-oil beam press, a 47-foot sperm whale skeleton, a fully rigged whaleboat, collection of whaling tools, the 16-foot Fresnel lens from Sankaty Light and portraits of whaling captains and their wives. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission: $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $8 for youth (ages 6-17). Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. Information: 508-228-1894 or http://www.nha.org/sites/.

The Old Mill, 50 Prospect St., Nantucket. Built in 1745.  Weather permitting, the millers grind corn daily and conduct tours of America's oldest continuously operating mill. Hours: Noon to 4 p.m. Mondays through Sundays. Guided tours every half-hour; last tour 3:30 p.m. Admission: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for youth (ages 6-17).

Jethro Coffin House “Oldest House,” 16 Sunset Hill, Nantucket. Guided tours every half-hour; last tour 3:30 p.m. A 1686 saltbox built by Tristram Coffin and John Gardner as a wedding gift for Jethro and Mary Gardner Coffin, displays rare architectural remnants dating from Nantucket's settlement, furnished with period domestic artifacts. Hours: Noon-4 p.m. Mondays through Sundays. Admission: $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $8 for youth (ages 6-17). Information: 508-228-1894 or http://www.nha.org/sites/oldesthouse.html.

Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum, 158 Polpis Road, Nantucket. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily Collection of more than 5,000 objects including period surfboards, beach carts, vintage photographs and more. New this season: a historical retrospective exhibit on Madaket Millie, a colorful local character, who took over Coast Guard patrols of Madaket Harbor. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, May 21, 2011 through Columbus Day. Admission: members free, $5 for adults, $3 for students 5 – 18, and free to children under 5. Information: 508-228-2505, 508-228-1885 or www.nantucketshipwreck.org.

French Cable Station Museum, 41 South Orleans Road, Orleans.  Guided tour showing history and equipment of the telegraph cable from France to the United States. Hours: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Admission: donations accepted. Information: 508-240-1735 or www.frenchcablestationmuseum.org.

Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, High Pole Hill Road, Provincetown. Pilgrim Monument commemorates Pilgrims' first landing in America. Visitors can easily walk to the top using a series of steps and ramps; views of Plymouth and Boston on clear days. Museum features history of Provincetown and the Outer Cape with exhibits on the Pilgrims and the Mayflower, Provincetown theater history, and artifacts collected by sea captains. Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.  Admission: $7; $5 ages 62 and older and students 15 and older with ID; $3.50 ages 4-14; free for ages 3 and under. Information: 508-487-1310 or www.pilgrim-monument.org.

Province Lands Visitor Center, Cape Cod National Seashore, 111 Race Point Road, Provincetown.  Small exhibit and regular showings of park orientation films. Observation deck offers 360-degree views of Province Lands dunes, the Outer Beach and Atlantic. Access to bike trail nearby. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission: free. Information: 508-487-1256 or www.nps.gov/caco.

Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center, Cape side of canal, 60 Ed Moffitt Drive, Sandwich. Exhibit includes a retired 41-foot U.S. Army Corps of Engineers patrol boat, continual DVD presentations about the history of the canal, canal critters and wildflowers; real-time and radar images of the waterway and interactive exhibits for all ages. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays (daily after June 25). Admission: free. Information: 508-833-9678 or www.recreation.gov.

Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen, 6 Discovery Hill Road (off Route 6A), East Sandwich.  Nature trails; small live-animal exhibits; nature programs for children, families and adults; and jam-making workshops. Jam kitchen in operation since 1903. Gift shop. Operated by Thornton W. Burgess Society. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Admission: donations accepted. Information: 508-888-6870 or http://www.thorntonburgess.org/GreenBriarJamKitchen.htm.

Heritage Museums & Gardens, 67 Grove St., Sandwich. Celebrating 40th anniversary. Museum exhibits American art and history and offers both new seasonal and permanent exhibits, including J. K. Lilly III automobile collection in a Shaker round barn. “A Bird in the Hand: The Carvings of A. Elmer and Cleon Crowell,” and “Going Places” about horse-drawn transportation, on display in recently renovated American History Museum. In Art Museum, a collection of New England folk art, paintings, weather vanes, Nantucket baskets, scrimshaw, more. Ride on an antique hand-carved working carousel. The 100-acre site also includes Hart Family Maze Garden, a labyrinth, Old East Mill, museum store and seasonal café. Over a thousand day lilies bloom mid-July through August. Hours:10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Admission: $15, $12 seniors, $7 ages 4-16. Information: 508-888-3300, ext. 142, or www.heritagemuseumsandgardens.org.

Thornton W. Burgess Museum, 4 Route 130, Sandwich. Exhibits from the life and works of naturalist and children's author of “Peter Cottontail.” Outside museum, visitors can stroll through the Tussie Mussie herb garden created by Barbara Soller and enjoy views of Shawme Pond. Summer story hours; gift shop. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Admission by donation, free for members. Information: 508-888-6870 or www.thorntonburgess.org.

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Route 6, South Wellfleet. Nature trails (8 a.m. to dusk), butterfly garden, exhibits, walks, seal and nature cruises, kayak tours, family programs, birding, workshops, lectures and gift shop. Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission: $5, $3 children ages 3-12 and seniors, free for Mass Audubon members. Information: 508-349-2615 or http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Wellfleet/index.php.

Judah Baker Windmill, off River Street, South Yarmouth. Originally built in 1791, the windmill underwent complete restoration in 1999. Hours: open seasonally, 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. Admission: donations accepted; group tours available. For a schedule, please call the Yarmouth Historical Commission at 508.382.2231 ext. 237. Information: 508-398-2231, ext. 292 or http://www.hsoy.org/historic/judahbaker.htm.