Summer is therefore officially over. The weather is getting colder, the sun is setting earlier … and your favorite fried seafood restaurant just hung up its “Thank you for a great season!” ” sign.
But if you think towns farthest from Cape Cod are in hibernation until next Memorial Day, think again. A region so rich in history cannot be limited to just one season.
here is five destinations you can still visit long after summer is over. In fact, most can be experienced year round.
PILGRIM MONUMENT, CITY PROVINCE
You can’t miss the Monument to the pilgrims. It’s like an exclamation mark on the Provincetown skyline. But it’s one thing to look up and admire the century-old Italian-inspired tower; it’s another to experience it from the inside, where you can walk … and walk … to its viewing platform over 300 feet above level from the sea. If you’re looking for a way to grab hold of that beach body you’ve worked so hard on, climbing the 116 steps to the tower – punctuated by 60 slightly more forgiving ramps – is a great way to stay energized. And if you’re looking for an incentive to exercise, there is no better reward than the spectacular views of Provincetown and Cape Cod Bay.
If you go … don’t wait too long! The Pilgrim Monument closes for the year on November 15th. Admission is $ 18 for adults, $ 14 for seniors and teens, and $ 8 for children ages 4 to 12. Parking is available at the Winslow Street public car park, just off Bradford Street. For more information visit: pilgrim-monument.org.
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DUNE SHACKS TRAILS, PROVINCETOWN
A word of advice: the off-season is indeed the best time to discover this next destination. Climbing over dunes in 90 degree heat can tax even the most rugged hiker. But you’ll forget the sweat the moment Route 6 is out of sight. Even among the many attractions of the Cape Cod National Seashore, the historic Peaked Hill Bars district is a world in itself.
Surrounded only by dunes and beach grasses, you might imagine that you are the first visitor to an unexplored planet. Until you stumbled upon a little cabin in the sand, of course. There are nineteen dotted around the dunes, most of them now belong to the Seashore.
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Poet Harry Kemp was a tenant (unfortunately Eugene O’Neill slipped into the sea in 1931) and the primitive huts, without electricity or plumbing, continue to attract artists and poets seeking to escape the din of modern civilization .
If you go … Parking is free right on the side of Route 6 at the intersection with Snail Road where the trailhead begins. But don’t go without preparation: bring plenty of water, wear comfortable shoes (or not at all) … and be prepared for very sore calves the next day.
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HIGHLAND LIGHT, NORD TRURO
You may have heard this Cape Cod’s Oldest LighthouseIt’s undergoing a facelift, and maybe you’ve thought about waiting until next year to visit, when the big white “bandages” come off. But why wait to experience some of the best ocean views on the Outer Cape?
The site was chosen – in 1797; George Washington himself authorized the original construction – because ships could see the lighthouse high on the cliffs for miles at sea. As you might expect, the reverse is also true and the site offers stunning views. and unprecedented on the Atlantic. Need another reason to visit? If the hike to the Pilgrim Monument or the Dune Trail seems too strenuous, you’ll be happy to know that the walk from the Highland Light parking lot to the cliffside viewing platform is perfectly flat.
If you go … The lighthouse is at 27 Highland Light Road in North Truro. For more information visit:highlandlighthouse.org.
(OLD) NORTH TRURO AIR FORCE STATION
Once upon a time – and not so long ago, in fact – you could experience the former North Truro Air Force Station in all its weird, abandoned, ghost town glory. A chain link fence now surrounds part of the site, but that won’t deter you from visiting one of the more historic sites in Cape Cod’s more remote towns. For more than forty years, starting in 1951, the base was literally on the front lines of the Cold War, keeping a radar eye on Russian bombers crossing the Atlantic.
The station was a city in itself, with a chapel, a library, a theater and even a bowling alley. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Air Force station was closed and the property was eventually taken over by the Seashore. The National Park Service plans to establish an arts, science and education center there, known as the Highlands Center, but work is progressing slowly as dangerous structures are demolished.
If you go … the old Air Force station is at the end of Old Dewline Road in North Truro. Trails lead around the old base and up to the top of the cliffs for a view of the Atlantic coastline. For more information visit: https://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/exploring-the-highlands-center.htm
UNCLE TIM BRIDGE, WELLFLEET
This wooden walkway crossing Duck Creek has long been a favorite subject for painters and photographers. Originally built in 1783 and restored in 2008, Uncle Tim’s Bridge offers an excellent vantage point to admire the salt marshes or to see the city’s spiers point above the treeline.
But once you’ve taken your photo, be sure to drive through Hamblen Island, both a serene place and a naturalist’s paradise. A few benches discreetly placed at the top of the mound provide the perfect spot to just sit and watch the marsh rise and fall with the tides in Cape Cod Bay.
And the easy trail that circles the island is always teeming with life, from fiddler crabs to frogs. The site is great for birding – herons and cormorants abound – and if you visit in late spring you will see the additional sight of horseshoe crabs mating near the old railroad stilts. Visit all year round and you will find something new every time.
If you go … Uncle Tim’s Bridge is accessible from Commercial Street in Wellfleet. There are two adjacent small car parks a short walk away, just at the intersection of Bank Street and Commercial Street. But even though both are full, it’s a short, easy walk from the large public lot just up the hill in the center of town.