Cape Cod doesn't have just 1, it has 4 hidden gems to discover (2024)

From overlooked roadside attractions to offbeat museums and obscure natural wonders, Local Hidden Gems will showcase some of the unique and unexpected treasures that make America extraordinary. We will emphasize charm, surprise and delight.

Local hidden gem:Cape Cod, Massachusetts

We all need a dose of weird now and then. It's a home remedy for the dreaded affliction known as Wicked Bored-itis, which can strike at any time. It causes a lethargic state of debilitating melancholy, which can lead to chronic crankiness and endless hours spent sulking in a recliner, a condition known as glum-bum.

Luckily, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is home to offbeat, oddball locations that are guaranteed to lift your spirits or at least make you ask the eternal question: "What's the deal with that?" Soon, your droopy mood will drop away, and your light, informed banter will wow the crowd at your next swanky co*cktail party.

So here we go with some great offbeat spots to explore around our glorious peninsula!

Local hidden gems:A spotlight on the American treasures in our backyards

Sagamore Hill Historic Site, Sandwich

Cape Cod doesn't have just 1, it has 4 hidden gems to discover (1)

WhileScusset Beach State Reservation is better knownfor its sandy strand on Cape Cod Bay and the excellent fishing pier that extends into the Cape Cod Canal, it's also home to a trail that leads to the Sagamore Hill Historic Site, where a WorldWar II era artillery installation kept watch over the canal. The big worry was German submarines and their threat to military and commercial shipping.

Two 155 mm guns graced the hilltop, nicknamed "Big Mary" and "Vicious Virgin." They had a range of about 20 miles, but were never fired at an enemy target. Today, you can see the remains of the "Ready Rooms," where ammunition was stored, and there's a fine view at the top of the trail.

Great Island, Sandwich

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Sure, you've probably heard of Great Island in Wellfleet, an epic Cape Cod National Seashore trail that can run up to eight miles on a roundtrip journey. But did you know that there is also a Great Island in Sandwich? I've got to toss the Sandwich Isle on this list because it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visitedon Cape Cod.

Start with a visit to the Toolas Preserve in East Sandwich, where a small parking lot provides a base of operations for the short journey out to Great Island. After tooling around Toolas, walk down to the end of Great Island Road, where you will be greeted by an incredible marsh vista. A grassy path, formerly used by ox carts to harvest salt hay, takes you out to Great Island — and a little trail on the island lets you explore the interior.

Doane Rock, Eastham

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I was recently involved in a minor kerfuffle at Doane Rock, the Cape's largest glacial boulder, when I ran into a new sign thattoldvisitors not to climb on the mega-pebble. But happily, the Cape Cod National Seashore said the sign was placed there in error and it was OK to carefully climb the rock. The sign has been covered up and will be removed, according to the Seashore.

So now there is nothing between you and a major life accomplishment: summiting Doane Rock! At approximately 18 feet tall, climbing the huge rock is nota good idea for teeny kids or folks with physical challenges or balance issues. But, if you can make it to the top, it presents one of the greatest photo ops on the Cape.

Atwood-Higgins House, Wellfleet

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Here's how the story starts, according to the National Park Service: "In 1920, George Higgins, a Brookline, Massachusetts, businessman, inherited his great grandparents’ home in a remote corner of Bound Brook Island in Wellfleet. The homestead included a 1730 Cape Cod-style house. Now known as the Atwood-Higgins House, it is one of the oldest in the region."

But Higgins didn't stop there. He assembled a collection of intriguing outbuildings, describedby the park as "his sentimental vision of a colonial-era homestead." This bucolic throwback, one of the most peaceful spots on the Cape, was donated to the Cape Cod National Seashore and you can walk the grounds and dream of simpler times.

Eric Williams, when not solving Curious Cape Cod mysteries, writes about a variety of ways to enjoy the Cape, the weather, wildlife and other subjects. Contact him atewilliams@capecodonline.com. Follow him on X: @capecast.

Cape Cod doesn't have just 1, it has 4 hidden gems to discover (2024)

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