15 Oceanfront Miles on Cape Cod Route 6A: Dennis MA to Eastham MA

WHY GO: The light. The clam shacks. The breathtaking salt marshes.  All that is authentic Cape Cod MA is concentrated along this magnificent stretch of old Route 6A in Barnstable County from Dennis to Eastham, where you can indulge in great art followed by exquisite meals and then spend a night amid the splendor.

This portion of Route 6A takes you through the town of Brewster MA, where you’ll find the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, the Stony Brook Grist Mill, and Nickerson State Park, among so many other attractions. There is so much to do there, we gave the town it’s own Brewster MA page.

Things To Do On Cape Cod Route 6 from Dennis to the Town of Eastham

Roadside Stand Cape Cod MA
Roadside Stand Cape Cod MA

DO: Bike the 22 Mile (each way) Cape Cod Rail Trail

The well-maintained flat and paved 25-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail runs from Dennis to Wellfleet.  No worries if you don’t have a bicycle; there are plenty of places to rent along the trail.

At Cape Cod Rail Trail Bike and Kayak in Brewster, you can park for free, rent a bike for the day and start on the trail right out back.  You’ll share this popular path with tots and seniors – it’s the perfect “leg stretcher” before retiring for the night nearby.

Bench overlooking Fort HIll and Nasuet Marsh

VISIT: Salt Pond Visitors Center, Eastham

Part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.  Walk through the door to a panoramic view of Nauset Marsh, the most magnificent expanse of salt marsh, inlets and attendant wildlife on the Cape.

The museum bursts with harpoons, scrimshaw and other whaling and lobstering paraphernalia, along with information about the indigenous Wampanoag – the “People of the First Light” who made their home in this 4:40am sunrise, first-light-land 10,000 years ago.

Park rangers are on hand to steer you to the best hiking trails whether you’re into lighthouses, birds, beach or just fresh sea air.

This is what JFK meant when he signed the bill authorizing the protection of 44,000 acres along 40 miles of shoreline as a place “to preserve the natural and historic values of Cape Cod for the inspiration and enjoyment of people all over the United States.” open daily 9am – 4:30pm.

Cape Cod Museum of Art Dennis MA

VISIT: Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis

An assemblage of cultural institutions – the Cape Playhouse, “America’s Oldest Summer Theater” and the renovated church Cape Cinema, host to first run independent/art movies – all share a parking lot with the phenomenal Cape Cod Museum of Art.

With more than its share of famous artists, Cape Cod residents were irritated by the fact that much of what was created here was shipped off Cape into the hands of collectors.  This beautiful sunlit soaring space was built to keep at least some key pieces of art “on Cape.”

Breezeway of Cape Cod Museum of Art with Sculptures

Two main gallery rooms – one featuring a soaring ship-hull ceiling –best reflect the 30 art exhibitions mounted each year.

exterior shot of weathered grey clapboard building and bakery sign

Next door, grab a signature “Nutmeg Muffin,” from The Underground Bakery

Dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar, this decadent muffin will undermine your diet for sure. No wonder the place is packed every morning. 

Scargo Pottery Dennis MA on Cape Cod

SHOP: Scargo Pottery, Dennis

Making your way up a wooded dirt road, you’ll see a few cars parked near a sculpture garden and clapboard building.

This is home to notable clay artists and jewelers who work and sell their fetching wares in this shop/studio. Purchase a unique Kremlin-like birdhouse, sculpted wall hanging, or one of a kind “Wedding Plate”. Ceramic craft collectors will love this tucked-in-the-woods find

Restaurants In Cape Cod

Arnolds Cape Cod MA
Arnolds Cape Cod MA

EAT: Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar, Eastham

Perhaps the most longstanding Cape Cod tradition (over 40 years!) is to gather with the hungry hordes outside at Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar for consummate fried and steamed clams, delicate “onion straws” and all manner of fresh shellfish, seafood and burgers. Lines form early in the summer, so be prepared for a wait.

Best Inn on Cape Cod Route 6A Eastham

Fort Hill Eastham MA
Fort Hill Eastham MA

STAY: Fort Hill B&B, Eastham

There’s one charming inn located within the National Seashore; Fort Hill B&B.  This three-suite luxury inn is one block off busy Route 6 in the Historic Fort Hill District and in its own universe. Say hi to owners Jean and Gordon Avery, drop off your bags, then walk a minute up the road to the trailhead of the popular Fort Hill Trail and Nauset Marsh.

Sandbars and marsh grass lend texture to the Atlantic Ocean waterscape below where a mile-long path dips down into a cat-tailed rimmed shoreline.

Fort Hill Trail Eastham Cape Cod MA
Fort Hill Trail Eastham Cape Cod MA

Don’t miss a hushed sunset stroll before heading out to dinner. Breakfast is served at 8:30, but Gordon sets out coffee by 7:30, turns on mellow music and lights a fireplace fire (a real one!) to take the chill off.  Jean whips up toothsome dishes, served on china in a formal dining room.

Weekend Getaways In Cape Cod (And Nearby)


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine, Shape.com, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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