Barnstable is a town in Massachusetts and the county seat of Barnstable County, the largest community on Cape Cod. North of Barnstable are the dunes of Sandy Neck along Barnstable Harbor, with the Sandy Neck Light on one end. Most people live along the beaches of Centreville and Hyannis Harbors. The Cahoon Museum of American Art features fine art, American art from the 1800s and folk art. The Coast Guard Heritage Museum is located in the old Customs House. The Sturgis Library is located in one of the oldest buildings in Cape Cod. The Barnstable County Courthouse is an historic courthouse built in 1831 in the Greek Revival style.


1.Cahoon Museum of American Art

Cahoon Museum of American Art
© Cahoon Museum of American Art

Founded in 1984 by Cotuit art collector Rosemary Rapp, It organizes annual changing exhibitions, artist's talks and workshops, tours, and various family activities. The beautiful Georgian building that hosts the museum is an integral part of the museum. It was built between 1775 and 1782 by Cotuit resident Zenas Crocker. Artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon purchased the house in 1945 for a residence and studio. Many of the rooms are used to display their paintings, furniture and antiques. The museum's collection of art includes work by Ralph Cahoon and Martha Cahoon, 19th century paintings by Ralph Blakelock and William Bradford, 20th century paintings by Margaret Patterson and Daisy Hughes and many contemporary artists.

4676 Falmouth Rd, Rte. 28, near Rte. 130, Barnstable, MA 02635-2521, Phone: 508-428-7581

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2.Coast Guard Heritage Museum

Coast Guard Heritage Museum
© Coast Guard Heritage Museum


The Coast Guard Heritage Museum is a non-profit organization that has a goal to educate public about the legacy of the U.S. Coast Guard and its 18th Century predecessors. They have protected the country shores and harbors, rescued numerous seamen from the dangerous waters of New England and salvaged millions of dollars’ worth of cargo. The Coast Guard Heritage Museum is located in the old Customs House in Barnstable Village on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was built in 1855 to be used as a custom house and post office. Since 1913 until 1958 it continued to house the post office and other offices until it was converted into a museum in 1960.

3353 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, Phone: 508-362-8521

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3.Sturgis Library

Sturgis Library
© Sturgis Library

The Sturgis Library in Barnstable, Massachusetts is the oldest structure in the country that houses a public library. The original building, one of the oldest in Cape Cod, was constructed in 1644 as a home for Rev. John Lothropp, the founder of Barnstable. Reverend Lothrop used the front room of the house for public worship. This room, now called "The Lothrop Room," has a beamed ceiling and pumpkin-colored wide-board floors, characteristic of authentic Cape Cod houses of the period. The library was organized in 1863 and has operated continuously since. In 1863, William Sturgis, a direct descendant of Reverend Lothrop, willed his former home and $15,000 in bonds, to be used as a village library. The library opened in 1867 with 1,300 books, many of which came from Sturgis’ family private library. Since then, the library collections have grown to over 65,000 volumes, with a number of special collections.

3090 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, Phone: 508-362-6636

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4.St. Mary's Episcopal Church

St. Mary's Episcopal Church
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The first service of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church was held on July 5, 1891, in a little weather-stained house of prayer with twenty-five people, three years after the incorporation in September 1888. The Church, however, was not consecrated until 1893 and most services were held in the summer only, with the clergy from Boston. St. Mary’s church has grown from its humble beginnings to its present complex that includes church, parish hall, gardens, educational building and rectory. The church was built in early rural English style, on land given in memory of Mary Kearney Cobb, according to the design of W.R. Emerson of Boston,.

3055 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, Phone: 508-362-3977

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5.Barnstable Old Gaol

Barnstable Old Gaol
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Barnstable's Old Gaol is the oldest wooden jail in the country. A historic colonial jail in Barnstable, Massachusetts was built in 1690 by order of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colony courts. It was used as the Barnstable County jail until 1820, when a new stone jail was built. The structure could hold only up to six prisoners. It was attached to a barn and it was abandoned and not discovered until 1968 when it was separated from the barn and moved to the grounds of the Coast Guard Heritage Museum in Barnstable Village. The building is part of the Old King's Highway Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3353 Main St 6A, Barnstable, MA 02630-1262

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6.Barnstable County Courthouse

Barnstable County Courthouse
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The Barnstable County Courthouse is an historic courthouse in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Built in 1831, the two-story Greek Revival building designed by architect Alexander Parris. It is constructed mostly of Quincy granite, with front portico and four fluted Doric columns made of wood looking like stone. Between 1879 and 1971, the building has been expanded five times, every time following its original styling. Its main courtroom retained its original Federal styling. The Barnstable Superior Court occupies the building. The courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is included in the Old King's Highway Historic District.

3195 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, Phone: 508-375-6778

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6 Best Things to Do in Barnstable, MA