Massachusetts is one of the smallest states in the country, but it boasts an incredible array of attractions for visitors of all ages. The New England Aquarium and the Boston Children’s Museum are always family favorites, but there are plenty of lesser-known attractions as well, including the Animagic Museum of Animation and the Berkshire Scenic Railway and Museum. If your kids are interested in history, visit the many historic sites in Plymouth or Boston, or participate in an interactive learning experience at the New England Pirate Museum or the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.Animagic Museum of Animation

Animagic Museum of Animation

One of the most unique museums in the Berkshires, the Animagic Museum of Animation is dedicated to showcasing the work of the talented local animation community. Visitors will learn about the special effects and technologies that allow modern movies to be made, and they'll even have the chance to see a genuine Academy Award. The museum is open by appointment any day of the week, and admission is free. Tours last approximately 20 minutes, but if you have some extra time, you can also pay to participate in an exciting workshop that will walk you through the steps of creating your own animated movie.

135 Main St, Lee, MA 01238, Phone: 413-841-6679

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2.Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
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Whether you visit Cape Cod every year or you're here for the first time, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is a fascinating place to learn about the area's unique ecosystem and diverse wildlife. Highlights of the exhibits include an aquarium full of marine life, a honeybee display, and a collection of taxidermized local birds. Visitors are also welcome to enjoy the trails on the 400-acre property that surrounds the center. On some Wednesdays, the museum plays an educational film, and during the summer, there's a special kids' summer camp with activities like guided nature walks and hands-on crafts.

869 Main Street/Route 6A, Brewster, MA 02631, Phone: 508-896-3867

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3.The New England Pirate Museum

The New England Pirate Museum
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Not many people know about New England's history of notorious sea-robbers, but at the New England Pirate Museum, this exciting part of the country's history comes to life. Guided tours take visitors through the museum, showing off historic treasures in the artifacts room and introducing approximately 60 of the most famous pirates from days gone by, and visitors are encouraged to ask questions. Another highlight is the museum's 80-foot cave, which daring visitors can explore in search of treasure and 17th-century pirates. The museum is open between May and October, and tours take approximately half an hour.

274 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970, Phone: 978-741-2800

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4.Berkshire Museum

Berkshire Museum
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Established in 1903 by a local businessman, the Berkshire Museum features a wonderful collection of art and historic artifacts. The collection is constantly growing, but highlights include a genuine Egyptian mummy, an assortment of ancient Mediterranean jewelry, and a room full of specimen of local animals and insects. Kids will particularly love the Curiosity Incubator exhibit, which tells the story of the human experience through immersive, interactive exhibits like a multicultural dining table and a photobooth. The museum also often hosts special children's programs and events, including hands-on aquarium discovery programs, pop-up play days, and pajama nights with storytelling.

39 South St, Pittsfield, MA 01201, Phone: 413-443-7171

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5.Boston Duck Tours

Boston Duck Tours
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With its fleet of replica WWII amphibious vehicles, Boston Duck Tours is the only tour company in Boston that can take visitors on a journey through the city over both land and water. The tours are narrated by colorful ConDUCKtors, who ensure the tour is an experience guests of all ages will enjoy, and they pass by sites like the Boston Public Market and the city's iconic Make Way for Ducklings statues before splashing into the Charles River. Tours depart from three different locations throughout the city, and tickets can be purchased online or at the departure sites.

4 Copley Pl #4155, Boston, MA 02116, Phone: 617-267-3825

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6.Cape Cod Children’s Museum

Cape Cod Children’s Museum
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Operated by a non-profit organization, the Cape Cod Children’s Museum is an 8,000-square-foot museum that was created to encourage hands-on learning. There are approximately 20 interactive exhibits for kids to enjoy, including a play castle, a life-size tree house, and a pirate ship, and a music room full of instruments to play. A variety of programs are held throughout the week, including sing-along sessions, art classes, and STEM-related crafts. There are also party rooms that can be rented for birthdays and other special events, and one of the packages includes exclusive use of the museum for two hours.

577 Great Neck Rd S, Mashpee, MA 02649, Phone: 508-539-8788

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7.Eco Tarium

Eco Tarium
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Formerly the New England Science Center, the Eco Tarium is an indoor-outdoor nature and science museum that offers plenty of opportunities for kids to explore, play, and learn. The City Science exhibit features hands-on activities and live animal displays designed to interest kids in the wonders of the natural world, while the Mount Washington exhibit allows visitors to experience some of the state's craziest weather. Other popular attractions include the planetarium and a model 19th-century steam train. If the weather is good, your kids will also love playing in the Nature Explore Outdoor Exhibit, where they can climb, dig, and built to their hearts' content.

222 Harrington Way, Worcester, MA 01604, Phone: 508-929-2700

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8.Kidspace at Mass MoCa

Kidspace at Mass MoCa
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Located inside one of the country's biggest contemporary art centers, Kidspace at Mass MoCa is an art museum specifically designed for children to enjoy. Two exhibits are mounted every year, featuring artists from all over the world, and each artist is carefully chosen for their ability to connect and resonate with children. Visitors are encouraged to explore the galleries on their own, but a variety of hour-long tours are available for groups. On the weekends, kids can also visit the hands-on studio space known as the Art Bar, where they can make their own creative masterpieces.

1040 Mass Moca Way North Adams, Massachusetts 01247, Phone: 413-664-4481 Ext 8131

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9.Salem Witch Museum

Salem Witch Museum
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The infamous Salem Witch trials took place hundreds of years ago, at the end of the 17th century, but the Salem Witch Museum allows visitors to step back in time and learn all about this dark period of history. The highlight of the museum is a dramatic history lesson that brings the trials to life with a series of stage sets and life-sized figures, but there is also an exhibition hall that teaches visitors about various aspects of witchcraft and history. The museum is open year-round, and it offers extended hours during the Halloween season in October, when it tends to be particularly busy.

19 1/2 N Washington Square, Salem, MA 01970, Phone: 978-744-1692

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10.Metropolitan Waterworks Museum

Metropolitan Waterworks Museum
© Metropolitan Waterworks Museum

Perfect for kids who have an interest in history or in engineering, the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum is located at the historic Chestnut Hill Reservoir. The reservoir was built in 1887, making it the first metropolitan water system in the country, and it stands as a true testament to the innovation of 19th-century America. The highlight of the museum is its three coal-powered steam engines, all of which stand more than three stories tall and can be seen both from the ground and through the glass windows in the Overlook Room. Guided tours are offered five times a day, and admission is by donation.

2450 Beacon St, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, Phone: 617-277-0065

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11.Animal Adventures Family Zoo and Rescue Center

Animal Adventures Family Zoo and Rescue Center
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Originally established as a small rescue center for exotic animals, the Animal Adventures Family Zoo and Rescue Center is a family-run center that prides itself on caring for exotic animals who have nowhere else to go. The animals on display include everything from wallabies to fennec foxes, and animal shows are held three times a day. For an additional fee, guests can also spend some one-on-one time with the exotic animal of their choice. If your kids are interested in an extra-special all-day program, the zoo also offers an exciting 'Zookeeper for the Day' experience.

336 Sugar Rd, Bolton, MA 01740, Phone: 978-779-8988

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12.Berkshire Scenic Railway and Museum

Berkshire Scenic Railway and Museum
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Situated in the town of Lenox, the Berkshire Scenic Railway and Museum was established to preserve the railroad heritage of Massachusetts. The exhibits feature a replica "Block Station" and a wonderful collection of historic equipment, and guided tours are led by knowledgeable volunteers. The museum also offers short train rides from one end of its property to the other. For a longer train ride, visitors can hop aboard the Berkshire Scenic Railway for a beautiful trip through the Hoosac Valley, but be aware that trains leave from the station in Adams rather than from the museum itself.

10 Willow Creek Rd, Lenox, MA 01240, Phone: 413-637-2210

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13.Boston Children’s Museum

Boston Children’s Museum

Conveniently located on the Children's Wharf, the Boston Children’s Museum is one of the oldest museums of its kind in the country. It's full of fun hands-on exhibits and activities designed to encourage kids to learn about art, science, culture, and other related topics, and highlights include a two-story Japanese House imported from Kyoto, an exciting Science Playground, and an Art Studio. If your kids want to get active, there's even a three-story climbing structure. The museum also offers a range of educational programs and events, including family science workshops, dance classes, and multicultural holiday celebrations.

308 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210, Phone: 617-426-6500

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14.Boston Harbor Cruises

Boston Harbor Cruises
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Operating out of the historic Long Wharf, Boston Harbor Cruises is the perfect way to explore the waters off the coast of Massachusetts. The traditional cruise provides an excellent 90-minute overview of all the most significant historic sites around the harbor, but there's also a special 45-minute USS Constitution cruise for visitors who have less time. If your kids aren't particularly interested in history, the company also offers a whale watching tour that goes out to the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary and the exhilarating Codzilla speed cruise, which reaches speeds of up to 40 mph and involves 360-degree spins.

1 Long Wharf, Boston, MA 02110, Phone: 617-227-4321

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15.Boston Pizza Tours

Boston Pizza Tours

If you and your kids love pizza, Boston Pizza Tours offers the opportunity to eat your way around some of the most historic areas of the city. Families typically choose the classic North End tour, which includes stops at some of the most historic sites in the city as well as at three incredible pizzerias. If you're in the mood for something spooky, there's also a Haunted Pizza Walk, which takes guests into the crypts underneath a historic church. Reservations are recommended for all tours, and dietary restrictions can often be accommodated if the company is notified in advance.

71 Commercial Street, Suite 134, Boston Mass 02109, Phone: 855-487-4992

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16.Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
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The Boston Tea Party was one of the most important events in American history, and even though it took place more than 200 years ago, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is an excellent place to visit even for people who aren't very interested in museums. After being given a role card, visitors are invited to step aboard replica ships, where they'll participate in an interactive drama featuring a talented cast of actors. Before leaving, stop by Abigail's Tea Room to enjoy a cup of one of the same tea varieties that were unceremoniously dumped into the harbor in 1773.

306 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210, Phone: 617-338-1773

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17.Buttonwood Park Zoo

Buttonwood Park Zoo
© Brian/

Occupying seven acres in the middle of Buttonwood Park, the Buttonwood Park Zoo is a wonderful zoo that has been proudly accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Despite its small size, the zoo houses more than 200 species of animals from all over the world, including elephants, black bears, and primates from South America. Visitors are welcome to explore the zoo at their leisure, and zookeeper chats about specific animals are held several times a day. Kids will also enjoy the zoo's carousel and train ride, and every Monday, the zoo hosts a live music and puppet show for younger visitors.

425 Hawthorn St, New Bedford, MA 02740, Phone: 508-991-6178

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18.The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
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Created to inspire a love of art and reading, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art was founded by the author of the classic children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Instead of permanent galleries, the museum has three rotating exhibits at a time, each of which is centered around a different author, country, or theme. Visitors are also welcome to stop by the Art Studio to dabble around and create their own artwork, stroll through the century-old apple orchard outside, and spend some time relaxing in the library with one of the 4,500 excellent children's books.

125 W Bay Rd, Amherst, MA 01002, Phone: 413-559-6300

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19.Lupa Zoo

Lupa Zoo
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Set on a privately owned 20-acre property, the Lupa Zoo is a family-friendly attraction dedicated to animal conservation and education. The exhibits have been carefully designed to mimic the animals' natural habitats, including plenty of spaces to hide, and visitors can expect to see everything from zebras to exotic monkeys to camels. There are also several children's playgrounds, and the zoo is happy to host kids' birthday parties and other special events. Hours of operation vary according to the season, and family memberships are available for anyone planning to visit more than once a year.

62 Nash Hill Rd, Ludlow, MA 01056, Phone: 413-583-8370

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20.Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary

Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
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Encompassing almost 100 acres of land right next to the Bristol Blake State Reservation, the Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is a former mill site that now serves as a haven for local wildlife. There's an excellent trail system with plenty of boardwalks that allow visitors to easily traverse the fields and wetlands, and popular family trails include the half-mile Pond Loop Trail and the 2,000-foot interpretive sensory trail, which leads through a wide range of terrain. The sanctuary also hosts a variety of programs for kids year-round, and summer day camps are offered for kids between the ages of 4 and 15.

108 North St, Norfolk, MA 02056, Phone: 508-528-3140

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21.Red Sox Fenway Park Tour

Red Sox Fenway Park Tour
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A must-do for any baseball lovers, the Red Sox Fenway Park Tour takes visitors on an exciting adventure around the home of the Boston Red Sox. Visitors will learn about the history of baseball and the Red Sox, and they'll also get to see the famous Pesky's Pole and maybe even sit on the Green Monster. On game days, there is also a special Pregame Tour that gets visitors early access to the ballpark and brings them to the field's warning track. Tours last approximately one hour and are offered year-round, and it's best to buy your tickets in advance if possible.

4 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215, Phone: 617-226-6666

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22.New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium
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Found at Boston's Central Wharf, the New England Aquarium is one of the city's top attractions, and it's not hard to see why. The aquarium's central attraction is an enormous tank designed to replicate a Caribbean reef, which is surrounded by a spiral staircase that allows visitors to spot sharks, stingrays, and colorful fish from multiple levels. A penguin exhibit surrounds the bottom of the tank, and other popular animal galleries include the jellyfish room, the interactive New England tide pool, and the Thinking Gallery, which features rare and ancient fish. There is also an IMAX theater that plays ocean-themed films.

1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110, Phone: 617-973-5200

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23.Boston National Historic Park

Boston National Historic Park
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Boston has played a key role in American history, particularly during the Revolution, and the Boston National Historic Park showcases this history in an exciting, informative way. The park is spread across various sites downtown, in South Boston, and in Charlestown, but the best place to start your visit is at the Downtown Visitor Center, where friendly volunteers will help you plan your day. Highlights of a self-guided tour include Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, and the Old North Church, but if you'd prefer to have a guide, ranger-led tours of many sites are available on a seasonal basis.

Building 5, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA 02109, Phone: 617-242-5601

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24.Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises

Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises
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Whale watching is one of the most exciting things to do in New England, and the Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises takes visitors out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to meet the friendly whales of Cape Cod. The company proudly has a sighting rate of more than 90%, and a naturalist is on board to provide information about the whales and answer questions as needed. Tours are offered between mid-April and the end of October, before the whales head south for the winter, and the trip typically lasts between three and a half and four hours.

269 Millway, Barnstable, MA 02630, Phone: 508-362-6088

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25 Fun Things to Do in Massachusetts with Kids of All Ages

Attraction Spotlight: The New Bedford Whaling Museum

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is a place where science, history, and culture combine to give visitors an exhilarating experience. Located in Massachusetts, this museum sheds light on the different social and cultural aspects of the whaling industry and is home to numerous treasures that have been acquired from all over the world. A vast number of items and artifacts make up the exhibits that can be found in this beautiful place, giving visitors plenty to experience and cherish. The museum spans a large area with numerous buildings, all of which showcase exhibits of various artifacts from the whaling industry.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum isn’t just focused on the whaling industry, it also provides a platform for the growth and development of artistic skills and people. Numerous local artists who have lived in the local proximity have been showcased in the gallery that is located on the premises. The museum also offers visitors a distinct look at the domestic creative industries that have blossomed through the years and gives them a unique look into the art produced in this small town.

One of the more well-known attractions at the museum is the Lagoda, a half-scale model of the original 19th-century whaling ship Lagoda, which today the largest model of a whaling ship. The New Bedford Whaling Museum aims to impart a better understanding of the history and culture surrounding the town of New Bedford as well as to give visitors a glimpse into the life of people living in the 19th century. Some of the exhibits on display here are considered world treasures and are some of the most famous pieces in the entire world. One of the exhibits on display at the museum is the “Skeletons of the Deep,” which showcases five fully sized and complete whale skeletons. The skeletons were acquired from aquatic mammals that either died at sea from sickness or due to natural calamities. None of the specimens on display here were killed by human beings as the aim of the museum is education and not personal gain.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum tries its best to inculcate a sense of learning and impart knowledge to the visitors to the museum. The New Bedford Whaling Museum aims to give people a better understanding of the biological and scientific discoveries around us, which all have a huge impact on our society. The New Bedford Whaling Museum has specific programs aimed at making education the primary focus and all are supported by numerous large organizations and benefactors.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has programs specially designed for kids to teach them about biology and the significance of the whaling industry. The New Bedford Whaling Museum knows that holding a child's interest in such a vast topic can be hard, and therefore tries to impart their knowledge through various interactive activities so that children can get a better sense of what the museum is trying to teach. People who are looking to research more won’t receive any better source of knowledge than the extensive library and research tools housed at the museum.

A visit to The New Bedford Whaling Museum is sure to fulfill your thirst for sea-bound adventures and discoveries. The museum is located at the center of the New Bedford Historical Park and is perfect for families looking for a day out that is both fun and educational.

All year round, the New Bedford Whaling Museum hosts tours for people who are coming to the museum to give them a better insight into the artifacts and exhibits on display. The museum has a number of docent-tours on certain days of the week that cover specific topics and are included in the museum admission fee. Tickets to the museum can be bought at the venue and do not need to be purchased in advance. However, for those looking to spend some time in the museum’s vast library, you are required to make an appointment with the library staff as early as possible to avoid any disappointments.

Back to: Things to Do in Massachusetts

18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 02740, Phone: 508-997-0046

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Attraction Spotlight:Cape Cod National Seashore

The national seashore located at Cape Cod/Wellfleet in MA is the perfect getaway for visitors to both learn about the local environment and wildlife while also having a great time. Walk or hike along the beach, take a hike, paddle a canoe… the options are endless. Officially created by John F Kennedy in the early 1960s although extending much further back (even Thoreau visited in the 1800s), the seashore consists of over 45,000 acres of ponds, beaches, woods, and much more natural environmental beauty.


Oversand Beach Drives - Comprised of many miles of beaches specifically managed by the Massachusetts National Parks Service for off road vehicles (also known as ORVs), the oversand beach driving section of the national seashore is perfect for those adventurous drivers with their ORV permit. All drivers must follow both state and federal ORV driving regulations and stay only in the designated areas (a map is available on the website for reference). There is also information on how to obtain a permit before a visit, if desired. All permitting will be strictly enforced.

Ranger Tours - There are a variety of ranger guided activities offered at the seashore as well. Take a stroll or try a more advanced hike, go on a canoe trip, tour some of the historic buildings or just talk with rangers about the local environment, history, wildlife and more. Although many of the tours are offered free of charge, a few (the canoe trip, for example) do require an additional fee. Contact the park ahead of time to reserve. Keep in mind that groups of larger than 8 are not allowed to join regular tours and must instead schedule a private group ahead of time. Stop by either visitor center (Salt Ponds or Province Lands) for additional information, as not every program is available all the time. There also may be other activities available as well.

Fishing and Hunting - Visitors to the seashore can fish in designated areas as long as they possess a valid and up to date fishing license. Additional information about that license, as well as how to obtain one, is available on the website. Hunting is also permitted as long as visitors follow applicable Massachusetts state regulations. Migratory waterfowl, upland game (grouse, quail, pheasant, rabbit, fox, raccoon, etc.) and deer are all allowed but visitors should make sure to verify season on the website. All safety guidelines must be followed and are the visitor’s responsibility to know. Hunting is not allowed from the 1st of March to the 31st of August. Dogs are permitted in certain circumstances as well. Trapping of wildlife is not permitted.

Educational Opportunities

Field trips to the seashore are a great opportunity to provide students out of classroom hands-on learning experiences. Open all year for self-guided field trips and at certain times of the school year for ranger-guided field trips, there are options for every classroom to fit their needs. There are many only materials available on the official website to provide teachers with the ability to create an advance learning plan around what students may see while at the shore. Be aware that no digging or collecting is allowed without a research permit (contact the natural resource division). All student groups must stay on marked and designated trails to avoid damaging the environment. Bathrooms are available, but they are not open all year so teachers should verify prior to the field trip. There are no indoor facilities so, in the event of inclement weather, teachers should have a secondary plan in place.

Special Events

There are events offered all year round at the seashore. The website is maintained and updated frequently with the wide variety of both fun and educational opportunities, so visitors should make sure to check prior to a visit to see what they offerings may be.

In the colder months, the seashore offers indoor learning opportunities in the visitor centers for people still wanting to experience the seashore. Events like public artist receptions and learning tables, as well as occasional outdoor activities like the pre-Thanksgiving cranberry bog walk keep people engaged all year round.

The warmer months bring a plethora of outdoor learning experiences like guided walks specific to different areas of the park. Visitors can also rent one of the many cottages available on and near the seashore, with 100% of all proceeds going back into the maintenance of the shore. Contact the leasing office for additional information, cost, and availability.

Cape Cod National Seashore, 99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet, MA, 02667, Phone: 508-255-3421

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Attraction Spotlight: Wellfleet Bay

Visitors will find unparalleled beauty and peace on the shoreline and hillsides of Wellfleet Bay that overlook Wellfleet Harbor, MA. Extensive walking trails transport guests to pine woodlands, a sandy barrier beach, and a panoramic salt marsh, each drawing its own variety of wildlife. The nature sanctuary includes a universally accessible trail, as well the award-winning "green" Esther Underwood Johnson Nature Center that features several aquariums and exhibits. The nature center also contains a gift shop and the Green Building "Trail."

Just pass the nature center is Wellfleet Bay's wildlife garden, where visitors can explore a five-mile trail network. The Bay View Trail journeys through shaded oak and pine woodlands. The Try Island Trail winds through a hickory and oak woodland and features spectacular views of the Cape Cod Bay. Bordering a small pond is the Silver Spring Trail, while The Boardwalk travels over a salt marsh to the bay's beach. Visitors can explore diverse habitats along the Goose Pond Trail, along with great opportunities for birdwatching.

Several species of butterflies can be viewed in the Wildlife Garden at Wellfleet Bay. Sun-bathing butterflies are often seen on the flat rocks situated in the garden's pools. Damp areas throughout the garden provide space for "mud puddling clubs," which are group of young male butterflies looking for mates. No pesticides or herbicides are used in the Wildlife Garden, allowing caterpillars to wander. Plants specific to butterfly gardens are replaced and added every year. Benches are provided for visitors to sit, relax, and do some butterfly-watching, however, guests are asked not to actually walk into the butterfly garden itself. Naturalists on staff maintain an official butterfly species count at the butterfly sanctuary, and recent butterfly sightings are posted for visitors.

Wellfleet Bay's Green Building "Trail" offers visitors a chance to become more familiar with the green building practices that went into the building that houses the nature center. Guests can use the "trail" guide to learn more about some of the site and building's most environmentally-friendly aspects. Each number listed on the guide corresponds to a number on the Green Building Trail.

There are several highlights of Wellfleet Bay that those wanting to visiting the wildlife sanctuary should keep in mind. At Wellfleet Bay, visitors can see the lower Cape's largest unditched salt marsh, as well as explore woodlands that changing into oak and pine forests. Hands-on activities are included during wildlife cruises in Nauset Marsh and Cape Cod Bay. Fiddler crabs can be seen as the scurry through the salt marsh, and green herons are often spotted fishing at Goose Pond.

Programs scheduled throughout the year for visitors of all ages are based on conservation and research projects focused on sea turtles, horseshoe crabs, terrapins, and threatened shorebirds. Wellfleet Bay also offers camp programs during the summer in Chatham and Wellfleet designed for promoting curiosity in visitors about the natural world around them. The Cape Cod Field School provides educational classes for adults focusing on the unique wildlife and environment of the coastal area.

291 State Highway Route 6, South Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Phone: 508-349-2615

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