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Historic Sandwich on Cape Cod
by Linda Behrle

Sandwich is the first town on the Cape when you enter by the northernmost route over the Sagamore Bridge. It has an area of 44.4 square miles and had a population of 20,136 in 2000. It is the home to many historical buildings, 3 bayside beaches, the beginning of the Cape Cod Canal Bike Trail, 6 campgrounds, many motels and restaurants, and a walking trail that includes a very unique boardwalk. Sandwich is the oldest town on the Cape, settled by Plymouth pilgrims in 1637 and was incorporated in 1639.

Sandwich is one of the quieter towns on the Cape, yet it still has plenty of things to do to provide a great vacation experience. The Cape Cod Canal runs along its northwestern border and has access to the Cape Cod Canal Bike Path. The trail is a 7 mile long service road that runs along both sides of the canal from near Cape Cod Bay down to the southern end of the canal near Buzzards Bay. It is a haven for walkers, bikers, rollerbladers and joggers. The paved pathway is wide enough to accommodate two way traffic, and you can go at your own pace. Since it is adjacent to the canal, you can enjoy the ships and boats that pass by as well. The pathway starts next to the Sandwich Marina and ends near the railroad bridge. For maps and further information, visit the Army Corps of Engineers website.

Sandwich also has 3 beaches on the bay side - East Sandwich Beach, Sandy Neck Beach and Town Neck Beach. East Sandwich and Town Neck beaches offer surf chairs for handicap use and have restroom facilities, and parking. There is a unique boardwalk incorporated into a walking trail that can be accessed at the end of Jarves and Harbor Streets off of Route 6A. The boardwalk leads to one of the town beaches where you can relax and swim or walk on the beach. The town "sold" 1,700 planks to replace the original walk destroyed in a hurricane in the early 1990s. Don't forget to look down at the boards as you walk, as there are interesting messages carved into the 1,350 foot boardwalk.

There are two public golf courses in Sandwich - Holly Ridge has a par 54 course, driving range and practice facility, and Sandwich Hollows Golf Club (once called Round Hill Golf Club) offers a par 71 course.

Sandwich reveals the very beginnings of our country through old structures like the Dexter Grist Mill, the Benjamin Nye Homestead, the Wing Fort House and the Hoxie House. Museums such as the Sandwich Glass Museum, the Thornton W. Burgess Museum and the Yesteryear Doll Museum have preserved the creativity and craftsmanship of these early pioneers.

The Thornton W. Burgess Museum and off-shoot Green Briar Nature Museum are great places for families. Together they offer a wide selection of programs on a year-round basis.

The Sandwich Glass Museum displays the history of glass making and its contribution to Sandwich and the country as well as a fine collection of historical glass pieces. The museum also has glass-blowing demonstrations, a multi-media theater, contemporary glass displays and a lighting gallery.

The Heritage Museum & Gardens has many programs to offer for all ages. In addition, the museum houses exhibits featuring regional art, nature's treasures, the Cape Cod Baseball League of Fame, Marching Miniatures: Our Nation's Military traditions, Playthings of the Past, and Automobilia. There is a labyrinth on the grounds, as well as gardens to explore, too. The museum sponsors the summer concerts on Thursdays at the Band Stand (weather permitting), auto shows, children's musicals, craft classes and much more.

Be sure to visit the other historic houses and structures that show the way the pioneer settlers lived and survived during the mid-1600s.

There is a State Fish Hatchery on Route 6A heading out towards Barnstable that offers tours, as well as the Sandwich Marina on the canal near the Cape Cod Canal Visitors' Center. In the late afternoon you can often see boats arriving at the marina with their catch of the day. Along the canal there are many places to fish or watch the boats, including the boardwalk that runs right on the canal near the marina. There are rest rooms and picnic tables here, and a small playground on the loop road near the marina. For further tourist information about Sandwich you can stop by the Information Booth on Route 130 near Beale Avenue, or call 508-888-0378 or 508-888-9115.

Sandwich village center has some unique and interesting individual shops most within a short walk of each other. Stores have intriguing names such as Wicked Goods, Cotton Seeds Mercantile, The Weather Store and The Brown Jug. You can buy gifts from home decor, lightning detectors, gourmet artesian cheese and fine Beluga caviar, to onion lamps, a cast iron teapot with infuser or a handmade tile. And of course, there is always the original artwork by local artists and paintings and photographs of Cape Cod available.

Merchants Square shopping plaza is located between Route 6 and Tupper Road, and includes a modern-day supermarket, post office, chocolatier, jewelers, framing/gift/packing/shipping store, liquor store, wine cellar and a collectibles store. It also includes businesses such as an acupuncturist, music & arts store, office systems store and clothing stores.

It's easy to forget the little shops that dot Route 6A, but be sure to stop in as they often have unique items you won't find in other shops. A very detailed map of Sandwich is available in the resource area.

Sandwich offers a wide variety of lodging - from camping to luxury - with something for every budget. There are 6 campgrounds, 8 hotels & motels, and 9 Bed & Breakfasts within Sandwich. Handicap accessible lodging can be found at Dan'l Webster Inn and the Shawme-Crowell State Forest Campground. Pet-friendly accommodations are listed at Peters Pond Park (camping), and Sandwich Lodge & Resort (motel). For one of the more unusual lodging experiences on the Cape, there is the Belfry Inne - an old church that has been converted to a B&B.

From walk-up fast food to elegant settings, you can have whatever experience you want in Sandwich for dining. From a hot dog to a sumptuous 5-course meal, you can find it here. We counted at least 27 restaurants in Sandwich. You can experience fine dining in the Belfry Inne - an old church that is now a B&B. Or how about an elegant afternoon tea at the Dunbar Tea Shop? Than there is always the relaxed and intimate luxury of the Dan'l Webster Inn. Or you might get takeout at one of the restaurants near the marina and sit and eat while you watch the activity along the canal. If you call ahead to some local seafood markets, they'll cook your lobster and have it waiting for you, too! One tip if you want good lobster rolls but don't want to spend restaurant prices - try the local grocery store in the deli or meat department.

As you can see, you don't have to venture far out onto Cape Cod to get a taste of all that it has to offer. Between the museums, beaches, shopping, Cape Cod canal, walking trails and other opportunities, you will have plenty available to do in Sandwich. And with the variety of lodging and dining establishments in town, you won't have to travel far to get "home" when you're day in Sandwich is done.

Linda Behrle has spent a lot of time vacationing on Cape Cod beginning in childhood and it is still her favorite place on earth. There are so many things to do on Cape Cod that will appeal to every age and ability. Find out more at

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