Cape Cod, located in the southeastern part of Massachusetts, was first formed 6,000 years ago with rising seas that eroded the glacial sands that made up the area. It is a popular vacation spot year round, but especially comes alive during the warmer summer months. There are dozens of beaches, golf courses, clam shacks, ice cream shops, and plenty of hands on activities the whole family will enjoy. The area is also rich with historical sites, and my family recently revisited (it had been many, many years) the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. The museum complex includes 400 acres of land in Brewster, midway on the Cape, Wing’s Island, salt marshes, a beach directly on Cape Cod Bay, a large indoor museum and aquarium, exhibition space, and educational spaces for camps and children’s programs.
- The museum is open from 10am-4pm during the peak summer season; more information on hours and admission fees here.
- There is plenty of free parking in front of the main entrance.
- Restrooms, a water bottle filling station, and a gift shop are located on the main level near the admissions desk.
- The museum hosts several events each week- everything from bird carving demonstrations to panel discussions, art exhibits, and workshops. See the updated calendar here.
- There is a small additional fee for special programs like feeding the butterflies in the Butterfly House, Guided Hikes, and Mud Kitchen.
- While there are no dining services in the museum complex, there are plenty of nearby dining options; a couple of good indexes here and here.
- One of our favorite resorts, Ocean Edge Resort, is less than 10 minutes from the museum, a straight shot down Route 6A.
- Plan on three hours to take a hike to the Bay and explore the indoor exhibits and aquarium, more time if attending a program.
10 Things Kids Will Want to Do at the Museum:
1. Learn how long it takes the Earth to absorb various forms of trash like plastic and glass. Check out the visual display at the start of the hiking trails.
2. Walk the wooden planks over to Wing’s Island, which was an open field until 1920; keep your eyes peeled for the blue boxes on the salt marsh that catch Green Head flies, and look out for the nest for osprey.
3. Learn the solar calendar at the Sachemus Fields, which Native Americans may have used to track the seasons each year. Start by standing in the center of the circle and pivot right to left, from East to West.
4. Look out for the wrack line, where the high tide of winter storms push back debris onto the beach; animals sometimes use the debris as a nursery along Cape Cod Bay.
5. Compare your daily chores to the chores of the children of the Wampanoag Tribe, original inhabitants of Cape Cod area during the 1600s, like making cornmeal cakes.
6. Become a junior scientist in the Hay Room, with hands-on activities ranging from tinker tables with legos to making a whirly bird at the wind table to examining specimens under a microscope.
7. Examine parts of a horseshoe crab in the Marshview Room; the museum has a whole program dedicated to head starting horseshoe crabs, starting as an egg through maturity, when the crabs are released into the wild.
8. Watch the live feed of the osprey nest in the Marshview Room, where hikers can spy on the osprey as they grow. (You can also watch from home!) Guest can also spy the nest on the hike to the Cape Cod Bay.
9. Find the Queen Bee in the Observation Hive, home to 1200 bees (at one time!) The bees have access to the outdoors through a short tunnel in the wall and can feed on sugar water if it gets too cold for them outside.
10. Choose a favorite crustacean in the downstairs aquarium tide pool. There are over two dozen varieties in the main tank, and almost a dozen fresh water and salt water tanks. Guests can get super close some of the sea creatures and learn about their characteristics and habitats (but no touching!)
Looking for more adventures on Cape Cod? Check out our full Cape Cod During the Winter City Guide and our posts featuring the Whydah Pirate Museum, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Heritage Museums and Gardens, Woods Hole Science Aquarium, Ocean Edge Resort and Spa, and Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.
Disclosure: My family was given a media pass to visit the museum; all opinions expressed are my own.