If you plan a trip to Cape Cod’s oldest town, you will be hard-pressed to run out of fantastic things to do in Sandwich, MA. The town is loaded with old-world charm and historical architecture built in the quintessential Victorian style of its beginnings.
Though the call of the Cape is strong and the temptation to visit every town along its shores is real, you can avoid the long drives and traffic by taking advantage of the incredible beaches, fantastic restaurants, and the multitude of attractions Sandwich has to offer. Here are just a few.
The 20 Best Things To Do in Sandwich, MA
Hoxie House Museum
While in the Cape’s oldest city, why not visit its oldest house? Built in the late 1600’s, Hoxie House is a classic Saltbox. Its residents lived within its walls without electricity, plumbing or modern heating until the 1950s.
Hoxie House is named after Abraham Hoxie, a whaling captain who purchased the home in the 1850s. It has been restored to its original 17th-century condition and is a favorite visitor attraction.
Heritage Museum and Gardens
With 100 acres of spectacular gardens, endless trails, and exciting, informative exhibits, you can spend hours wandering the Heritage Museum and Gardens.
You’ll find attractions like the Hydrangea Display Garden, showcasing approximately 155 species of Hydrangea, and a lilypond home to frogs, turtles, and colorful dragonflies.
Among the museums is the American Automobile Collection displaying the finest specimens of American-made automobiles and 18,000 items of American folk art, Native American artifacts, and other historical artifacts that feature the life and people of Southeastern New England.
In addition to the gardens and museums, various exhibits and events are scheduled throughout the year so be sure to check out their schedule online for new adventures.
Dexter Grist Mill
Built circa 1640 on Shawme Lake, Dexter Grist Mill still produces ground cornmeal using the same process as before the Industrial Revolution. You can even buy the freshly ground cornmeal in cloth bags when you visit the site!
But even better than the cornmeal are the views. Dexter Grist Mill is one of the most picturesque sites on Cape Cod, with views of Lower Shawme Lake and gravestones going back to the 1600s.
The grounds are free to wander, and for a small fee, you can enter the mill and learn more about it’s inner-workings and rich history.
Explore the Sandwich Boardwalk
Spanning 1,350 feet, this boardwalk was named one of the ten best boardwalks in the U.S. by none other than National Geographic. Unlike many of the other boardwalks on the list, you won’t find amusement park rides here, but you will walk over a natural marsh and onto Boardwalk Beach.
Hailed as a spectacular bird-watching site, large tankers can also be seen sailing into the Cape Cod Canal while wild ospreys fly overhead.
Relax at Sandy Neck Beach Park
For some fun under the sun and some mild adventures, visiting Sandy Neck Beach Park will satisfy both. With 4700 acres of forests, beaches, dunes, and marshes, Sandy Neck is an ecological kaleidoscope of natural riches.
Spend time laying in the sun, horseback riding, or even exploring from an ATV (permit required). Swim, fish, paddleboard, or walk along its six miles of shoreline, soaking in the gorgeous views.
At low tide, Sandy Neck is the perfect beach to comb for sea glass and small heart-shaped stones.
The park hosts several activities throughout the year, so visit their site to see what new adventure awaits you.
Bike the Shining Sea Bikeway
If you don’t mind the short drive from Sandwich, pedaling the Shining Sea Bikeway will take you through Falmouth and is eleven miles long. You’ll enjoy spectacular views of the native flowers and trees that line the trail as you wind along the Vineyard Sound shoreline.
While in Falmouth, take a detour into town and enjoy some scrumptious seafood at any of Falmouth’s fine restaurants and view the 140 species of marine animals at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium.
The entire 10.7 miles of trail is paved and will take you into scenic Woods Hole.
Sandwich Glass Museum
Deming Jarvis and several master glassblowers from the New England Glass Company established the glass industry in Sandwich. It has a long and exciting history, which you can learn about when visiting the Sandwich Glass Museum.
There is a glass-blowing demonstration every hour on the hour, so try to time your visit so you can watch the presentation.
Eat a Sandwich in Sandwich
It’s so cheesy…it has to be done! As you might expect, there are several great places to grab a sandwich in Sandwich!
Café Chew is a local favorite that will delight any appetite with their specialty sandwiches, warm paninis, and fresh green salads. Or sip on a hot brew while reading your favorite novel.
Also, they offer fresh baked goods served with their homemade jams and spreads. Try one before you go!
Try Local Beer and Wine
If you love craft breweries or local wine, you have a few options in Sandwich.
When it comes to wine, The Brown Jug has you covered. This gourmet foods and wine shop embodies all the quaintness of the Cape.
Inside, you’ll find a fabulous selection of wonderfully curated wine and specialty foods. When done shopping, step out back onto the Vines patio, where you can order a glass of wine paired with a freshly made slice of pizza.
With fantastic views of Cape Cod Bay, Treehouse Brewing is a great place to enjoy some local spirits. If you are not in the mood to stay, you can order your beer to go!
Due to recent changes in operations, a reservation is required for Treehouse Brewing.
Kayak Tidal Flats
RideAway Adventures offers the unique experience of kayaking Tidal Flats. At East Sandwich Beach, because the tide changes dramatically in just a few hours, so does the kayaking experience.
At low tide, get up close to the wildlife that lives in the salt marshes while seeing a wide range of bird species flying about as you paddle.
RideAway Adventures also offers stand-up paddle board rentals and tours in other locations.
Cool Down with Homemade Ice Cream
After all the paddling, it’s time for a treat. Visit Shipwreck Ice Cream to sample their homemade ice cream in tons of flavors topped with their homemade whipped cream. The bubble gum ice cream even has pieces of gum inside and the fruit flavors, like cherry and peach, feature pieces of fruit inside.
It’s the perfect place to relax for a bit, with plenty of shady areas.
Try Local Seafood
One can’t visit Cape Cod without sampling some of its finest seafood. And you can’t find any better than Fisherman’s View Seafood Market and Restaurant.
Located at 20 Freezer Rd in Sandwich, Fisherman’s View has an outdoor patio on the water, along with traditional indoor dining. Their lobster rolls and crab-stuffed haddock are incredibly delicious. They also have an extensive sushi menu and is an all-around great place to eat and relax.
Take a trip to the Sandwich Public Library
You might not think about stopping by a library on vacation, but the Sandwich Public Library is worth visiting. It is located in the beautiful and scenic Sandwich historic district. Forgot to bring something to read? They offer a section where visitors can pick up free reading material, including magazines and books. You can also swing by to purchase tickets for local attractions
If your outdoor activities get canceled due to inclement weather, consider stopping by the library to see what events they have scheduled for kids and adults during your visit, or just browse their fantastic selection of books and get cozy.
The Sandwich Public Library is located at 142 Main Street, Sandwich, MA. It is closed on Monday and operates Tuesday-Thursday from 9:30 am-8:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, and Sundays from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Shop at local businesses
Who doesn’t return from vacation with souvenirs? Sandwich, Massachusetts, is home to a wide range of locally owned shops where you can find unique gifts to take home with you, from clothing to books to even quilting supplies! Many of these stores are located in Merchant’s Square just off Old King’s Highway.
Just down the highway from Merchant’s Square, you’ll find Titcomb’s Bookshop. This family-owned business is home to three stories of books, gifts, and toys for all ages. Titcomb’s Bookshop is a member of the Cape and Island Bookstore Trail and hosts author talkbacks weekly.
For those with more eclectic tastes, you can visit the Sandwich Bazaar—“Cape Cod’s Premier Flea Market”—every Wednesday and Sunday from April to October at the Oakcrest Cove Field on Quaker Meeting House Road. Admission and parking are both free.
Visit the Sandwich Fish Hatchery
New England, and Cape Cod especially, is known for seafood. To help preserve the delicate balance of the local ecosystems, MassWildlife farm raises several trout species to help stock waterways in the spring and fall for sport fishing.
At the Sandwich Fish Hatchery, visitors can take a self-guided tour for the chance to see Brook, Brown, Rainbow, and Tiger trout in different stages of growth. This is especially great if you have kids fascinated by science and nature.
The Hatchery is located on Route 6A and offers parking on the premises. You can visit every day between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Drive Old King’s Highway
Old King’s Highway, running east to west along the northern side of Cape Cod, is a great way to take in the nation’s largest contiguous historic district and some stunning natural views. Old King’s Highway is one of only 4 National Scenic Byways in Massachusetts.
As you cruise along the highway, you’ll be able to view four centuries of architectural history. Old King’s Highway still follows much of the original cart path from Plymouth colony and is a great way to explore the cape. Feel free to stop and hop out whenever something catches your interest.
Although Route 6A runs a total of 62 miles, ending in Provincetown, most people consider the Old King’s Highway to start just east of the Sagamore Bridge in Bourne and end at the Orleans Rotary.
Go horseback riding
A trail ride on horseback is a great way to enjoy Cape Cod’s natural beauty. Whether you’re an experienced equestrian or getting in the saddle for the first time, there are plenty of stables in and around Sandwich where you schedule a ride.
Meeting House Farm and Sanctuary is a local favorite, located at 333 Quaker Meeting House Road in East Sandwich. They offer guided rides for kids and adults, pony rides for young children, and farm tours.
You can also check out the Alliance Equestrian Center on Stowe Rd in Sandwich to take a ride and visit with their farm animals.
Take a jam-making class
One of the best souvenirs is an edible one! At the Green Briar Nature Center, you can visit the Ida Putnam Jam Kitchen—built in 1903—and even participate in a jam-making class!
Ida Putnam is famous for pioneering her sun-cooking process of making jams, where sugar, fruit, and liquor were placed in a greenhouse-like arrangement and allowed to cook slowly in the sunlight for four days. Though this process is no longer in use, the Jam Kitchen is still a living museum. If you visit at the right time of year, you can watch the cooking process in action.
You can learn how to make jam the old-fashioned way in spring, summer, and fall. Adult jam classes are typically held on Saturdays from 9:30 am-11:30 am and Wednesdays from 5:30 pm-7:30 pm. Family Jam classes for one adult and one child aged six or older are usually held from 1:30-3:30, though the day of the week varies. You can also book private jam classes for groups of 4 or 6. All ingredients and materials are provided for you.
Go antiquing at the Sandwich Antiques Center
Sandwich is a town deeply steeped in history and heritage. The perfect way to commemorate your visit is by taking home a piece of history from the Sandwich Antiques Center.
At 5,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest antiquing venues in the Cape Cod area. You’ll find jewelry, clothing, furniture, and art pieces from various periods. These days, the center also offers photographs, sculptures, fine art, contemporary art, and modern and eclectic items in addition to “traditional” antiques.
You can find the Sandwich Antiques Center at 131 Route 6A on the corner of Jarves Street. It is open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Since new items arrive constantly, you could visit every day and still find something new!
Get a Full Farm Experience
Did horseback riding leave you craving a taste of farm life? Schedule a visit to Border Collie Farm to get the full experience!
You’ll meet chickens, goats, and Dylan the Border Collie himself! Participate in chicken feeding, egg collecting, and goat grooming too. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to milk a goat for yourself. At the end of the experience, you’ll watch how goat milk soap is made and take home your own sample.
This experience is held from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, rain or shine. Tickets are $22 per person. You can also contact Maureen about arranging a private tour.