Top 10 List
These are the can't miss places and activities during your next visit to Orleans
10. Shop Small
When it comes to shopping in Orleans, bigger is not better. With very few exceptions, the shops and boutiques here are independently owned and sized for personal service, with the owner often on hand for custom consultation and personal assistance. Pick up some locally made souvenirs or deck yourself out like a native Cape Codder. Anything you take home will always remind you of your visit to the Cape.
In Orleans, shopping hubs include Main Street in downtown Orleans as well as Main Street East Orleans; Route 6A; and Route 28.
9. Eat Your Way Around Town
Orleans is known as one of the best dining destinations on the Cape. Home to the outermost craft brewery on the Cape, Orleans offers a mix of fine dining and casual restaurants, including one housed in an 1840 inn. Though there are eateries scattered throughout town, there are four main dining districts: Main Street in East Orleans, the southern and northern ends of Route 6A and Main Street in downtown Orleans. For dessert or a quick snack, our ice cream and coffee shops are truly one of a kind.
8. Discover Nature
Preservation of open space is a top priority in Orleans. Overseen by the Town of Orleans and the Orleans Conservation Trust, the conservation lands traversed by many miles of public trails serve the dual purpose of providing vital habitat areas for wildlife and giving Orleans residents and visitors a host of recreational opportunities as they hike, walk, birdwatch, and kayak across a landscape of forested woodlands, meadows, saltwater marshes, bogs, beaches and freshwater ponds. For a complete list of conservation areas, visit orleansconservationtrust.org
7. Explore History
The area that became Orleans was first settled in 1644 by Pilgrim colonists who relocated from Plymouth and was named in 1797 in honor of Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, in recognition of France’s support of the original 13 colonies against the British.
Check out the monuments around town, including the Civil War monument on Monument Road at Main Street in East Orleans as well as several in front of Snow Library. Historical attractions in Orleans include the Jonathan Young Windmill on 6A, constructed around 1720; the French Cable Station Museum on Rte. 28; and the Coast Guard Lifeboat CG-36500, anchored for the summer at Rock Harbor.
6. Get Cultural
Orleans is one of just 32 Massachusetts communities to be officially designated a cultural district by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (out of a total of 312 towns and 39 cities in the Commonwealth). Bordered roughly by Route 28 on the east, Old Colony Way and the Bike Trail on the west and encompassing Route 6A and Main Street, the Orleans Cultural District is filled with art galleries, artist cottages, historic sites, museums and antique shops. Though not technically in the District, the Academy Playhouse in East Orleans is another cultural treasure.
5. Do Kid Stuff
From playgrounds and a model railroad club to bowling and ice skating, plenty of the fun in Orleans is kid-sized. They’ll learn about native animals and the geography of the Cape at the at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Mini-golf at Cape Escape Adventure Golf and Arnold’s is always popular. And when it comes to food, most eateries in Orleans have kids’ menus, and there are plenty of places to get burgers, fries, hot dogs and other kid fare.
4. Make a Splash
Orleans is a waterfront destination, and not just at the beaches. Between Town Cove, Pleasant Bay and all their tributaries, all kinds of watersports are popular here, including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, boating and fishing. Rentals at Goose Hummock, Nauset Marine East and Arey’s Pond will get you going. If you want to have someone else drive check out Blue Claw Boat Tours.
3. Catch a Baseball Game
A collegiate summer baseball team and member of the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Eastern Division, the Orleans Firebirds have launched the careers of Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Conine and many more superstars of the game. You might see tomorrow’s Major League player during home games played in June and July at Eldredge Park, with playoffs in August.
2. Ride a Bike
The Cape Cod Rail Trail passes directly through the arts and shopping district in Orleans, the only town on the Cape able to make such a claim. From Orleans, it’s an easy trek north to Cape Cod National Seashore or southwest to Nickerson State Park, both offering hike/bike paths of their own. Rent cycles and other gear at Orleans Cycle, Mike’s Bike Trail Rentals and Brewster Bike.
1. Go to the Beach
With shorelines on the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay, there’s no shortage of places in the sand to plant your beach umbrella and chair.
On the Atlantic side, Nauset Beach is a 10-mile stretch of sand and dunes lining the eastern edge of town. Waves can vary from gentle and kid-friendly to massive swells that bring out the surfers and skim boarders.
On the bay side of Orleans, Skaket Beach offers a full day of beachy bliss. The waves are calmer and the water warmer here, but most remarkable of all, Skaket has an exceptionally low tide that creates tidal pools filled with fascinating sea creatures, from scurrying crabs to darting schools of tiny fish. Our tide chart can help you time your visit.