Best Explorations for Kids: Cape Cod National Seashore
Bordered on the west by gentle Cape Cod Bay and on the east by the open Atlantic, the area was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to preserve the history, culture, and ecosystems of the Outer Cape (the Atlantic side).— Keith Bellows, Author of 100 Places That Can Change Your Child's Life
Map Showing the Bent-Arm Shape of Cape Cod
Seventeenth Century (17th C) sailors referred to the northern part of the Cape Cod after the "elbow bend" as Lower Cape and the southern portion as Upper Cape. This seeming reversal of the term was used because the winds mainly coming out of the southwest caused ships to sail downwind to reach the northside of the cape. The terms remained to present day.
Activities for Kids
- hands-on exhibits in the Salt Pond Visitor Center (SPVC)
- view any of the educational films at the SPVC
- walk closed-eyed on the Buttonbush Trail
- take a kayak tour
- ride a bike trail
- dig for clams in the Great Island Tidal Flats Foray
- wade, swim, or boogie board on the bayside beach
- walk along open pathways through the sand dunes
The Salt Pond Visitor Center remains open all year and accommodates a theater, store, and museum. The lobby displays a large map showing Cape Cod's geological history and present-day ecologies. The museum focuses on the culture of the Wampanoag (first Native Americans) and early European settlers of the area. Exhibits on educational topics, such as life-saving and communications technology, offer a hands-on experience for children.
"The Sands of Time," an Educational Film at the Salt Pond Visitor Center
The Benefit of the Buttonbush Trail
The trail takes kids on a quarter-mile journey with a guide rope and panels featuring large, 3-D lettering and Braille.
"Walking with your eyes closed along the 'Braille Trail,' as we call it, opens up the senses. . . . .The trail challenges the kids to feel, listen, and navigate without sight, which will make them more aware when they kayak through the marsh, wade in the ocean, or dig on the tidal flats."
-- Dick Hilmer, Cape Cod Naturalist
- the scientific name is Cephalanthus occidentalis
- the bush typically reaches a height between six and 12 feet (6-12')
- it is a deciduous perennial
- puffy, globule flowers bloom from June to September
- primary pollinators are bees, butterflies, and moths
- ducks eat the seeds of the two-seeded, reddish-brown fruit
- ruminants eat the twigs and leaves
- the inner bark is an emetic and other plant parts can treat a variety of ailments, including malaria
- has a strong root system, ideal for erosion prevention
A Kayak Excursion on Cape Cod
A Couple Tips for Riding Bike Trails at Cape Cod
- Dress appropriately for the weather. If it is a hot, sunny summer day, a cap or hat and sleek cotton clothing, such as a T-shirt and shorts or capri pants will work well. A brimmed cap or hat helps reduce facial sunburn. Thick or doubled socks help prevent blisters on the feet.
- Good take-along items include a filled water bottle and sunblock. A couple snacks high in carbohydrates for energy, such as fresh or dried fruit are also helpful.
A List Bike Trails on Cape Cod by Distance
- Cape Cod Rail Trail - 22 miles
- Shining Sea Bikeway - 10.7 miles
- Old Colony Rail Trail - 8 miles.
- Cape Cod Canal Bikeway North - 7 miles
- Cape Cod Canal Bikeway South - 7 miles
- Province Lands Bike Trail - 5.4 miles
- Head of the Meadow Trail - 2 miles
- Nauset Bike Trail - 1.6 miles
A Virtual Tour of Cape Cod Bike Trails with Highlights of Attractions
The Great Island Tidal Flats Foray Program
When the tide recedes, a variety of life forms can be discovered, including clams, quahogs, green crabs, and periwinkles. A ranger-led program permits participants to dig up to an hour and a half.
The following family video features some of the life forms of the tidal flats.
What It's Like for a Kid to Boogie Board
Imagine a Walk near the Cape Cod Sand Dunes
The following relaxing video helps the viewer to imagine what a walk barefoot in the sand along Cape Cod's sand dunes might be like, complete with wave sounds.
"Life is Grand...on Cape Cod" by Silvard
Postcard from Cape Cod is Silvard's fourth album and features piano solos, including "Life is Grand." He recorded the entire album impromptu, a process what he refers to as "Freeflow." The album reached No. 6 on the New Age and Instrumental Radio charts in the year 2000.
The other songs on the album are Forever Yours; Rain; Tropical Breezes; Collage: Variations on Rainbow Connection & Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring; Casco Viejo; Life's Overture; Zenshine; Calypso; Vacation Time; and Flight. Silvard recorded the album in 2006. Many of the tunes are available for listening on YouTube by title.
An Interesting Fact About Silvard and His Music
Silvard was born in the Netherlands and started playing the piano at age of ten. At age 18, he left for the USA to pursue studies in marine biology. His music is inspired by his passion for the ocean.
Resources and Credits
Bellows, Keith; 100 Places That Can Change Your Child's Life; National Geographic, Washington, D.C. ; (2018?), pp. 12-13 ISBN 978-1-4262-1596-4
The Salt Pond Visitor Center (National Parks)
Silva (About Silva's Life and Music)
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.