Cape Cod is a region rich in history, but you don’t have to be a self-proclaimed history buff to find intrigue in its storied past. One of the best parts about visiting the peninsula is learning all about the area and each of the amicable communities that make up the seaside territory in the abundant museums on Cape Cod. Whether you are staying in Harwich or just making a day trip, you’ll want to check out Brooks Academy Museum. This is where you’ll find everything you wanted to know about Harwich history and get a glimpse into the town’s evolution into what it is today. It is located in the Harwich Historic District, which is proud to be Cape Cod’s first historic district recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

Visiting Brooks Academy Museum

The building that now houses the Brooks Academy Museum was built in 1844 as the Pine Grove Seminary – a two-room co-ed school run by Sidney Brooks. It now hosts the Harwich Historical Society, which is committed to preserving, collecting, and interpreting the history of the quaint town. The organization has successfully educated numerous residents and visitors through varied programs and exhibits. The museum on Cape Cod has a collection spanning two centuries of Harwich history, anchored by an extensive presentation on the prevalent cranberry culture on Cape Cod.

Additional displays cover the community’s railroad and maritime histories and include an assortment of clothing and textiles, art, tools, and historical paper documents. There are also rotating exhibits throughout the year. One of the newest highlights on the grounds is the Elmer Crowell Barn. This was reconstructed to tell the story of the acclaimed Harwich bird carver and feature his workshop. Bird-carving demonstrations are held inside, and displayed are different tools, audiovisuals, and photographs.  

Things to Do Nearby

For those travelers with a heart for history and a passion for perusing the past, a trip to the Brooks Academy Museum is sure to be an inspiring stop. When you’re looking to round out your trip with a variety of activities and landmarks, Harwich is a place that promises to come with plenty of options for enjoying, experiencing and exploring the best the area has to offer. Make time to add the following stops to your itinerary when you’re planning a trip that’s bound to be unforgettable from start to finish.

Bask in the Beauty of Bank Street Beach

Once you’ve had your fill of museum fun, it might just be time to head outdoors and make the most of the sand, sun, and surf. Travelers to Harwich looking for a fantastic public beach that comes with everything you could need from a sandy spot to call your own will want to make their way to Bank Street Beach at some point during their visit. Situated at 16 Bank Street, this public beach is quieter and more tranquil than some of its popular counterparts in the area, providing guests with a place to simply settle in and take in the view or swim until their heart’s content. A small nearby parking lot makes Bank Street Beach easy to access and makes it simple to bring everything you’ll require for a fun day under the sun from chairs and umbrellas to beach toys and water gear. The warm and often calm waters at Bank Street Beach make it a great place to enjoy snorkeling as well.

Bells Neck Conservation Lands

If you’re a traveler that loves bird watching, heading over to Bells Neck Conservation Lands is bound to be a delight. This protected area is situated at Bells Neck Road and provides a maze of walking trails that offer up just the right view of a variety of species that call the area home. Between the many waterways and lush foliage, Bells Neck is a great place to enjoy nature at its finest without the hustle and bustle of crowds. For questions regarding tours, feel free to contact 508-432-3997.

Take a Cranberry Bog Tour

For those travelers to Harwich who are in the mood to discover and explore a place that’s truly one of a kind, booking a spot on a cranberry bog tour is sure to inspire! Situated at 1601 Factory Road, the Harwich cranberry bog is the largest of its kind on Cape Cod and provides visitors with the option to enjoy a guided tour through the grounds and production facilities. These tours tend to fill up quickly and are offered seasonally, so reservations are required. Guests pay $15 a piece to enjoy this unique experience and during the tour, will encounter everything from cranberry harvesting and production machinery to a small petting zoo with animals that are sure to intrigue the little ones. The cranberry bog is owned and operated by Leo and Andrea Cakounes who provide plenty of insight into their operation and invite guests to swing by the farm stand and gift shop on the way out.

Savor Time on the Cape Cod Rail Trail

After time spent museum hopping, visitors to Harwich may be in the mood to spend some energy in the great outdoors. When this is the case, feel free to rent a bicycle and hit the Cape Cod Rail Trail for an afternoon of exercise, scenery, and fun. This 22-mile paved path is ideal for those traveling with little ones and can be approached in its entirety or in pieces as the route winds through six different communities. Be sure to pack your camera for this excursion which provides a great opportunity to take in the landscape, keep your eyes peeled for birds and other wildlife while spending quality time on two wheels with your traveling companions.

Restaurants Nearby

Harwich has a way with scenery but it’s also a place known for its delicious dining options. When you’re craving fine Italian fare, make sure to enjoy dinner at Buca’s Tuscan Roadhouse while you’re here. Situated at 4 Depot Road, this cozy restaurant is known for its friendly service and unique takes on traditional Italian plates. The restaurant is open daily from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm and group reservations are taken by calling 508-432-6900.

Perhaps you’re more in the mood for sensational seafood selections accompanied by an amazing waterfront view. If this is the case, you’re in luck as Brax Landing Restaurant can be found nearby in Harwich Port. This delightful dining establishment is popular with locals and visitors alike thanks to its extensive menu and perhaps even more so for its stunning locale. As you dine on everything from crab and salmon to shrimp and lobster, you’ll be enjoying harbor views that are sure to inspire. Eat indoors or make your way to the sprawling outdoor deck for an open-air dining experience you won’t soon forget. Brax Landing is open daily from 11:30 am until 1:00 am.

New England Vacation Rentals Has the Accommodations You’re Looking For

When it comes to booking your accommodations for your Cape Cod getaway, there’s no need to look any further than New England Vacation Rentals. Our staff has extensive knowledge about the entire Cape region and is available to help you plan an unforgettable vacation. We have an impressive selection of rental homes throughout the peninsula, with all the amenities and features you could ask for to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. We believe you deserve the very best and strive to deliver that both with the properties and service we offer. Give us a call today to learn more about the Brooks Academy Museum and to book one of our vacation rentals!

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Harwich, MA 02645


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