Welcome to Eastham
Heralded as the gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore, Eastham is a tranquil town of fewer than 5,000 year-round residents. With ample access to both the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay, miles of walking and bike trails through woods, fields and conversation areas, as well an abundance of freshwater kettle ponds and tidal rivers and creeks, Eastham is a magnet for nature lovers. Classic saltbox homes share quiet roads with newer custom capes, with the commercial part of town mainly centered on Route 6. The nautically themed Field of Dreams playground, built with funding from the Eastham Community Preservation Act, is just behind Town Hall and features rope climbing, baseball diamonds, basketball and pickle ball courts, and soccer fields.
Residents and visitors both relish the proximity of the magnificent Cape Cod National Seashore, which was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. This stunning national treasure features cliffs, dunes, salt marshes, and Nauset Light and Coast Guard beaches, which dominate Eastham’s Atlantic Ocean shoreline.
Eastham was the location for the momentous initial interaction in 1620 between a small Mayflower expedition and the local Nauset people, at what is now called First Encounter Beach. The town of Eastham was officially incorporated in 1651, and industries such as whaling, fishing, salt-making, and farming fueled its early economy. Its windswept coast famously enticed writer Henry Beston to build a lonely beach shack and write The Outermost House, his much-loved 1928 account of a year on Eastham’s wild outer beach.
The Hands on the Arts Festival is held each June on Windmill Green, whose windmill, built in Plymouth in 1688 and moved to Eastham in 1808, is the Cape’s oldest. Hosted by the Eastham Cultural Council, the free two-day event includes a juried arts and crafts show, plus children’s hands-on art activities, music, dance, puppetry and other performances. The Cultural Council also works to promote excellence, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences via Mass Cultural Council grants.
Windmill Green is the location for another fun annual Eastham event: Windmill Weekend. Held on the Saturday and Sunday following Labor Day, it features road races, a sand art competition, band concerts, square dancing, a tricycle race, and public recognition of local volunteers. The town has several historic sites and museums, including the 1869 Schoolhouse Museum, The Swift-Daley House, the Captain Penniman House at Fort Hill, and the Dill Beach Camp dune shack. Lower Cape Community Access Television is housed at Nauset Regional High School and offers community members opportunities to learn about TV production. The high school is also the location for the quirky and popular Eastham Turnip Festival, a celebration of the locally grown tuber.
Eastham is one of the four Lower Cape towns that make up the Nauset Regional School District, which shares Nauset Regional Middle School in Orleans and Nauset Regional High School in North Eastham, which is situated on the edge of the Cape Cod National Seashore. High school students also have the option of attending Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich. Elementary-aged students attend Eastham Elementary, and while there are no private K-12 schools located in town, nearby towns offer private educational options.
Points of Interest
Salt Pond Visitor Center, Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore, Nauset Light, Fort Hill Rural Historic District, Eastham Windmill, Three Sisters Lighthouses, The 1869 Schoolhouse Museum, Captain Penniman House, Swift-Daley House, Coast Guard Station, Red Maple Swamp Trail.