There is no better way to soak in the beauty of Cape Cod, then by spending a day driving along Route 6A, known as Old King’s Highway. The route, which is just a little more than 60 miles long, passes through some of the country’s oldest towns as it winds from Sagamore to Provincetown. If you’re staying at Whalewalk Inn you divide the trip into two days, allowing plenty of time to peruse the shops, restaurants and sites along the way.
Once part of a Wampanoag trail and later the Boston to Provincetown stagecoach route, Old King’s Highway begins where the Cape does, just after crossing the Sagamore Bridge. Running parallel to the coastline, it delivers charm and history every mile of the way.
The first town east of Sagamore is Sandwich, the oldest town on Cape Cod and home to the Sandwich Glass Museum, well worth a visit. Here you can learn about the history of the town, which once had the largest glass company in the United States.
Further on, in Barnstable, is the U. S. Coast Guard Heritage Museum, with extensive exhibits that explain the history and importance of our maritime history.
Stop the car in Yarmouth Port for a stroll along Captain’s Mile, a street lined with more than 47 historic homes of former sea captains.
Continue on to Dennis, and take a side trip up to Scargo Hill (via Old Bass River Road and Scargo Hill Road). The 160-foot rise is the highest point on Cape Cod and offers an impressive panoramic vista.
As the picturesque route travels through the heart of Orleans, its name changes to Cranberry Highway. Take a break and stop at the French Cable Station Museum here for a fascinating look at the undersea telegraphic cables that were used during World War I for communications between the United States and France.
And then you’ll be back here in Eastham! Spend the night at the Inn and the next day you can walk along First Encounter Beach, site of the Mayflower landing in 1621 and the Pilgrims’ first meeting with Native Americans. At the Salt Pond Visitor Center, you’ll get a great overview of the geology, plant and animal life—and can take a number of terrific trails for stunning views of Nauset Marsh and the ocean.
Continue east on Old King’s Highway to Provincetown, a fun and funky town that is great for shopping and festivals.
Along with all the sites we’ve mentioned, there are numerous beaches worth a visit, and some of the most photographed lighthouses in New England, including Nauset Lighthouse (shown above) and Three Sisters Lighthouse here in Eastham.