Cape Cod Museum of Natural History: A Must-See

Black butterfly with yellow and white stripes getting nectar from an orange flowerLocated along historic and scenic Route 6A, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History strives to offer an institution that not only protects the natural environment in which it exists, but to serve as a vehicle to foster appreciation for the fragility of nature and to educate visitors through workshops, lectures, and field excursions. When guests of the Whalewalk Inn ask where to go to get out and enjoy nature, we recommend that they spend an afternoon at the museum or hike its trails.

Among the exhibits in the museum you’ll find whales, birds, marine animals, butterflies and honey bees, but perhaps one of the most unusual finds you’ll encounter is the “Osprey Cam”. Housed in the Marshview Room, visitors are offered a view of the salt marsh and the woodlands of Wing’s Island through a wall of windows. Sit back in one of the comfortable arm chairs to witness nature unfold before you. With a camera posted on the osprey nest in the marsh, visitors can watch the comings and goings of both male and female ospreys, and perhaps get a glimpse of baby osprey hatching or the antics of their first few weeks in the nest.

The “mini aquarium” located on the lower level of the museum offers a sneak peak into the animals that live in the waters of the marsh and tidal flats, including turtles, frogs, fish, and crabs. Although not a touch tank, there is also a water table with a variety of species for up close viewing.

Beyond the walls of the museum, and a big draw for all visitors, are the trails that lead through the marsh and woodlands to the nearby barrier beach and the delights of the tidal flats. The Wing Trail traverses multiple ecosystems in a short 1.3 miles of easy walking. Children especially delight in the mudflats that are home to snails, crabs, and myriad marine animals. Across the street from the museum, the Baldwin Trail leads through a beech forest to Stony Brook a short mile away. It’s especially popular in the spring when the brook becomes a herring run for the spawning fish. Bring a camera to catch the frenzy of fish swimming upstream to their summer spawning grounds.

Popular programs offered by the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History include “Family Field Walks” led by naturalists almost daily throughout the summer, weather-permitting. “Forest Bathing”, popular in China and Japan, has found a home at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History as well. Meant to literally “bathe” your senses, participants will be introduced to the experience under the careful leadership of a trained field guide. If feeding a butterfly is on your bucket list, be sure to sign up for “Feed the Butterflies” offered frequently throughout the summer months as well. And finally, sign up for a special woodcarving demonstration and witness an expert craftsman transform a shapeless block of wood into a fine bird carving.

Located just a 15-minute drive from the Whalewalk Inn, one of the best lodging options on Cape Cod, you’ll find something for everyone to enjoy at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Book your favorite room today and start planning your adventure.

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