Sandwich, Massachusetts: An afternoon in the Oldest Cape Cod Town

Next time you’re looking for a destination near Cape Cod, check out Sandwich, Massachusetts. My husband and I got the chance to explore this town, the oldest on the cape, on our road trip through the northeastern United States. It was our stop between Newport, Rhode Island, and Plymouth, Massachusetts, and an afternoon here gave us just the right amount of time to explore the nature and history that Sandwich has to offer. 

Boardwalk and Cape Cod

Our first stop, naturally, was to see the cape itself. We chose to visit Cape Cod at Boardwalk Beach. To reach the beach, we crossed an extensive boardwalk that stretches over a marsh. The boardwalk stroll itself was enjoyable, even before we reached the beach. The beach along the cape was calming and wonderful for another walk or simply taking in the view of the cape.

Sculpture Gardens

After spending some time at the cape, it was time to head to Giving Tree Sculpture Gardens. The entrance to the path is not clearly marked, but can be found next to Creative Hands Gallery. The trail, managed by the gallery, winds through gardens and marshes with various sculptures placed along the way. The highlight was a rope bridge that allows visitors to cross over the marsh. While the gardens were pleasant, this was not an attraction that requires a great deal of time. Around twenty minutes of wandering along the paths was sufficient.

Grist Mill

Next, we made our way to the center of town and explored this area on foot a bit. It isn’t a large area to explore, but several old buildings can be seen from the sidewalk, giving it a quaint and historic feel. For a more detailed taste of history, we visited the Dexter Grist Mill. The mill is a working mill that grinds corn into cornmeal. It has been restored and sits on the site of the original mill that was built in the mid-17th century. It was a relatively quiet day at the mill, so we got a private tour, during which the docent thoroughly explained the history and workings of the mill. He showed us how the water wheel can be started and stopped and how the numerous pieces have to work together to crush the corn, even though it may seem like a simple task.

Sandwich Glass Museum

By far, the largest attraction in Sandwich is the glass museum. Glassmaking was once a major industry in Sandwich, and the museum educates visitors about this history as well as the processes of glassmaking and glassblowing. Entertaining glassblowing demonstrations take place several times a day, and a video shares the history of glassmaking in Sandwich. The museum houses numerous pieces of glass pieces in a wide variety of styles and made with many different techniques.


When visiting Sandwich, don’t expect a destination full day of thrilling attractions. Instead, plan to slow down and take time to enjoy a few smaller attractions while getting away from the chaos of larger cities. It’s the perfect size for a day trip from Providence (about 1 hour away) or Boston (1-2 hours away, depending on traffic), or for a stop along a road trip. However you end up in Sandwich, I hope you enjoy this lovely historic town.

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