Orleans

Orleans, MA | Points of Interest

French Cable Station Museum, Jonathan Young Windmill, Rock Harbor, Orleans Historical Society, Academy of Performing Arts


A breathtaking sunset at Rock Harbor in Orleans. Photo by Walter Brooks.

About Orleans

Orleans is a beautiful town--the perfect mix of history, convenience and culture. It's the starting point of world-famous Nauset Beach--known for its unique topography and dramatic weather events.

It is also home to Rock Harbor on the bay side, the ideal spot for watching fishing boats by day and breathtaking sunsets in the evening.

Birdwatchers will enjoy the different species seen in Orleans every year, in places like Nauset Marsh and Beach, Pochet Island and Skaket Beach.

History

Orleans (pop. 5,890) was incorporated in 1797. During the early 1800s the main industries were farming, fishing, whaling and salt making.

The windmills that remain on the Cape are a testimony to the saltworks days-- they were used to pump salt water into shallow vaults for evaporation. Orleans' Jonathan Young Windmill is on Route 28.

Beaches

  • Nauset Beach: at the end of Main Street in East Orleans. On the ocean side; big waves good for body surfing.
  • Skaket Beach: West Road off Route 6A, on Cape Cod Bay. At low tide you can walk out a mile.
  • Pilgrim Lake: Monument Road off Main Street in East Orleans.  Plus many ponds around town.

Hiking & Biking

Orleans has many lovely hiking trails operated by nonprofit organizations and the town


The Jonathan Young Windmill on Town Cove in Orleans--a popular site for weddings.  Photo by John Fitts.

Biking enthusiasts and walkers will love the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Maintained by the state's Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 22-mile former railroad, runs from Dennis to Wellfleet. 

Culture

The Orlean's Historical Society operates several sites in town, including the Meeting House Museum, the Jonathan Young Windmill and the CG36500.  Marine enthusiasts will remember the CG36500 as the rescue boat Coast Guard crew members used to save 32 men from the tanker Pendleton during a raging storm in 1952.  And while in town, catch one of Bonnie Snow's popular tours of Main Street, Rock Harbor or the cemetery.

The French Cable Museum houses an impressive collection of original artifacts from the days of undersea telegraphic communication.

Looking for a night out on the town? Enjoy dinner at one of the town's many fabulous restaurants, taverns or watering holes then catch an evening concert or a show at the Academy of Performing Arts.

Orleans folks love to have fun and host several events throughout the year, including a festive holiday celebration in December, the annual Pops in the Park concert in August and an amazing 4th of July parade and fireworks combo.

Folks in Orleans are also big baseball fans and show their pride in supporting their home team, the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Town Information