What You Should Know
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.
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.
A breathtaking sunset at Rock Harbor in Orleans. Photo by Walter Brooks.
Why You Should Go
Orleans has many lovely hiking trails operated by nonprofit organizations and the town. Birdwatchers will enjoy the different species seen in Orleans every year, in places like Nauset Marsh and Beach, Pochet Island, and Skaket Beach.
Biking enthusiasts and walkers will love the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Maintained by the state's Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, the 22-mile former railroad runs from Dennis to Wellfleet. 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.
The Orlean's Historical Society operates several sites in town, including the Meeting House Museum, the Jonathan Young Windmill, and the rescue boat CG36500. Marine enthusiasts will remember it as the rescue boat Coast Guard crew members used to save 32 men from the tanker Pendleton during a raging storm in 1952. Meanwhile, the French Cable Museum houses an impressive collection of original artifacts from the days of undersea telegraphic communication.
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.
The Jonathan Young Windmill on Town Cove in Orleans--a popular site for weddings. Photo by John Fitts.
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 is also home to Rock Harbor on the bay side, an ideal spot for watching fishing boats by day and breathtaking sunsets in the evening.
Family & Kids
If you’ve got kids, or just love model trains, the Nauset Model Train Club is a great place to visit. Full of elaborate miniature trains running through elaborate scenery, you’ll meet knowledgeable members happy to explain everything you’ll ever want to know about railroading.
If the weather’s nice, let the kids run around at the Orleans Community Playground. The playground it huge, with plenty of equipment to keep them active while mom and dad set up a picnic or relax in the sun.
Beaches: Nauset Beach, Skaket Beach, Pilgrim Lake