100 Mile Museum: Cape Cod Canal Visitor's Center
By: Joanne Briana-Gartner, July 6, 2012
JOANNE BRIANA-GARTNER - The Cape Cod Canal Visitor's Center is operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers on Ed Moffitt Drive in Sandwich.
Museums and nature centers are great go-to spots when it's raining or the sun is just too hot in the summer. The Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center in Sandwich is part museum, part nature center, and best of all it's totally free.
Inside the Center the star attraction is the 40-foot patrol boat Renier, which plied the canal for 25 years before taking up permanent residence as a cool visitor's center exhibit. Visitors can board the Renier and give the steering wheel a spin – and don't forget your PFD. They're located below the stairs.
If you go...
Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center
60 Ed Moffitt Drive
Sandwich, Ma 02563
Open 7 days a week, May 1 - Oct 28
10 AM to 5 PM
In the large room that houses the Renier there are interactive exhibits for adults and kids, a display on how traffic in the canal is controlled, and live web cams showing the traffic at different points along and beyond the canal.
On the other side of the Reiner, kids can catch laminated paper fish with their magnetic fishing poles while adults view one of three films that run continuously in the center's theater.
A mounted osprey and nest are perched above a live web cam that spies on a nest at the West End of the Canal. Test your knowledge of marine life by identifying whelk and razor clam shells or play tic-tac-toe using pictures oysters and scallops instead of Xs and Os.
The first room in the center is dominated by a large steering wheel that beckons would-be captains to try their hand at navigating a boat down the canal. A monitor in front of the wheel tracks your progress. Other exhibits in this front room include a display on the history of the canal (which will celebrate its centennial in 2014) from the retreat of the glaciers to the present.
Multimedia displays also provide information on the work and duties of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Walking the service road outside the center will take you down to the canal entrance where you can watch the boats enter and exit the canal—though most folks prefer to set up their folding chairs closer to the center nearer the public bathrooms and picnic seating. The Center is also an access point for the Cape Cod Canal bikeway where cyclists can ride from one end of the Canal to the other.
Fishing is popular in the Canal, and anglers often park at the Visitor's Center's lot.
Lest you forget it’s a visitor's center, just ask the park rangers and volunteers on hand a questions about the Canal and the surrounding area. You’ll get an earful.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides a bounty of summer programs that take place at or near the Center including evening presentations for adults, activities for kids such as story time and touch tanks, hikes in Sagamore and Bourndale and beach exploration walks suitable for all ages.