While the town of Harwich certainly has its own identity as a special place, did you know it is actually made up of seven villages? Harwich also has 21 beaches and ponds and accounts for 22 acres of the Lower Cape. Each of Seven Villages of Harwich has many wonders that make it unique − we hope that you will come explore each village and its unique offerings. One thing they all have in common is the warm feeling of community.
The village of East Harwich is a thriving economic region where the local Stop & Shop, Dunkin Donuts, and CVS stores, along with the town’s largest Post Office and many family owned and operated businesses, such as Hinckley’s Home Center and RPM Carpets and Floorcoverings. There are also vibrant year-round residential communities throughout stunning East Harwich.
The beautiful Pleasant Bay forms part of East Harwich’s border and a drive along Route 28 provides scenic views on the way to Orleans. Nearby, Muddy Creek empties into Pleasant Bay and forms a section of East Harwich’s border with Chatham. The picturesque Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, at the border of East Harwich and Chatham, overlooks Pleasant Bay. The award winning Five Star Resort opened its doors in 1925 and expanded and upgraded the resort over the years. It welcomes visitors from around the world, offering world-class accommodations, dining, and recreational facilities in a relaxed atmosphere with a personal touch. From family vacations, award-winning dining, corporate meetings and gatherings to weddings and memories of a lifetime, the Wequassett is a slice of paradise in Harwich.
The central hub of the community from the beginning and still today is Harwich Center, where people enjoy summer band concerts with the Harwich Town Band at the iconic gazebo, visit Brooks Free Library, stroll through Cape Cod Lavender Farm, and enjoy breakfast and lunch at strong>Ruggie’s, and visit the village’s newest addition for great pastries, breakfast sandwiches, pub fare, and craft cocktails – The Seal Pub and Café. Harwich Center has classical architecture within the historic district of the town, and in fact much of the center is on the National Historic Register.
The striking Greek revival building with massive columns in the heart of Harwich Center is the Brooks Academy Museum. It was originally built as a private school, and then was used as a public school until 1963, when a new school opened nearby. Currently, the Brooks Academy Museum is the location of the Harwich Historical Society, where many exhibits about all things Harwich can be found.
The First Congregational Church in its present form dates back to 1854 and, with its adjoining cemetery, is a stunning centerpiece of the village. Behind the Congregational Church, the Cape Cod Rail Trail intersects the village with a safe route for bikers, walkers, and runners, while nearby Brooks Park features a bandstand, ball field, tennis courts, playground, basketball courts, and ample parking. In the summer, the park holds weekly open-air concerts and outdoor fairs.
The beautiful Cranberry Valley Golf Course, named one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Public Courses and rated “Excellent” by Zagat Golf Guide, is located in Harwich Center further down Oak Street. A par 72, it’s a full-service course with pro shop, practice facility, and the Hot Stove at Cranberry Valley serves breakfast and lunch.
If you’re a fan of baseball and would like to see prospective major league players up close, check out the Harwich Mariners of the famous Cape Cod League. They play their home games at Whitehouse Field next to Monomoy Regional High School.
For readers of all ages, the historic Brooks Free Library is a spot you will enjoy for hours and will return to year after year. Brooks Free Library was the first free public library in Harwich, established in 1880. The library was founded by Col. Henry C. Brooks and was originally known as the Broadbrooks Free Library, part of a legacy left to the town by the Brooks family. The library has been owned and operated by the Town of Harwich since 1910 and is governed by a 7-member elected Board of Trustees. The Broadbrooks family name was formally changed to Brooks, and in 1880 Mr. Brooks built a multiuse structure in Harwich Center, known as the Brooks Block, which had many stores, a free public library, and more, including the founding of Cape Cod Five and Cape Cod National Banks and the Second District Court.
After many renovations and expansions, in 1998 the library reopened and the project won a Historic Preservation Award from the Massachusetts Historical Commission for successfully maintaining the historic character of the building.
If you enjoy walking through scenic cemeteries, visit Island Pond Cemetery, either on your own or as part of one of the many guided tours available. Many famous people of history have made Island Pond their final resting place, including James Godfrey, Marie Marcus, First Lady of Jazz; Laurene Vincent Embree, highly accomplished singer and pianist; and Alexander MacLachlan, who helped develop space gyros for the Apollo and Gemini missions.
Cape Cod Lavender Farm opened in 1995 after the owners invited local Cape Codders to attend their harvest. This delightful farm is run by three generations of the Sutphin family and each one enjoys the tending of this gem of a farm. They sell more than 20 lavender products that include home decor, culinary, and mindbody-spirit needs. The lavender farm is typically in bloom late June through early July (weather dependent). They started the business with two bestselling products, plants and loose lavender buds, and then they were inspired to create even more.
In the spring of 2013, they expanded their Enchanted Garden. Designed and built by Eddie Foisy, the garden allows children and adults to let their imaginations wander. They also have a shade garden with plantings around a miniature stone replica of a medieval castle. Hidden among the varieties of plants, the faerie house portals add to the fantasy, and to the experience of nature. Make sure stop by the farm to enjoy the magic.
Harwich Port, the seaside village known to many as “The Port,” is home to three harbors, beaches along Nantucket Sound, art galleries, shopping, and restaurants, and at the center is a church with so much history.
Pilgrim Congregational Church was founded in 1854, and the original 20 charter members were strong in their faith and devotion. They were farmers, fishermen, carpenters, and sea captains. People of deep conviction, integrity, and loyalty, they were active in town affairs serving as selectmen, treasurers, and clerks. Church members were required to take a stance against the institution of slavery to join Pilgrim Church. In the original Articles of the Church set forth in 1855, it states, “No slave holder shall be admitted to the communion of this church – No one who sympathizes with slave holding shall be admitted to this church – No slave holding church shall be recognized in any way as a church of God.” These values were held by many on Cape Cod, as there was an active abolitionist movement in Massachusetts around the time of the church’s founding.
Today, Pilgrim Congregational Church stands as a beacon of faith as an open and affirming church that provides our community with a place for worship, fellowship, and outreach.
With its Three Harbors − Saquatucket Harbor, Wychemere Harbor, and Allen Harbor – Harwich Port offers some of the best opportunities for outdoor recreation in the area, whether you are lounging along some of the warmest beaches of Cape Cod, casting a line, or taking to the water from one of the three harbors. All three offer their own unique and distinctive opportunities for exploring.
Saquatucket Harbor offers the most diverse opportunities, being the Cape’s largest newly renovated municipal marina. You can board the Freedom Ferry Cruises to Nantucket or a unique seal watch with Monomoy Island Excursions, giving you the opportunity to view native wildlife in action. If fishing is what you’re after, you will surely find it − with many boats, you have your choice of fishing charters here.
Relax during the afternoon or evening for dinner right on the harbor. This is truly a unique location, and one that you’ll continue to visit. The legendary Brax Landing Restaurant has enticed people in with its seafood and picturesque views. New to the Harbor is the Dockside Snack Shack for takeout. Saquatucket has something for everyone.
Allen Harbor is home to Allen Harbor Yacht Club, a private club that is family friendly and open year-round. While you’ll find moorings, docks, and even a tennis court, most of all, though, the location is all about boating. Keep in mind that this harbor is best for small craft, due to the harbor’s narrow entrance.
Wychmere Harbor is the more luxurious, as it is surrounded by million-dollar homes and stunning views. Wychmere offers moorings for both sailboats and powerboats. While in years past, residents and visitors could enjoy the famous Thompson’s Clam Bar overlooking Wychmere Harbor, about 10 years ago it was transformed into what is now the Wychmere Harbor Beach Club, an exclusive private member beach club with many amenities, as well as a wedding and event venue offering many options for both intimate gatherings and large elegant events.
North Harwich is known for cranberry bogs and horses, as well as an early Cape Verdean colony that in the 19th and 20th centuries worked the cranberry bogs and later became prominent members of the community. North Harwich shares the lovely Bell’s Neck Conservation Area with West Harwich, with its acres of marshland, tidal creeks, walking and hiking trails, a pond, and a herring run. It also boasts perfect for birding, kayaking, and fishing.
In the summer, the Harwich Conservation Trust sponsors guided nature walks led by botanists and naturalists through the Bell’s Neck area. One frequent stop is The North Harwich Cranberry Screenhouse, in use until the 1960s, which is still standing near the bike path. Today, as you drive along Main Street or Great Western Road in North Harwich, you will pass by acres of family owned cranberry bogs. You can even take a guided tour with Cranberry Bog Tours along the bogs and learn the art of growing and harvesting the berries.
Sand Pond, a favorite of many locals, is a lovely area for swimming off Great Western Road. It has a large public beach, calm water, soft sand, scenic views, lifeguards, and plenty of parking. All that’s required is a beach sticker.
Pleasant Lake is the only one of the seven Harwich villages that doesn’t include the name “Harwich” and usually the one missed when naming the seven villages. The village of Pleasant Lake is situated in a scenic area bordered by Long Pond, Hinckley’s Pond (sometimes called Pleasant Lake), and Seymour Ponds off Exit 10 of the Mid Cape Highway (Route 6) only short bit from Historic Harwich Center. It is a peaceful, rural community of cranberry bogs and residential homes, with wonderful access to swimming, fishing, and kayaking on its large ponds. Long Pond is the Cape’s largest lake and largest inland body of water. A drive along Route 124 gives you a very different feeling than you get when traveling through over villages of Harwich. For many years, the famous Helen Keller would summer here.
Pleasant Lake is also home to Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, which in addition to its growing technical programs offers academic training and online courses as well as Continuing Education for adults. This fall a newly built CCRTHS will continue to prepare students for careers in the trades upon graduation − many past graduates own local Harwich businesses.
South Harwich is where you will find the very popular Red River Beach, the largest beach in the Harwiches. It has jetties for fishing and acres of sand for sunning and swimming in lovely Nantucket Sound. In the off-season, you will see joggers running along the lot, and dogs walking in the beach parking lot. In the summer, it really comes alive with families and children, kites and brightly colored umbrellas.
If you enjoy history, visit the South Harwich Meetinghouse – it was built in 1836, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 along with the surrounding cemetery. It is the second oldest Methodist Church on Cape Cod, purchased by the Town of Harwich in the late 1990s, and was recently refurbished by a local group which has restored it as a center for the arts, education, and community enrichment. The Friends of the South Harwich Meetinghouse have made this into a cultural arts venue with many events throughout the year.
For birdwatching and a leisurely walk, you can enjoy the Hacker Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the Harwich Conservation Trust, which is made up of nine acres of wooded pond shore abutting the Cape Cod Rail Trail. South Harwich has little commercial development and has maintained its residential character.
The Bell’s Neck Conservation Area, located off Depot Road, is approximately 250 acres of conservation land in West Harwich. It includes marshland, tidal creeks, walking/hiking trails, a pond, and a herring run. The birdwatching is excellent here. If you have never seen a herring run, you should absolutely take advantage of this treat. Every spring, herring can be seen fighting their way upstream in the river from Cape Cod Bay, through a series of steep inclines, into a group of inland ponds.
The Cape Cod Rail Trail, which follows the route of the Old Colony Railroad, intersects the Bell’s Neck Conservation Area and runs for 25 miles through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Chatham, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. It passes along cranberry bogs and salt marshes and riders can get off for a swim at a pond, lake, or beach.
Chase Library is the small public library located just as you enter West Harwich. The small architecturally distinguished Colonial Revival building was constructed in 1911. Thanks to many efforts to build a library in West Harwich that began in 1901, and was completed in 1906, with the gift of the home of Caleb Chase. Chase was a Harwich native who was the son of a successful local ship owner and shipbuilder. He was also a successful businessman himself. The house was not suitable for housing a library, so Dr. John Nickerson donated a corner of his large property that was near the Chase’s house so the library could be built, and the present building was constructed there. The library building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. Make sure this quaint library is on your list of places to visit and enjoy.
The Herring River was named for the fish that was a rich natural resource which both the native Americans and later the English settlers of this area counted upon for sustenance.
The Herring River marked the boundary between the Town of Yarmouth on the west side and Harwich on the east side from 1641 until 1692, when the Town of
Dennis came into being. The river than marked the boundary between Dennis and Harwich.
Cape Cod Theatre Company, Home of Harwich Junior Theatre, is a true gem of our community. Its original home was in Harwich Center in the legendary Exchange Hall. The theater is nationally recognized showcase and incredible source for education and entertainment. Its creativity, collaboration, and fantastic live theatrical offerings makes it a hit for anyone who loves the performing arts.
Visitors can feel the history of the Cape Cod Theatre Company the moment you walk through the doors. In August 2015, the organization officially changed its name to from Harwich Junior Theatre to the Cape Cod Theatre Company, Home of Harwich Junior Theatre. The change was a significant one in that it evolved from a small, seasonal theatre to the pioneering force that it is today as a year-round center for theater arts education and outreach – and a semi-professional theater that mounts 10 full-scale productions each year.
Many of the past students and cast members have continued their experience into careers in the arts – some working behind the scenes, and some becoming familiar faces on Broadway, the big screen, and on television. Others have applied the confidence and skills they gained at the Cape Cod Theatre Company to highly successful careers in business, education, and government. This theater is a leader in the arts and we encourage you to enjoy the exciting and riveting productions.
We invite you to come and explore the Seven Villages of Harwich − you will be amazed and delighted by the history, beauty, traditions, and warmth of the community!