Heritage Museum & Gardens a Wonderful Daytrip
By Mary Moran | Photos by Pat O’Connell
Founded in 1969 by J.K. Lilly III, Heritage Museum and Gardens is a place of exploration and discovery for all ages. Located in the historic Cape Cod town of Sandwich, Heritage offers a vast array of American culture-based exhibits, gardens, interactive learning activities and adventure. All of the exhibits are presented with beauty and intrigue.
The museum is open daily from mid-April to mid-October, and on weekends for “Gardens Aglow“, their holiday festival of lights, from late-November to just before Christmas. The Museums and Gardens attract over 132,000 visitors annually. Variety and originality are what make Heritage Museums and Gardens such a popular destination for visitors from far and wide.
Heritage offers three unique museum gallery experiences to its visitors. The Automobile Gallery, is a permanent exhibit. It displays an unbelievable collection of 39 antique and classic cars that date from 1899 to 1962. In the “Collector’s Corner,” there are other special cars on display that are on loan from private collections, and are rotated yearly.
In the American Art and Carousel Gallery, you will find a hand-carved, working carousel created in 1908 by Charles Looff. One of the most popular pieces at
Heritage, the carousel attracts many, and unlimited rides are included with admission to the Museums. Also, in this gallery, you will find Heritage’s permanent collection of historically significant items in regards to American culture. Some of the over 12,000 items include New England folk art, scrimshaw, paintings, shop signs, and Nantucket baskets.
Last but not least, there is the Special Exhibitions Gallery. This gallery hosts Heritage’s annually rotating exhibits. For 2018, the Special Exhibitions Gallery will house “Wendell Minor’s America,” which will examine and celebrate his 40 year career, 25 of which were illustrating children’s books. Original artwork and artifacts from prominent and famous works will be on display.
“Start your Engines: Cars and Stars of the Indy 500” will also reside in the special gallery in the upcoming year. Two Indy 500 race cars will be on display as well as other memorabilia from the start of the Indy 500 in 1911 until present day.
The gardens of Heritage are situated on 100 acres of Sandwich land, over 65 of which are the Gardens. Thousands of species of plants can be found throughout the gardens, including world renowned collections
of rhododendrons, day lilies, hostas, and hydrangeas. In addition to native flowers and trees, Heritage has a rare collection of trees from all over the world, making a unique and magical landscape even more intriguing.
Also located in Heritage Gardens is the Old East Mill. Built in 1800 and originally located in Orleans. This beautiful, old windmill adds a touch of history to the ever changing gardens. Follow the many walking trails, take a stroll through the maze garden and hydrangea garden, or get lost in a
labyrinth created by Marty Cain. Options seem to be endless at Heritage.
The newest addition to Heritage Museums and Gardens is the Adventure Park. The park consists of 4 acres of Aerial Forest Trails made from zip lines, ropes, and bridges. Every one of the five aerial trails offers a different level of difficulty making it a fun and exciting challenge for everyone participating, no matter your age or ability. Since its recent opening, the Adventure Park has been a huge hit. Aside from the Museums and Gardens, Heritage also has a wide variety of educational programs, lectures, and workshops available for both children and adults. The “Hundred Acre School”, a private STEM-based preschool, is also located on the Heritage grounds. From the museum galleries to the endless gardens and aerial adventure park, Heritage Museums and Gardens is a wonderful location for an outing and will surely not disappoint. The Museum is located about a 45 minute drive from the Palmer House Inn.
For information on hours and admission, and calendar of events, visit Heritage’s website
Heritage Museum & Gardens
67 Grove Street
Sandwich, MA 02563
While all of our guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring Cape Cod’s Heritage Museum & Gardens, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jetted tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.
Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.