Get to know this Cape Cod gem, and one of the 20 Best Places to Live on the Coast 2017. Get the inside scoop on Orleans, including where to eat, drink, play, and stay. 

By Bob Curley and Tracey Minkin
April 13, 2017

With 54 miles of coastline, this charming New England town bridges the upper arm of Cape Cod to capture Atlantic Ocean wilds to the east and Cape Cod Bay serenity to the west. In the summer, Orleans hums with its own Cape Cod Baseball League team, more than a dozen art galleries and a resident live theatre, and a rich and ample variety of restaurants. Whether strolling its historic cottage-lined streets or paddling its freshwater lakes, life is active, rich, and varied in this corner of the country.

Orleans by the Numbers

Population: 5,846
Average July high: 79
Average January low: 24
Median home price: $566,000
Average commute time: 22 minutes
Number of sunny days: 201

Best Beaches and Other Attractions

Nauset Beach stretches for 10 miles along the Atlantic and is beloved for its great surf, gorgeous sunrises, strong sand for castle-building, and top bass- and bluefishing. Outer Beach, with its offroad access and camping, is a spectacular spot that locals love.

Orleans is the rough midpoint of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 22-mile network of biking, hiking, jogging, and skating paths built on the former right of way of the Old Colony Railroad. The trail begins in Dennis and runs east through Nickerson State Park, before turning north in Orleans and heading up the Outer Cape through the National Seashore to Wellfleet; you can also take a spur trail to the coastal town of Chatham.

Where to Eat and Drink

It’s a double-win at Nauset Farms, which sells locally roasted Beanstock Coffee as well as foodstuffs fueled by local farms. It’s also on the way to the beach: a triple win; Did you know that they revoke your Cape Cod card at the canal if you don’t go out for a lobster dinner when you visit? OK, that’s just a fish tale, but you shouldn’t leave Orleans without snapping up a tasty crustacean or two at the Lobster Claw, which has been serving seafood and waterfront drinks from its surfboat bar since 1962.

Where to Stay

Channel the Cape’s Colonial coastal past with a stay at the Nauset House Inn, a 14-room bed & breakfast within walking distance of Nauset beach. A circa 1810 farmhouse and carriage house have individually decorated guest rooms, but snag a reservation at the Outermost House if you can—it’s an adorable cabin set amid an orchid of 100-year-old apple trees.