Bicycling -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (tel. 508/759-5991 for hotline with weather, tides, and current info) maintains a flat, 14-mile loop along the Cape Cod Canal, equally suited to bicyclists, skaters, runners, and strollers. The most convenient place to park (free) is at the Bourne Recreation Area, north of the Bourne Bridge, on the Cape side. You can also park at the Sandcatcher Recreation Area at the end of Freezer Road in Sandwich.
Boating -- If you want to explore under the power of your own paddle, you can rent canoes and kayaks in Falmouth and float around Old Sandwich Harbor, out to Sandy Neck, or through the salt-marsh maze of Scorton Creek, which leads out to Talbot Point, a wooded spit of conservation land.
Fishing -- Sandwich has eight fishable ponds; for details and a license, inquire at Town Hall in the center of town (tel. 508/888-0340). Permits cost nonresidents $39 for the season, $25 for a 3-day pass. Children, seniors, and Massachusetts residents receive discounts. (A $10 permit is now required for saltwater fishing in Massachusetts. To get your permit, go to www.mass.gov/marinefisheries.) Here your catch might include striped bass, bluefish, cod, pollock, flounder, or fluke. Call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (tel. 508/759-5991) for canal tide and fishing information.
Fitness -- The local fitness center is the Sportsite Health Club, at 315 Cotuit Rd., in Sandwich (tel. 508/888-7900). It offers 15,000 square feet of Nautilus and other fitness equipment, along with steam baths, saunas, racquetball, classes, and free child care. A 1-day pass, including the cost of playing racquetball, costs $17.
Golf -- The Sandwich Hollows Golf Club, 1 Round Hill Road, in East Sandwich (tel. 508/888-3384), is a 6,200-yard, par-71 town-owned course. In season a round costs $30 to $62, depending on the day and time. The 18-hole, par-3 Holly Ridge Golf Course, at 121 Country Club Road, in South Sandwich (tel. 508/428-5577), is, at 2,900 yards, shorter and easier. A round costs $34 in season, with afternoon discounts.
Kayaking Sandy Neck -- You can admire that unique 7-mile-long barrier beach called Sandy Neck from afar with its picturesque cottage colony and lighthouse, or you can paddle up to it to take a closer look. This is a great trip from a naturalist's point of view because Sandy Neck and the 4,000-acre Barnstable Great Marsh nearby are such lush habitats.
Millway Beach -- Put in at high tide, so that you can navigate the kayak through the marshes here. You can unload the boat at Blish Point and then park on the far side of the harbor where a permit is not required. Barnstable Marina is a busy place, so hug the edge of the channel to let boats come and go, including whale-watching vessels headed all the way to Stellwagen Bank.
Barnstable Harbor -- Paddle straight out toward Sandy Neck, passing little tufts of ground called Phyllis Island and Great Thatch Island, which disappears at high tide. Then hug the edge of Sandy Neck and paddle west to enter Scorton Creek.
Scorton Creek -- Depending on how high the tide is, you can explore the 4-mile-long Scorton Creek, which has dozens of tributaries. As the tide lowers, you will see the ground is made of salt-marsh hay, which used to be used as feed for cattle. Navigating the creek can be confusing, and this is where a nautical map comes in handy. Be careful to keep your bearings so you can find your way out.
Sandy Neck -- On your way back from exploring the marshes, stop on Sandy Neck to stretch your legs. The area with the highest dune, almost directly across the harbor from your launch site, is called the Dromedary. You can stop here and have a picnic. Back in the boat, hug the shoreline as you paddle past Great Thatch Island, Green Point, which sticks out into the harbor and shelters a creek, Mussel Point, on the far end of that creek, and finally the tip of Sandy Neck. From here, you can get a close look at the cottage colony and Sandy Neck Lighthouse at the point. Feel free to get out and walk around. It is all soft sand, no pavement.
Back to Millway -- Save some energy for the trip back across the harbor to Blish Point. There is a lot of boat traffic that you will need to stay clear of and a pesky current coming from Cape Cod Bay. This crossing is perhaps the hardest part of the trip, so you'll need to save some energy for it.
Nature & Wildlife Areas -- The Shawme-Crowell State Forest, off Route 130 in Sandwich (tel. 508/888-0351), has 298 campsites and 742 acres to roam. Entrance is free. Camping costs $12 for Massachusetts residents, $14 for nonresidents.
The Sandwich Boardwalk, which the community rebuilt in 1991 after Hurricane Bob blew away the 1874 original, links the town and Town Neck Beach by way of salt marshes that attract many birds, including great blue herons.
As if to signify how oddly enchanted this little corner of the world is, there's a sweet little (57-acre) nature center here -- and within it is an even sweeter kitchen, where local ladies have been cooking up jams and jellies since 1903. The Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen is at 6 Discovery Hill Rd., East Sandwich (off Rte. 6A, about 1 1/2 miles east of town center; tel. 508/888-6870); once you've caught a whiff of the jam, you'll want to take some home. (Try the local delicacy, beach-plum jelly.) Jam-making workshops are offered for adults and children in the summer and fall. Prices are $38 per person for adult classes, usually Wednesday evening or Saturday morning. You will end up with five or six jars of jam. Children will be intrigued by the expansive kitchen, as well as some old-fashioned nature exhibits on such animals as rabbits, turtles, iguanas, and snakes. The center is open mid-April to December Monday through Saturday 10am to 4pm, Sunday 1 to 4pm; and January to mid-April Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm. Admission is by donation; the suggested donation is $1 per child and $5 for families.
Tennis -- Sandwich has public courts at the Wing School, Oak Ridge School, Forestdale School, and Sandwich High School. Contact the Sandwich Recreation Department (tel. 508/888-4361) for details.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.