Orleans

 

OrleansCLAIM TO FAME: Home of the most popular Cape Cod beaches

HISTORICAL BRAGGING RIGHTS: Involvement in 3 major wars

BEACHES: Crystal Lake, Nauset, Pilgrim Lake, Skaket, South Orleans

DON’T MISS: Nauset and Skaket Beaches, Cape Escape Mini Golf, Academy of Performing Arts, Birdwatcher’s General Store

Orleans is located on the elbow of Cape Cod, just north of Chatham and Harwich, east of Brewster, south of Eastham and west of the Atlantic Ocean. First settled by the Plymouth Colony in 1693 as the southern parish of Eastham, it was not officially incorporated until 1797. Residents did not want an English name for the town because it had been captured twice by the British during the war, and chose to honor Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, in recognition of France’s important support for the 13 colonies during the American Revolution.

Orleans also was involved in two other wars. In 1814 Orleans residents successfully repelled an invasion by British Marines during the War of 1812, and during World War I Nauset Beach was the only United States site hit by foreign munitions, making it the first place a foreign nation had fired on U.S. soil since The War of 1812. These historical events are on display at the Orleans Historical Society at The Meeting House Museum.

Like other Cape towns, Orleans’ early economy was based on agriculture and fishing, particularly cod and mackerel. As time and technology advanced, the town’s reliance on fishing declined as competition from larger boats and larger ports increased, but Orleans already had established its important commercial role as a market center for other Cape communities.

Today, with all three main Cape roads, Routes 6, 6A, and 28, converging in Orleans, the town is the largest commercial center on the Lower Cape and is home to a multitude of shops, food markets, art galleries, restaurants, theaters, and professional and home services.

Orleans features two popular beaches, one on the Atlantic side and one on Cape Cod Bay. The Atlantic Nauset Beach features full facilities, a well-known snack bar and a 1,000-car parking lot.  The active surf and substantial ocean waves make it a great destination for surfers and boogie boarders. In July and August, there are concerts every Monday at the Gazebo by the beach. Just off its namesake road, Skaket Beach is a peaceful bay beach, perfect for families with young children. At low tide, the water recedes as much as a mile, leaving wide swaths of soft sand and tide pools.

The Charles Moore Arena municipal ice rink is open to the public for skating year round and features Friday “Rock Nite” for children ages nine to fourteen. Orleans also has its own skateboard park in Eldredge Park near the Nauset Regional Middle School.

Formerly the old Town Hall, The Academy Playhouse on Main Street in East Orleans seats 162 and produces more than 12 shows a year.  Well-known theater directors, music directors, set design directors and costume designers often come to the Playhouse to work with local artists.

Along with Brewster, Eastham, and Wellfleet, Orleans is part of the Nauset Regional School District. Each town operates its own elementary schools, and students from all four towns come together for Nauset Regional Middle School in Orleans and Nauset Regional High School in Eastham. Of note, Nauset is the only high school on the East Coast located within a National Park, the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Town of Orleans Information

Fire Department
58 Eldredge Parkway
Orleans, MA 02653
(508) 255-0050
www.orleansfirerescue.com

Police Department
90 S. Orleans Road
Orleans, MA 02653
(508) 255-0117
www.town.orleans.ma.us/Pages/OrleansMA_Police/index

Town of Orleans
19 School Road
Orleans, MA 02653
(508) 240-3700
www.town.orleans.ma.us

Chamber of Commerce
44 Main Street
(PO Box 153)
Orleans, MA 02653
(508) 255-1386
www.capecod-orleans.com