The kids and I are on Cape Cod for two weeks. We have gone to the beach, played mini golf at Pirate’s Cove, eaten more ice cream than we should, and jumped at the inflatable park multiple times. So when I asked William what new activity he wanted to try, he immediately said The Adventure Park at Heritage Museums and Gardens.
The Adventure Park at Heritage Museums and Gardens
The Adventure Park is an aerial, forest adventure for ages 7+ in Sandwich, MA. There are five separate climbing trails of varying difficulty. Participants are given harnesses and a brief tutorial before they head out on the trails. Yellow trails are easiest, green trails are harder, blue trails are intermediate, and black trails are the hardest. Younger kids are limited to the yellow and green trails.
William is 8 years old, so he is allowed to do the one yellow, and two green trails. His ticket allowed two hours of climbing. The website claims that you can make it through a trail in about 20 minutes but we found that to be a bit misleading. You might be able to make it through if there is no one ahead of you, you are familiar with the equipment and how to use it, and everyone is in great shape. It took William, my brother, and my sister-in-law two hours to make it through all three trails. Partly because the people in front of them on one of the trails were a bit slow and afraid of heights.
Tickets are expensive! It is $45 for a combined Adventure Park and Heritage Museums and Gardens pass. However, I’ve seen deals on Groupon and other local coupon sites so it’s worth doing a quick search for discounts before going. The price is totally worth it! William has been talking about this nonstop since we went.
The Climbing Trails
Each trail has different obstacles and is at different heights. The yellow trail’s obstacles are the easiest and the trail is lowest to the grounds. The black trail is most difficult and highest. The black trail is the only one without a zip line.
The zip lines were my group’s favorite obstacles! Probably because they were the easiest to do. William loved some of the more difficult obstacles including one that involved crab walking across narrow boards while bent over-an obstacle that caused one member of the group in front of them to cry!
Even though the yellow and green trails are the “easy” courses, my brother and sister-in-law were exhausted at the end of the two hours. They reported that the course requires a lot more upper body strength than they anticipated. William, of course, would have gone on another four trails if allowed! Nothing slows this kid down and he never admits to being tired
A few more notes: there are no bathrooms over at the Adventure Parks. There are only porta potties. There are hydration stations throughout the park, which is very helpful on hot days like today. You can also walk the very short distance across the street to the Heritage Museums and Gardens entrance to use an actual bathroom.
Heritage Museums and Gardens
While William, my brother, and my sister-in-law were climbing at the Adventure Park, my mother and I took Ania across the parking lot to the Heritage Museums and Gardens. Tickets to the Heritage Museums and Gardens are $18/adult and $8/child. It is a separate entry free from the Adventure Park.
I could have spent all day at here. The gardens are amazingly beautiful. Dotted around the landscape are museums like the Automobile Gallery with a large collection of classic cars. The garden hosts special exhibits around the property as well in some of the buildings and on the grounds.
The first time we came here, I thought the kids would be bored, but it’s very family friendly! Many paths meander around the grounds. Ania called some of them “secret paths” because they wound between and through the flowers and trees. There is also a maze and labyrinth both of which the kids enjoy. There are several flower exhibits and interesting water features and fountains. The main kids’ attractions though are the Hidden Hollow play area and the American Art and Carousel Gallery.
Hidden Hollow is nestled in a small valley near the center of the gardens. If you have kids, it alone is worth the price of admission and I recommend leaving a lot of time to play here.
It’s not a playground in the typical sense. It is a natural play area with lots of activities. There is a large treehouse, amphitheater, outdoor musical instruments, art area, and a water play area. William tends to gravitate straight to the water area, which consists of many steel buckets, an old-fashioned water pump, and a few water troths. It doesn’t sound like much, but I watched kids play in there for hours!
This trip, Ania went straights for the blackboards set up in a circle. There was colored chalk on each one and a paintbrush to erase your work. She immediately got a bucket of water to both erase and paint with the water. She also spent some time playing with the musical instruments while I watched other kids use tubing to create a ball run down a hill.
After an hour of watching Ania draw and play, we were extremely hot, so we dragged her way to go to the American Art and Carousel Gallery that was, thankfully, air conditioned.
A few more notes: Plan to spend some time here. The kids always want to stay longer than I think they will. Also, while they do their best to shade the Hollow, make sure to have sunblock because it can get quite sunny.
American Art and Carousel Gallery
This was our first time to this gallery and it was so cool! My mother loved the art, but Ania and I loved the Carousel. Okay, she loved the carousel. I get dizzy on rides that go in circles, but I loved the air conditioning and the numerous benches to sit and watch her.
The Carousel was hand carved by Charles Looff in 1908! You can read more about the history here, but it’s a truly gorgeous antique.
A few more notes: Rides are included in the price of admission and there is an actual bathroom in this building.
The museums and gardens’ exhibits change seasonally so it’s worth checking out the website to see what’s going on. In the summer, Heritage hosts family concerts and in the winter, it’s decorated with lights and open select weekends. We love Heritage Museums and Gardens! I definitely recommend you take time away from the beach to visit this special place.