Ecotourism in Brewster

Ecotourism means “sustainable travel” or becoming part of the community while one is present in that community.

Brewster’s unique natural assets of more than 5,000 acres of conservation land with walking and biking trails; a herring run where the alewife migrate to their home pond; salt and fresh water beaches; ponds and forests set the backdrop for the eco-tourist’s experience.

Brewster’s cultural assets include world class attractions such as a natural history museum; award winning live theatre; renowned artists and chefs; historic architecture that is now used as 5-star inns; farms and education facilities; and a history rich in tales of merchant sea captains.

On a personal level, ecotourism means supporting the local community and respecting the natural environment. How can you participate?

Shop locally! For every $1 spent with a local business 68 cents comes back to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. Compare this to doing business with a national chain, where only 43 cents comes back, or doing business online where that return is ZERO! Brewster has many small businesses, the majority that are owned and operated by Brewster residents, providing goods and services of all kinds.

Strive for “zero waste” at home and in business. Recycle and compost. And try pre-cycling where, before making a purchase, consider what will happen to that item when you’ve used it up, or no longer need or want it. Can it be broken down into recyclable parts, or go to the local thrift or swap shop?

Respect and enjoy our natural environment. The success of our local economy is tied to Cape Cod’s natural beauty. Adopt a “pack it in – pack it out” policy when visiting the beach; riding or walking the Cape Cod Rail Trail or other trails; and when visiting our cultural attractions such as Stony Brook Grist Mill or Drummer Boy Park.

From Sunrise to Sunset…BREWSTER HAS IT ALL!
Visit these favorite eco-tourist locations in Brewster.

The Herring Run

at Stony Brook Gristmill is a “right of spring” that attracts thousands to witness the migration of the alewife (herring) in their quest to return to their spawning grounds. This takes place when the air temperature reaches the low 50’s sometime in late March or early April.

The frenzy of the fish working their way up the locks to the pond where they were born makes the water appear to boil. The exact date of the migration is never known in advance, but volunteers watch the skies and the stream for evidence when it is about to begin! (The alewife is a protected species.)

This video of the herring runnning is provided by

Brewster’s Bay-side Beaches

are famous for the Brewster Flats created by the ebb and flow of the daily tides when the waters recede out of Cape Cod Bay over 1 mile to reveal sandbars, clam beds and tidal pools. At high tide, the water is warm and waves are gentle. There are 7 town-run bay-side beaches.

Fishing & Boating

48 freshwater ponds have a diversity of game fish. Public boats ramps are at Sheep Pond, Long Pond, Upper Mill Pond and inside Nickerson State Park. Both freshwater and salt water fishing licenses are required.

Shell Fishing

Regulations are online at > Natural Resources Department. Permits are required and may be purchased online at weekly permits are no longer available for non-residents. In July and August quohogs may be harvested on Thursdays and Sundays at Saint’s Landing. Littlenecks may be harvested in the Spring and Fall at Ellis Landing; oysters may be harvested only in the Fall: check the town website for dates.

Kayaking, Canoeing & Stand-up Paddleboarding

Equipment is available to rent in several locations in Brewster, and the local ponds are particularly good for these activities. Email the Brewster Chamber for more information.

Brewster Conservation Trust Walking Trails

can be found in a number of locations offering vistas of Cape Cod Bay, ponds and forests. A map is available in the Information Center.

Cape Cod Rail Trail

where train tracks once crossed the Cape, is excellent for biking, walking, running or rollerblading. 25 miles of scenic paved paths wind from Harwich to Wellfleet, with a short leg in Provincetown. Access the Trail from a number of Brewster locations.

Crosby Mansion

is on Crosby Lane. The mansion features fanciful architecture and was built in 1887 by entrepreneur Albert Crosby. Today it is owned by the state and preserved by the Friends of Crosby Mansion. It is open for tours in the summer and available for special events.

Drummer Boy Park

is home to the Windmill Village including the Higgins Farm Windmill, Harris Black House and a working black smith shop. Windmill Village is managed by the Brewster Historical Society, open in July and August on weekends.

Nickerson State Park

has 1900 acres of conservation land including 8 miles of roads, walking and biking trails that connect to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and weave through the woods past 8 fresh-water kettle ponds. A popular camp ground, there are 400 sites managed by the MA Dept. of Conservation & Recreation (DCR).

Punkhorn Parklands

has over 800 acres of conservation land with wooded trails that begin at the end of Run Hill Road. Maps are available at the Information Center.

Stony Brook Grist Mill & Herring Run

is located on Stony Brook Road across the street from where Brewster’s first gristmill (and first business!) earned the community the name of Factory Village. Visit the Mill site on Saturdays in July and August to see the mill in action. Visit the Herring Run year-round, but the actual migration takes place in late March or early April.