Cape Cod is full of unique experiences, and taking cranberry bog tours is just one example. Did you know that, in the United States, Massachusetts is the second-largest producer of cranberries with over 14,000 acres of cranberry bogs spanning the Southeastern Massachusetts region? Let’s learn more about cranberries and cranberry bog tours on Cape Cod!
About Cranberries & Cranberry Bogs on Cape Cod
The wild cranberry is one of three species of fruits native to North America, and it was first domesticated on the Cape. The name is derived from the phrase “crane berry,” which references how the cranberry flower resembles the head of the Sandhill crane — the birds once frequented cranberry bogs.
History of Cranberry Bogs
For thousands of years, the Wampanoag People widely used wild cranberries (sasumuneash) as not only food but also as dye and medicine. When English settlers arrived in the area in 1620, the Native Americans taught them how to use this unique fruit for the same purposes.
The cultivation of cranberries didn’t begin until 1816 after Revolutionary War veteran Captain Henry Hall noticed that his wild cranberries would grow better when sand was blown over them. He started transplanting the vines and spreading sand on them, which others copied, steadily increasing the number of growers.
After the commercial cranberry industry caught on, the harvest season became vital to the Massachusetts and local economies by the early 1900s. Children were even excused from school to work on cranberry bogs. The industry continues to evolve to meet the demand for this fresh fruit.
How Cranberries Grow & Thrive
A special combination of factors must be present for cranberries to grow and survive — an adequate supply of fresh water and acidic peat soil. The fruit grows on low-lying vines in bogs (or marshes) that are layered with clay, gravel, peat, and sand.
The bogs were originally created by glacial deposits. However, new cranberry bogs have been formed from kettle ponds that are filled with clay, debris, and sand to create the perfect environment for the fruit vines to spread and thrive.
The Cranberry Season by Month
The cranberry season in Cape Cod extends from April to November. After going dormant through winter, the cranberry vines begin to wake in April, so the leaves start turning green. As the buds break in May, new cranberry vines grow.
Flowers emerge on the vines around mid-June, and native and migratory bees pollinate the blossoms. Then, tiny pinheads form and grow bigger through July and August. The berries start turning red by late August.
Early season cranberry varieties can be harvested around mid-September. The perfect time for harvesting most cranberry varieties is in October, though. About 95% of the berries are harvested by the end of the month. As the cranberry harvest season ends in November, the cranberry vines begin going dormant for the winter.
The best time to take a Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tour is during the harvest season which is from mid-September to mid-December. The brilliant red berries floating on the bog’s surface make for some amazing fall color backdrops.
Learn More at the Harwich Historical Society Museum
If you want to learn more about cranberry bogs before taking a tour, head to the Harwich Historical Society Museum at Brooks Academy. It has a permanent Cranberry Culture exhibit, the largest dedicated to the cranberry history on Cape Cod.
The museum has other temporary exhibits to explore as well. But, after learning about cranberries and bogs at the museum, you can learn even more by heading to the source. There are three fantastic places for cranberry bog tours on Cape Cod.
Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tours in Orleans
Based in Orleans, Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tours has been growing cranberries for more than 35 years. It has multiple bog locations and offers educational tours at all of them. The specific bog that you visit will depend on bog activity when you reserve a tour.
No matter which bog you visit, you’ll learn about the history and cultivation from a cranberry grower with more than 35 years of experience and knowledge. Depending on the time of year, you’ll see the cranberries blooming, growing, or being harvested.
Since the cranberry bog tours are available throughout the growing and harvesting seasons, the weather will vary. Make sure that you dress appropriately, and wear comfortable walking shoes because you’ll be on your feet a lot. And, don’t forget your camera to capture your experience!
Orleans Restaurants Near Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tours
With all that walking around with Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tours, you might be hungry for a snack or full meal. Check out these awesome restaurants in Orleans.
Cibo Italian Kitchen & Market
For handmade and authentic Italian cuisine, the Cibo Italian Kitchen & Market is the best place to dine. The brother-and-sister team hails from Italy, and they use fresh, simple ingredients in every dish. The restaurant menu features hot and cold plates, panini, soups, and multicourse family meals.
Also in the building is a market where you can get handcrafted, prepackaged foods. Lavazza coffee, ice cream, and a range of desserts, breads, and pastries are available too.
We highly recommend making reservations at Ten Yen if you want the best sushi on Cape Cod. The food menu includes sashimi-style appetizers, maki, nigiri, ramen, and handrolls. Pair your meal with Japanese beer, cold sake, wine, and craft cocktails.
Young’s Fish Market
For some of the freshest seafood in Orleans, head to Young’s Fish Market by the Rock Harbor docks. The family-owned and operated market has an array of fish and seafood that’s locally caught daily — including lobster and shellfish. It’s a great place to get a lobster roll after a cranberry bog tour.
Ice Cream Cafe
If you’re taking your cranberry bog tour in the summer, you might want to cool off at the Ice Cream Cafe. It has 38 homemade ice cream flavors, including soft serve, non-dairy, and vegan options. You can get frozen yogurt, sorbet and sherbet, ice cream sandwiches, frozen fresh fruit drinks, and coffee as well.
Hot Chocolate Sparrow
If it’s chilly out during your spring or fall cranberry bog tour, you can warm up at Hot Chocolate Sparrow. This espresso and dessert bar is known across Cape Cod for its hand-dipped chocolates, fudge, desserts, and specialty coffee drinks, including hot cocoa.
Harwich Cranberry Bog Tours on Cape Cod
Operating the biggest organic cranberry bog on the Cape, Leo and Andrea Cakounes offer an inside look at how cranberry bogs are managed and harvested. At their Harwich farm, they offer Cranberry Bog Tours throughout spring, summer, and fall.
The times vary, but daily tours are offered from April through October and last about 1.5 hours. During each tour, the growers teach you about the 12-month bog operation, and you get to see the equipment that they use.
Cranberry Bog Tours are suitable for children who are old enough and interested in learning about cranberries. They’ll see various farm animals on the property too.
After the tour, you can stop by the cranberry farm stand to purchase fresh cranberries and sweetened dried cranberries. The shop also sells cranberry bog honey and assorted, all-natural handcrafted soaps.
We recommend that you contact the farm ahead of your Cape Cod visit because the tours fill up quickly. Also, take cash to use at the farm stand because it doesn’t accept credit cards.
Harwich Restaurants Near Cranberry Bog Tours
Before you leave Harwich after your cranberry bog tour, you could grab a bite to eat. The town has several delicious options for a snack, meal, or special Cape Cod experience.
First Crush Winery
One of the best Cape Cod wineries, First Crush Winery produces award-winning wines. The winery offers standard and premium wine tastings, which include a plate of local cheeses and crackers. Additionally, you can order wine by the glass and the turbo wine slushy.
Devil’s Purse Brewing Company
A Cape Cod brewery is a fantastic place to relax after walking cranberry bogs tours, and Devil’s Purse Brewing Company in South Dennis is one of the best. The brewery creates American-style beers with strong European influences. Here, you can have a draft with snacks on outdoor picnic tables.
Pleasant Lake Pizza Shark
Near Hinckleys Pond, you can enjoy some of the best pizza on Cape Cod at Pleasant Lake Pizza Shark. This fun place serves fast and easy lunches. You can order “Mako-Your-Own” pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Ice cream by the pint and penny candy by the quarter-pound are available too.
The Seal Pub & Cafe
For American fare, check out The Seal Pub & Cafe. Serving lunch and dinner, this restaurant’s menu features pizza, sliders, and other entrees. You can order cafe drinks and pastries, as well as draft beer, wine, and cocktails.
Do you or someone in your party have a restricted diet? You’re likely to find a sweet treat at Sweet Izzy, the only 100% dairy-free ice cream shop on Cape Cod. Using a blend of non-dairy milks, all of the ice cream is soy and gluten-free as well as vegan. Many of the toppings are vegan and gluten-free too.
Also, patrons love how friendly the shop owner is!
Cranberry Bog Tours at Annie’s Crannies in Dennis
You won’t find advertisements about cranberry bog tours at Annies Crannies in Dennis. That’s because owner Annie Walker wants the experience of finding her farm to be an adventure.
After taking the tour, you’ll likely reap more benefits from the discovery. Annie brings history to life with her knowledge and passion. The love of her work shines through!
The cranberry bog is located on Molly’s Pasture, which Captain Hall struggled to make a success in the 1800s. However, Annie has turned the bog into a success by cultivating 457 barrels of cranberries, which those who take her tour note is an impressive feat.
Along with cultivating cranberries, Annie’s Crannies takes advantage of the bee population to produce multiple types of honey. The remaining bee wax is used to make various candles. You can purchase these items, fresh berries, and other products in the fantastic gift shop before you leave.
Annie’s lifelong friend Dean helps at the bog too. He owns the cranberry bog where Captain Hall began cultivating cranberries in the 1800s.
Dennis Restaurants Near Annie’s Crannies
If you need a bite to eat after your Annie’s Crannies bog tour, Dennis has a lot of options. Here are some of our top picks.
Kender & Sisters and Firestarter Pizza
You get two delicious experiences at this restaurant depending on when you dine. Until about mid-afternoon, Kender & Sisters serves brunch dishes, baked goods, and coffee. In the evenings, Firestarter Pizza is home to the Ultra Sauce and serves 13-inch pizzas and snacks.
At The Pheasant, you can expect a creative, made-from-scratch menu that features fresh ingredients. The menu changes regularly depending on the meat, produce, and seafood available from local farms and fishermen. Also, you can have beer, cider, wine, and signature cocktails with your meal.
Featuring a Colonial setting, Scargo Cafe is open for lunch and dinner. The menu includes entrees, small plates, and sandwiches. The restaurant has a decent selection of beer, wine, and specialty cocktails as well.
Cape Cod Creamery
For a sweet treat after your cranberry bog tour, head to Cape Cod Creamery. It makes the creamiest, smoothest, and most flavorful ice cream on Cape Cod. You have 26 flavors to choose from, and gelato, sorbet, yogurt, sugar-free, and vegan options are available.
Other Places to Buy Cape Cod Cranberries & Cranberry Products
As a superfood, cranberries offer unique health benefits. They’re rich in vitamins and dietary fiber and have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that improve cardiovascular and urinary tract health.
You can buy cranberries and cranberry products all across the Cape to take advantage of these benefits. Some grocers and markets actually sell cranberries from the above bogs. Here are a couple of other vendors.
Harwich Historical Society Museum
If you visit the Harwich Historical Society Museum, you can purchase cranberry products — jellies and jams — in the museum gift shop. The shop sells related books and gifts too.
In addition, the museum hosts the Farmers’ Market from June through October, where you can find lots of locally grown produce, handcrafted items, baked goods, and more.
In Sandwich, you can purchase fresh cranberries at P.J. Cranberries. This bog has been operating since 1990, growing Early Black cranberries and other varieties. You can get 5-pound bags of the bog’s cranberries, each of which comes with a recipe tag. You can even buy P.J. Cranberries in local stores.
Best Place to Stay Near Cranberry Bog Tours on Cape Cod
If you plan to explore these active cranberry bogs, stay at Candleberry Inn. Our bed and breakfast is located in Brewster Massachusetts and within a 15-minute drive of the cranberry bog tours on Cape Cod.
Check our availability for your next Cape Cod getaway!