New England

The 5 Best Things to See on U.S. Route 6

Travel journalist Malerie Yolen-Cohen picks the 5 best things to see along U.S. Route 6, once the longest transcontinental highway in America.

By Malerie Yolen-Cohen

Aug 19 2015

What to See on U.S. Route 6

view of Race Point from Cape Cod National Seashore’s Province lands VisitorCenter

Photo Credit : ZOOMMER Travel Photos
Connecticut-based travel journalist Malerie Yolen-Cohen became obsessed with what was once the longest transcontinental highway in America—U.S. Route 6—which runs east/west through 14 states, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Bishop, California. (Today its stretch is second only to U.S. Route 20’s.) She wrote the first mile-by-mile travel guide: Stay on Route 6: Your Guide to All 3,652 Miles of Transcontinental US Route 6. We asked her to share her five favorite attractions on U.S. Route 6, each just a few turns off this classic highway, in the New England towns through which it passes.
What to See on U.S. Route 6
View of Race Point from Cape Cod National Seashore’s Province lands Visitor Center
Photo Credit : ZOOMMER Travel Photos

The 5 Best Things to See on U.S. Route 6

Pilgrim Monument

Completed in 1910 to commemorate the Mayflower passengers who spent their first five weeks in the New World at what is now Provincetown, this obelisk is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States. Climb the 252-foot tower for a bird’s-eye view of the Cape; then spend some time in the “Grandma’s attic of P’town”—the Pilgrim Monument Visitors’ Center Museum—which highlights early Native American life, the European settlers, the area’s whaling and fishing industries, and the influx of artists to this end-of-the-earth locale. Provincetown, MA. 508-487-1310;
Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, MA.
Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, MA.
Photo Credit : Flickr/Massachusetts Office of Tourism

Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen

In 1903 Ida Putnam began selling her jams and jellies to travelers on “the only highway that went all the way to the end of the Cape—Route 6A.” Preserves are still cooked in Ida’s kettles over the original burners, and you can sample as many as you’d like before buying. Also on site are the interpreted trails and spectacular wildflower garden of the Nature Center, offering programs for kids and adults year-round. Next door you’ll find the Briar Patch Conservation Area, the inspiration for the quirky animal characters of  Thornton Burgess’s beloved children’s stories. Sandwich, MA. 508-888-6870;

Millicent Library

Fairhaven, Mass., is considered an unsung Epcot, thanks to Henry Huttleston Rogers, one of the founders of Standard Oil, who endowed the town with fancifully designed public buildings. In 1894, Rogers’ close friend, Mark Twain, dedicated the French Gothic Fairhaven Town Hall, and if you walk into the Italian palazzo–style Millicent Library, you can still see Twain’s handwritten speech hanging unceremoniously on the wall above the periodicals. Fairhaven, MA. 508-992-5342;
hartford mark twain house
Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey

Mark Twain House

It’s thrilling to stand within reach of Mark Twain’s well-worn writing desk—close enough to scrutinize the scratches and indentations in the dark wood. Take the popular one-hour tour of Twain’s mansion on the hill, where docents recount stories about his servants, his family, and his doomed business ventures, but first walk through the Visitors’ Center, which now houses Twain’s desk, the Paige Compositor—a typesetting device that ruined him financially—and other personal items. Hartford, CT. 860-247-0998; marktwainhouse.orgSEE MORE:Tour the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut

Hill-Stead Museum

Theodate Pope Riddle, one of America’s first women architects and daughter of Cleveland iron magnate Alfred Pope, designed this distinguished Colonial Revival home as a country estate for her globetrotting parents. At the turn of the last century, the Popes toured Europe annually, often purchasing blurry Impressionist art straight from the starving artists before said artists—Degas, Monet, Manet, Cassatt—became famous. Mounted within reach over fireplaces and on walls, the paintings are as accessible to visitors as they were to the home’s original residents. Farmington, CT. 860-677-4787; hillstead.orgFor more on this iconic highway, visit: