Falmouth provides recreation opportunites for people of all ages, abilities and interests.
The Recreation Department focuses on a strong program for young people from six to eighteen years old. Activities include a summer playground program, gymnastics, tae kwon do, ping pong, dance, running, arts and crafts, drama, seasonal sports, and soccer and basketball camps. There is a counselor-in-training program for thirteen and fourteen year olds. Coach and parent volunteers enrich and enlarge the programs.
Adult programs include tennis, volleyball, softball, basketball, square dancing, bridge, ladies' nights and an inter-generational program with the JML Health Center.
The Gus Canty Recreation Center on East Main Street contains offices, meeting rooms and a well-equipped gymnasium. It is handicap-equipped. The building hums with activities year round for youth and adults. In 2003, a new 4,500 square foot Teen Center opened at the Recreation Center. The L-shaped addition also includes a new field house facility on the ground floor.
The Recreation Committee encourages holding special events at the Gus Canty Center. The Cape Cod AIDS Council and Falmouth Housing Trust have sponsored successful benefit concerts. There have been health clinics, bridal fairs, home and garden shows, exhibits and auctions. The Newcomers' Club and Stamp Club are among the many on-going adult groups meeting at the Center.
Every August Falmouth hosts the Falmouth Road Race, a 7.1 mile route along the shore between Woods Hole and Falmouth Heights. The race attracts more than 10,000 participants including world class runners and wheelchair athletes. Race headquarters is located at Falmouth High School.
The 300 Committee, one of the Town's land trusts, oversees and has helped to save, some 2200 acres through town acquisition, state grants, private land donations, and the establishment of Conservation restrictions. The 300 Committee helps the town meet its commitment to preserve 25% of Falmouth's total land area, or 7000 acres, as open space.
It is a private, non-profit land trust founded in 1985 with the goal of setting aside special parcels of land at a time of unprecedented development. Its name reflects its initial project: to preserve 300 acres in the town's tercentenary year. To date, The 300 Committee has been instrumental in helping to save over 2200 acres through town acquisition, state grants, private land donations, and the establishment of Conservation restrictions. The 300 Committee helps the town meet its commitment to preserve 25% of Falmouth's total land area, or 7000 acres, as open space.
The 300 Committee also purchases land in its own right and serves as a technical resource for landowners seeking information about alternative methods of preserving their property.
In conjunction with the Conservation Commission and the Department of Natural Resources, The 300 Committee administers the Stewardship Program, in which volunteer land stewards take responsibility for upkeep and management of specific parcels. The 300 Committee has over 1,200 members and employs one full-time and one part-time professional. Maps of conservation areas are available from The 300 Committee and can be downloaded from the website (http://www.300committee.org). Its office is located at 157 Locust Street, adjacent to the very popular Shining Sea Bikeway. The Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (WBNERR) operates marine research and environmental educational programs from its buildings on the old Swift estate at the head of Waquoit Bay. It also manages Washburn Island, the large, state-owned island on the west side of Waquoit Bay.
"Public Access to Falmouth Lands," a booklet available at the Main Library, describes town ponds, town lands, and access to them. These are some of the town's major outdoor recreation areas:
Beebe Woods is a beautiful 387-acre tract just minutes west of downtown Falmouth that is dotted with ponds and crisscrossed with miles of trails. In 1998, Falmouth purchased the adjacent 88-acre Peterson Farm, one of the oldest remaining farms on Cape Cod. A flock of sheep graze there, well-guarded by a llama and well-exercised in training sessions for Border Collies.
Shining Sea Bikeway is a 10.7 mile paved path from North Falmouth to Woods Hole that runs along the old railroad right-of-way through woods and alongside beaches, salt ponds and marshland. The nine-member Falmouth Bikeways Committee. was established in 1975. Its overall responsibility is advising the Town on bicycling facilities and programs. Its major activities are oversight of maintenance and regulation of the Shining Sea Bikeway and the 27 miles of marked Bike Routes (preferred roadways) throughout the town. The Committee is empowered by its charter to secure grants and donations, which are used to maintain and enhance bike facilities, such as educational displays and way-finding signs.
The Committee promotes bicycle safety and education through participation in school-based and community-sponsored programs for children, adult classes, and free helmet distribution. A mountain bike program which designates trails and rules for their use is being developed.
The Bikeways Committee supports efforts towards a regional long-range goal to establish a bikeway to the Bourne town line and ultimately to the Bourne Bridge.
The Falmouth Moraine Trail connects conservation land from Goodwill Park south of Long Pond up to Route 151. Encompassing some 10 miles of looping trails, it includes terrain quite different from most other trails on Cape Cod. Spectacle Pond Reservation in Hatchville is a 90-acre tract with access from Pinecrest Beach Drive. Several paths meander up and down through the woods and offer glimpses of both Spectacle Pond and Mares Pond.
The Wing Pond Reservation, totaling nearly 60 acres, has trails that lead through woods and cranberry bogs, along the shores of Wing Pond and the Herring Brook, and eventually link to Bourne Farm and to fifteen additional acres of conservation land east of Old Silver Beach. Sea Farms Conservation Area embraces 67 acres of woodland, field and marsh, with scenic frontage on Bournes Pond and Israel's Cove.
The Ashumet Holly and Wildlife Sanctuary of the Massachusetts Audubon Society in Hatchville has 45 acres of fields, woods, and a pond. Friends of Ashumet, organized in 1968, raises funds, runs special events and provides guidance to the overall management. There are 1,000 holly trees of eight species and 65 varieties. The rare Franklinia trees bloom in the autumn and at least 45 pairs of barn swallows take up summer residence in the barn.
Goodwill Park, north of Falmouth village between Route 28 and Gifford Street, includes Grews Pond, a stocked trout pond with two seasonal lifeguards at a public beach. The Park has a public bathroom facility, pavilion, fireplaces, picnic tables, a big-toys playground, hiking trails and a field for athletic activities.
The Village Green at the west end of Main Street has a typical old New England charm and is the site of public gatherings throughout the seasons.
Falmouth Public Library is set in a three-acre park in the center of town. Manicured lawns, tall shade trees, a Veterans Memorial, flower beds and a statue of Katharine Lee Bates highlight this restful refuge along busy Main Street. Along the Main Street sidewalk, there are twelve bronze plaques showing major Falmouth industries throughout history.
Peg Noonan Park, just west of the Falmouth Public Library grounds, has a small gazebo and benches facing Main Street. There is a farmer's market in the summer. Behind the park are public bathroom facilities and a municipal parking lot.
Lewis Park, behind the Town Hall, borders Siders Pond and is used by many for bird watching.
George Bigelow Memorial Park, also known as Marina Park, is on the west side of Falmouth Inner Harbor. There is adequate parking, a bandshell for summer concerts, open space and modern bathroom facilities.
Nye Park in North Falmouth has tennis courts, playground facilities and a baseball diamond. It borders on a pond and has a picnic area.
Woods Hole Ball Park has a baseball diamond, tennis courts and an extensive handicapped-accessible playground structure. It is the site of the annual Woods Hole May Festival.
Swift Park in West Falmouth has tennis courts and a baseball diamond.
Trotting Park Fields Complex off Gifford Street in Teaticket has a reconstruction of the 1896 trotting park. It is used for walking, a jogging track, two soccer fields, a Pop Warner football field, and trails through conservation land. Nearby is a town-owned Skateboard Park.
Fonseca Park in Waquoit has a baseball field.
Fuller Field, located near the center of town behind the Community Center, is an excellent baseball and football facility. It was the site of the 1991 Babe Ruth World Series. It is the High School home field and is used in the summer by the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Falmouth has eleven public beaches of very different sizes and characteristics. Ten are on salt water: Menauhant Beach in East Falmouth, Bristol Beach in Maravista, Falmouth Heights Beach, Surf Drive Beach in Falmouth, MBL Beach in Woods Hole, Wood Neck Beach in Sippewissett, Trunk River Beach in Falmouth, Chapoquoit Beach in West Falmouth, Megansett Beach and Old Silver Public Beach in North Falmouth. There is also a public beach on Grews Pond in Goodwill Park. The beaches are staffed from mid June until the end of summer.
Bathhouse facilities and concession stands are available at Surf Drive Beach and Old Silver Beach during the summer. There are limited concessions at Falmouth Heights Beach. Ice cream trucks make stops at most of the town beaches. Limited parking facilities exist at all the beaches. All Falmouth residents and taxpayers may obtain beach stickers at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall or at the bathhouse at Surf Drive Beach. General public parking is available only at Surf Drive, Menauhant, and Old Silver Public Beach. Motels and rooming houses provide daily passes for their guests, usually for a small fee.
Swimming lessons at every level of ability are offered by Red Cross certified instructors Monday through Thursday mornings for all comers. There is a charge of $20 for the first child and $10 for each additional child in a family. Arrangements can be made at the beaches at the beginning of July and August. The fee covers the entire time a child takes lessons, whether for a week or for a month. Each program lasts a month and ends with a swimming meet at Massachusetts Maritime Academy where certificates of accomplishment are awarded to the swimmers who have participated for the full month. Swimming lessons are offered at all beaches except Wood Neck. Lessons for 4 and 5 year olds take place only at Grews Pond.
Swimmers who are 15 years old or older may take lifeguard training with Red Cross certified instructors. Fourteen year olds may apply to the Junior Lifeguard Program. This is available at Menauhant Beach, Falmouth Heights Beach, and Old Silver Beach. Those interested in applying to either program should call the Beach Committee office at 508-548-8623 for more information. Each year 20 Red Cross certified lifeguards are trained.
There are beach wheelchairs available free of charge for those who need handicap assistance. They provide safe access to the water. To reserve a beach wheelchair, call the office at 508-548-8623.
Motorboats must be registered with the Division of Environmental Law Enforcement; boats 16 feet and over are subject to an excise tax. Canoes, rowboats and small sailboats are not regulated.
No license is required for salt water fishing, but anyone over 15 years of age who wants to fish in the fresh waters of Massachusetts needs a fishing license, available at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall.
Shellfish permits, available in Town Hall, are required for taking of clams, quahogs, scallops or eels. Limits and other regulations are printed on the permit. Lobsters and crabs can be taken only with a license issued by the state Division of Marine Fisheries.
Hunting licenses are available at Eastman's Sport & Tackle, along with copies of the applicable laws of the Commonwealth. Much of the open land in Falmouth is posted but there are many places where hunting is permitted during the legal season. No hunting is allowed within 50 yards of a paved road or within 500 feet of an inhabited dwelling.
There are many road races including the world famous Falmouth Road Race from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights held in August.
Falmouth has both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. There are two 4-H Chapters in Falmouth, various riding groups, and a therapeutic riding group for handicapped and physically challenged youngsters. Some stable owners board horses and offer riding lessons.
The Sports Center on Highfield Drive has indoor and outdoor tennis courts and exercise rooms. Membership is open to the public. There is a curling rink in the building next to the Sports Center.
Some local hotels and motels open their pools to the public for swimming in the winter for a fee. Private sailing lessons and surfboard lessons are offered in the summer. Sailing, fishing and sport fishing charters are also available in town.
There are several golf courses in Falmouth, some of which are open to the public.