Outdoor Recreation

Group Visits at Crane

Deepen your experience with guided trips, educational programs, and learning for all ages!

A magnificent living classroom.

The Crane Estate features a wealth of natural and cultural history, with educational opportunities that are interactive and invite learners to deepen their curiosity, build a personal connection, and consider their role as stewards of our environment. Whether visiting for this special place for the first time, or returning to discover more, visitors are sure to come away from a Crane education program with a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, our unique coastal and cultural place.

Learn more about each of the Crane Estate’s three regions, Castle Hill, Crane Beach, and the Crane Wildlife Refuge, as well as a wealth of information about our coast and its future. Programs are available for all ages.

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  • Guided Field Trips
  • Recreational Programs
  • Groups Visiting on Your Own
  • Family and Adult Learning
  • Volunteering

Guided Field Trips

Guided Field Trips

A variety of educational programs are available for learners of all ages, delivered by trained educators and/or guides. Very often, an experienced volunteer may assist staff in the delivery of programs as well. Programs cater to age/grade-appropriate levels, and while we offer a regular suite of content options, exploration of special themes or unique itineraries may be possible. 

Outdoor and Coastal Education

Coastal programs take place at Crane Beach, Castle Hill, and/or the Crane Wildlife Refuge. They typically last two hours, though longer programs are certainly possible. These hands-on, inquiry-based experiences focus on topics such as coastal habitats, flora and fauna, weather, erosion, marine debris, coastal resilience, and natural/anthropogenic coastal change across time. View the full list of program options here. Programs are linked to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, documentation of which is available upon request.

Cultural Education Programs

We’re pleased to offer youth and other groups the opportunity to take a guided tour of Castle Hill’s Great House, gardens, and/or grounds. These programs are tailored to be age- and/or audience-appropriate and will be paced accordingly. They are delivered by interpreters who may be in period costume depending on the itinerary. Themes include art, architecture, life in the Roaring 20s (“front of house” and/or “back of house”), horticulture, the designed landscape, and more. View the full list of guided tours currently offered.

Group Size and Fees

In order to enhance learning and protect cultural and natural resources, our programs are offered in groups of 15 participants per educator or guide. At any given time, we can accommodate the following maximums on a guided experience:

  • Up to 45 participants at a time for outdoor coastal education programs
  • Up to 30 participants at a time for guided tours of the Great House, gardens, and grounds

Please note, however, that larger groups can be accommodated onsite on a particular day. In this case, a portion of the group may engage in self-guided exploration or “free time” while others rotate through the guided programming. Or, groups may elect to take part in both a combination program where they undertake both a guided cultural tour and an outdoor education program on the same day.

Fees start at:

  • $10 per person for a one-hour group tour of the house, gardens, and/or grounds
  • $15 per person for a two-hour outdoor coastal program
  • $25 per person for a three-hour program that includes both of the above
  • There is a $200 minimum for all group bookings

Program fees include general admission to the Crane Estate and parking for up to three additional hours beyond the program time. Financial assistance may be available, pending reserves, for groups with a demonstrated need.

If you are looking to book a coastal education field trip or group tour of the Great House, please email craneeducation@thetrustees.org or call 978.356.4351. If you are looking to join a public program such as a guided hike or kayak trip, click here to explore our listings of upcoming events.

Recreational Programs

Recreational Programs

Guided kayak excursions and hikes are a great way to get outdoors with a group, whether school-age, or adults. Our excursions welcome many different groups including corporate groups, scouts, homeschoolers, and more. At this time, guided kayak trips are limited to 12 youth on the water at a time. Youth must be aged 12+, and they will use our fleet of sit-on-top boats. Clients with >12 youth can opt to combine a guided kayak trip with a hike and/or coastal education program that would see smaller groups rotating through two or more activities during the visit, one of which is kayaking. We can accommodate groups of 30 adults at a time in our fleet of sit-in boats.

Fees are listed on each event description, and group pricing is available. Visit CraneOutdoors for more information.

If you are looking to book a group hike or kayak excursion, for an audience of 10 or more people, please use the inquiry form linked below email craneeducation@thetrustees.org or call 978.356.4351. If you are looking to join a public program such as a guided hike or kayak trip, click here to explore our listings of upcoming events.

Groups Visiting on Your Own

Groups Visiting on Your Own

Groups are welcome to visit the Crane Estate on their own, whether to go to the beach, explore the gardens and grounds of Castle Hill, or hike our trails. Special pricing of $100/bus (Memorial Day through Labor Day) and $75/bus (all other times) is available. Groups arriving in individual passenger vehicles are subject to all regular entry fees unless alternate terms are negotiated in advance. Parking cannot be guaranteed for any vehicle, bus or otherwise, unless it is booked in advance.

In terms of amenities, Crane Beach offers restrooms year-round. During peak season of Memorial Day and Labor Day, our full bank of restrooms are open. At all other times, the facilities are limited to just two open restrooms unless a prior arrangement is made. Also available during peak season is lifeguard coverage of a delineated swim area, our Beach Store, and Snack Shack. Large groups planning to utilize the Snack Shack are asked to inform us of this in advance so that we can plan accordingly. These amenities cease after Labor Day, though the Beach Store may stay open on weekends into the autumn on fair weather days.

At Castle Hill, visitors can tour the gardens and grounds with an audio tour app available on Google Play or the App Store. Portable restrooms are available in our main parking lot year-round, even with the Great House is closed. A small Gift Shop is open during times when the Great House is open (please refer to the Castle Hill page for our hours). Apart from a small selection of snacks in the Gift Shop, there are no food/beverage offerings at Castle Hill at this time.

If you are looking to book a self-guided group visit for an audience of 10 or more people, please email craneeducation@thetrustees.org or call 978.356.4351. If you are looking to join a public program such as a guided hike or kayak trip, click here to explore our listings of upcoming events. 

Family and Adult Learning

Family and Adult Learning

A number of educational programs are available within our lineup of public programs and events. These include outdoor learning programs focused on the natural history of the Crane Estate as well as guided tours and specialty talks about the cultural history of the site. Visitor favorites that are geared towards youth include our family-focused CraneExplorer series; shipwreck walks; owl prowls; animal tracking; guided tours of our Great House, gardens, and other cultural resources; explorations of Choate Island; and more. Adult learners, please also read about our Coastal Education Volunteer training program in the section on Volunteering.

Please visit Things To Do and search for events at Castle Hill, Crane Beach, and the Crane Wildlife Refuge for a listing of upcoming opportunities. Terms and fees for these programs are contained within each listing.

Things to Do



Coastal Education Volunteer Training program

The Coastal Education Volunteer (CEV) training program provides an opportunity for participants to gain knowledge and skills useful to the delivery of coastal programming at the Crane Estate and within our local communities. Via this four-month, 12-session course, volunteers receive instruction in coastal processes, local natural history, ecology, coastal change and resilience, and environmental education. Trainees demonstrate their skills by developing a hands-on coastal education resource that would be usable in a local coastal environment, and these projects are presented to peers at the end of the course.

Volunteering on the Coast

Both CEV graduates and those who have not completed the CEV program may serve as program assistants in our coastal education and recreation programs and collect environmental data for community science projects. When our Coastal Education Center opens in the next two years, coastal volunteers will serve as interpreters there as well. While prior completion of the CEV program is not a requirement for all coastal volunteering opportunities, it is encouraged, and we will prioritize the accommodation our CEV graduates in volunteer roles. Assignment-specific training will be provided for all who serve.

In terms of beach cleanups, we offer a facilitated cleanup on a quarterly basis. Outside of those, groups interested in conducting a cleanup may do so on their own, and we offer tips for self-guided cleanups. Please note that groups coming for self-guided cleanup are subject to regular entry fees and policies, and we are not able to provide a member of staff to greet or otherwise coordinate self-guided cleanup groups.

Volunteering at Castle Hill

In addition to coastal volunteering, the Crane Estate team engages volunteers in numerous ways across the site. Volunteers support our work in stewardship, horticulture, ecology, curation of cultural resources, and public programs/events.

To learn more and/or to see a list of current volunteer opportunities at the Crane Estate, whether for groups or individuals, please visit our volunteer website, or email volunteer@thetrustees.org.

Volunteer Website

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