Cape Cod, the Massachusetts peninsula about an hour from Boston, juts out into the Atlantic like a flexible arm. It offers quaint villages, seafood, cabins, lighthouses, gardens filled with hydrangeas, ponds and berries, sandy Atlantic beaches, and lots of fun things to do. Here’s my take on some favorites:
Falmouth, the nearest picturesque seaside village to the mainland, is Cape Town’s main gateway to the island of Martha’s Vineyard, seven miles offshore. The Woods Hole Ocean Institution studies the ocean and all it offers to the world. Nobska Lighthouse dates back to 1829. The Shining Sea cycle route runs through Falmouth, about 11 miles away, just on the Atlantic coast. Cape Cod was originally part of the mainland; in 1914 the canal cut from Cape Cod Bay to Buzzards Bay.
Sandwich, the oldest town on Cape Cod, was settled in 1637. The town’s motto translates to: “After so many shipwrecks, a haven.” The Heritage Museum and Gardens are a must stop and the town is famous for its pressed glassware, produced here in the 1800s.
In 1825, the Boston Sandwich Glass Company moved to Cape Cod because the sand lends itself well to glass blowing. The live glassblowing sessions are particularly interesting.
Hyannis is the economic center of Cape Cod, made famous by the Kennedys who still have a complex there. Main Street includes restaurants, cafes, bars and the JFK Museum.
The Pirate Museum houses the largest collection of pirate artifacts recovered from a single shipwreck in the world. This shipwreck happened in 1717, outside Wellfleet. You can browse a life-size replica.
The Hyannis area hosts Pirate Festivals and at Skull Island and Pirates Cove putt-putt you can learn about some of those famous pirates who sailed from the Caribbean to New England as you play mini-games. golf.
Cape Town has two sides: on the bay side you will see most whales, including humpback whales. You can join the Whale Watch tour in Hyannis in the Barnstable area.
You’re there for about 2 hours or more, with concessions on the boat, soaking up the sun and watching these massive, majestic animals swim along the bay.
Ferries depart from Hyannis for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
In Dennis, Right by the bay, The Harbor Hotel has a cafe outside a marina, a great place to pick up fresh oysters and lobster rolls. One of Cape Cod’s best beaches is Mayflower Beach, and when the tide goes out you can sometimes walk two miles.
The Cape Cod Museum of Art features rotating exhibits that pay homage to, for example, the Wampanoag tribe, the original inhabitants of the peninsula, alongside contemporary art and sculpture. The Cape Playhouse, created in the 1920s, is a famous summer theater there.
Chatham is known for the Chatham House promenades during the holidays and for its main street. One of the main restaurants is Chatham Squire, with license plates on the walls and live music. lots of fun.
film screenings, Jaws, on the water, are also fun. You can visit Chatham Lighthouse, walk the main street and take a trip to Monomoy Island on this ocean side of the peninsula.
The Cape Cod National Seashore begins at Chatham and extends to the northern end of the Cape in Provincetown, with six swimming beaches, 40 miles of coastline and numerous dunes. I remember taking a buggy ride around the plums and beach grass and visiting little shacks on the dunes.
Provincetown has a party vibe: Commercial Street is lined with people, restaurants, cafes, bars, art galleries. It’s gay friendly and open-minded.
The Pilgrims initially landed here, but it was too hard for them, so they got back into their boats and crossed the bay to Plymouth. At the top of the Pilgrim Monument, you can see all of Cape Cod, the ocean, and the surrounding bay.
As for recreation, college baseball players come to Cape Town before heading to the majors and minors. Games are free, and you get lunch, or a blanket and picnic basket, and just go out and support the team.
Wellfleet, Chatham, Orleans, Brewster – most towns you’ll be staying in will have their own baseball team – it’s all part of a Cape Cod summer.
There is also biking, kayaking, world class golf with excellent public courses. There’s even croquet, a lawn game reminiscent of the Golden Age.
As for the culinary delights of Cape Cod, I think of fried clams, Wellfleet oysters and lobster in all its forms, including lobster ice cream at the Chocolate Emporium. It has a buttery flavor with lobster pieces in it; really different.
Cape Cod potato chips are made in Hyannis; you can smell the chips in the air; and nearby is Cape Cod Brewing. You can head to the Nauset fire in Eastham, featured on the bag, and enjoy crisps with a view of the lighthouse.
And wash down the local food with a local beer, Cape Codder cocktail or Cape Cod Mojito. Cape Town is known for its cranberry bogs and fresh cranberries contribute to a delicious drink. As refreshing as Cape Town itself.
(For more on Cape Cod, as well as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Islands, listen to Episode #62 of my award-winning travel podcast, The places I remember with Lea Lane. Leon Bolivar, Marketing Manager for Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club in Brewster, Cape Cod, shares his love of the area.)