Cape Cod

Cape Cod Itineraries

Cape Cod: How Much Time Do You Need?

Cape Cod’s Provincetown: a Perfectly Gay Day

Seashore galore, bulging lobster rolls, historic lighthouses and easy living

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Cape Cod, New England’s playground, is a magical spit of sand separated from the mainland by two bridges. It’s deserving of its renowned reputation as a summertime playground and an off-season refuge for recharging. Although it’s only about 80 miles long by about 6 miles wide in many places, it’s comprised of 15 towns, each of which appeals to its own tribe. These pages are about helping you find your perfect Cape Cod place.

That said, Cape Cod offers universal experiences no matter where you base yourself. You’ll always find pristine beaches, hundreds of swimmable freshwater ponds, and all manner of water sports …  freshly caught seafood on most every menu (from classic fried clams to innovative ethnic variations) … serious and touristy art galleries … conservation space with hiking trails galore … scenic drives and quite perches to savor the solitude (yes, it’s possible even in the summer).

You’ll become a savvy insider before you know it. Let’s start at the beginning.

The Upper Cape

Sandwich, dating to 1637, is a gem. Spend a day wandering the village center, a virtual time capsule spanning the centuries. Or spend an afternoon on one the Cape’s best beaches. Bourne is predominantly a quiet, rural place.

Falmouth, the Cape’s second largest town, has more coastline than any other Cape town. Its eight villages differ widely in character — from tranquil and placid to popular, post-college gathering spots. Its Main Street, with lots shops and eateries, is busy year-round. To reach Martha’s Vineyard, you’d catch a passenger ferry from here or a car ferry from Woods Hole. Mashpee, known for its Wampanoag Indians roots, also boasts an upscale outdoor mall and a pristine barrier beach.

The Mid-Cape

Barnstable unfurls along the bayside and Route 6A, chockfull of stately homes, B&Bs, antique shops. It’s unmarred by commercial development. Along Route 28 on the opposite shore, you’ll find the family-friendly Craigville Beach. Landlocked in between? Wealthy little 19th century villages and summer mansions. Hyannis is the Cape’s commercial and transportation hub. (A million people annually take the ferry from here to Nantucket.) Most Cape visitors end up in Hyannis at some point, whether by choice or by necessity. Its harbor and Main Street are worthy of a stroll; its dining options are varied. Then there’s the Kennedy’s Hyannnisport.

Family-oriented Yarmouth unfolds along tranquil Route 6A (with antique shops and quiet lanes) and congested Route 28 (with a sea of mini-golf courses). Dennis, like Yarmouth, suffers from a split personality with regards to Route 6A and 28. Located at the Cape’s geographic center, Dennis makes a convenient base for day trips outward. Each side of Dennis has its own nice, long beach.

The Lower Cape

Brewster boasts the huge Nickerson State Park, antique and contemporary shops on Route 6A and bayside beaches particularly nice at low tide. Harwich unfolds along Route 28, and while less developed than its neighbors, is blessed with the most picturesque Wychmere Harbor.

Genteel Chatham offers a good mix of archetypal Cape Cod architecture, a classic Main Street, excellent beaches, upscale shops, and a rich seafaring history. The biggest draw of Orleans is Nauset Beach, an Atlantic Ocean barrier beach more than nine miles long. But its real charm lies in the watery inlets that surround the town. Because Routes 6, 6A, and 28 converge in Orleans, traffic is heavy in summer.

The Outer Cape

The most remote part of the Cape, with plenty of “thin places” begins in Eastham, without a Main Street or town center per se, is the gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore. Its uninterrupted stretches of sandy beach, backed by high dunes, begin in Eastham and extend to the tip of the Cape. Nauset Marsh is great for kayaking, Fort Hill for walking.

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Truro, considered to be the last vestige of “old Cape Cod,” has no stoplights, no fast-food outlets, no supermarket. It does have a lot of second homes and fabulous beaches. Almost 70 percent of Truro’s rolling moors and hidden valleys lie within Seashore boundaries.

Wellfleet is best known as an art stronghold, but Nature comes in a close second. Solitude is sought and found at an Audubon sanctuary and at Great Island. Wellfleet, more than most, marches to its own drum.

As you cross into Provincetown, where high dunes drift onto Route 6, you immediately sense this place is different. It’s an outpost of the LGBTQ community, Portuguese fishermen and families, artists and writers. But its colorful population does not overshadow its natural beauty – from biking and hiking within the Seashore to whale-watching or sailing from the pier.

So, did you find your perfect place yet?

Don’t forget to click on the yellow bar above for Cape Cod details about when to go, what it costs, transportation, informative background reading (on history, culture, cuisine, recommended reading, art, music), other valuable websites and maps, a photo montage, and short introductory travel videos.

When To Go

The best months to visit Cape Cod are mid-May to mid-June and early September to mid-October. (For more about seasons, click here.) If you have a flexible schedule, weekdays are always better than weekends because there are fewer crowds. But honestly, any day the sun rises or sets is a great day to be on Cape Cod. Bay side, Atlantic side, Nantucket Sound side — it doesn’t matter…

If possible, especially in July and August (but also in the late Spring and early Fall too), avoid driving to the Cape on Friday afternoon or evening — unless you enjoy sitting in traffic. For the same reasons, don’t leave the Cape on Sunday afternoon or evening. Or do what most visitors do: accept it as the price of admission to one of the country’s most magical places.

Check out special events to avoid or plan a trip around.

You really can’t trust Boston and mobile app weather reports to provide accurate forecasts for all the microclimates between Route 28 and 6A, from the canal to Provincetown. If you really want to go to the Cape, just go. There’ll be plenty to do even if it’s cloudy or rainy. When in doubt, or when it really matters, consult capecodweather.net.

What to Pack and Wear
The Cape and the islands are casual for the most part; a jacket is required at only one or two places. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll always need shoes and shirts at beachfront restaurants.

Tides come in and go out twice daily; times differ from day to day and from town to town. At low tide, the sandy shore is hard and easier to walk on; at high tide, what little sand is visible is more difficult to walk on. Since tides vary considerably from one spot to another, it’s best to stop in at a local bait-and-tackle shop for a tide chart. Check here for Cape Cod Canal tide information.

How Much Time To Spend

If You Have 3 Days
As a starting point, check out the “A Perfect Day In …” for each town. See which strikes your fancy and knit them together. Why not start with Chatham (which will lead to all the rest and are all linked).

If You Have 5 Days
You’ll need to be efficient. Visit the village of Sandwich, poke around antiques and artisan shops on Route 6A, and drive down scenic bayside roads north of Route 6A, spending two nights mid-Cape. On the third morning, pop down to Main Street and the lighthouse in Chatham, and then head to the Outer Cape and the famed Cape Cod National Seashore beaches, stopping at the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham. Spend two nights on the Outer Cape (or in Orleans): Visit galleries in Wellfleet, walk the Atlantic beaches and short nature trails, and take a day trip to Provincetown.

If You Have 7 Days
You’ll end up with a very enjoyable trip. Spend three nights mid-Cape and three on the Outer Cape. Do all of the above, plus linger longer in Sandwich, visiting the Glass Museum and/or Heritage Museums & Gardens. Add a beach walk at Barnstable’s Sandy Neck Beach and/or Nauset Beach in Orleans. Visit the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster and/or the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Spend a day and a half in Provincetown—watching people, walking Commercial Street, ducking into art museums and the informative Provincetown Museum, taking in a sunset from Race Point or Herring Cove, heading out on a whale-watching excursion.

If You Have 10 Days

You’ll be very happy. Allot the entire three additional days (from the above plan) to Martha’s Vineyard. (Trying to see the Vineyard in a day borders on silliness.) Or add a night or two in the diverse FalmouthWoods Hole area and a day trip to Nantucket. Back on the Cape, get out on the water with a trip to Monomoy Island in Chatham or some other boat tour. Add a couple of whistle-stops at the Cape’s small, sweet, historic museums.

If You Have 2 Weeks
You’re really lucky. Allot three days to one of the islands. Add a quiet canoe or kayak paddle somewhere. Take a leisurely bike ride or an aerial sightseeing flight. Get tickets to summer stock and cheer on the home team at a free baseball game. Slip into a parking space at the Wellfleet Drive-In. Investigate an old cemetery. Take an art class. Visit Mashpee’s South Cape Beach State Park.

High and Low Season

Memorial Day weekend in late May kicks things off, then there is a slight lull until school lets out in late June. The Cape is in full swing from late June through Labor Day (early September).

There are two exceptions to this, though, and they’re the best-kept secrets for planning a Cape Cod vacation: The Cape is relatively the week following the July 4 weekend and the week prior to Labor Day weekend. You will often find B&B vacancies and no lines at your favorite restaurant.

As a rule, traveling to the Cape or the islands without reservations in high season is not recommended. Accommodations — especially cottages, efficiencies, and apartments — are often booked in January for the upcoming summer.

The Cape and islands are also quite busy from Labor Day to Columbus Day (mid-October). It’s fairly common for B&Bs to be booked solid on every autumn weekend.

Cape Cod from mid-October to mid-May is another world. The Cape is glorious off-season and many towns have developed special events designed to attract visitors. Lodging prices decline and plenty of restaurants are open to serve the significant year-round population.

Events and Holidays

Local Events
Some of Cape Cod’s most endearing annual events and festivals include:

Mid-April–early May: Herring Run (Bourne)
May: Figawi Sailboat Race Weekend (Hyannis)
Mid- to late May: Rhododendron Festival (Sandwich)

Mid-June: International Film Festival (Provincetown)
Late June: Sandwich Fest (Sandwich)
Late June: Portuguese Festival and Blessing of the Fleet (Provincetown)

July 4: Parades (Falmouth, Chatham, Wellfleet, Provincetown)
July 4: Fireworks (Falmouth, Hyannis, Provincetown, and others)
Early July: Powwow (Mashpee)
Late July: Barnstable County Fair (Falmouth)
Late July–early August: Woods Hole Film Festival (Woods Hole)
Late July to early August: Family Week (Provincetown)

Early August: Pops by the Sea (Hyannis)
Mid-August: Chatham Festival of the Arts (Chatham)
Mid-August: Falmouth Road Race (Falmouth/Woods Hole)
Mid-August: Sandcastle Contest (Dennis)
Mid-August: Food Truck Festival (Falmouth)
Mid- to late August: Carnival Week (Provincetown)

Early September: Swim for Life (Provincetown)
Early to mid-September: Windmill Weekend (Eastham)
Mid-September: Truro Treasures (Truro)
Mid- to late September: Bourne Scallop Festival (Bourne)

Early October: Cape Cod Brew Fest (Falmouth)
Mid-October: Seaside Festival (Yarmouth)
Mid-October: Women’s Week (Provincetown)
Mid-October: Oyster Festival (Wellfleet)
Late October: Halloween (Provincetown)

Late November: Lighting of the Monument (Provincetown)
Late November through December: Holly Days (Sandwich)

Early December: Christmas by the Sea (Falmouth)
Early December: Harbor Lighting and Boat Parade (Hyannis)
December: Christmas by the Sea and Christmas Stroll (Chatham)
New Year’s Eve: First Night Celebration (Chatham, Provincetown)

**The list is not exhaustive but means to show the diversity, depth and small town charms that the Cape offers. Although it might seem quaint, pick up a copy of the local Cape Cod Times to check out what’s going on. Or check in at Cape Events.

National Holidays
January (1st): New Year’s Day
January (third Monday):  Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February (third Monday):  Presidents Day
May (last Monday):  Memorial Day
July (4th):  Independence Day
September (first Monday):  Labor Day
October (second Monday):  Columbus Day
(not the same as Native American Day, which is only celebrated officially in two states, on September 25th)
November (11th):  Veterans Day
November (fourth Thursday):  Thanksgiving Day
December (25th):  Christmas

Time Zone

Cape Cod is located in the Eastern time zone.

To check the local time on Cape Cod, click here.

Daylight Savings Time (DST) happens in the spring (on the second Sunday morning of March at 2 a.m.). It’s when clocks are advanced one hour so there is more daylight later into the evening. In the fall (on the first Sunday morning in November at 2 a.m.), clocks shift back one hour to standard time. The entire U.S. (except Hawaii and most of Arizona) participates in this ritual of ‘springing forward’ and ‘falling back.’

What it Costs

The best things in life really are free on Cape Cod: sunrises sunsets, long walks on the beach among them. But fried clams and lobster rolls cost money, as do kayaking and whale-watching.

If you are camping or hosteling, eating picnic food from a grocery store and hiking or wandering around towns, two budget travelers could get away with spending about $100 a day between them. They would not feel deprived.

Mid-range travelers should expect to spend about $400 per day if it’s a special, summertime trip.

Luxe travelers could easily spend $900 a day at a fancy resort (or boutique B&B), top-notch dining with wine, an experiential outing and evening entertainment (mostly theater).

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in $US.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person

$ => Rooms less than $150 for a double
$$ => Rooms $150-300 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double

$ => Up to $15 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$ => $16–22 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$$ => $23 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)

N/A => Not applicable

$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person

Airfare and Car Rental Prices

Fly the Friendly Skies

Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh.

But you can get notifications from companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox.

Sites like Momondo also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites.

That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals don’t show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their ‘friend’ or subscribe to their e-mailings.

Have Car, Will Travel

Like airlines, car rental rates are all over the map. Companies like Expedia and Hotwire offer comparison price shopping.

There are also name-your-own-price sites, like Priceline, where you tell ‘em what you want to pay and they hook you up with a car rental company who can fit the bill. There are some great deals here, if you are not too picky about the make and model of your rental.

Zipcar is another choice for rentals. Available in many major cities and college towns in the U.S., Zipcar is a great alternative for super-short term rentals. Picture this scenario: you are in a big city with terrific public transportation, so you don’t need a car. But then you hear about an amazing restaurant 20 miles away in the suburbs. You can’t go home without trying it. A taxi would cost a fortune. You’d have to wait a long time to get a return taxi. Open the Zipcar app; search for a nearby Zipcar locale. You need to apply for membership and download the app in advance. Memberships cost about $7 a month; rentals are about $8 to10 per hour; gas and insurance are included. Foreign drivers can apply and you don’t need to pay a monthly fee if you’re an occasional driver (from $25 per year for a membership).

Ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, are also ubiquitous in major cities. Through a smart phone app, you can line up rides all over town. It’s convenient because no money changes hands (payment is made through the app) and it’s usually cheaper than a taxi. Another bonus? After requesting a ride, you can see where the driver is on a map, so you know that they are on their way and how long it will be. Try that with a cab.

Money Saving Tip
Costco, because of its behemoth size and price negotiating power, offers great low prices for most major car rental companies. Yes, you need to purchase an annual Costco membership first, but it more than pays for itself with what you’ll save with a typical week’s car rental (i.e. searches turn up a mid-size car through Costco for $225 and a comparable car through another aggregator for $325.)

Did You Know
Budget Car Rental offers drivers residing at the same address (i.e. unmarried partners or BFFs) complimentary extra driver coverage. Other car rental companies charge upwards of $10/day. By the way, when renting in California, there are no additional driver fees by law.


Hopefully, your trip to (or within) the U.S. goes without a glitch. But what if an unexpected situation arises? Will you lose the money you invested in the trip? Will you need quick cash to cover sudden costs?

Travel insurance policies are meant to cover these unexpected costs and assist you when problems arise. The fee is typically based on the cost of the trip and the age of the traveler.

Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive coverage that usually includes protection for the following common events:

Trip Cancellation
About 40 percent of all claims fall in this category.

Health services in the U.S. are expensive for the uninsured. This is a major reason to consider purchasing insurance. Whether you break a leg or need a blood transfusion, you will likely incur costs far higher than you might pay in other nations. And what if you have an accident that requires transport to a major medical center? Air ambulances alone could set you back $15,000 to $30,000.

Trip Interruption
For example, if you become ill during your trip or if someone at home gets sick, and you have to get off the cruise ship or abandon a tour. The insurer will often pay up to 150% of the cost of your trip to get you home.

Travel Delay
Insurance usually covers incidentals like meals and overnight lodging while you wait to travel home.

Insurance will typically cover lost and mishandled baggage.

Some insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. This may cost more (often 10% or more), but it is worthwhile for certain travelers.

Do I need travel insurance?
If your trip costs $4,000 to $6,000 (or more), it’s probably a good idea. Your age and health are important factors. So is your destination. If you’re traveling to a hurricane-prone area during hurricane season, for example, you’ll probably want some coverage “just in case” … no matter what.

Your English language skills are also an important factor. Insurance policies often include concierge services with 24-hour hotlines that can connect you quickly with someone who speaks your language.

How do I choose an insurance provider?

Do your homework; check around.

The largest insurers in the U.S. include Travel Guard, Allianz and CSA Travel Protection. Smaller reputable companies include Berkley, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Travel Insured International and Travelex. You may also find deals through aggregator sites like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip.

Many airlines and travel companies also offer travel insurance when you book your flight (often contracted with the above major players).

If you have pre-existing health conditions
Many policies have exclusion policies if you have a pre-existing medical condition. But companies also offer waivers that overwrite the exclusion if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame of paying for your trip (e.g., within 24 hours of buying your cruise package). Again, it’s best to check the fine print.

Credit card insurance
If you buy your airfare or trip with a credit card, you may be partially covered by the credit card’s issuing bank. Check directly with the company to find out exactly what’s covered, as many have “stripped down” coverage and restrictions.

The travel insurance business is expanding and evolving rapidly. As “shared space” lodging options like VRBO, Airbnb and Homeaway become more popular in the travel and leisure market, so does the need for insurance for both property owners and travelers.

For more information, visit the US Travel Insurance Association.

Exchange Rates and Currency

U.S. dollars come in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. They are all the same size and color, so non-Americans have an understandably tricky time telling them apart. The $2 bill is in circulation but rarely seen.

Coins in wide circulation include the penny (one cent), nickel (five cents), dime (ten cents) and quarter (25 cents). The 50-cent and one-dollar coins are seen occasionally.

Smaller businesses may not accept $50 or $100 bills, so have twenties or smaller bills in hand. ATMs usually dispense $20 bills.

Are you from outside the U.S.? Click here for currency rates.

ATMs and Credit Cards
Both are widely found and accepted. Sometimes, though, a restaurant is cash-only. Do watch out for that.

Tipping and Costs That Add Up

Tipping is a cost you must build into the budget for any U.S. travel experience, whether urban or rural. Tipping is most relevant to dining out and hotel stays, but other costs should also be taken in to consideration. General guidelines include:


For excellent service, plan to tip 20% on the total bill, before taxes. For less-than-stellar service, 10-15% is customary, as an imperfect experience is often not solely the responsibility of the server. In many states, servers work for below minimum wage and live mostly on tips, so consider the ramifications of your tipping decisions.

To complicate matters, many restaurants in the major metropolitan areas — New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco — are moving to a no-tipping model in which service is included. The verdict isn’t yet in on whether this new model will stick, so be sure you understand the tipping policy at each restaurant you visit.

Oh, and one more complication: Sometimes a tip is automatically included, usually for groups of six or more people. But at least it will be itemized in plain sight on the bill, if you look closely for it.


Most bell staff receive $1 to $2 per bag they assist with; if someone carts all of your bags up to your room, expect to tip $5 to $10.

Tips for housekeeping are also good form. The rule of thumb is $2 to $3 per day and about $5 per day in higher-end properties.

At properties with concierge services, consider tipping concierge staff who assist you in planning activities, making reservations or acquiring tickets around $10 to $20 per day. Concierge staff do not normally expect a tip for simply orienting you with driving directions or public transportation info. Car valet staff expect $2 when returning your car. Spa employees (massage therapists, aestheticians, etc.) usually see 20% tips on their services, whether performed at the spa or in your room.

Other Costs

Invariably, there are incidental costs associated with being on the road. Make sure to budget between $10 and $40 per day for batteries, lost phone chargers, bug repellent, headache medicine, sunburn relief and other personal items you might have forgotten. If you’re traveling with kids, consider the snack budget. Local grocery and drug stores will be cheaper than tourist shops for all of the above.

Sales Taxes, Lodging Taxes & Resort Fees

In Massachusetts, the combined total for state and local taxes on all retail goods and services is 6.25%. Taxes are not usually included in display prices, unless otherwise stated.

Lodging tax also varies by location in Massachusetts, ranging from 5.7% to 11.7%. This tax applies whether you are staying at a private vacation rental, a bed-and-breakfast, or a full-fledged hotel. Taxes are not usually stated up front in the advertised room rate. Neither are the mandatory nightly “resort fees” being charged by an increasing number of hotels. Sometimes this fee covers internet access, parking, and a few incidentals, while at other times it’s merely a surcharge for amenities that should be free. Beware that third-party booking agents, especially online, often don’t include resort fees in their reservation charges, so you may be unhappily surprised by the final bill when you check out.


Route 6, also called the Mid-Cape Highway, is a speedy, four-lane, divided highway until Exit 9 1/2, when it becomes an undivided two-laner. After the Orleans rotary (Exit 13), it becomes an undivided four-lane highway most of the way to Provincetown.

Scenic Route 6A, also known as Old King’s Highway and Main Street, runs from the Sagamore Bridge to Orleans. It is lined with sea captains’ houses, antiques shops, bed & breakfasts, and huge old trees. Development along Route 6A is strictly regulated by the Historical Commission. Route 6A links up with Route 6 in Orleans. Without stopping, it takes an extra 30 minutes or so to take Route 6A instead of Route 6 from Sandwich to Orleans.

Route 28 can be confusing. It’s an elongated, U-shaped highway that runs from the Bourne Bridge south to Falmouth, then east to Hyannis and Chatham, then north to Orleans. The problem lies with the Route 28 directional signs. Although you’re actually heading north when you travel from Chatham to Orleans, the signs will say route 28 south. When you drive from Hyannis to Falmouth, you’re actually heading west, but the signs will say route 28 north. Ignore the north and south indicators, and look for towns that are in the direction you want to go.

Rotaries: When you’re approaching a rotary, cars already within the rotary have the right-of-way.

Traffic: It’s bad in July and August no matter how you cut it. It’s bumper-to-bumper on Friday afternoon and evening when cars arrive for the weekend. It’s grueling on Sunday afternoon and evening when they return home. And there’s no respite on Saturday when all the weekly cottage renters have to vacate their units and a new set of renters arrives to take their places.

Getting There

Airports and Airlines
There is regularly scheduled air service from Boston to Provincetown. Hyannis is reached by air from Boston, Providence, and New York. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard enjoy regularly scheduled year-round service; Cape Air (508-771-6944) offers the most flights. Sightseeing by air is best done in Chatham, Barnstable, Provincetown, and Martha’s Vineyard.

Bus Service

The Plymouth & Brockton bus line (508-778-9767) serves some points along Route 6A and the Outer Cape from Boston. Bonanza/Peter Pan (888-751-8800) serves Bourne, Falmouth, Woods Hole, and Hyannis from Boston, Providence, and New York City.

There are fast and slow ferries to Provincetown from Boston and a day-tripper from Plymouth. To reach Martha’s Vineyard, the car ferry departs from Woods Hole. Passenger ferries depart from Woods Hole, Falmouth, Hyannis, and New Bedford. There is a seasonal inter-island ferry. There are also high-speed and regular ferries to Nantucket from Hyannis (car and passenger) and Harwich (passenger).


I’m working on building this section out, but in the meantime, I’ve started adding bits to history, culture, cuisine, recommended reading, art, music, websites & maps, and the lovely catch-all, mysterious category of “other.”

The oil painting above is by Mark Beck, represented by Tree’s Gallery in Orleans.

In the meantime, please drop me an email about what you’d like to see here.


Historic Houses
Every town has its own historical museum or house, but some are more interesting than others. Among the best are Hoxie House in Sandwich; Centerville Historical Museum and Osterville Historical Society Museum, both in Barnstable; and the Truro‘s Highland House Museum.


It’s a toss-up as to whether the most picturesque lighthouse is Nobska Light in Woods Hole or Great Point Light on nearby Nantucket. (Nobska is certainly more accessible.)

But there are also working lighthouses in:
Chatham (Light);
Eastham (Nauset Light)
Truro (Cape Cod or Highland Light);
Provincetown (at Race Point Beach).

For a really unusual trip, the lighthouse at Race Point in Provincetown is available for an overnight stay by advance reservation.

Stay tuned as I update this section with more interesting tidbits.


The 10-team Cape Cod Baseball League was established in 1946. Only players with at least one year of collegiate experience are allowed to participate. Wooden bats are supplied by the major leagues. In exchange for the opportunity to play, team members work part time in the community, live with a community host, and pay rent. Carlton Fisk and the late Thurman Munson are just two alumni of the Cape Cod League who succeeded in the majors. Currently, about almost 250 major-league players are former league players. Games are free and played from mid-June to mid-August; it’s great fun.

People who have never uttered the words museum and Cape Cod in the same breath don’t know what they’re missing. Don’t skip these places:

Glass Museum and Heritage Museums & Gardens, both in Sandwich;
Museums on the Green in Falmouth;
Aptucxet Trading Post and Museum in Bourne Village;
Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit/Barnstable;
John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum;
Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis;
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster;
Provincetown Art Association & Museum, the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum, and the Old Harbor Lifesaving Station, all in Provincetown.

Children will particularly enjoy the Railroad Museum in Chatham.

Summer-stock and performing arts venues include:

Cape Playhouse in Dennis;
Cape Repertory Theatre in Brewster;
Monomoy Theatre in Chatham;
Academy Playhouse in Orleans;
Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater in Wellfleet;
Provincetown Repertory Theatre and Provincetown Theatre Co.;
College Light Opera Company in Falmouth;
Barnstable Comedy Club, in Barnstable.
Harwich Junior Theatre, in Harwich.

Stay tuned as I update this section with more interesting tidbits.


The cranberry is one of only three major native North American fruits (the other two are Concord grapes and blueberries). Harvesting began in Dennis in 1816 and evolved into a lucrative industry in Harwich Port. Harvesting generally runs from mid-September to mid-October, when the bogs are flooded and ripe red berries float to the water’s surface. Before the berries are ripe, the bogs look like a dense green carpet, separated by 2- to 3-foot dikes. Harwich, which lays claim to having the first commercial cranberry bog, celebrates with a Cranberry Harvest Festival in mid-September. Most on-Cape bogs are located on the Mid- and Lower Cape.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to folks is the high quality of cuisine on the Cape these days. Modernity and urbane sophistication are no longer rare breeds once you cross the canal bridges. Indeed, locals are so supportive that many fine restaurants stay open through the winter. During the off-season, many chefs experiment with creative new dishes and offer them at moderate prices.

Stay tuned as I update this section with more interesting tidbits.

Recommended Reading

The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod. Henry Beston’s classic recounts his solitary year in a cabin on the ocean’s edge.

The Salt House. Cynthia Huntington’s marvelous book updates Beston’s work with a woman’s perspective in the late 20th century.

The House on Nauset Marsh by Wyman Richardson (The Countryman Press).

Cape Cod. Henry David Thoreau’s naturalist classic meticulously details his mid-1800s walking tours.

Cape Cod Pilot. Josef Berger’s 1937 Works Progress Administration (WPA) guide is filled with good stories and still-useful information.

I devoured the excellent Nature of Cape Cod by Beth Schwarzman, as well as everything by poet Mary Oliver.

Pick up anything by modern-day naturalists Robert Finch (including The Primal Place) and John Hay. Finch also edited a volume of writings by others about the Cape, A Place Apart (with a black-and-white cover photo by yours truly).

Cape Cod is Sand in Their Shoes. Compiled by Edith and Frank Shay; a fine collection of writings.

Look for Cape Cod, Its People & Their History by Henry Kittredge (alias Jeremiah Digges) and The Wampanoags of Mashpee by Russell Peters.

Time and the Town: A Provincetown Chronicle. Mary Heaton Vorse, a founder of the Provincetown Players, describes life in Provincetown from the 1900s to the 1950s.

The Story of Cape Cod. Kevin Shortsleeve has written an illustrated history book for children.

Look also for Admont Clark’s Lighthouses of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket: Their History and Lore and photographer Joel Meyerowitz’s A Summer’s Day and Cape Light.

What are some of your favorites? Drop me an email.


Art Galleries
Wellfleet and Provincetown are the centers of fine art on the Cape. Both established and emerging artists are well represented in dozens of diverse galleries. Artists began flocking to Provincetown at the turn of the 20th century, and the vibrant community continues to nurture creativity. Chatham also has many fine galleries. Look for the outstanding color booklet Arts & Artisans Trails (sponsored by Cape Cod Chamber)—and then don’t leave home without it. Some of my favorites include Addison Art Gallery (Orleans), Giving Tree Gallery (in Sandwich), Left Bank Gallery (Wellfleet and Orleans) and Scargo Pottery and Art Gallery (in Dennis).

Antiques shops are located all along Route 6A, on the 32-mile stretch from Sandwich to Orleans, but there is an especially dense concentration in Brewster, often called Antique Alley. You’ll also find a good concentration of antiques shops in Barnstable, Dennis Port, Chatham.

Estate auctions are held throughout the year. Great benefit auctions include the Fine Arts Work Center Annual Benefit Auction, the AIDS Support Group’s Annual Silent and Live Auction in Provincetown, and the celebrity-studded Possible Dreams Auction on Martha’s Vineyard.

Stay tuned as I update this section with more interesting tidbits.


WOMR (92.1 FM) in Provincetown has diverse and great programming. Tune in to National Public Radio with WCCT (90.3 FM). On the Vineyard tune to WMVY (92.7 FM); on Nantucket, WNAN (91.1 FM); and on the Cape try WCOD (106.1 FM), WFCC (107.5 FM), and WQRC (99.9 FM).

Outdoor summertime band concerts are now offered by most towns, but the biggest and oldest is held in Chatham at Kate Gould Park. Sandwich offers a variety of outdoor summer concerts at Heritage Museums & Gardens. The 85-member Cape Symphony Orchestra performs classical, children’s, and pops concerts year-round. There are a couple of regular venues for folk music, including the Woods Hole Folk Music Society and the First Encounter Coffee House in Eastham.

Stay tuned as I update this section with more interesting tidbits.

Websites and Maps

I confess: I love the out-of-print Cape Cod Street Atlas (Includes Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket) (DeLorme). I’m forever searching out bodies of water or shorelines that look interesting on the map and always finding scenic roads that I didn’t expect.

The Cape Cod Times has Cape- and island-wide coverage. And although it might seem quaint, look for these local weeklies when you are on-Cape: the Cape Codder (focusing on the Lower and Outer Cape), Falmouth Enterprise, and the Provincetown Banner. By the way, if you are heading to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, The Vineyard Gazette, The Martha’s Vineyard Times and Nantucket’s Inquirer and Mirror are all renowned for good reason.

In addition to its bimonthly magazine, Cape Cod Life publishes an annual guide and a Best of the Cape & Islands within its June edition.

Stay tuned as I update this section with more interesting tidbits.


For those coming from the Boston area, Cape-wide information can be obtained at the tourist office on Route 3 (Exit 5) in Plymouth. There is also a year-round Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center at Exit 6 off Route 6.

Lyme Disease
Ticks carry this disease, which has flu-like symptoms and may result in death if left untreated. Immediately and carefully remove any ticks that may have migrated from dune grasses to your body. Better yet, wear long pants, tuck pants into socks, and wear long-sleeved shirts whenever possible when hiking. Avoid hiking in grassy and overgrown areas of dense brush.

Stay tuned as I update this section with more interesting tidbits.



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