Barnstable is comprised of seven distinct villages. And to make matters more interesting, Barnstable is sometimes referred to as Barnstable Village to distinguish it from Barnstable County, which includes the whole Cape.
On the bayside, Route 6A (also called Old King’s Highway and Main Street) winds through West Barnstable and Barnstable Village. Development — or lack thereof — is rigidly controlled by the Old King’s Highway Historical Commission, which regulates signage and does not allow gas stations, chain stores, or unconventional restorations within sight of the road. Sandy Neck, a haven for naturalists and beachgoers, is located off Route 6A, as are stately homes now converted into B&Bs.
On the southside, off Route 28, you’ll find Centerville, Osterville, and Cotuit. Centerville’s Main Street is full of handsome old homes built during the 19th century by affluent sea captains and businessmen. Osterville boasts some of the Cape’s largest summer mansions, all with Nantucket Sound as their front yard. Osterville’s Main Street is lined with upscale shops. At the turn of the 20th century, Cotuit was dubbed Little Harvard, as it was home to many academicians. Cotuit’s Main Street is lined with impressive Federal, Greek Revival, and Queen Anne houses, with American flags and Adirondack chairs dotting the lawns. The popular Craigville Beach dominates this side of Barnstable.
Landlocked and wedged between Routes 28 and 6, Marstons Mills is tiny, quiet, and residentially developed. It was founded by the Marston family, who built and ran the mills driven by the Goodspeed River.
For fact-mongers in the crowd, the Cape’s largest town covers 60 square miles, is home to 50,000 year-round souls, and is the Cape’s second oldest town, incorporated two years after Sandwich, in 1639.
Barnstable Comedy ClubBarnstable Tavern
Cahoon Museum of American Art
Cape Cod Airfield
Four Seas Ice Cream
Guapo’s Tortilla Shack
Isaiah Thomas Books and Prints
Lamb and Lion Inn
Sandy Neck Beach and Salt Marsh
St Mary’s Church Garden
West Barnstable Tables
West Parish Meeting House
Winslow Crocker House
If you’ve fallen in love with the Cape and want to take a deeper dive with exploring, my Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket: An Explorer’s Guide has been the region’s travel bible since it was first published in 1995.
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