Among Cape visitors, Hyannis seems to be everyone’s favorite whipping post: A sigh of sympathy is heard when someone mentions he “has” to go into Hyannis in July or August. Yes, traffic is gnarly and Route 28 is overbuilt, but those same Cape residents and off-Cape visitors who moan about congestion in Hyannis couldn’t live as easily without its services, including many fine restaurants.
All that said, Hyannis’s harborfront and Main Street are downright pleasant places. Boating activity on Lewis Bay is active. Main Street is a study in contrasts: Lined with benches and hanging flower baskets, in an attempt to attract strollers, it also has lots of t-shirt shops, some vacant storefronts, and a growing crop of congregating youth and shops geared to them. (Hyannis is, after all, the closest thing to a “city” that the Cape has.) Look for the Walkway to the Sea — a nice, spiffy link between Main Street and the waterfront — and harborfront “shacks” from which artists sell their goods.
Hyannis has a bit of everything: discount outlets, upwards of 50 eating establishments in the waterfront district alone, some quiet cottages and guesthouses, plenty of motels geared to overnight visitors waiting for the morning ferry, harbor tours, and lots of lively bars and nightlife.
Then there’s the Kennedy mystique. Hyannisport — a neighborhood within Hyannis but quite distinct from Hyannis — will forever be remembered as the place where, in the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline sailed offshore and played with Caroline and John. Visitors who come in search of the “Kennedy compound ” or in hopes of somehow experiencing the Kennedy aura, will find only an inaccessible, residential, Yankee-style community of posh estates. Go to the JFK Hyannis Museum instead.
Baseball League Hall of Fame
Baxter’s Boat House
Black Cat Tavern
Cape Cod Central Railroad
Cape Cod Duckmobile
Cape Cod Mall
Cape Cod Melody Tent
Hyannisport Harbor Cruises
Hyannis’s Main Street
Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises
JFK Hyannis Museum
JFK in and around Hyannis
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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