Come to Mashpee for American Indian history, a beach, and an outdoor shopping mall of note.
Fast-growing Mashpee (which means “land near the great cove”) is one of two Massachusetts towns administered by Native Americans (the other is Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard). For 1,000 years prior to the colonists’ arrival, native Wampanoag people had established summer camps in the area, but with the settlement of Plymouth Colony, they saw larger and larger pieces of their homeland taken away from them and their numbers decimated by imported disease.
In the 1930s classic Cape Cod Ahoy! Arthur Wilson Tarbell observed something about Mashpee that could still be said today: It’s “retiring, elusive, scattered, a thing hidden among the trees.”
The largest developed area of Mashpee is New Seabury, a 2,300 acre resort of homes, condos, restaurants, golf courses, shops, and beaches. When developers won their lengthy legal battle with the Wampanoag, the tribe — and the town — lost much of its prettiest oceanfront property.
The only noteworthy beach is South Cape Beach, a relatively pristine barrier beach with several miles of marked nature trails and steady winds that attract sailboarders.
Compared with its neighbors, Mashpee is a quiet place, with a year-round population of 14,300, plenty of commuters (into Boston), and an upscale outdoor mall, Mashpee Commons.
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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