Yarmouth, like neighboring Dennis, stretches from Cape Cod Bay to Nantucket Sound; it unfolds along quiet Route 6A and congested Route 28. It’s a family-oriented town, with golf courses, tennis courts, and town-sponsored sailing lessons, as well as quite a few southside oceanfront resorts.
Although Yarmouth’s 5.3-mile section of Route 28 was planted with more than 350 trees in 1989 (on its 350th birthday), the road is still a wall-to-wall sea of mini-golf courses, shops, fast food places, and family-style attractions like a billiards emporium and boating on the Bass River. A larger than life plastic polar bear, a lunging shark, and an elephant epitomize the Cape’s kitschier side. They’re alternately viewed as icons and eyesores.
It’s difficult to imagine that Route 28 was once open land dotted with small farms and that Yarmouth’s ports bustled in the 19th century: Packets sailed to New York City and Newark from South Yarmouth at Bass River. Today the scenic Bass River and South Yarmouth Historic District provide a delightful detour south of Route 28.
Meander along tranquil Route 6A and you’ll find crafts and antiques shops, a quiet village green, a couple of fine historic houses open to the public, walking trails, and an antiquarian bookstore. Take any lane off Route 6A to the north, and you’ll find picturesque residential areas and the bay, eventually.
On the northside, Route 6A was settled in the 1600s, traveled by stagecoaches in the 1700s, and reached its height of prosperity in the 1800s, when it was lined with houses built for and by rope makers, sea captains, bankers, and shipbuilders. At one time, a mile-long section of Yarmouth Port was referred to as Captain’s Row, as it was home to almost 50 sea captains. Many former sea captains’ houses are now attractive B&Bs.
Stephen Hopkins, a Mayflower passenger, built the first house in Yarmouth in 1638 (off Mill Lane) and the town was incorporated just one year later. Today Yarmouth is the third most populous town on the Cape, with 24,000 year-round residents.
Bass Hole Boardwalk and Gray’s Beach
Captain Bangs Hallet House
Edward Gorey House
The Inn at Cape Cod
Liberty Hill Inn
Old Yarmouth Inn
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
Whydah Pirate Museum
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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