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Cape Cod Vacation and Travel Fun in the
Cape Cod is famous, worldwide, as a coastal vacation destination. Here, we offer you some "shore" fire ways to enjoy this incredibly appealing Massachusetts vacation destination!
Article by Eric H. Photo by Kindra Clineff, courtesy of MassVacation (MOTT)
are probably a million fun things to do during a
Let's make this very clear right from the beginning: there is no better feeling than spending a vacation on Cape Cod. One of the United States' truly great travel destinations, this famed coastal Massachusetts tourist destination (that is shaped like a bent arm) offers something for everyone. Saturated with refreshing salt air and a sweet breeze, the 70-mile stretch of Cape Cod is full of expansive, scenic family-oriented beaches, wonderful seafood restaurants, old-fashioned, tree-lined villages with captain's homes and charming bed and breakfasts and inns, and a commercial (and sometimes charmingly cheesy) element to please shopping, nightlife and miniature golf fanatics.
This Sandwich is a Very Tasty
Cape Cod Travel Destination
Sandwich is a great starting point, as you have the choice to spend a classic Cape Cod vacation here, or as wonderful stop along the way to eventually tour all the other great Cape Cod communities. Either way, Sandwich is a worthy choice as a nice Cape Cod vacation destination with an ideal location. For more info in Sandwich, log onto the Sandwich Visitors Service Board.
Take a Scenic Ride on Route 6A,
the "Old Cape Cod"
But Then Again, There is a
Certain Charm to the More Commercial Side of Cape Cod...
The Ultimate Informal Cape Cod
Family-Style Seafood Restaurants
The Lobster Claw (Route 6A, Tel. 508-255-1800) in Orleans has been in business, seemingly, forever, and that's a good thing. A wildly popular family favorite, the Lobster Claw features a nice, informal atmosphere and the lobster is as good as it gets in New England. The overwhelming presence of French fries and cole slaw reminds us of a more traditional, family-style dining era. The broiled fisherman's platter is huge, full of fish, scallops, shrimp and cherry stones. More seafood nirvana can be experienced with the clambake that includes a pound and a quarter lobster, steamed clams, corn on the cob, potato and, yes, cole slaw. Love this place!
Not exactly Gilligan's Island...Martha's Vineyard attracts visitors from all over the world, and with good reason: it's simply beautiful, what many would expect Cape Cod to look like. A 45-minute ferry ride from Falmouth brings you to this impossibly scenic Cape Cod destination. With five lighthouses and 11 glorious beaches including Moshup Beach, East Beach, and Lighthouse Beach, this is the "classic" Cape Cod that people expect the area to look like before embarking on the journey.
Comprised of towns Aquinnah, Chilmark, West Tisbury, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven (also known as Tisbury), Martha's Vineyard is ideal for beach goers, bird-watching, and shoppers (lots of boutiques and galleries in Edgartown and Oaks Bluffs). With a postcard-perfect coastal downtown, Edgartown has a little something for everyone -- beaches (Edgartown Beach on Seaview Ave. is simply marvelous!), a wonderful harbor and waterfront area with shops, lodging and restaurants, as well as amazing architecture in the form of Greek Revival sea captain's homes. You can still get a taste of this former whaling port's history, strolling this Cape Cod step-back-in-time. Be sure to check out the Edgartown Lighthouse, (off North Water St.), too -- a classic Cape Cod lighthouse built in 1828 and replicated in 1938. For dining, the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven is a must-visit destination. Perhaps most famous for its t-shirt that everyone seems to have, the Black Dog Tavern avoids tourist trap hell by serving up some really good New England fresh local fish and some delicious baked goods.
Oak Bluffs is also charming with its stretch of classic Cape Cod gingerbread cottages. Also check out the fun, beautiful Flying Horse Carousel ride (33 Oak Bluffs Rd., Tel. 508- 693-9481), the nation's oldest operating platform carousel and a National Historic Landmark. It is open from from Easter Saturday through Columbus Day. Additionally, be sure not to miss the Aquinnah Cliffs on Lighthouse Rd., where you can experience the breathtaking, glacially formed, multicolored cliffs.
Oak Bluffs has a wonderful 19th century look, seemingly far removed your typical cookie cutter vacation destination. With ocean beaches, seafood dining and charming lodging options virtually at your doorstep, consider Oak Bluffs a great starting point for your Martha's Vineyard vacation!
The stunningly beautiful island of Nantucket is located 30 miles south of Cape Cod, and represents the best of coastal New England scenery with its wide-open expanses of beaches (seek out Jetties Beach, Children's Beach, and Cisco Beach for the best experiences) and a quaint, quintessential New England feel -- historic buildings, seaside cottages and old-fashioned street lamps. Nantucket's welcoming mix of restaurants, shops (boutiques, galleries, gift stores, etc.), restaurants and fabulous lodging will surely accommodate your Cape Cod vacation dreams, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of Nantucket is its dedication to conservation land in the form of almost 50 percent undeveloped areas. Here, you can enjoy some fabulous bike riding and abundant plant life, bird watching, and salt-sea-air strolls, as if you have made you own special discovery.
Some more Nantucket attractions:
The Nantucket Whaling Museum (13 Broad St., Tel. 508-228-1894) for preserving and interpreting the history of Nantucket Island and fostering an appreciation of its historic significance.
Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum dedicated to preserving Nantucket’s rich history of basket making as an art form.
Editor's note: A great way to arrive at Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket is through the Woods Hole (main land)/Martha's Vineyard/Nantucket Steamship Authority with its long-time stellar reputation (in business since 1818!), U.S. Coast Guard certified crews, high speed ferries and reasonable rates.
Provincetown: Well Worth the Drive
We believe that the journey is as exciting as the final destination, but, honestly, sometimes the distance can become quite annoying. Don't fret when it comes to the driving distances traveled to Provincetown, located at the end -- or the tip -- of the Cape. Provincetown is a popular gay summer vacation destination, but is also just fine for every walk of life looking for a Cape Cod vacation. The downtown is colorful, full of seafood restaurants and little shops, as well as a thriving, arts, theater and entertainment scene. One of our readers, the lovely Terry, of Brockton, MA, (OK, she's my sister-in-law and a great one!) highly recommends Fanizzi's By The Sea (539 Commercial St., Tel. 508-487-1964), within walking distance of the downtown), featuring spectacular views of Cape Cod Bay and "awesome seafood!" Of course, the Provincetown beaches are simply beautiful with Cove Beach and Race Point Beach providing scenic summertime coastal bliss with plenty of sand and relatively warm ocean water (remember, though, this is New England, not Florida!). Provincetown is located by the government-operated Cape Cod National Seashore Park, a 40-mile stretch of expansive beaches and myriad dunes along the way to the quaint Cape Cod community of Chatham. Nearby are charming, more quiet small towns like Eastham, Truro and Welfleet -- wonderful places to stroll the country roads, amazing dunes, and Cape Cod National Seashore Park beaches.
An Incredible Cape Cod Beach
The 10-mile long Nauset Beach, at 18 Bay Ridge Lane in Orleans, is one of the Atlantic's Coast's great stretches of beach, Part of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park, the panoramic ocean views are amazing and the sand is soft, making it the quintessential Cape Cod beach experience. The under toe can be a bit strong, the shoreline rocky in spots and the water many times a bit cold, but the unspoiled, stunning surroundings and gentle Cape Cod summer breezes make Nauset Beach a must-visit New England beach.
Biking Cape Cod
The 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail will bring you through the pictureresque Cape Cod towns of towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet. In many areas, you're close to a beach so we recommend leaving the trail to find your own special spot.
Free parking for trail users is available at:
• The trailhead at Route 134 in South Dennis
• Headwaters Drive in Harwich
• Route 137 in Brewster
• Nickerson State Park in Brewster
• Orleans Center
• Cape Cod National Seashore at the Salt Pond Visitors Center in Eastham, one-half mile from the Locust Road intersection with the trail
• National Seashore at Marconi Area
• The trailhead at LeCount Hollow Road in South Wellfleet
Also recommended is the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth (Locust Rd., off Route 28) -- one of Cape Cod's most developed but still charming towns with lots of beaches, shopping, dining and lodging opportunities (check out Old Silver Beach on Quaker Rd., it's beautiful!). This 3.3 miles bike path spans along the Vineyard Sound shoreline, ending in the charming community of Woods Hole. The ride is pretty much level, making it ideal for the casual bike rider. By the way, the Shining Sea Bike way is named after the famous line in the song, "America the Beautiful." The song was written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates and published in 1910!
The Ultimate Cape Cod Town
Welfleet is amazing! This unspoiled, quintessential Cape Cod town is located 75 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, with 61 percent of the area being part of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park. So, that means plenty of open beach space for you to enjoy! The Central Village area represents quaint Cape Cod at its finest with a nice variety of shopping and dining opportunities -- it is a great place to stroll. Welfleet also features fresh water ponds and is home to the Welfleet Drive-In Theater, one of its kind in New England.
If you're not into the commercial side of Cape Cod, Welfleet is the antidote!
A "Rail" Good Time
Named one of the top ten scenic train rides in the country by USA Today, Cape Cod Railway Central offers a two-hour scenic train ride between Hyannis and Buzzards Bay. On this beautiful ride, you'll be able to view cranberry bogs, natural woodlands, lush marshes and other Cape Cod natural delights. Brunch, lunch dinner, and family suppers as well as narrated tours are available as part of the ride. All aboard!
Off the Beaten Path Cape Cod...
Just 10 minutes over the Bourne Bridge, Pocassett is the Cape Cod that people envision -- with less crowded ocean swimming, places to take a peaceful walks in the salt-air, and charming seaside Cape homes with families having cookouts. Pocasset has very little to do with the honky-tonk, hectic, busy Cape Cod that is becoming increasingly apparent. It's also an advantage that you don't have to drive too far into Cape Cod to get the region's true flavor. Drive around and enjoy the Cape Cod feel!
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