Cape Cod Travel Guide

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Cape Cod Travel Guide

Cape Cod Local History

Cape Cod was named by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, a mariner who sailed the New England coast. This 65 mile long peninsula juts out from mainland Massachusetts in the Atlantic ocean.

It was here that the Pilgrims first set foot in the New World in 1620. However, they did not stay long, preferring instead to settle in Plymouth. With later arrivals of Pilgrims, the Cape was slowly colonized with fishing villages, boat builders and salt makers.

In 1879 Cape Cod was connected to Europe by an undersea telephone cable running 4000 miles to France. In the next century Marconi set up his wireless telegraph station, thus enabling communication with Great Britain.

In 1909 construction was started on the Cape Cod Canal cutting hours off travelling time from Boston and New York. The canal cut Cape Cod off from the mainland, making it an island of fifteen small towns and villages.

Cape Cod Attractions

Top Attractions

The Cape is divided into different regions, with their own towns and personalities.

Upper-Cape - Includes Falmouth, Mashpee, Sandwich and Bourne. The region has two bridges accessing it over the Cape Cod Canal and is approximately 55 miles from downtown Boston.

Mid-Cape - This region includes the towns of Dennis, Yarmouth, Barnstable and the villages of Hyannis, Osterville, Centerville, Cotuit, West Barnstable, Barnstable Village and Marstons Mills. 70% of the population live in this area.

Lower-Cape - A little more secluded than the rest of the island, this area includes the towns of Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Chatham, Harwich, Truro and Provincetown. These towns are very much geared at the summer tourists who come to enjoy the wonderful beaches.

The Islands - This region includes Martha's Vineyard with its seaside villages of Oaks Bluff, Chilmark, Edgartown and Tisbury, and Nantucket, which is only three by nine miles. It is the typical quaint New England town, complete with cobblestone streets.

John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum 397 Main St. Hyannis No self-respecting traveller could miss this museum. Displaying the life and times of the Kennedy Clan and everything they ever got up to. Should lineage get you a little confused, there is a family tree to consult at the end of the tour.

St. Francis Xavier Church South Street. This simple white clapboard church is another 'must see' when visiting the island. Rose Kennedy attended Mass here every day and where a number of Kennedy offspring have been married.

Bonkerz Fun Zone 41 Long Pond Road in South Yarmouth. My children love going there year-round. It is an indoor play center for children under 12. There is a toddler zone (great for my 1 year old), a bouncy house (great for my 3 year old), a puzzle/book room, arcade, mini climbing wall and one of those indoor mesh climbing/slides/activity center. They do serve some food also. It's not expensive, and you can play for hours. Very clean too!
submitted by Amy Whiddon, 05/06/07

Carter's Outlet - Osh Kosh Outlet MUST stop for parents of young children. Follow the signs to the outlet center, it's basically under the Sagamore Bridge as you cross onto and off the Cape. Center includes other stores and has a few basic food options if you get hungry. This has all the first quality goodies you love at prices that are impossible to resist. Moreover, this is critical stop when retailers stop carrying "in-season" clothes (e.g., start showing spring in March) and your little one needs more in-season duds (e.g., warm pajamas!).
submitted by SK, 27/06/06

Lighthouse Restaurant Wellfleet A line snakes out the door of this simple wood-frame house on summer mornings for a classic bacon-and-egg breakfast, or the tasty blueberry pancakes. Try a plate of steamers and a beer for lunch and perhaps chowder, cod fritters, lemon-butter scallops, and another beer for dinner. Thursday they serve Mexican fare, margaritas, and Dos Equis beer. There's a large deck, and downstairs you can order coffees, gelato, and lighter fare from the Lighthouse To-Go-Shoppe. Reservations not accepted.
submitted by Robert Derow, 21/02/06

Cape Cod Shopping

The Farmhouse 1340 Main Street, Osterville Visit this adult-scale doll's house built in1742 and packed with antiques and collectibles.

Prince Jenkins Antiques 975 Rte. 6a West Barnstable This spooky shop is piled high with case upon case of vintage jewellery, watches, paintings urns and much, much more. This fascinating shop will have you browsing for hours and you're bound to come away with something totally unique that you had no idea you were going to buy upon entering the shop.

Red Fish, Blue Fish 374 Main Street, Hyannis The funky, closet like space, is definitely a 'must see' on the shopping list. Whilst the owner makes jewellery in the front window, the rest of the shop is covered with all sorts of unusual and handmade articles for sale.

Claire Murray 867 Main Street Osterville From sweaters to quilts and signature folk-motif rugs, this lovely shop has them all. Claire took up hooking rugs to while away the hours during winter and has since turned her knack into an international business.

Cape Cod Activities

Oak Bluffs Beach Road - Martha's Vineyard - This calm, shallow water beach is the ideal place to spend some time with small children. Safe and clean, they will enjoy themselves playing on the sand and in the water, without the rowdy teenage element about.

Gray's Beach - Yarmouth Port - Here is another beach which is ideal for children. Lifeguards are on duty, there is a designated picnic area, children's playground and a walking trail through the cedars and marsh.

Cape Cod Children's Museum Hyannis Where you can learn and play together with your children. This museum boasts a pirate ship, indoor planetarium, puppet theatre, toddler play area and daily programs. The place will keep you entertained for hours.

Cape Cod Parks & Gardens

Shawne-Crowell State Forest Route 130, Sandwich This quiet campground has over 285 sites in a setting of pitch pine and scrub oak. There are more than 15 miles of roads and trails which run throughout the park, which is ideal for hiking.

Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary- Cummaquid - This 110 acre sanctuary with its ponds, buttonbush swamp and salt marshes is a haven for many species of wildlife. Large oak trees and red maple stand side by side along the mowed trails, which lead to a wonderful view of Barnstable Harbour.

Skunknett River Wildlife Sanctuary Explore this 100 acre woodland sanctuary to escape the summer heat. At the woodland pond spend some time watching the blue herons, night-herons and ospreys.

Cape Cod Beaches

Cahoon Hollow Beach Wellfleet - All manner of surfer types and a beachside bar make this a popular beach with the younger set.

Cape Cod National Seashore Route 6, Eastham - On this breathtaking stretch of land, explore the beaches, lighthouses and freshwater ponds.

Corporation Beach Dennis With many tidal pools and the quality of the sand, this beach attracts the families. The kids are safe and the mums and dads can relax.

Marconi Beach Wellfleet With huge sand dunes and waves to match, this beach is the place to go for surfing.

Cape Cod Restaurants and Bars

It should come as no surprise that the people living on Cape Cod are, by and large, seafood eaters.

Cape Cod Restaurants

Mezza-Luna Restaurant 253 Main Street, Buzzards Bay Started way back in 1937 by Nona Speranza, the food today is as good as it was then. Using Nona's traditional recipes for sauces and breads it's here you'll find the finest quality Italian food and hospitality on Cape Cod.

Hearth 'N Kettle Restaurants South Yarmouth, Hyannis, Falmouth These restaurants have been around for the past twenty five years, serving wholesome and hearty original and traditional recipes now known as 'Cape Cod Cooking.' They use the freshest of fresh produce, chicken, meat and seafood. If you miss them in one town, try in another town, down the road.

Lighthouse Restaurant 317 Main Street Wellfleet Voted the best place for breakfast on Cape Cod in 2004, Bob and Joe, who have been running this restaurant for the past twenty three years, will welcome you with open arms. The Lighthouse is very popular with the locals and everyone is made to feel welcome and part of the family. Open from 7am every morning for breakfast and serving meals all day. Don't miss out on this one.

Lighthouse Inn l Lighthouse Road, West Dennis - Situated along the shore of the Nantucket Sound, this establishment provides complete relaxation and seclusion, and is centrally located to all points of interest on Cape Cod. The freshest ingredients are used in all there dishes, seafood being the speciality.

Cape Cod Bars & Clubs

Improper Bostonian Route 28 Dennisport Only open during the summer, this club has live music and DJ's pumping out all the latest house, hip-hop and trance stuff around.

Pufferbellies 183 Iyanough Rd., Hyannis Housed in an old railroad roundhouse at the side of the tracks, Pufferbellies is the most popular club for miles around. Always fun, noisy and pumping.

Vixen 336 Commercial St. Provincetown - In an ultra conservative town this club is considered quite shocking being packed with female dancers only, on most nights.

Betsy's Ballroom 528 Forest Rd, South Yarmouth If you fancy going back in time when partners held one another whilst dancing, Betsy's is where it happens. The waltz, fox-trot and all the old favourites will have you on the floor for hours.

Cape Cod children's activities

Oak Bluffs Beach Road - Martha's Vineyard - This calm, shallow water beach is the ideal place to spend some time with small children. Safe and clean, they will enjoy themselves playing on the sand and in the water, without the rowdy teenage element about.

Gray's Beach - Yarmouth Port - Here is another beach which is ideal for children. Lifeguards are on duty, there is a designated picnic area, children's playground and a walking trail through the cedars and marsh.

Cape Cod Children's Museum Hyannis Where you can learn and play together with your children. This museum boasts a pirate ship, indoor planetarium, puppet theatre, toddler play area and daily programs. The place will keep you entertained for hours.

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