Ben and I quickly fell in love with Cape Cod…. This (not so small) town appears to be the epitome of peaceful-easing-feeling living with its quintessential New England coastal style of homes and mild summer time temperatures. What a wonderful town for kids to grow up in or adults to retire in!
Just a brief history lesson… Cape Cod was among the first places settled by the English in North America. It is believed that the Pilgrims actually landed somewhere on Provincetown in the northern part of the Cape on November 11, 1620 and a month later sailed across the short waters to Plymouth where they famously touched down on Plymouth Rock (more on this later…) where they began settling in modern day, Plymouth, MA. Nearby, in what is now Eastham, they had their first encounter with Native Americans.
We stayed at an adorable cottage in Brewster. Just to get your bearings…think of Cape Cod as an arm flexing…the fist being Province Town, the elbow being Chatham, and the armpit being Falmouth. Brewester is the top of the bicep and in a more general area for locals to live. This is the best area if you’re looking to get away from the tourist crowd. There are smaller more quiet beaches on the northern coastal towns than what you would find in Chatham or Provincetown.
Cape Cod is no small cape. To give you an idea…driving from Woodshole (armpit) to Provincetown (fist), it will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes without traffic.
We stayed at Michael’s Cottages. We learned that Michael is looking to retire and has put his cottages on the market so for future reference, the address is 618 Main Street, Brewster, MA 02631 as it may be operating under a different name. The cottages were really cute; there were a couple rooms in the main house and 4 cottages on the property.
For those looking to be more conveniently located to shopping and restaurants look into staying in Chatham or the gay friendly town of Provincetown.
At the recommendation of our friends, we opted to have dinner at the Ocean House on our first night which has a beautiful view of the ocean. Catching the sunset here over the water is a treat. Reservations are recommended and unfortunately, they do not take reservation requests to sit by the window. If you want a window table, make early reservations (near opening time) or request to wait for one to become available and anticipate having a drink at the bar while you wait. They highly recommend their Lobster Pad Thai (this restaurant has a little of everything!) and I’d say it was quite satisfying. Portion sizes are generous so consider ordering the smaller version.
The following night, I had made reservations well in advance for Vers Restaurant (located in Chatham) based on some reviews I had read of the restaurant. The Chef and owner, Jonathan Haffman is Dutch and spent 10 years of his career working in NYC before moving to Cape Cod. The restaurant is very small with only 7 two-person tables and a couple seats at the patisserie bar (reservations highly recommended). I can’t speak highly enough of this restaurant. My husband and I would rate this as Michelin quality and one of the better meals we’ve had. We opted for the tasting menu and were not disappointed. As a restaurant specialty, you can opt for the “Truth or Dare” dessert which is for 2 (actually more like 4) people. The Patisserie Chef comes out and puts down a plastic mat that covers the whole table and makes a very elaborate dessert right at your table for you to eat. This particular night, the chef prepared his take on the Bananas Fosters. It’s quite the show and worth every penny which we considered a deal for only $25. HOWEVER, if you do the tasting menu, you already receive a dessert so it’s best to order a la carte if you want to order the Truth or Dare dessert. A MUST when you visit Cape Cod.
Upon arriving into Cape Cod, we stopped in Sandwich, MA for, what else, a sandwich! We found this really cute cafe called Café Chew where I had one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. The gentleman who helped us was very charming and eager to help us and even provided us some info on Cape Cod after we told him we were “from out of town.” They have indoor and outdoor seating for a beautiful day.
On our way out of Provincetown, we were told about The Beachcomber, located in Wellfleet and situated up on a sand dune that over looked the beautiful blue waters. The Beachcomber is apparently a very popular spot as we were rerouted to park a bit aways and transported in on a bus. Once we arrived, at 3pm, we were told it was an hour wait to sit down. The food appeared to be typical bar/beach food and everyone appeared to be enjoying it. After snapping a few photos of the beach, we opted to keep moving on.
A recommendation for lobster rolls came to us from a friend whose dad grew up in the area. The Sesuit Harbor Café is located right on the harbor in Dennis. It was a little complicated to find as you drive behind a ton of boats to get to the actual café but it was bustling with people which only reiterated that this has to be the best! We weren’t disappointed in this traditional New England lobster roll served cold with a little mayonnaise and celery on top of an open faced hot dog bun. They also serve this lobster roll for breakfast! This place is cash or check only so come prepared!
For another breakfast, we found Grumpy’s Restaurant located in East Dennis which was a typical diner that served everything from A to Z! I had the blueberry coconut French toast which left me one step closer to a heart attack and my husband had the beef tips which made him feel like he “could climb a mountain!” This place is a local favorite and a line formed quickly outside.
On our way into town, we stopped by the Sandwich Glass Museum. This museum is very well executed with advanced technology in the 20 minute film we watched to learn about Sandwich’s famous glass. Visitors can walk around the museum and view all the colorful pieces with the opportunity to read about them. For glass lovers, this museum doesn’t disappoint and doesn’t take a significant amount of time to walk through. You then have the option to purchase pieces in the gift shop; however, we found better prices at local stores in Sandwich.
As it was a really nice day outside, sunny and upper 60’s, we opted to rent bikes and ride down to the beach via the Shining Sea Bikeway beginning in Falmouth. You can opt for longer or shorter routes. We did about 6 miles in our day to day clothes at a leisurely pace without any problems.
While down in this part of Cape Cod, we drove over to “The Knob” where you can park your car in a little bay and hike about 5 minutes over to The Knob. It was a tranquil area and there weren’t a lot of people making the trek. Set your GPS to Woods Hole, Falmouth, MA.
While in Provincetown, we strolled down Commercial Street where you will find a lot of art galleries and boutique shops along with homemade ice cream parlors. The street is bustling with people and should be pedestrian only. However, you will find a bit of a traffic jam for people trying to cross over for parking. Provincetown also offers a museum attributed to the founding pilgrims who first landed in Provincetown prior to sailing over to Plymouth. We did not check out the museum due to time constraints. For a decent view, go up to the top of the Public Library located on Commercial Street. You’ll also find free wifi and a large sailing ship inside the library that is rather impressive!
Driving back down the cape, I was determined to see a lighthouse! We opted for the Nauset Lighthouse which is just off a scenic ocean drive. There is paid parking for the Nauset Beach but if you tell the parking tenant you want to see the lighthouse, they will likely let you park for 10 minutes for free. We loved this lighthouse as it was rather easy to get to and overlooked the water.
Whale watching and catching a glimpse of the seals is a popular attraction. North Atlantic right whales, humpback, fin and minke whales may be seen off Cape Cod in the spring. Some stick around during the summer, too, although they may not always be close to shore. Other sightings in the area include Atlantic white-sided dolphins and occasionally other species such as pilot whales, common dolphins, harbor porpoise and Sei whales. The month of April is your best bet but check out this real-time whale map that indicates where they are at a given point in time. Also, you can often find the seals on the sandbars just off the Fisherman’s Pier in Chatham and the fisherman returning from sea around 3-4pm.
On your way out of town, drive down the Old King’s Highway (6a) beginning in Dennis. You’ll drive through some really cute towns with gorgeous homes. You’ll also likely miss some of the traffic that accumulates on highway 6.
If there’s time to spare, make a pit stop over in Plymouth, MA where you can see what remains of Plymouth Rock and a replica of the Mayflower ship in the harbor. Tourists can hop aboard which seemed to be a fun experience for the little ones. But be aware, most people walk away with the feeling of, “that’s it!?” after having seen Plymouth Rock…American folklore has made us believe that Plymouth Rock is as significant as the Rock of Gibraltar but really, it’s a mere boulder. Nonetheless, the history is as interesting as the town and is worth the short stop!