We went to Cape Cod for our first anniversary. I usually don’t plan my trips. Normally I just get”there and just like to explore. However, Cape Cod is a large region so I wanted to map out a quasi-itinerary (of which we only half ended up sticking to).
In my searching for Cape Cod reviews, I had a hard time finding any good reviews of beaches and places to visit. Therefore, this post will be a little longer than my usual “weekend trip” reviews. (I like to write these in hopes of helping other people who like to visit off-the-beaten-path places like myself when visiting new places.)
Over the course of the weekend we managed to swing around more than half the island. Once you cross over the Sagamore Bridge you are in Cape Cod. Prepare for traffic, especially in August.
We started off in Woods Hole, MA – otherwise known as the gateway to Martha’s Vineyard. Woods Hole is quite small, but a welcome break from traffic. There is a small village surrounding the area of the ferry terminal.
We grabbed breakfast at Pie in the Sky – a local hotspot. Or should I say a crowded hotspot. I am pretty sure half the population of Woods Hole was inside this tiny coffee shop. We grabbed iced coffee and a bear claw to-go and ate across the street on a lawn because the cafe was so full of people. Apparently they are famous for their “poppers”. I don’t know what this is, but everyone was asking for them. We didn’t feel like waiting around in the crowds to find out. The apple cinnamon bear claw pastry, however, was delicious.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we got to see Woods hole at it’s finest. There was a large race that day, so the entire village was covered with port-o-potties to accommodate all the crowds. Besides the transportable toilet takeover, it was a cute pit-stop.
We took the local Route 28 over to Falmouth.
The town of Falmouth was much larger than I anticipated. If you are looking to go shopping, Falmouth is your place. They have everything from traditional touristy hot spots to local furniture stores to upscale chain stores to unique stores like a hat maker’s shop.
My favorite was McGee’s. Perfect for coastal linens and textiles. And the owner had the cutest puppy. (After a brief study, I have determined 79.45% of Cape Codders own Boston Terriers or Bulldogs.)
There was a 30% off sale at Lilly Pulitzer; in Cape Cod this is akin to a visit from the Queen.
There was a HUGE crowd outside waiting to go in. I also popped in and my life flashed before my eyes in a pink and green geometric fabric frenzy. We quickly left. Besides, we all know I’m holding out for the 90% off Lilly sale.
Further down Route 28 is Harwich Port. Along the way there were several craft fairs, one of which we stopped at, and it seems like this is a common town event because we passed several. Shopping in Cape Cod can be summed up in three ways: craft fairs, antiques and art galleries.
Our lodging accommodations for the weekend were at Clapp’s Guesthouse. I give it a 4/5.
It was a low-frills inn, but was clean, quite affordable and very close to downtown Harwich Port. If you’re looking for modern amenities, I’m guessing you’re not a B&B type of person. Considering we booked only 2 weeks out from our trip at the peak of the season – I’d say we lucked out. The owners, the Clapp’s were quite friendly and resourceful for finding local recommendations. (And they also gave us a little sand dollar ornament that said “happy anniversary” on it. Very sweet.)
Harwich Port Beaches – 4/5. The beachfront (on the Nantucket Sound) was narrow but the water was warm with a very calm tide and had a sandy bottom.I would recommend going at high tide, because the low tide leaves a lot of seaweed. It was the warmest water we swam in all weekend.
A lot of the beachfront is private property, so you can’t set up camp, but you are welcome to swim/walk wherever you’d like. At the end of the beach is Wychmere Harbor (as beautifully seen below) and the illustrious Wychmere Resort.
Harwich Port was a great place for biking! The area is generally flat and there is lots to see – from Wychmere Harbor to Cranberry Bogs (which we sadly in the off-season) and many beautiful homes.
Harwich Port is a small village with many shops, restaurants and beaches. I would recommend all our chosen restaurant venues (all walk-able distances):
The Mason Jar – A great sandwich shop in town with picnic tables outdoors. Great for people watching and fun car watching – depending who you are. 4/5
Ember – A coal-fired pizza oven restaurant. While we weren’t entirely happy with the crust (hello! New Yorker alert!), our choice of entree (the Arugula pizza) was delicious. Well, at least I thought so. Moose wasn’t totally sold, it still garners a 3.5/5.
The Port – While we heard this was a great place for dinner, but we went for dessert. The chocolate ganache sundae is delicious and the ambiance was a welcome sight at the end of a long day at the beach. 5/5.
Sundae School – This is definitely a local hotspot. The area was covered with kids and dogs. You have my support if you choose to get the Milky Way frozen yogurt or the Rasperry Oreo ice cream.
Ruggies (in the nearby town of Harwich) – YUM! Delicious breakfast cafe. On the pricier side for breakfast, but we had delicious Belgian waffles with Maine blueberries and breakfast nachos. 4/5.
Dino’s Diner – A diner is a diner is a diner. How could things go wrong? Eggs? Check. Toast? Check. 4/5 for the traditional diner fare.
Further along route 28 will bring you to Chatham. Chatham is full of visual splendor. I think I could have driven around Chatham looking at houses all day (yes, that’s the kind of thing we do for fun). If you are interested in Cape Cod architecture, Chatham is your place. Shore Drive is also famous for it’s large, cedar-shingled homes. It is also home to the famous Chatham Bars Inn.
We went to the popular Lighthouse Beach on Chatham Break. This beach is Atlantic-side, so the water was much colder. While the beach was very sandy, and water quite welcoming – we did not swim.
Unfortunately, the lifeguard informed us the “shark and seal alert level was high“. They had seen a Great White in that very cove a few days earlier. Suffice it to say, no one was swimming. I stuck my legs in, but not very far. (Shark Week was just on! C’mon people! Of course I’m picturing Jaws lurking 5 feet away from my toes.)
We later attempted to try Ridgeview and Cockle Cove beaches, but it was a little overcast by that point in time.
On the bright side, the great thing that most people don’t realize about Cape Cod, is that it is covered in small ponds. There are swimming ponds everywhere you go, so if the ocean isn’t working out – try a local pond. (This was actually a highlight of our weekend! Thank you iPhone satelitte view.)
Chatham is another great place for shopping. They have a large village full of shops and restaurants – and many antiques and art galleries for viewing. We bought a few Cape/Nantucket-related art prints from an art gallery. After all, the first year anniversary gift is “paper”.
Wild Goose Tavern – On the pricier end, but delicious fresh seafood. Everything is made-to-order. (I had the swordfish with a crab, roasted corn sauce. Yum.) You will likely need to wait a little while for a table. 4/5.
Carmine’s Pizza & Espresso Bar: Hit the spot. A slice is a slice, right? 4/5.
CVS Pharmacy – No judging. I wanted gummy worms and wasn’t about to pay $10/pound at the historic Chatham Candy Shoppe. Sometimes you need to be inventive. ; )
The last day of our trip turned out to be quite rainy, so instead of heading up the “arm” of Cape Cod, we (sadly) decided to turn back early (with plans to return!).
Okay, okay, so we only drove through these towns. We took route 6A and it was a lovely scenic route. From what I gathered, Brewster and Yarmouth are crawling with art galleries and antique stores (how many times can I write those five words in one post?) along with many beautiful homes.
We did stop at a small local beach in Yarmouth as we passed through. Small, but quaint. I could have read a book here all day if it wasn’t drizzling.
The oldest town on Cape Cod, and also our final stop. Between Yarmouth and Sandwich is Sandy Neck Cove. A beautiful, sand dune beach – albeit rocky. It was really starting to pour at this point, so we didn’t stay long. But it was beautiful! If you have a sand-dune-equipped-automobile there is a long sand road along the coast you can drive.
The entire drive up Route 6A was delightful, even if it was gray and rainy.
Overall, Cape Cod is lovely and worth a trip. The scenery is just stunning with the many cedar-shingled homes and vibrantly colored hydrangeas. There are loads of beaches to choose from and each town has a different flavor.
I would definitely recommend bringing or renting bikes. Not only was also helpful to have our bikes to avoid having to pay beach parking fees , but most places don’t have much parking space in the peak of the summer.
Plus, you don’t feel guilty about eat ice cream.
Another random recommendation, my husband bought me ballet flat Crocs and (although I was skeptical at first) they rocked. They were perfect for our on-the-go weekend and could walk along the beach, bike around town and swim in one pair of shoes. I would definitely recommend them for outdoor activity.
These shoes and the brilliance of the iPhone made this weekend a breeze! (iPhone apps like satellite maps, Yelp and instant weather viewing were a HUGE help on our trip.)
Have you been to Cape Cod? Have you worn Crocs? I never thought I’d say this, but I am a convert. Love ’em? Hate ’em?