Insights: Why We Love Cape Cod --More than Just a Day at the Beach
Surrounded by Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, criss-crossed by rivers and dotted with ponds, you could visit a different beach every day of your stay.
With more than 500 miles of coastline, including the 40-mile Cape Cod National Seashore, picturesque towns, a low-key vibe, and a driving time from NYC of 3 1/2 to 5 hours, Cape Cod has long been a favorite summer destination. Thanks to a climate moderated by maritime breezes, and oceanfront resorts providing a range of activities and options for social distancing, it’s perfect for a road trip now or later this year.
Water, Water Everywhere
Surrounded by Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, criss-crossed by rivers and dotted with ponds, you could visit a different beach every day of your stay. Climb down the steep dunes to surf in the bracing waters at Cahoon Hollow at The National Seashore, paddle board on a pond in Nickerson State Park, kayak along the Bass River, float in the calm waters at Craigville Beach on the Nantucket Sound, or witness dramatic tides and explore tidal flats at Brewster’s Breakwater Beach on Cape Cod Bay. There’s also great fishing, boating and whale watching out of harbors from Woods Hole to Provincetown.
A great way to explore the Cape is by bike. The 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail runs from Dennis to Wellfleet, going through towns, beaches and parks. Or, head up to Provincetown and ride through the Province Lands for spectacular vistas and varied terrain — dunes, forests, cranberry bogs and Herring Cove and Race Point beaches.
Take a Hike
A hike to The Knob in Falmouth provides a scenic vista of Buzzards Bay and Quissett Harbor. Sandy Neck Park in Barnstable is another favorite with its dunes, marshes and forests. Monomoy National Wildlife Preserve in Chatham is a great, long beachside hike. For a more challenging hike, take the Great Island Trail in Wellfleet for views of Cape Cod Bay, Wellfleet and Cape Cod Harbors.
The sea, windswept dunes, salt marshes and a special quality of light have inspired countless artists including Edward Hopper. Art galleries can be found in towns throughout the Cape, including the Addison Art Gallery in Orleans. Or stop into the Cape Museum of Art in Dennis and Cahoon Museum in Cotuit. Cape Cod is also known for glass making. Beautiful pieces can be found at local galleries and the Sandwich Glass Museum offers glass blowing demonstrations.
Clam Shacks to Gourmet Dining
There are at least as many clam shacks on the Cape as beaches. We love the ones that combine great views with great food including Spanky’s Clam Shack on Hyannis Harbor, Sesuit Harbor Cafe overlooking Quivet Neck in Dennis and Mac’s on the Pier in Wellfleet. For a more modern American take on Cape Cod classics, visit The Canteen in Provincetown with backyard seating on the beach.
The Cape has become known for gourmet farm (and sea) to table dining. Our favorites: The Ocean House Restaurant in Dennis Port, with spectacular sunset views, inventive cuisine and an outdoor beach bar with live music; Chillingsworth Restaurant in Brewster for an elegant dinner on a historic estate; and bakeries-by-day/gourmet-restaurants-by-night, Pain D’Avignon Cafe & Bakery in Hyannis and PB Boulangerie Bistro in Wellfleet. For a spectacular view of Cape Cod Bay, visit the Ocean Terrace at Ocean’s Edge Resort in Brewster. Or, have a quintessential clambake at the Chatham Bars Inn. The Inn also hosts special farm-to-table dinners at its 8-acre farm.
For wine enthusiasts, Truro Vineyards offers wine tastings in a historic farmhouse. They have an onsite distillery, South Hollow Spirits, with gin, rum and cocktail tastings. The Cape also has craft breweries including Devil’s Purse Brewing Co, Cape Cod Beer and Hog Island Beer Company.
We all Scream For Ice Cream
Tourists and locals alike debate where to get the best homemade ice cream. Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville has bragging rights as the oldest ice cream shop on the Cape and serves creamy, flavors like Penuche Pecan and Black Raspberry. It is a Kennedy family favorite. Sundae School, with stores in Dennis Port, Harwich Port and Orleans, is known for small-batch ice creams made with fresh fruit and nuts. Ice Cream Smugglers in Dennis has flavors like Grasshopper and Apple Pie. And, finally, there is Katie’s in Hyannis with its secret-recipe flavor called “Cape Cod Sand.”
Sit Back and Watch The Sunset
After a sun and fun-filled day, there is nothing better than to sit and watch the sunset. Top spots include Gray’s Beach in Yarmouth Port, with a long boardwalk into Cape Cod Bay; The Knob and Old Silver Beach in Falmouth overlooking Buzzard’s Bay; Chapins and Mayflower Beaches in Dennis; Lighthouse Beach in Chatham and Race Point in Provincetown.
Where to Stay: The Chatham Bars Inn
Set on a beautifully-landscaped 25-acre property overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, The Chatham Bars Inn is the Cape’s most luxurious resort destination. Newly renovated, it offers a range of accommodations from deluxe rooms and suites in its main building to spa suites and stand alone ocean-front cottages. With the Inn’s 1/4 mile private beach, pools, a host of activities on water and land, kids programs, and award-winning dining, guests may choose to never leave the resort. If they do, it’s a short stroll to Chatham’s Main Street with charming shops, restaurants and galleries. And, Chatham’s central location on the Cape’s “elbow” puts visitors in the heart of all the Cape has to offer.
Who is The Chatham Bars Inn Right for?
Everyone who loves being by the ocean. With its spectacular location, a range of activities and accommodations it is great for couples, families, multi-generational groups or a girlfriends getaway. The Inn’s white sand, protected beach is perfect for kids or adults. And it is easy to get out on the water with kayaking, sailing, lobstering, whale-watching and harbor tours. On land there, is lawn croquet as well as tennis on site, and golf nearby. And for families, there is morning kids camp, evening babysitting and activities such as scavenger hunts.
A quick ferry ride from Hyannis or Woods Hole will take you to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. While often mentioned interchangeably, they each have their unique appeal. Nantucket is the smaller of the two, with a charming, central cobblestoned town, beaches and its history as the whaling capital of the world. Only 14 miles long, it is easy to grab a bike and explore the whole island in one day.
Martha’s Vineyard is larger and more diverse with 6 distinct towns. Popular with US Presidents such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, celebrities like Ted Danson and Oprah, as well as families, it offers long stretches of sandy beaches, beautiful farmlands and scenic lighthouses. Highlights include Oak Bluffs with its Gingerbread Houses and the historic Flying Horses Carousel. This merry-go-round was built in 1876 and is America's Oldest Carousel and remains one of only two that exist today. The Flying Horses original home was on Coney Island and was moved to Martha's Vineyard in 1884. Grab a ring after each pass by the operator and the last ring (the "gold" one) earns you a free ride and will save you the $3.50 ticket price. Aquinnah is known for its staggering Gay Head Cliffs and Chilmark known for its sunsets and quintessential fishing village, Menemsha, where the movie “Jaws” was filmed. There’s so much to do on island, consider staying a while. Charming and historic Edgartown with its brick sidewalks and sea captains’ houses is home to the Harbor View Hotel.
What We Love About Harbor View Hotel
Location, location, location. Newly renovated and boasting the best view in Edgartown from its veranda, Harbor View is a luxurious getaway in the heart of the Vineyard. It is no wonder it has a long history with A-list celebrities as its guests. Enjoy dinner over looking the water at Bettini, cocktails poolside at The Roxy, or take a short stroll to the shops and restaurants of Edgartown Village. The hotel offers an array of amenities including a saltwater pool, free shuttles to the beach and town, bicycles or a Mercedes to explore the island, plus a Barton and Gray Hinckley Yacht to get out on the water.
Who is the Harbor View Right For? Everyone who wants a luxurious island escape. The Harbor View offers three types of accommodations. The Captains Cottages are stand alone Victorian Houses with kitchens, living rooms and multiple bedrooms that are great for families or groups. Those looking for something sleek and modern will enjoy a stay in the newly-renovated Roxana building with views of the lawn and pool, while the Historic Building offers rooms with New-England style decor, many with views of the harbor. All guest rooms feature Frette linens, plush robes and wireless speakers.
The Joys of the Off Season
The Cape is not just a summer destination. We love September when the air is still warm, the light magical and it is less crowded. The fall is a great time to observe the blaze of color on trails around the cranberry bogs. It brings festivals that celebrate the Cape’s bounty such as the Falmouth Scallop Festival, Harwich Cranberry, Arts and Music Festival, Yarmouth Seaside Festival and the Wellfleet Oysterfest. Winters tend to be milder on the Cape. In December, towns are decorated and offer First Night celebrations and holiday strolls. Or visit Gardens Aglow at The Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich with nine miles of holiday lights. The Chatham Bars Inn is open year round, bringing the fun indoors with special programs such as cooking and mixology classes and events with local artists and art galleries.
Both the Chatham Bars Inn and Harbor View are offering special packages and pricing this summer and beyond. Contact your Elli Travel Advisor today or email firstname.lastname@example.org to take advantage of special offers and unlock unique amenities including:
Room upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability
Daily Breakfast for two per room
$100 food and beverage credit
Early and late checkout, subject to availability
We forward to helping you plan your “Escape to the Cape!”