Summering in Cape Cod.
I grew up going to Cape Cod every summer, so going back as an adult was nostalgic to say the least. I have the worst memory – I forget almost everything – but the summers we spent on Cape Cod are crystal clear in my mind.
How to Get There?
The hardest part really is just getting there. I suggest that you rent a car. We picked ours up from Boston Logan International Airport and drove straight up. The drive is only about 1.5-2 hours. If you don’t have a car, you can just Uber, but it will probably be expensive. Also, the Cape is pretty spread out, if you want to see multiple towns or take the ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, it’s easier if you have a car to drive around. Once you’re out of Boston, it’s a straight shot up the highway, and when you go over the Bourne Bridge, you know you’re around 30 minutes away from your destination!
Where to stay?
Every town on the Cape is quaint and charming. Each town has their own personality, and a Main Street where you can find little shops or get a bite to eat. The top towns I would suggest you stay in are Chatham, Harwich Port, or Falmouth.
Chatham is famous for the Chatham Bars Inn – a glorious hotel and beach club that overlooks the water. The houses there are grand with rolling lawns and thatched roofs. My family and I go into Chatham for shopping because they have pretty much everything you can think of. Clothing stores, souvenir shops, book stores, restaurants – you name it! There’s a lighthouse toward the end of the town where you can park your car and spend a day on the beach.
We dined at both the beach club and The Sacred Cod at The Chatham Bars Inn. The beach club has a beautiful view over looking the ocean, and The Sacred Cod is more of a tavern in the hotel. At the beach club you have to get the Lobster Nachos, and at the tavern you will want to fill up on the bread because it’s the best bread I’ve ever had, but don’t spoil your meal overdoing it on the bread! Everything we had there was worth it.
Harwich Port is another charming town, that is right on the water. One of the famous “Sundae School” Ice Cream parlors is located here (and Dennis Port). When you picture Sundae School, picture the diner from Grease, except no one is on roller blades and instead of a juke box there’s a piano that plays itself when you feed it quarters. Sundae School is the best after dinner treat, and you will most likely go there at least twice (or three times) on your trip. They have cute boutiques lining the street right near the water. The Mason Jar is a personal favorite – the Honey Bee sandwich is the perfect combination of ham, brie, and honey mustard.
Falmouth is another great town because it has easy access to get to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. If you want to have the experience of the vineyard, but not actually pay the expensive toll to stay there, Falmouth is a great place to be. They have everything that every other town has – cute shops, great restaurants, and a view of the sea!
What to do?
Taking a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket are so easy from the mainland. I suggest buying your ferry tickets in advance, because they can fill up fast, especially in the summer! Also, if you’re late for the ferry, it will not wait for you. The boat ride from Falmouth to Martha’s Vineyard is only around an hour, and while you’re leaving you can see the back of the Kennedy Compound.
Once you get to the island, you’re dropped off at a pier in Oak Bluffs. There's a lot of souvenir shopping, and it's close to the "Camp Grounds." The Camp Grounds are historic, vibrant houses that are painted bright blues, purples, pinks… you get the idea. People call them the fairytale “gingerbread houses.” They were home to a Methodist campground in the 1800’s, but you can read more accurate information about it here.
Back at the pier, there are a lot of guys trying to get you to rent a car for the day – listen to them! The deals are great, and we drove around the vineyard all day in a bright mustard yellow, topless jeep. The island is too big to get around otherwise. We made our way toward Edgartown which is exactly how you picture Martha’s Vineyard to look like. Quaint cottages with white picket fences on the outside and a full garden in the front, overlooking the ocean. This was one of my favorite towns I’ve been to on the Cape, and would love an excuse to go back again. Edgartown is where the first Vineyard Vines storefront is, so it’s a must-go-to spot.
After Edgartown, we headed town to Gay Head to see the famous old lighthouse. This lighthouse was the first lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard and the oldest in the US! All the back roads make the drive seem a lot further than it actually was, but I’m glad we took the chance to drive down and see it.
We only did a day trip, so unfortunately, we drove back to the ferry and headed home. While you’re on the Cape, you should get a book by one of my favorite author’s is Elin Hilderbrand. All of her books are based in either Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard, and are so vivid. It’s really cool to be there and also read about it.
One dinner spot that you don’t want to miss out on is dinner at The Lighthouse Inn. It is, well what you would expect, a hotel located by a lighthouse. I’ve personally never stayed there, but our waitress said they host a lot of private events and weddings. What a gorgeous place to get married at!
If you are looking for day activities that aren’t beach or shopping related. We used to go crazy over the bumper boats in Harwich, called Grand Slam Entertainment. They have everything from bumper boats to batting cages, and arcade games inside! Next to it there is a trampoline park where you can pay to jump on a trampoline for as long as you want!
If you’re looking to take another day trip, Province Town is at the tip of Massachusetts. It’s a very liberal and artsy part of the Cape. They have great food, funky stores, and of course, a great view of the water. While you’re anywhere in the cape, you need to take advantage of the lobster!