Cape Cod  is an arm-shaped peninsula located on the Easternmost portion of Massachusetts. It is a well-traveled tourist and vacation area, featuring miles and miles of beaches, natural attractions, historic sites, art galleries and many four star restaurants. The area is also very popular amongst antique enthusiasts and people who enjoy bed and breakfasts. Many opportunities exist here for golf, fishing and other outdoor activities. The town of Provincetown, at the very tip of the peninsula, is the site of the first landing of the Pilgrims.
According to the most common way of dividing Cape Cod, it is composed of four regions: the Upper Cape, Mid Cape, the Lower Cape, and the Outer Cape. The Outer Cape is a somewhat modern division, however, since historically it was considered part of the Lower Cape. Also note that the islands of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and some smaller islands such as Gosnold are often included with Cape Cod in a grand region known as Cape Cod and the Islands.
The area nearest the mainland has long been referred to as ""upper"" and the area furthest from it as ""lower"", but the reason for this terminology is a matter of dispute. The most likely explanation seems to be the use of nautical terms concerning the prevailing winds, which blow from west to east. The western cape was ""upwind,"" while the eastern cape was ""downwind"". This theory is backed up by the same terms used on Martha's Vineyard: the western half of the island is called ""the upper island"" and the eastern half, ""the lower island"".
The Upper CapeEdit
Of the Cape's 15 towns, 4 are in the Upper Cape: Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Mashpee. The Upper Cape borders Plymouth County on the west, and the Cape Cod Canal passes through its eastern extremity. It is bounded on the north by Cape Cod Bay, on the southwest by Buzzard's Bay, on the southeast by Nantucket Sound, and on the east by the Mid Cape.
- Bourne hugs the canal and offers camping, biking, and ""boat-watching.""
- Sandwich has a wonderfully preserved historic district.
- Falmouth has ferry service to Martha's Vineyard.
- Mashpee is a town that was previously an American Indian reservation.
Three towns make up the Mid-Cape region: Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Dennis. The Mid-Cape lies between Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound.
- Barnstable is the county seat, the largest city, and includes the village of Hyannis, the Cape's business hub.
- All three major east-west routes, US-6, MA-6A, and MA-28, run parallel through Yarmouth.
- Dennis is at the very center of the Cape.
The Lower CapeEdit
Four towns compose the Lower Cape: Brewster, Harwich, Chatham, and Orleans. The Lower Cape is the easternmost point before the Cape turns sharply north, and Monomoy Island, part of Chatham, divides Nantucket Sound from the open Atlantic.
- Brewster is home to Nickerson State Park and two major museums.
- Harwich has hosted a ""cranberry festival"" since 1976.
- Chatham is the ""elbow"" of the arm-shaped peninsula.
- The Orleans Arena Theater is a major attraction.
The Outer CapeEdit
The four towns that make up the Outer Cape are Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown. The Outer Cape lies between Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic and includes the peninsula's tip.
- Eastham is a coastal resort community.
- Wellfleet contains much of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
- Truro is a summer vacation community named after the Truro of Cornwall in the U.K.
- Provincetown is the place where the Pilgrim's once landed and is the number one ""foodie"" town.
Cape Cod is made up of diverse towns and many villages:
- Bourne (Includes the villages of Buzzards Bay, Sagamore, Sagamore Beach, Bournedale, Pocasset, Cataumet, and Monument Beach.) Features the Cape Cod Canal.
- Sandwich (Includes the villages of East Sandwich and Forestdale.) Many, many antique shops and much else.
- Falmouth (Includes the villages of East Falmouth, Hatchville, Teaticket, Waquoit, North Falmouth, Silver Beach, West Falmouth and Woods Hole.) A harbor town with great beaches and great fishing.
- Mashpee (Includes the village of New Seabury.)
- Barnstable (Includes the villages of Hyannis, Centerville, Osterville, Marstons Mills, Cotuit, Barnstable Village, and West Barnstable) (Hamlets (Sub-Villages) include: Craigville, Cummaquid, HyannisPort, and West Hyannisport). The commercial and transportation center.
- Dennis (Includes the villages of Dennisport, East Dennis, South Dennis, and West Dennis.)
- Yarmouth (Includes the villages of Bass River, South Yarmouth, West Yarmouth and Yarmouthport.)
- Harwich (Includes the villages of Harwichport, South Harwich, and West Harwich.)
- Brewster - Historical home of many sea captains.
- Chatham (Includes the villages of North Chatham, South Chatham and West Chatham.) A unique setting with harbors, barrier islands, seals, and a walkable center.
- Orleans (Includes the villages of East Orleans and South Orleans.) A charming town of shops and beautiful scenery.
- Four Day Summer Family Trip in Lower Cape Cod offers a detailed itinerary for traveling through the Lower Cape with children.
- Eastham (Includes the village of North Eastham.) Gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore.
- Wellfleet (Includes the villages of South Wellfleet.) A beautiful harbor town with diverse and protected Cape habitats.
- Truro (Includes the village of North Truro.) Dramatic cliff dunes and Cape Cod Light.
- Provincetown - A "must see" destination for its art scene, shopping and beautiful beaches.
Cape Cod is a long, narrow, ""arm-shaped"" peninsula that projects itself prominently out from the southern Massachusetts mainland and into the Atlantic Ocean. It is easily the most distinctive geographical feature along the New England coast, and it is also unique in other ways, such as its climate, history and people.
Cape Cod is entirely taken up by Barnstable County and lies adjacent to Plymouth County on the mainland. Since the construction of the Cape Cod Canal between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzard's Bay, the peninsula ""technically"" became an island, but it is well connected to the mainland by a light rail line and by US Highway 6, also called ""the Mid-Cape Highway"".
The weather in Cape Cod is milder all around, being warmer during winter and cooler during summer, which is one reason its many beaches draw such crowds during the hot season. This difference in climate is often mistakenly thought to arise from the Gulf Stream, but that current does not actually come near the Cape. Instead, it is a matter of the surrounding ocean efficiently retaining heat or cold, and ocean breezes then affecting the temperatures on-shore. This relationship with the water, however, can also turn fierce, exposing Cape Cod to hurricanes and sudden Nor'easters.
The history of Cape Cod is as colorful as you will find anywhere. It has been the site of the Pilgrims' first landing, the abode of the native Nauset Indians, a booming fishing and whaling zone, and one of the biggest summer tourist attractions on the Atlantic Coast. The population, at first, hailed mostly from England, but later, waves of Irish, Italian, French, German, and Brazilian immigrants added to the mix. Artists, novelists, retirees with summer homes, fishermen, farmers, factory workers, and those in the tourist industry make for a ""motley"" group, and the summertime population is three times that of year-round ""Cape Codders.""
The First InhabitantsEdit
The earliest known inhabitants of Cape Cod were the Nauset Indians, who occupied the entire cape at the time of European discovery and were closely related to the neighboring Wampanoags, who often subjugated them. Proximity to the coast brought the Nauset into early contact with Europeans, and unfortunately, this led to abductions into slavery, the spread of foreign diseases, and the decimation of the population. At times, the Nauset resisted colonization, but they also joined with the colonist's as allies against the Wampanoag in King Philip's War and intermarried with the settlers. Today, their lineage continues in the Mashpee band of Wampanoags, a federally recognized group.
The First ExplorersEdit
Most historians agree that the first explorer to sight the cape was Giovanni da Verrazzano, who sailed past it in 1524 while in the service of France. He was followed by Estevao Gomes in 1525, who sailed for Spain. In 1606, Frenchman Samuel de Champlain charted Cape Cod's harbors, and in 1609, Englishman Henry Hudson made landfall. By 1614, John Smith had already printed Cape Cod on a map, and it was a common landmark used by explorers.
The First ColonistsEdit
The Pilgrims entered Cape Harbor in 1620 and made landfall near what is now Provincetown on November 11th. They sailed on to found Plymouth just north of Cape Cod, but others soon settled the cape itself. Sandwich was founded in 1637, Barnstable and Yarmouth in 1639, and the process continued until the final town, Bourne, was established in 1884.
Development, however, was slow. The Cape was intensively farmed early on, but crops like wheat grew poorly in the thin, glacier-deposited soil. To make matters worse, cattle were grazed on the grassy coastal dunes until the sand overspread adjacent land, and the forests were systematically chopped down for firewood until the now-barren soil eroded and silted up the harbors. By 1800, firewood was imported from Maine, and by 1860, many Cape farmers had left for more promising lands in the American West.
Recovery and ProgressEdit
Ironically, the exodus of farmers allowed the forests to begin a recovery process that was complete by about 1950. The 1800's also saw Cape Cod become a summer vacation area for big-city dwellers, and this tourist industry continues strong to the present day. A 19th Century railroad soon opened up the whole length of the cape to visitors, and the Cape Cod Canal, built in stages from 1870 to 1914, was also a huge step forward. Although the industrial revolution did not come early to the cape, due to lack of hydro-power, the result was a burgeoning fishing and whaling industry instead.
In 1961, the east end of Cape Cod, with its abundance of beaches, was declared by President John F. Kennedy to be part of the new Cape Cod National Seashore. The area is protected from development, but much of it is open to the public and is now one of the major tourist attractions.
According to the 2010 Census, the population of Cape Cod (Barnstable County) was 215,888 and was projected to slide to 215,000 by 2014. Historically, the population has grown relatively slowly, from 17,000 to 36,000, between 1790 and 1860. It then declined across the next six decades to a low ebb of 26,670 in 1920. From 1920 to 2000, it exploded, peaking at 222,230 before beginning to decline once again.
The population density in 2010 was 548.3 people per square mile. The county had 147,000 residences, 95,755 households, 61,000 family units, and 372 houses per square mile. 24% of households had children under 18, 52% were married couples, 30% were single, and the average household size was 2.3. The median age in Barnstable County was 45, with 20% being minors and 23% being senior citizens, and there are 90 male residents for every 100 females. The median household income is $46,000, and the per capita income is $25,000. About 7% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Racially, Cape Cod is 94% White, 2% Black, 0.5% American Indian, 0.5% Asian, 1% Pacific Islander and 1% Latino. The White Cape Codders further break down as follows: 24% Irish, 16% English, 9% Italian, and 6% German. English is the first language of 94%, Portuguese of 2%, Spanish of 1% and French of 1% of the population. The presence of a sizable Brazilian immigrant community and the existence of the local Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, descended from the original Nauset Indians, in the Town of Mashpee are of special note.
Occupations and IndustriesEdit
Tourism is easily the most prominent industry in Cape Cod though construction and light manufacturing operations are also very important. Tourism, particularly in the summer, has been a mainstay in Cape Cod ever since a rail line was run through the Cape in the 30's and the Mid-Cape Highway was built in the 50's. Today, there are so many who own summer homes in Cape Cod that the summer-time population swells to half a million, 2.5 times the size of the regular population.
There are still, however, those who keep to the traditional occupations. Many year-round residents of Cape Cod still run farms, catch fish, lobsters, scallops, raise oysters, or are involved in outfitting the local fishing industry, which sees profits of about $24 million a year.
Fun Facts about Cape CoddersEdit
Aside from the tourists and summer-only residents, Cape Codders are well known for certain traits and activities, such as the following:
- A love for baseball: Cape Cod has a college-level baseball league played entirely on the Cape, which is famous for developing top MLB talent.
- Given that Cape Cod is shaped like an arm with its elbow bent, locals have long pointed to their arms to help tourists find their way around the Cape.
- Residents frequently style both homes and businesses with ""colonial-style"" gables, white window frames, and shingled siding.
The beautiful and unique natural surroundings of Cape Cod, as well as the people of the Cape, have long served to inspire authors of all kinds to write. Some of the most notable writers with a ""Cape Cod connection"" include the following:
Mercy Otis WarrenEdit
A Cape Cod native, Warren was one of the few women who were published and prolific writers during the Revolutionary Age. She authored poetry and plays, the collection of which was published in 1790, and her voluminous History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution was published in 1805. She also authored political propaganda in favor of the War for American Independence that urged resistance to the colonial governor of Massachusetts for his infringements on the colonists' liberties.
In 1788, Mercy Otis Warren also authored an anti-Federalist pamphlet under the pseudonym A Columbian Patriot, which demanded a Bill of Rights before ratifying the new Constitution.
Henry David ThoreauEdit
Between 1849 and 1857, Thoreau made four trips to Cape Cod. While this famous transcendentalist author wrote many books on naturalist topics, his work entitled A Yankee in Canada, Cape Cod, and The Maine Woods gives his thoughts on geographical, historical and philosophical subjects as related to the Cape.
Joseph C. LincolnEdit
In the first half of the 20th Century, Joseph Lincoln was famous for writing numerous novels, short stories and poems that used the summer-vacation environment and local color of Cape Cod as a setting. These works were reminiscent of ""Old Cape Cod,"" and they were rooted in the fact that the Cape was Joseph Lincoln's birthplace. He admitted that he gave a fiction version of the Cape that amounted to entertaining yarn-spinning, but he preferred that style to the philosophical aims of many of contemporary writers. Many of his works were published in the Saturday Evening Post and the Delineator, two magazines that were wildly popular in his day.
Norman Mailer was a Cape Cod resident who became a popular novelist in the latter half of the 20th Century. He helped innovate the new ""creative nonfiction' genre, which used the style of fiction on journalistic subject matter. His most famous work was The Executioner's Song, which won a Pulitzer Prize, but his works Armies of the Night and The Naked and the Dead are also well known.
Kurt Vonnegut was a novelist who resided in Barnstable from the 1950s through the 1970s. He wrote for 50 years, up till his death in 2007. His most famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, was very controversial, being a 1969 anti-Vietnam-war contribution. It was viewed as ""darkly satirical"" and topped the New York Times Best Seller List for many months.
Barnstable County, the boundaries of which coincide with those of Cape Cod, is divided into 15 ""towns,"" including the Town of Barnstable, which is the county seat. The county was originally formed as part of Plymouth Colony in 1685, but that colony was merged with Massachusetts in 1691.
The County Political System
Unlike most modern Massachusetts counties, Barnstable County has a fully functioning county-level political system, which includes both a legislative and executive branch.
The legislature is called the Cape Cod Assembly of Delegates, and is made up of only 15 delegates- one from each town. This would make the assembly the equivalent of a ""county-level senate,"" but instead, the delegates do not cast an equal vote. The weight of a delegate's vote is based on the percentage of the county population that resided in his/her town according to the last U.S......... Census. Interestingly, the assembly's existence only dates from 1989, when county voters approved the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter.
The executive power is vested in a board of three county commissioners who are elected by a county-wide vote to a four-year term. The terms, however, are staggered so that no two commissioners are elected the same year. While the assembly passes ordinances and resolutions, the commissioners propose ordinances and budgets to the assembly, direct county agencies like the Cape Cod Commission, appoint the County Administrator, and otherwise watch over the financial and property concerns of the county.
The Town Political Systems
The 15 towns of Barnstable County, which are really more akin to townships, are as follows: Bourne, Falmouth, Sandwich, and Mashpee in the Upper Cape; Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis in the Mid-Cape area; Brewster, Harwich, and Chatham in the Lower Cape; and in the Outer Cape, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown.
Each town also includes various villages within its bounds, but these are subject to the town government and have no legal status aside from their identification by the U.S......... Census Bureau. The towns, however, are legally incorporated under Massachusetts law.
The county seat of Barnstable is actually a city, but it retains the word town in its official name. It does, however, have a city-style government, electing 13 councilmen to its legislature. The other 14 towns retain a more traditional, New England township arrangement, having a five-member Board of Selectmen in the executive branch and the whole enfranchised citizenry as the legislature, which assembles at official town meetings.
Political Party Affiliation
By voter registration, the political breakdown of Barnstable County, according to the 2010 Census, is as follows: 56% Unaffiliated, 26% Democratic, 17% Republican, and 0.5% for all other parties.
In the last four U.S......... Presidential elections, however, Barnstable County has voted Democratic by margins of between 51% and 56%. This is much more competitive than Massachusetts at large, which averaged a 60% vote for Democratic Presidential Candidates during the same period.
The Cape Cod Canal is about an hour and a quarter from both Boston and Providence. Traffic on the two vehicle bridges over the canal is often backed up during peak travel times on summer weekends.
- Use SmarTraveler® to see traffic conditions: .
- From Boston take I-93 south to Route 3 south to the Sagamore Bridge (Becomes Rt. 6).
- From Providence or points south take I-95 north to I-195 to Route 25 south to the Bourne Bridge (I-495 also becomes Route 25). At the rotary (traffic circle) on the Cape side there is access to:
- Rt. 28 toward Monument Beach, Mashpee and Falmouth and other south side points.
- or go almost all the way around and travel along the Canal to Route 6.
- Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway, 17 Elm Av., Hyannis, Phone: +1 508-771-6191, . Hourly departures from Boston (South Station Bus Terminal, Park Square, and Logan Airport) to Sagamore, Barnstable (Rt. 132) and Hyannis, a few trips also serve the Lower and Outer Cape. $19 one way / $34 round trip for South Station and Park Square, $25 one way / $45 round trip for the Airport. A few things to note about P&B:
- During the early morning and mid afternoon hours some departures run express to or from Logan skipping the downtown stops. Additionally, the first bus of the day also runs directly to Logan as South Station is closed at that time.
- Park Square service is commuter oriented and only operates in the peak direction during rush hour. There is no baggage or ticket service (carry-on only), buy on board from the driver if you need a ticket.
- Bonanza/ Peter Pan Bus Lines, Toll free: +1 800-343-9999 or +1 888-751-8800, . Service to Bourne, Falmouth, Barnstable and Hyannis from Providence (both the downtown bus terminal and T.F. Green Airport) and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.
- Megabus,  seasonally serves Hyannis from New York City from with two trips a day Friday-Monday. Megabus picks up and drops off at the Hy-Line ferry docks, not the bus terminal, which is about a ten minute walk. Cabs are available at the ferry terminal if you need help with bags.
The Cape Flyer Starting on Memorial Day weekend of 2013, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), opened the first passenger rail service between South Station in Boston and Cape Cod since 1959. Service will continue through Labor Day, running in the evening on Fridays and during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. More info about the Cape Flyer can be found on the Cape Flyer Wikipedia page.
- Most travelers would fly into Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS), , or Warwick, Rhode Island's T.F. Greene Airport (PVD),  near Providence.
- Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA) is a public airport located on Cape Cod, one mile (2 km) north of the central business district of Hyannis, in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. This airport is publicly owned by Town of Barnstable. It is Cape Cod's major airport as well as an air hub for the Cape and the Islands (Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket). The airport is served by scheduled commercial flights as well as charters and general aviation. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Private Jet Charter , Monarch Jet Charter , Mercury Jets  fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstreams down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals.
Regional affiliates of US Airways and United Airlines formerly served Hyannis, although today scheduled service is provided by two locally based airlines:
- Cape Air, +1 800-352-0714, . Regional airline serving Provincetown and Martha's Vineyard with service also to the off Cape cities of Boston, Providence (seasonal), and New Bedford. Their subsidiary Nantucket Airlines operates hourly service to Nantucket year round.
- Island Airlines also operates frequent service from Hyannis-Nantucket.
Cape Air codeshares with JetBlue Airways, with connections at Logan.
The easiest way to get around is by car. The main East-West routes around Cape Cod are:
- Route 6, sometimes referred to as the Mid-Cape Highway roughly bisects the entire peninsula. Route 6 is a four lane limited access highway west of Dennis, drops down to two lanes from Harwich to Orleans, and is a two lane surface road from Eastham to Provincetown.
- Route 6A, is a scenic road along the Cape Cod Bay (north) shore. Loaded with antique and artisan shops.
- Route 28, a busy mostly two lane road through the southern part of Cape Cod.
These routes are supplemented by several busy North-South surface routes, usually linking an exit on the Mid-Cape Highway to Route 28 and 6A. Some of these that might be useful to tourists include include:
- The Canal Access Road connects the Sagamore Bridge Plaza at Exit 1 and the Bourne Bridge Rotary. This is the most direct route to Falmouth and Woods Hole from Sandwich and the Upper Cape.
- MA Route 130 (Forestdale Road), connects Exit 2 in Sandwich to Route 28 in Mashpee.
- MA Route 132 (Iyannough Road) is a major thoroughfare running from Exit 6 to the Central Business District in Downtown Hyannis. This route is four lanes and divided for a good portion.
- Willow Street connects Exit 7 in Yarmouth with the the CBD in Hyannis. This is an easier way to reach Hyannis if you're coming from the lower Cape.
- Station Avenue connects Exit 8 in South Yarmouth with the Bass River and Smuggler's Beach business areas in Yarmouth and Dennis.
- MA Route 137 in Harwich (Exit 11) is the easiest way to reach Chatham from the Mid-Cape.
Taxis are plentiful on Cape Cod, albeit very expensive, fares of $20-$30 for trips even within the same town are not uncommon. Also, apart for a handful of locations with taxistands such as the airport and ferry terminals, you will need to call ahead for your cab. While most companies prefer you call a few hours in advance, outside peak times (such as last call in downtown Hyannis), they can usually have a car to your location in 20 minutes or less.
Public transit bus service is offered through the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (+1 800-352-7155, ) and Pylmouth and Brockton Street Railway.
Cape Cod Regional Transit AuthorityEdit
CCRTA's bus system was known as "The Breeze" until a few years ago and some bus stop signs and publicity material still refer to it as this. You can reach every town on the peninsula with CCRTA, although bus routes primarily serve the main tourist areas (beaches, Route 28's "motel alley", the Cape Cod Mall, etc...). Reaching places that are more off the beaten path may require some creativity (for example, all buses feature free bike racks). The backbone of the CCRTA network is comprised of three long distance lines:
- The Sealine (green on maps) runs from downtown Falmouth to the Hyannis Bus Terminal on Main Street
- H2O (Hyannis to Orleans - blue on maps) as the name suggests runs from the Hyannis Bus Terminal to downtown Orleans.
- The Flex (yellow on maps) covers the Outer Cape from Orleans to Provincetown. The Flex is unique in that passengers may board or disembark the bus up to half a mile off route for double the standard fare. Call at least 2 hours ahead to schedule an off route pickup.
CCRTA also has local bus routes:
- The Villager which runs from the Hyannis Bus Terminal to the Courthouse in Barnstable Village, stopping at the Cape Cod Mall, the Community College, YMCA, and Barnstable Harbor (by request) along with many of the retail strip malls and supermarkets along the route.
- Hyannis Area Trolley is a free service connecting Main Street, the ferry docks, Veterans Park Beach, the West End and Melody Tent. As parking fees at Barnstable Beaches are $15 a day for non residents, CCRTA advertises that you can combine this with their $6 park and ride at the bus terminal to hit the beach for less. Skip the bus terminal and park for free in the large parking lot on North Street, cut over to Main Street and grab the bus to the beach. It will stop anywhere on Main Street if you flag it down and its safe to do so.
- WOOSH Trolley operates in Woods Hole, connecting the Steamship Authority docks to downtown Falmouth.
- The Shuttle is a local route in Provincetown, primarily serving the beaches.
All routes have a flat cash fare of $2 per trip except when disembarking or boarding off-route on The Flex, when it is $4 and the Hyannis Trolley which is free. There are no free transfers (except between the Flex and the Provincetown Shuttle) - purchasing a day pass for $6 from the driver makes sense if you need to take more than one bus to get to your destination. You can also purchase a 20 ride punch card for $30 (20 rides for the price of 15). Drivers do not make change, and the bill acceptor on busses is painfully slow, so it helps to bring some quarters or dollar coins. Seniors (65+) and those with disabilities get half off with proof of age, a medicare card or a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Transit Access Pass.
In the summer, service is typically hourly on the three main routes, and every half hour on the local routes during the main part of the season (June to Labor Day). The Hyannis Trolley runs every 20 minutes during the day. Unlike local bus service on the two Islands, CCRTA does operate year round, although service in May, September and early October is reduced, and service the rest of the year is very sporadic with only a handful of buses each day.
Plymouth and BrocktonEdit
In addition to their off-Cape service to Boston and Logan Airport, Plymouth and Brockton also offers four round trips daily from Hyannis to Provincetown and several other lower and outer Cape towns during the summer. Round trip fare from the Hyannis Bus Terminal to P'Town is $18. After Labor Day, this is cut to two trips past Hyannis per day, and the timings of said trips are primarily geared towards down Cape residents heading to Logan Airport.
Cape Cod Central Railroad offers a 2 1/2 hour scenic tour from Hyannis to the Cape Cod Canal, as well as evening dinner trains and family brunch trains on the weekends. Kids under 12 ride free on the 2:30pm narrated train. Scenic daily trips only operate during the summer and fall, but holiday trips for Thanksgiving and Christmas are available in the winter. +1 888-797-RAIL
Sightseeing in Cape Cod is difficult in only one respect - there are so many sights to see, that you may not be sure where to start. While any selection is, of necessity, subjective, there are some tourist stops that stand out for their popularity, uniqueness or intrinsic value.
Some of the most notable sites to visit and peruse when touring Cape Cod include the following:
- The Bass River, which runs through the Mid-Cape towns of Yarmouth and Dennis, is the longest saltwater river on the Eastern Seaboard. It's a popular place to kayak, fish, engage in water sports or take a narrated cruise.
- The Cape Cod National Seashore, which covers more than 43,000 acres, offers swimmable beaches, sandy dunes, dramatic escarpments, crystal-clear ""kettle ponds,"" and 11 nature trails. There are National Park Service ranger stations to help keep things safe, and the rangers also conduct educational programs for kids and adults alike.
- The Historic English Weeping Beech Tree, located just behind Main Street in Hyannis, is known for its enormous size and its historical significance. The tree is said to have been gifted to Barnstable and planted in the town's commercial center, Hyannis, in 1776 by the British Governor as a reward for continued loyalty to the Crown. Barnstable, in fact, was the only town on the Cape to vote against independence, despite being the home of the famous patriot James Otis. You can relax below the tree's branches in Beech Tree Garden Court and utilize the shops and restaurants conveniently close by.
- There are few things Cape Cod is more famous for than the numerous lighthouses that dot every area of its shores. Some of the more famous of these beacons of the Cape's maritime past include: Nobska Light in Woods Hole, Sandy Neck Light in Barnstable, Lewis Bay Light in Hyannis Harbor, Hardings and Chatham Light in Chatham, Nauset Light in Eastham, Cape Cod Light in Truro, and Race Point, Wood End, and Long Point Light in Provincetown.
- Anyone who loves baseball and is visiting the Cape should not miss attending (free of charge) at least one Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) game. One in every seven MLB baseball players once played in the CCBL.
- The Cape Cod Central Railroad in Hyannis is popular for its ""muscle-train"" exterior look and its highly decorative and luxurious interior. You can take different trains like the Yankee Clipper Brunch Train, the Colonial Lunch Train, the Cape Cod Dinner Train, or one of the Coastal Excursion Trains.
- The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster is a prime stop if you wish to learn about local, Cape Cod ecology and wildlife.
- The Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis has works by local artists on display from 1900 to the present.
- The Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, home of the famed author, illustrator, puppeteer, and animal-welfare activist offers a tour and many educational and interactive exhibits.
Asking "What is there to do on Cape Cod?" is a little like asking "Where can I find fine French cuisine?" while in Paris. Among the many options, there are several activities that are popular with both tourists and the natives. The list of activities is as diverse as it is large, so everyone can find something they enjoy.
Some of the most notable things to do while visiting Cape Cod include:
Swim at any of the 100 or so beaches that line Cape Cod's 560 miles of seacoast. The summertime water temperature is typically around 70º F, and there are plenty of amenities nearby. Beaches range from tiny, secluded strips of sand to huge swathes with plenty of room for beach volleyball and picnicking. Four of the most popular beaches are:
- The 40-mile string of beaches protected and preserved within the Cape Cod National Seashore.
- Head of the Meadow Beach in Eastham, a veritable "graveyard of sunken ships" that can be explored both above and below water.
- Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable, which is one of the longest beaches on Cape Cod Bay, is clean and dredged, allows four-wheeling and has endangered species nearby for hikers to discover.
- Breakwater Beach in Brewster, which is small enough to be "child-friendly" and is close to The Brewster Scoop for some famous ice cream.
Bike on one or more of the many Cape Cod bike trails. If you did not bring your own bike, that is no problem, since there are many places where you can rent one. There are trails in all parts of the Cape. Some of the most popular trails are:
- The Cape Cod Canal Bikeway, a fully paved bike path, runs along both sides of the canal and is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth runs for 10.7 miles from the Woods Hole Ferry to North Falmouth. It is the namesake of a line from America the Beautiful, in honor of the song's author, Katharine Lee Bates, who was born in Falmouth.
- The Cape Cod Rail Trail runs nearly 26 miles from Yarmouth through Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet
- The Old Colony Trail runs about 7 miles from Harwich to Chatham
- Nickerson State Park Trails, nearly 10 miles of trails at Nickerson Park on Route 6a in Brewster; these trails bring you deep into the park with views of cedar swamps, white pine groves and several ponds.
- Nauset Trail begins at Salt Pond Visitor Center on Route 6 in Eastham and runs 1.6 miles through uplands where the Nauset natives had lived. The trail ends at beautiful Coast Guard Beach where Henry Beston had lived and written his book “The Outermost House”
- Head of the Meadow Trail in North Truro runs about 2 miles from Salt Meadow marsh to Head of the Meadow Beach, with beautiful views of the marsh and of Pilgrim Lake
- The Provincelands Bike Trail in Provincetown is 5.25 miles long and is a hilly circuit that runs through a beech forest and past numerous dunes. Two-mile extensions take you to Bennett Pond, Race Point Beach or Herring Cove Beach.
Other activities to consider while vacationing on Cape Cod include:
- Hiking in Nickerson State Park in Brewster or at any of the many campgrounds.
- Fishing the Cape Cod Canal, the many coastal bays and harbors, in freshwater ponds and saltwater creeks, or on a deep-sea fishing excursion to the banks north of Provincetown.
- Playing golf on the 20 or so public golf courses, including the Bass River Golf Course in South Yarmouth, the Captain's Golf Course in Brewster, and the Cape Cod Country Club in Hatchville.
- Whale Watching from take-off points in Barnstable or Provincetown.
- Playing Tennis at the red-clay Mashantum Court in the woods of Dennis or at numerous other locations.
- Boating or Jet-skiing after renting Yamaha jet skis from Dennis Cape Cod Jet Ski or a whaler boat from Hyannis All Cape Boat Rentals or elsewhere around the Cape.
- Parasailing in Dennis and Provincetown cater to people of all ages and offer different flight heights and photos of your experience.
Colleges and UniversitiesEdit
- Cape Cod Community College, ("4C's") in West Barnstable is one the Cape's two institutions of higher education. Those looking to study on Cape Cod will find the College as a friendly place to embark towards their goals, with associates degrees and certificate programs offered. For visitors, the summer semester offers a wide array of credit and non-credit opportunities excellent for those looking to get ahead in their studies elsewhere (credits are transferable) or for an enriching summer activity. Although financial aid is not available for visiting students, tuition is surprisingly affordable for MA residents, with tuition waivers available for senior citizens, veterans, and high school students who scored well on the state MCAS exam. 
- Through agreements between 4C's Office of Advanced Studies and several Boston area colleges and universities, such as UMASS, Suffolk, Boston University, and Bridgewater State College, it's now possible to complete an entire bachelors degree and even some graduate programs without ever leaving the Cape. Programs in Business, Communications, Education, and Nursing are offered evenings during the academic year on the 4C's West Barnstable campus, and the degree awarded is from the partner institution. .
- Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Bourne is a maritime academy offering students programs in marine transportation, marine engineering, international maritime business, and emergency management.
- Cape Cod Conservatory, located in West Barnstable and Falmouth offers private and group instruction in music, along with classes in dance, drama, and visual art. Summer programs for children are available. 
- Falmouth Artists Guild is a community organization running classes and workshops for children and adults year round in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and more, with a large selection of short summer classes. +1 508-540-3304 
- In addition to their full season of productions each year Harwich Junior Theatre also offers classes year-round in acting, musical theater, playwriting, improv, and theater tech for children and teens. 
- Golf: Many of the numerous town-owned and private courses around the Cape offer periodic clinics for golfers of all abilities as well as private and small group lessons with a pro. Of particular note, the Holly Ridge Golf Club in Sandwich offers a free clinic two Saturdays a month from May until September. No advanced registration is required, just show up at 8:30am the day you wish to attend, but you do need to bring your own clubs .
- Sailing: Several Yacht clubs offer beginning sailing programs, although you may need to be a member or know somebody who is one. Sailing lessons for youth are also available through some town recreation departments, and are usually open to non-residents.
- Town recreation departments also offer a range of outdoor programs and classes including swimming lessons.
- The YMCA of Cape Cod and the Islands offers an array of summer camps and programs for all ages through their Camp Lyndon Facility. Visitors who belong to any Y in the US or Canada are eligible for discounted fees. 
Food and vacations seem to be synonymous in American culture, and so it's not surprising to find that Cape Cod, a place heavily frequented by tourists, has abundant dining opportunities. Long famous for its local seafood, there are many traditional ""clam shacks"" where customers can enjoy fried clams, buttered lobsters, grilled fish, steamed mussels in garlic broth, and Nantucket scallops. Visitors also won't want to miss having a bowl of creamy, white New England clam chowder, trying a lobster roll — which is essentially cold lobster on a hot dog bun with mayo and lettuce — and treating themselves to a ""quahog"", a kind of baked, stuffed clam.
Food prices are generally higher on the Cape, and a 15% to 20% tip is generally expected, although it's sometimes already included on the bill. While many diners are open all day, many others serve only particular meals. Breakfast is typically served between 7 am and 11 am, lunch from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and dinner from 5 pm until 10 pm.
Some of the most popular places to eat on Cape Cod, town by town, are as follows:
- Falmouth: Añejo Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar is known for their codfish tacos, jack cheese enchiladas and other interesting dishes. C Salt Wine Bar & Grille offers bistro fare like candied pork belly and truffle fries, while Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium, treats customers to ice cream flavors like Lobster and Chewy Gooey.
- Hyannis: The Brazilian Grill gives a taste of char-grilled meats and Portuguese-style soups and side dishes. The Daily Paper introduces visitors to Lobster Benedict, a delicious breakfast food. The Caffe Gelato Bertini provides a taste of Italy's version of ice cream and some ""real"" espresso.
- Sandwich: At Marshland, visitors can enjoy old-fashioned cuisine like omelets, burgers, and sandwiches, along with prime rib on the weekends. Seafood Sam's, is a popular choice for visitors with children, due to their extensive kids' menu and at The Dunbar Tea Shop guests sip rare teas and eat pastries in a colonial-style building.
- Barnstable: Barnstable Restaurant & Tavern boasts burgers and beef tips along with a historical claim that George Washington once spent the night in the building. Osterville Fish Too overlooks the harbor and excels at buttery clam chowder, rich fried clams, and homemade onion rings.
- Provincetown: Of all Cape Cod's towns, Provincetown has the greatest reputation as a ""food paradise"". There, diners will find Ross' Grill overlooking the harbor and serving first-rate mussels in garlic sauce and ginger-soy glazed salmon. The Red Inn, where Teddy Roosevelt was a guest, is where visitors can enjoy roast cod over rosemary potatoes, grilled lobster, or spiced lamb chops. For those with a sweet tooth, Relish is a well-known bakery.
Also, look for ""steamers"" (steamed clams) at ""raw bars"" in their most famous locations - Wellfleet and Cotuit. Stop by the farmer's market for fresh, local produce and don't disdain the cheaper ""street food"" in Provincetown, like burritos at The Aquarium Mall',' or burgers at Mojo's.
There is no shortage of places to grab a drink on Cape Cod. Bars, pubs and alcohol-serving restaurants abound, and most of them are open at least between June and August when the big tourist rush arrives. If traveling to Cape Cod during the off-season, it would be wise to call ahead and make sure the establishment will be open.
The legal drinking age is 21 years old, and visitors can expect to have their IDs checked frequently during the tourist season. Bars and liquor stores will be very wary of selling to someone with an out-of-state ID, and they may request a second ID or a passport. Some are more lenient, however, to residents of the nearby states of New Hampshire and Rhode Island, and restaurants tend to accept those IDs more readily. One way around the ID problem for non-Massachusetts residents is to obtain a Liquor ID from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The card is only $25 and lasts for 5 years.
A small sampling of the many places to sit down for a drink on Cape Cod are as follows:
- Falmouth: Añejo Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar, for its long, diverse, and sometimes unusual tequila list. Falmouth Raw Bar, for its ""pirate"" atmosphere and fresh lobster or clams to pair with a mudslide or martini, and Black Cat Tavern for its piano lounge, where real ""Cape Codders"" huddle together during chilly weather.
- Hyannis Port: Spanky's Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon is a popular hangout where sailors and fisherman can get a bite to eat to go with their drinks.
- Truro Vineyards: Crush Pad sits right alongside the vineyards, and customers can order wine by the bottle or by the glass - and they get to keep the glass. If visitors don't want to be kept indoors, they are welcome to eat out on the lawn in front of the old farmhouse, instead of inside.
- Wellfleet: At Mac's Shack, many enjoy the clams and other seafood with a glass of vodka or a fruit-infused cocktail. The Fleetian serves cocktails in flavors like elderflower, pink sangria and other specialty mixes to perfectly pair with their pizza and live music.
- Dennis: 'The ""Harvest Gallery Wine Bar is popular for its diverse wine list, blending ""wine, food, music and art into a unique dining experience.""
- Provincetown: The Canteen is known for its Bloody Mary Oysters from the raw bar, while Lewis Brothers Homemade Ice Cream boasts ice cream infused with various liquors. At Local 186, customers can order burgers made from Kobe beef and lamb, or topped with guacamole and a side of fried pickles, and wash it all down with a craft beer or a Bloody Mary.
There are also several wine and beer tours available on The Cape, conducted by Cape Cod Winery, Truro Vineyards and Cape Cod Beer. "
"If you're visiting Cape Cod for more than a day trip, you will need to find accommodations, and the choices are quite varied, from the most basic lodgings to plush, upscale living. The three main resort towns are Chatham, Hyannis, and Provincetown, conveniently spaced in the west, central, and east part of the Cape, respectively. Seasonal establishments are generally open April through October, although prices can rise dramatically during the summer high season or festival days.
The Upper CapeEdit
In Sandwich, on the north end of the Cape Cod Canal and right on U.S. Highway 6, you may wish to lodge at the entrance of the Cape. For an upscale resort, try the Dan'l Webster Inn & Spa with its refined, 18th Century decor. For a simple room, a pool, and shady woods, try Shady Nook Inn.
On the south side of the canal in Bourne, you can camp at Bourne Scenic Park. This popular site allows both tents and trailers, and it sits right on the canal and near to a bike trail.
Falmouth, on Cape Cod's southwestern tip, is a great jumping off point for Martha's Vineyard. Try The Palmer House Inn, a romantic bed and breakfast just a short walk away from diners, shops, and the beach.
In Mashpee, you may wish to explore the culture and history of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which resides there. You could stay at the Santuit Inn, an 18-unit, boutique motel or at the Alexander Hamilton House Cape Cod, an exquisite, private-suite home.
In Hyannis, consider the Hyannis Harbor Hotel’’, with its nautical-themed building, dining area, and pools. Just off the harbor, it is just a 10-minute walk from Veteran's Park Beach and Main Street. Nearby attractions include the JFK Hyannis Museum, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, numerous waterfront restaurants, and a ferry port to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard.
Three resorts to try in Hyannis are The Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis’’, Courtyard Resort’’ with its kitchenettes and pool, and Green Harbor Resort for a casual stay on a private beach. Anchor In Hotel offers flat-screen TVs, a heated pool, and a continental breakfast.
In the Cape's capital, Barnstable, consider the bed and breakfast Ashley Manor’’, the ""Lamb and Lion Inn"" with its sparkling pool, or the beautiful ""Beechwood Inn.""
The Lower CapeEdit
At the Cape's ""elbow"" is the town of Chatham. Here, try the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club for luxurious lodging on the scenic coast, ""Pleasant Bay Village"" for a relaxing stay and an outdoor pool, ""Chatham Inn at 359 Main"", or ""The Chatham Tides Waterfront Lodging"".
The Outer CapeEdit
In Provincetown, Provincetown Inn is a private beach resort overlooking the harbor and is a two-minute walk from Pilgrims' First Landing Park. Crowne Pointe Historic Inn and Spa offers a free breakfast and evening wine and cheese. Revere Guest House has beautiful suites, a hot tub, garden and a continental breakfast. Surfside Hotel & Suites has both a private beach and an outdoor pool."
"As you explore the many tourist sites on Cape Cod and take part in some of the myriad activities offered to visitors, you will be focused on enjoying the mild weather, learning all you can about the Cape, and having as much fun as possible. Safety, however, must still come first - even on vacation.
Some of the most notable dangers and safety hazards you need to be aware of in Cape Cod include:
- Deer ticks hide out in grass or brush and carry pathogens that cause Lyme disease. Deer ticks are especially common during the summer (tourist season), so be vigilant while hiking, camping, fishing, or golfing. If you notice a ring-shaped rash or an ache with flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention without delay, .
- Mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis have become a concern of late, so never venture out into nature's beauty without a can of insect repellent or long sleeves.
- Poison Ivy is a common plant on Cape Cod, and the itch it causes is painful and lingering. Watch for a three-leaf plant with vines running on the ground or climbing up trees and bushes. If you think you have contracted poison ivy and feel skin irritation, see a doctor sooner rather than later, to minimize the effects.
- The bike trails may be quite crowded, so be alert, use reflectors and/or lights during the evening, and wear full protective gear. Massachusetts state law mandates that children under 13 wear a helmet while riding a bike.
- On the beach, be careful to note the position of the lifeguard and follow any instructions he or she gives. Never swim in stormy weather, outside of designated swimming areas, or after drinking alcohol. Make sure you have enough energy to make the return swim when venturing out, and learn how to avoid dangerous rip currents.
- When boating, always wear a life vest. Children under 12 are required to do so by state law, and the vest must be approved for use by the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Water-skiing, wake-boarding, and rafting can be especially danger-prone, so be extra cautious. Note that a PFD (personal flotation device) must be worn by all engaged in these activities, regardless of age or by anyone being towed behind a boat.
- Before leaving the dock, check the local weather forecast, make sure the local tides will not keep you from returning to land at the desired time, and leave a detailed account with a friend of where you plan to boat.
- For answers to your questions about local laws and regulations related to the use of the water, contact the Cape and Islands Harbormaster's Association for the relevant information."
Martha's Vineyard can be reached via ferries from several Cape Cod harbors:
- The Island Queen operates out of Falmouth Harbor (not Woods Hole) every 90 minutes to Oak Bluffs from May - October. This is by far the quickest and most hassle-free route to the island if you aren't bringing a car - crossing time is 35 minutes dock-to-dock. $18 round trip, bicycles are $6 extra. No reservations required or accepted, although the company does recommend being at the dock 45 minutes prior to departure to ensure you receive a place on the boat. 75 Falmouth Heights Road, Falmouth +1 508-548-4800.
- The Steamship Authority is the only ferry line that carries motor vehicles to the island, and offers hourly departures from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven year round, with additional departures to Oak Bluffs during the summer. Crossing time is about 45 minutes. Reservations are recommended for passengers, and mandatory for vehicles. Fares for vehicles vary depending on the time of year, and do not include the driver or passengers. 1 Cowdry Rd, Woods Hole and 65 South St, Hyannis , Passenger Reservations: +1 508-495-3278; Vehicle Reservations: +1 508-477-8600, .
- The Pied Piper also operating out of Falmouth Harbor during the summer months, offers the only ferry service to Edgartown on the eastern end of the island. 278 Scranton Ave, Falmouth. 
- Hy-Line Cruises operates a high speed, one hour ferry from the Ocean Street Dock in Hyannis to Oak Bluffs, as well as a two and one quarter hour traditional ferry during the summer months. Both options cost significantly more and take longer than departures from Falmouth and Woods Hole, but considering the time, gas and hassle you'll save driving to the departure point, it may be worth the added time expense. +1 508-778-2600, .
With one exception, all ferries to Nantucket depart from Hyannis.
- The Steamship Authority carries vehicles and passengers to the island several times each day, year round, crossing time is around three hours. SSA also operates a one hour fast ferry from the Hyannis terminal, although cars are not carried on this route.
- Hy-Line operates a year round high speed service to Nantucket on the M/V Grey Lady III, and a traditional three hour ferry during the summer.
- Freedom Cruise Lines runs an 80 minute crossing from Harwichport to Nantucket from Memorial Day-Labor Day only. Although departures are somewhat limited and fares are higher than Hyannis, this option may be more convenient for those staying on the lower and outer Cape. Reservations are strongly recommended, as the company states that popular weekend sailings can be sold out several weeks in advance. Harwichport Harbor 720 Main Street (Route 28), Harwichport +1 508-432-8999.
Monomoy Island is actually two islands. The larger South island was inhabited with a lighthouse until a hurricane wiped the town out in the 1860's. Today, Monomoy is a national wildlife refuge.
- The smaller North Island is open to the public during daylight hours and easily accessible. Hiking, fishing, birding, and enjoying the beauty of some of Cape Cod's most secluded and untouched beaches are all popular activities, although you can't hunt or camp overnight. You can either take your own boat, or sail with Rip Ryder in Chatham (+1 508-237-0420 or ) who offers several daily fishing and birding shuttles from June through September weather permitting ($20 round-trip). There's no mooring or dock on the island so be prepared to get your feet wet!
- The more remote and larger South Monomoy, however, is a different story. While technically open to the public, access is limited. You will need a permit, and your own boat (or a charter). Having a guide recognized by the wildlife refuge service is highly recommended, as you stand a much better chance of obtaining a permit if one agrees to accompany you. National Geographic, NOAA, and some educational institutions (such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) run expeditions to South Monomoy, and it may be worth seeing if you can join one of these groups as it will save a lot of the hassle involved with going on your own. For the 2011 season, Rip Ryder (see above) will reportedly also be running occasional tours to South Monomoy, including arranging the required guide. Call for dates and reservations.
- Some other boat lines claim to run trips to Monomoy, it should be noted that none of them actually land at Monomoy - although do provide ample Seal watching opportunities near the shoreline.
Traffic is heavy on summer weekends. Try to get over the bridges before noon or after 7PM if leaving on Sunday during the summer. Use SmarTraveler® to see traffic conditions: .
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