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Cape Cod

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Cape Cod

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Cape Cod [1] 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.


Cape Cod can be further sub-divided into the following regions:


Cape Cod is made up of diverse towns and many villages:

Upper Cape

  • 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.)
Cape Cod Town Locations

Mid Cape

  • 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.)

Lower Cape

  • 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.

Outer Cape

  • 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.


  • Massachusetts Military Reservation, which includes Otis Air Force Base and Camp Edwards spreads over portions of the towns of Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Mashpee.


Cape Cod is truly a unique place. Even the weather seems to have a distinct feel. In the summer, cool morning fog or mists tasting of salt burn off suddenly into warm beach days. The Cape's location, further out into the warm Gulf Stream moderates its temperature swings as compared to other New England regions. Even the winters are slightly warmer than nearby areas, making for a longer season for activities like golf and fresh water fishing. On the other hand, coastal storms can be brutal, battering the exposed peninsula with high winds, thundering ocean waves and, in winter, two or three feet of snow in a Nor'easter. That is how Cape Cod was, and is, shaped.

Similarly, Cape Cod's people have been shaped by waves of population growth. English colonists, Portuguese fishermen, beatniks and artists and retirees have each constituted a wave that broke over the Cape's population and made it stronger and more diverse. Every year the strongest wave of all washes over the Cape Cod for three months and then ebbs out again: tourists. The wave brings nearly a tripling of the population. Seasonal businesses open and fill starting in April. Year round haunts slowly come alive. On July 4th weekend the Cape Cod party is in full swing until Labor Day. Then the tide washes out slowly as the cool air arrives. The locals breathe a sigh of relief. Beautiful Cape Cod is theirs again. Mostly.

If you don't need to swim or lie on the beach, the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall are an excellent time to visit. Both times have their unique charms, lower prices and considerably more peace. The commercial, busy Cape Cod gives way to its simple, relaxed and charming self. If you demand no more than peace, solitude, and quiet (say to paint or write), even a winter on Cape Cod could be just what you need.

Get in

By car

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 for miles during peak travel times on summer weekends.

  • Use SmarTraveler® to see traffic conditions: [2].
  • 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.

In 2006 there is a large construction project ahead of the Sagamore Bridge. The rotary has been removed and various other major changes are being made to improve traffic throughput. Former visitors should carefully observe the new signs.

By bus

  • Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway, 17 Elm Av., Hyannis, Phone: +1 508-771-6191, [3]. Service to most Cape towns.
  • Peter Pan Bus Lines, Toll free: +1 800-343-9999 or +1 888-751-8800, [4]. Service to Bourne, Falmouth, Barnstable and Hyannis.

By air

  • Most travelers would fly into Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS), [5], or Warwick, Rhode Island's T.F. Greene Airport (PVD), [6] near Providence.

Get around

The easiest way to get around is by car. The main routes around Cape Cod are:

  • Route 6, the major (mostly) four lane highway.
  • Route 6A, the most scenic road (and slowest), it is along the Cape Cod Bay coast. Loaded with antique and artisan shops.
  • Route 28, a busy mostly two lane road through the southern part of Cape Cod.
  • Ferry cruises to the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard leave daily from Hyannis and Falmouth Harbors, including:
  • Hy-Line Cruises, Ocean Street Dock, Hyannis, +1 508-778-2600, [8].
  • The Steamship Authority, 1 Cowdry Rd, Woods Hole and 65 South St, Hyannis , Passenger Reservations: Phone: +1 508-495-3278; Vehicle Reservations: Phone: +1 508-477-8600, [9].


Map of the Cape Cod National Seashore

As a major tourist destination, most every Cape Cod town has many sites of interest which are within the town pages. Some of the attractions of a regional nature are:

  • Cape Cod National Seashore. These 43,608 acres (176.5 km²) includes six excellent swimming beaches, pristine dunes, dramatic cliffs, crystal clear freshwater "kettle ponds" and eleven self-guided nature trails. The National Park Service maintains several overlooks and ranger stations. Rangers conduct educational programs for all ages.
  • Cape Cod Baseball League [10]. The ten team Cape Cod Baseball League is one of the premier amateur baseball leagues in the US. It is totally free of charge for the fans and played throughout the summer in ten different Cape towns. About one out of every seven Major League Baseball players has played in the CCBL.
  • Cape Cod Central Railroad in Hyannis.
  • Cape Cod Melody Tent in Barnstable.
  • Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, specializing in Cape Cod artistry.
  • Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Brewster.
  • Cape Cod Lighthouses
  • Nobska Light, Woods Hole
  • Sandy Neck Light, Barnstable
  • Lewis Bay Light, Hyannis Harbor
  • Hardings & Chatham Light, Chatham
  • Nauset Light, Eastham
  • Cape Cod Light, Truro
  • Race Point, Wood End Light & Long Point Light, Provincetown


  • Visit the many Art Galleries
  • Beaches
  • Bicycling
  • Boating and Water Sports - Parasail in Falmouth or Yarmouth.
  • Camping - many towns.
  • Fishing, both freshwater and saltwater.
  • Geocaching is a popular activity locally with many caches available.
  • Golf [11] More than 20 public golf courses.
  • Hiking
  • Theatre, Cape Cod has a large number of theatres -- one in nearly every town as well as a number of festivals including the Provincetown Fringe Festival and Eventide Arts Festival.
  • Whale Watching Excursions from Barnstable and Provincetown.


As a coastal region, Cape Cod has the expected abundance of seafood restaurants in all price ranges. Excellent restaurants can be found in many towns including Brewster, Orleans, Provincetown, and Sandwich. Wellfleet is well known for its shellfish, particularly oysters. At one time oysters were actually shipped there and put in the harbor to get the distinct flavor.


There are all manner of pubs, taverns and in-house bars catering to tourists. Some now are boasting a huge variety vodkas, beers, etc. While here, mark the occasion with a "Cape Codder":

1 1/2 oz vodka
3 oz cranberry juice
1 wedge lime

Pour vodka and cranberry juice into a glass over ice. Stir well, add the wedge of lime, serve.


Cape Cod has a very large number of accommodations ranging from basic motels to plush spa resorts. Resort areas include Chatham, Hyannis and Provincetown. Note that many hotels are only open seasonally (April through October) and that prices can increase dramatically during the summer high season and during festivals.

Stay Safe

  • Deer ticks carrying Lyme disease are a real concern, especially in warm weather. Stay out of dune grasses and brushy areas. If you get a ring-shaped rash and/or a flu-like ache, seek medical treatment. Nantucket has the highest incidence of Lyme disease.
  • Mosquitoes have become a concern in this area as there have been cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Use insect repellent when appropriate.
  • Poison ivy is widespread on Cape Cod and the Islands. The vines of shiny three-leaf clusters run along the ground or climb bushes and trees. Contact can cause intense skin irritations.
  • State law requires children under 13 to wear helmets while bicycling.

Get out

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: [12].

Plymouth or Boston are good next stops.

This is a guide article. It has well developed information throughout the entire article, and throughout all of the articles on destinations within the region. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!