Barnstable, Centerville, Cotuit, Hyannis, Marstons Mills, Osterville, West Barnstable
The largest town on Cape Cod, Barnstable occupies 76 square miles at the center of the peninsula, has beaches and harbors along both Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound, and consists of seven villages—each with its own distinctive charm. In short, Barnstable is the hub of Cape Cod, and there’s a lot here to see, experience, and enjoy.
A good place to start is Main Street in Hyannis, a bustling boulevard of restaurants, boutiques, and souvenir shops. Some of the many dining highlights are The Brazilian Grill, Alberto’s Ristorante, and Common Ground Cafe, a romantically rustic eatery with sandwiches like the Pauper Special which has turkey, onions, and BBQ sauce. The JFK Hyannis Museum has exhibits highlighting the President and his family’s relationship with the Cape, and on the lower floor one can browse the memorabilia of the Cape League’s Hall of Fame.
A few blocks from Main Street is another busy scene: Hyannis Harbor. Here, one can board a ferry to the islands, embark on a sightseeing cruise, browse local creations in the artist shanties, and savor the catch of the day at Spanky’s Clam Shack. On the other side of Hyannis, The Cape Cod Melody Tent hosts live concerts every summer featuring performers like The Fab Four, a crowd-pleasing Beatles’ tribute band.
If fun in the sun is on the schedule, Craigville Beach in Centerville is a popular choice. The family-friendly beach has attractive views of Nantucket Sound, and snack shacks just across the parking lot. The beach is also close to Centerville’s Main Street, a classic Cape neighborhood. Great for walking or biking, Main Street is home to many attractive residences, which local ship captains called ‘home’ in the 19th century. Around the corner one finds Four Seas Ice Cream, which serves 28 beloved flavors, including fresh peach.
Other fun spots to explore in town include the attractive shops and cafes of Barnstable Village, the spectacular Sandy Neck Beach, and Cape Cod Airfield in Marstons Mills, which delivers high-flying tours in 1930s-era biplanes.
Looking for a place to stay?
Move over, muffins—this inn hosts ‘scone wars’
With a shared passion for baking, Rick Garceau and Tom Nortz always dreamed they would one day own an inn. “We were infatuated with the thought of owning a B&B,” says Garceau, a native of Marlborough. After searching for three years for just the right place, the couple bought the Captain David Kelley House
in Centerville in 2008.
The 1835 Greek Revival inn is located in the heart of the village’s historic district. “It’s a part of history,” says Garceau. “All of the houses on Main Street belonged to sea captains.” The five rooms and one suite all boast colonial-era furniture and Oriental rugs.
Homemade scones are the main attraction in each morning’s four-course breakfast. “We have ‘scone wars’ where we try to outdo each other,” says Garceau, who often delivers the sweets with a song and dance, in his role as “Frank Scone-atra,” along with Tom’s rendition of “Prince Scone-a-lot.”
Captain David Kelley House Bed & Breakfast
539 Main Street, Centerville
508-775-4707 • captaindavidkelleyhouse.com
Bass River • South Yarmouth • West Yarmouth • Yarmouth • Yarmouthport
Yarmouth is a popular community for families and tourists, and anyone looking for a classic Cape experience. The town, which stretches from Cape Cod Bay to Nantucket Sound, offers a variety of attractions and shops, and many great restaurants. Routes 28 and 6A travel east to west through Yarmouth, each offering a wealth of Cape Cod scenery, and there are wonderful beaches—and water views—along both coasts!
Along Route 28 one can take in a round at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, learn about the Cape’s connection to real-life scurvy dogs at the Whydah Pirate Museum, or enjoy an Irish-themed experience at The Cape Cod Irish Village. The Irish Village has 124 guest rooms and the Restaurant & Pub is known for live music and dancing, and great food and drink.
Nearby, The Red Jacket Beach Resort & Spa is a relaxing summer retreat offering parasailing and many other seaside activities. Just across the breakwater, Seagull Beach is a sought-out sunbathing spot with a snack bar, bathhouse, and rinse-off showers. Around town one can also find abundant opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and boating.
A community staple, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod on Old Main Street highlights local artistry and performances throughout the year, while the Antiques Center of Yarmouth displays a vast collection of vintage and one-of-a-kind collectibles.
Hungry for more? The Yarmouth House Restaurant offers a delectable dining experience including dynamite food and a giant waterwheel to admire. For an after-dinner treat, head to Cape Cod Creamery for a scoop of Vineyard Vanilla, Bass River Black Raspberry, and other great flavors.
One is likely go get a better sense of the history of Yarmouth (est. 1639) with a visit to the north of town, Yarmouth Port. For starters, the Old Yarmouth Inn dates back more than 300 years—and boasts a historically good Sunday brunch. The titles available at Parnassus Book Service across the street also go back quite a ways, and the Gray’s Beach Boardwalk is a perfect place to reflect on Yarmouth’s history, take in some amazing scenery, and plan your next visit to town.
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They left corporate world to launch a ‘labor of love’
The Captain Farris House on Cape Cod is sure to make guests feel they’ve embarked on a romantic adventure where past meets present. Originally built circa 1845, this restored Greek Revival home in South Yarmouth, which offers 10 guest rooms, is decorated with world-class antiques including a Waterford chandelier in the dining room. Outside, a path leads visitors from manicured gardens to an attractive gazebo surrounded by lush greenery.
Owners Carol and Jeff Watson bought the inn in March of 2016. “We had dreamed of this for 10 years,” Carol says. “We bought it on a leap of faith.” Carol had worked in corporate America for decades, while Jeff worked in pharmaceutical sales.
Today, the husband-and-wife-team can be found working in the kitchen each day, experimenting with new breakfast offerings. “We don’t just make French toast,” Carol says, “but creme brulee French toast with candied pecans.” She adds that she and Jeff love to make guests feel pampered and special. “It is,” she says, “a labor of love.”
The Captain Farris House on Cape Cod
308 Old Main Street, South Yarmouth
508-760-2818 • captainfarris.com
Dennis Village, Dennisport, East Dennis, South Dennis, West Dennis
With shoreline along Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound, two lengthy rivers, and the Cape Cod Rail Trail, Dennis offers opportunities aplenty for outdoor recreation. Breathtaking beaches on the bay side include Cold Storage, Corporation, and the spacious Mayflower, which teems with tidal pools at low tide. On the south side of town, West Dennis Beach has lots of space for sunbathing, surfing, and kiteboarding. One can also rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for excursions along both Swan River and Bass River, the latter of which serves as the town’s border with Yarmouth.
The rail trail, a paved and mostly flat bike route that travels through several Cape communities, begins in Dennis off Route 134. Next to the trailhead, Dennis Cycle Center is stocked with rentals, trail maps, and gear. Cyclists can take the trail to Harwich, or all the way to Wellfleet—a distance of 24-1/2 miles. For a nearby hike, Fresh Pond Conservation Area has five trails exploring 27 preserved acres.
Dennis is also a community that supports the arts, and one can experience various artistic mediums in town. On one campus on Hope Lane, Cape Cinema offers daily movie screenings, the Cape Cod Museum of Art showcases collections of unique and local artwork, and The Cape Playhouse presents a lineup of entertaining shows every summer. The theater celebrates 90 years in 2017.
Keen observers will note that the term “Scargo,” which has roots in Native American folklore, resonates throughout the town. For a commanding view of Scargo Lake—a sweet spot for swimming and fishing—one can ascend the 30-foot Scargo Tower atop Scargo Hill Road. A former sea captain’s home, Scargo Manor B&B also overlooks the lake, and has kayaks and canoes available for rent. The artisans at Scargo Pottery are always working on new creations at the wheel, and Scargo Café on Route 6A serves its artwork on the plate.
Other distinguished dining options include Clancy’s, for serious sandwiches and a seafood sampler stuffed with shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, and more; and Sesuit Harbor Cafe, for loaded lobster rolls from May to Columbus Day. Lastly, The Ocean House on Depot Street always has memorable cocktails, entrees, and water views on the menu.
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This guesthouse is rooted in tradition
Relaxing in a hammock in the shade of a 200-year-old mulberry tree is just one of the perks of a stay at the Mulberry Tree Inn. “The inn itself is a charming old Cape Cod treasure,” says Mary Beth Durney, who owns the South Dennis property with her husband, Peter. “It’s very quaint and very private. We’re on the main street, but once you’re inside you wouldn’t even know it.”
Built in 1802 by Captain Eleazer Nickerson, the inn retains some of its original woodwork and windows. Inside these cozy confines are two guest rooms, each featuring early American furnishings and décor. The Captain Nickerson Room has a queen canopied bed, hand-stenciled walls, and a fireplace; Molly’s Hideaway on the second floor has wide pine floors and a striking beamed ceiling.
A stay at The Mulberry Inn also comes with a hearty country breakfast, and Mary Beth is a joyful cook. “I feel like it’s a gift for us to live here,” she says, “and to be able to share the inn with our guests.”
Mulberry Tree Inn
313 Main Street, South Dennis
508-398-3330 • mulberrytreeinn.com
~Marina Davalos, Ashley Owen