Day Trip: Buzzards Bay
Bourne’s Downtown: A surge of growth and new business is making Buzzards Bay a destination for those looking for an unforgettable day.
When you think about it, the village of Buzzards Bay is really the crossroads between the Cape and the rest of the world. With established routes that connect this area to southern New England and beyond, the outpost of Buzzards Bay, hugging the shores of the world-famous Cape Cod Canal, watched over by the architectural and engineering feat that is the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge and the site of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, is no longer the by-passed village it once was.
“The Cape Cod Canal attracts over 3 million visitors a year,” reveals Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber, President and CEO Marie Oliva. “The Canal is the biggest attraction by far because it is seven miles long and has a large section that runs parallel to Main Street in Buzzards Bay. That means you have access to businesses along that whole stretch of the Canal, and vice versa for visitors to the area businesses; they also have easy access to the Canal.”
Cape Landing Real Estate
Welcome to Main Street! Now that you’ve discovered some of the special places that Bourne has to offer and you realize the potential to find your happily ever after, this family owned and operated brokerage will share their real estate knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm to help you find that perfect home you desire.
Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce
Led by CEO & Chamber President Marie Oliva, the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce mission is to strengthen the local economy by promoting, and guiding businesses to positively impact the well being and quality of life in the community.
Oliva says the recent revitalization the village has undergone is directly tied to a Smart Growth Initiative which creates space and encourages a mix of compact building types and uses: business, retail, and residential. The idea is that affordable residential options and small businesses will naturally co-exist and support each other. Buzzards Bay, with its easy grid of sidewalks along tree-lined streets and untapped views of the Canal, lends itself perfectly to a reinvigorated community plan. Provide an attractive, affordable place to live and surround it with community-focused businesses, and more people will want to live there, which will attract more businesses, and the cycle continues.
Buzzards Bay Bikes
The athletic adventure source on Main Street for 24 years! This specialty bike store, now operated by competitive racer and head mechanic Kaylen Ballantyne, features Specialized, Yeti, Norco and Intense Cycles, e-bikes and a lot of great gear too! Bike rentals are also available and the crew can tell you where to find the perfect trail for your next ride.
The office for the chamber that Oliva represents was one of the first indications that the village’s restorations were carefully and thoughtfully considered. The organization occupies the former train station that 75 years ago was a bustling depot with servicemen returning from World War II in search of a vacation or a new start with their wives and young families. Today, the welcoming visitors center has been transformed under the guidance of local architect Anthi Frangiadis who commissioned local artisans to contribute to the unique installation. Hand-painted trompe l’oeil murals grace the walls and public restrooms; a circular reception desk depicts a wooden carved topographical presentation of the Cape Cod Canal in 3D. Just outside the building, the newly created Buzzards Bay Park includes an open grassy area, a gazebo where live concerts are offered on Thursday evenings through the warmer months, and a playground that includes a splash pad for the dog days of summer. An annual free event, the family-and-pet-friendly Cape Cod Canal Days will take place rain or shine on Saturday, September 18th and will feature a 5K road race, a corn hole tournament, food trucks, craft vendors and live music from 11am until 6 pm. One of the most popular new businesses is the newly built Mic’s Main Scoop, an energetic ice cream emporium whose tagline is “Live Salty. Stay Sweet.” It is the perfect descriptor for owner Michaela Michenzi who says her life-long dream was to open an ice cream shop. The tastefully decorated, spiffy shop is a forerunner of the village’s bright future.
Cape Cod Central Railroad
All Aboard the Canal Excursion Train for a narrated scenic tour, or join us on the Cape Cod Dinner Train which includes a freshly prepared 5-course meal. These trains depart Buzzards Bay Station, travel across the Cape Cod Canal Railroad bridge, and past beautiful areas of the Cape which are only accessible by rail. Visit online for schedule and more information.
Mic’s Main Scoop
“Live Salty. Stay Sweet.” is the motto at this new and delicious destination on the West End of Main, conveniently next to Railroad Bridge Park with a view to the Cape Cod Canal. Offering a tasty variety of flavorful scoops, classic shakes, and snacks filling enough to be a meal! Dream It, Do It.
The park, the former train station and the public parking area for access to the Canal are all situated at the intersection of Main Street and Academy Drive. The Massachusetts Maritime Academy is one of only six State Maritime Academies that offer four-year undergraduate programs providing the instruction, theory and at-sea training necessary to become a commissioned officer and Merchant Marine. The institution is considered a world-class entity in the industries of shipping, transportation, and engineering, and is held as the number one public university in Massachusetts for return on investment. Like any thriving and competitive university, their athletic competitions draw crowds from miles away, especially the fall football weekends.
St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop
The big red building that is home to this popular thrift shop is well organized and full of great finds at great prices. Friendly volunteers and the weekly 50% off sale every Friday make this thrift shop a local favorite. The Society receives “gently used” or new donations and sells a vast amount of clothing, furniture and various household goods using the revenue to support various community needs and the mission of St. Vincent de Paul.
From this west end of Main Street, visitors are also in a perfect position to witness the twice-daily descent and ascent of the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge, originally built in 1933 as the longest vertical lift span in the country, now only surpassed by the Arthur Kill Lift Bridge connecting Staten Island to New Jersey. Individuals interested in crossing the train bridge can dine aboard the Cape Cod Central Railroad’s various dining trains throughout the year. Businesses at this end of Main Street have seen some of the most dramatic transformation in recent years. Kim Finn, of Kimberly Finn Photography has family roots in Bourne that go back generations, and from her studio which is opposite all of the activity at the park, the chamber and the academy she says, “I feel like I’m right in the middle of everything.” She says it has been encouraging to see people returning to the village to re-discover its unique charms.
Kimberly Finn Photography
Local to Cape Cod and the Islands, Kim has always had a passion for photography. She and her team love to find beauty in all things, and they have the experience as well as expertise to capture the best moments of your special occasions, creating lasting memories that you will love to look at for years to come.
Next door to Finn is Buzzards Bay Antiques where owner David Cowan demonstrates the collective power of collections. Fiesta ware, Sandwich glass, bits and bobs and small furniture and décor are just some of the things visitors can expect to find. Cowan has been in the business for years, so inquiries on specific items are always welcome. Additional recycle, repurpose and reinvigorated items can also be found down the street at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop.
Buzzards Bay Antiques
Enjoy the vast collection of vintage items located in this 7,000 square foot showroom, formerly the Buzzards Bay Hotel. The knowledgeable staff looks forward to helping you find a unique gift, and they offer free appraisal of any item that you may like to sell. Stop in and ask about the spooky things that still happen.
Buzzards Bay Brewing is one of the several success stories that are now anchoring the village. The local Westport brewery has just opened a taproom at 85 Main Street. Currently open Wednesday through Saturday, the popular “Massgrown” beers are served to anyone 21 or older in a playful and fun atmosphere. They don’t serve food, but are great neighbors to Vela Juice Bar next door at 87 Main Street, where they highly recommend the salmon burgers. Food from Vela’s or any other neighbors or delivery is welcome in the unique space that also offers live music and karaoke throughout their evening hours.
Buzzards Bay Brewing Bourne Tap Room
Visit this fun, quirky taproom for delicious locally grown beer, cider and wine. Try some special brews and enjoy a unique thirst quenching place to recreate. Stay a while; you might find live music, various events and lots of tavern style games. On the run? Pick up some cans or growlers.
Co-owners of Vela Juice Bar, Ana Walsh and Daniel Gallivan first started offering high-quality, fresh juice to the public from their Plymouth location that they opened in 2014. Now, the same fresh products sourced from local farms when available and including vegan options are available in Buzzards Bay. “I think what sets us apart from other juice bars is that everything on our menu is truly delicious and nutritious,” Walsh offers. Protein acai bowls with homemade peanut butter, juices, smoothies, toast, wraps and salads all contribute to a menu that appeals to almost everyone.
Vela Juice Bar
Healthy food should taste delicious, and at Vela, it does. Juices, smoothies, shots, a variety of salads and bowls, including Acai Bowl options, wraps, paninis, sandwiches, gourmet toast, coffee and tea, oh my! There are so many healthy choices, you will want to make Vela your local healthy habit! Sit and stay or grab and go! Open 7 days a week 8:30am-3:30pm.
Vela’s makes the perfect post-workout stop for the clients that are devoted to a regular fitness program at Undergroundd Fitness at 125 Main Street. This popular boutique group fitness and indoor cycling facility has a dedicated following for their wide range of classes including barre, pilates, yoga, boxing and intensive bootcamp options. If your thing is more about fresh air and adventure, Buzzards Bay is home to several bike shops, but perhaps the longest-running and most unique is Buzzards Bay Bikes. Owners Jim and Pam Ballantyne built a reputation over 35 years with their business Sailworld, but now that their son Kaylen, a CAT 1 Enduro mountain bike champion, has taken over the shop, the focus is bikes. And what better place than the popular canalside location? Everything you need for day on the Cape Cod Canal can be found at Buzzards Bay Bikes, including a few breathtaking accounts of Kaylen’s adventures.
Where can you find a workout community that is striving for progress? On Main Street! Get to this positive place where you can embrace fitness and improve your way of life. With more than 25 class options for all levels, with names like “No Quit Mitts,” “Raise the Barre,” and “Positiv Spin on Life,”. With 20 plus trainers–the one you love to hate–you need to get to Undergroundd!
The other major attraction along the Canal includes those sportsmen (and women) that find their challenge at the other end of a fishing pole. Buzzards Bay is home to Red Top Sporting Goods, which is the house of worship for most die-hard fishermen. Continuing the almost 75 year tradition, owner Tom Coots along with his son AJ have, for the past 11 years, been providing anglers with everything they need to catch the big one, the small ones, as well as everything in between. Their expertise and depth of product and technique will have you waking early and staying out late along the banks of the swift waters.
Red Top Sporting Goods
Red Top Sporting Goods has been a favorite of upper cape fisherman since 1947. In 2010, Tom Coots and his son AJ assumed stewardship of the shop and continue to provide customers with the largest selection products and services at competitive prices. Check out their weekly fishing report at www.redtopinc.com
A short cast from Red Top is the unofficial heart and soul of Buzzards Bay, the Mezza Luna, an Italian family restaurant that has been serving generations of families for over 80 years. Third generation owner, E.J. Cubellis, says the commitment to the community the restaurant has become known for is in his genes. In the 1930s, his grandparents put roots down in Buzzards Bay when they rented property and opened a fruit and vegetable stand on the site of the existing restaurant. As World War II affected the acquisition of fruits and vegetables, the Cubellis’ pivoted and welcomed boarders. It wasn’t long before the boarders were praising the Cubellis’ cooking suggesting it was restaurant worthy. Some of those boarders went on to become recognizable and respectable names in the Commonwealth and the rest, as they say, is history. “My grandparents responded to what the community needed way back then, and it has been the same ever since,” E.J. shares. “When my grandparents, and even my parents were building this business, people would come to the restaurant as a special occasion, maybe the only meal out when they were on vacation, or to celebrate something. I grew up hearing my father’s generational stories of people’s families in this town, and now I’m telling my kids the same kinds of things.” The anchor of this community is the popular choice to host weddings and baby showers, retirement parties and birthdays and ultimately funeral receptions, meaning that the Mezza Luna has been the backdrop to many memorable milestones for both visitors and residents of Bourne for almost a century.
Mezza Luna The Italian Family Restaurant
This Italian family owned and operated restaurant has been providing a great place to eat since 1937. A robust menu features Italian cuisine, seafood and steaks. They offer a full bar and private function areas as well as outside dining–weather permitting. Locals say their nightly specials and lunch menu is the best deal in town!
That sense of community and the commitment to support it resonates up and down Main Street among the vast majority of business owners. The White family, who has owned the Liquor Barn on Main Street for almost 40 years, has seen three generations of their family working in the business. Jenna White, Stephanie and Dennis’ 24-year-old daughter says, “We have a lot of regulars and that makes it a very personal job, like sharing the new craft beers we have gotten in for them specifically in mind.” That kind of small town approach is just one of the attractions to putting down permanent roots in the area. Jill Nasuti, second-generation owner of Cape Landing Real Estate across the street from the Mezza Luna, says that buyers might be pleasantly surprised at the inventory and value that can be found on that side of the bridge. “The Buzzards Bay area is a hidden gem when it comes to real estate. My family and I founded this business because we had a vision to offer flexibility without the limitations found in larger firms.” Nasuti reveals.
Family operated since 1982 by the White family, locals know they’ll find a great selection of fine wines, beer, liquor, cigars, good prices and friendly, helpful employees. Stop in, stock up and save! And on your next visit, bring your recycling to the employee-operated L&B Redemption Center. No machines, just fast and efficient employees.
After a long day delving into the myriad of businesses and attractions in Buzzards Bay, a quick stop at one of the only Starbucks on the Cape is a perfect re-fueling activity for the ride home. District Manager Jana Smalley and her crew consider themselves a vital part of the small community as well. “We see the regulars every morning as they start their day and then as people look for a place to meet and connect; we see lots of people come in throughout the day to just take the time and catch-up with friends or family.”
Devotees of the Seattle-based coffee chain can drive-thru, dine-in, take-out or mobile order ahead to get their favorite blend or specialty drink, hot or cold as well as lite bites, snacks and sweets. Expect to find nice people and quick, friendly service at this unique “base of the bridge” location. Wi-Fi too!
The village of Buzzards Bay is no longer poised to be a by-passed community, instead it is focused on delivering as a destination.
Julie Craven Wagner is the editor of Cape Cod LIFE.
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