Traditions of Old and New Await
The town of Falmouth was named in 1602 by Bartholomew Gosnold (after his homeport in England), who led the first exploration by Europeans of this region. Just down the ever-popular Surf Drive Beach on Vineyard Sound is a large rock, with a commemorative plaque announcing the site as the landing spot of the first settlers, who were Quakers, in the middle of the 17th century. Its historic heyday in the 1800s found it to be a bustling port of trade that serviced the packet and whaling ships of the region. Sea captains who sailed the globe made their homes on the iconic Village Green and on Shore Street—the old Counting House, where sailors who had signed on to the various ships would come to get their pay after their many months at sea, still stands so that visitors today can easily imagine centuries before.
Today, Falmouth is still appreciated for its historic past as well as all of the modern conveniences it offers both residents and visitors. A stroll through the village is almost guaranteed to provide an ample serving of both yesterday and today in a satisfying helping that is sure to feed your mind, body and soul.
While the village proper is mostly defined by Main Street and culminates in Queens Buyway at the western end of town, the upper portion of Main Street (officially Davis Straits) leads visitors to the downtown area. An important distinction since the street also provides access to the Falmouth inner harbor just one block south. Flanked on each side by two streets, Falmouth Heights Road and Scranton Avenue, the inner harbor is a hotbed of activity both on and off the water. The Island Queen ferry has their base of seasonal operations to Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard out of their port on Falmouth Heights Road. At the north end of the harbor, as well as the park and public landing just around the corner, there are plenty of park benches and even some picnic tables where you can sit and watch the boat traffic and take in the sights and sounds of a busy harbor. The park just above the public landing has a newly renovated band shell with weekly concerts in the summer season, and a robust Farmers’ Market stakes claim to Thursdays from spring through fall.
On the Scranton Avenue side of the harbor, the venerable Flying Bridge Restaurant, which had always been a seasonal favorite, transitioned to a year-round operation in 2017. Now, lovers of their mouthwatering seafood and other delicacies can enjoy the waterfront views any time of the year. Also on Scranton Avenue, Windfall Market offers a uniquely defined shopping experience for anyone who ventures in. A full-service floral department greets visitors with wafts of fresh flowers and explosive colors as soon as they walk through the door. Not to be outdone, the bakery is the next sensory experience, and their cases of freshly made, high-quality baked goods, including a large array of ever-changing breads, will easily stop you in your tracks. A large produce section, with plenty of locally or organically sourced options, is found just beyond the cheese department, that is adjacent to the prepared food department, that precedes the butcher department. Get the picture? And they have groceries. And beer and wine. Windfall is where we shopped when Whole Foods was but a dream. In Falmouth, it is where we still shop.
At the eastern end of Main Street, a new multi-use building designed, built and owned by Falmouth’s Longfellow Design Build, is taking shape with a much-anticipated tenant, Eat Your Heart Out Cafe and Gourmet Market. Owner Sean Dailey is about to offer his delicious food to the public in his new café market, where he will be featuring prepared foods and meals. The new venture is expected to open its doors by the summer of 2019.
As you cross Shore Street, where the sailors patiently awaited their small fortunes at The Counting House, the village starts to affirm its historic charm. One side of the street finds tall shade trees that watch over the library and its sprawling green. A center walkway that leads up to the original entrance of the library (now relocated to the opposite side of the building) is dotted with flags and plaques commemorating a Falmouth service member who gave their life in each war dating back to the American Revolution. The impressive granite structure of the library runs the length of the block, and after some recent renovations it provides a world of information, both in historic and contemporary formats.
Storefronts and restaurants dot the sidewalk on the other side of the street, and the newly opened Gallery on Main always has something new to check out. Opened in 2018, beloved Falmouth artist Karen Rinaldo has collaborated with local musician Don Cross to bring a shared vision of collaboration, inspiration and celebration of artistic spirit to the community of Falmouth. Various local artists are represented, but the real magic happens during the frequent receptions and casual gatherings that pair the artistic synergy of local musicians and representational artists. Cross is often found contributing his own special brand of music with other musicians, and you can always count on Rinaldo to make everyone feel welcome.
The next block, offers up pizza nd family fare at Simply DiVine Pizza Co. and the cheery and whimsical windows at Harvest of Barnstable announces each season with fanfare. Their home accessories and hostess gifts will generate smiles and thanks.
Just past the library on the next corner is a small green space named after Falmouth’s own Katherine Lee Bates, author of “America the Beautiful.” Across the street, and tucked behind some European lace café curtains, is La Cucina Sul Mare. Literally translating to “The Kitchen by the Sea,” owner/chef Mark Cilfone and his wife Cynthia have been turning out Italian specialties for almost 20 years. Their welcoming atmosphere is truly transporting, and whether it is a hot August night on the latticed terrace out back, or a snowy winter night tucked into a table for two in the front window, your meal, your service and your memories will be something to cherish.
A bit farther down the street, Maxwell & Co. at 200 Main Street says that it is all about their customers. Focused on the experience of shopping, owners Dan and Lori Maxwell and thier staff go to great effort to curate the unusual, source the unimaginable, and procure the most desirable in women’s and men’s finer clothing and accessories from around the world. Store sales director/business partner Doug Keil says,”We try to make shopping with us a destination.”
Just across the pedestrian-only street of Academy Drive, where the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce finds their home in the former Lawrence Academy, outdoor fire pits and high-top café tables let passersby know that a meal at Anejo is an electrifying experience. Whether sipping on an endless array of tequilas or enjoying the anything-but-ordinary Mexican cuisine, this cool and energizing restaurant is not the same old thing. Insider’s tip: Check out their Sunday brunch—rarely a wait for a table and a surprising twist on the standard classics.
This part of Main Street, as you approach the western end, is where the village has seen recent changes and additions. New this year, Denise and Brian Quinn opened The Gilded Oyster, a charming jewelry store that showcases work by local Cape artisans as well as some work by New England artists and an intriguing line of Celtic and Scottish pieces from Ireland and Scotland. Like the pearl inside an oyster, this little shop at 155 Main Street is quite the find. Unlike that rare pearl, luck is not required to come away with a thing of beauty. The Quinns, who are new residents of Falmouth, know their stuff, since they spent years building a successful fine jewelry business in the western part of the state. Their son also followed in the family business and has embarked on his own career of jewelry design, and his pieces can be found in the shop as well. Stop in and welcome the Quinns and who knows, you may find your own pearl to take home.
Just a few doors down, Caline for Kids is the place to find everything to dress the children in your world. Mothers, grandmothers and aunts are heard exclaiming in symphonic oohs and ahhs as soon as they walk in the door and spot the adorable outfits and accessories. Looking for the perfect piece for a family photo on the beach? This is the place.
A few doors down, Bean & Cod welcomes those with an appetite or in need of some caffeine. While they aren’t a new business, they are in a new location. Formerly in the space now occupied by Eastman’s Hardware, owner Steve Vannerson, who owns the deli-style market with his wife Sharron, says, “Everything is the same except the address!” Although it has been four years since the move, the place still feels new; maybe it is the scaled down nature of the place. Now it is easy to focus on the cheese case, and the daily sandwich and soup offerings, or the smells coming out of the cappuccino machine. The hard part is deciding what to order. Staples like olive oils, vinegars, jams and syrups; any and all would be the perfect items for a special gift for your favorite cook.
Next door, Settings offers “Unique Home Décor” according to their sign. Their sign doesn’t lie. Inside, the store is organized into sections displaying various crafts and artwork by local artists. Woodcrafter Ed Soltesz creates beautiful, one-of-a-kind wooden tables from reclaimed items and imagined in ways never thought possible. Local artist Mindy Reasonover’s pieces delight with their vibrant colors and natural subjects, like a hedge of hydrangeas. Owner Andrea Law is an Annie Sloan paint dealer and often hosts workshops on how chalk paint can transform any piece of furniture in your home.
A bit farther down the street, the former Eastern Bank has been transformed into the second location for Estia. The new Falmouth location is bigger, seems brighter and yet still features the same delicious pizza and Greek specialties introduced at the original Mashpee Commons location. An outside patio promises to be a perfect spot in the warmer months.
Just off the triangular Village Green, with its surrounding churches and stately homes, the Museums on the Green complex is the home of the Falmouth Historical Society. Next door the Palmer House Inn stands tall with its three-story turreted tower. Open year round, the wrap-around porch offers a warm welcome to arriving guests. Innkeepers Tom Von Zabern and Billy Brown-Von Zabern took over in 2018 and are having a ball as they embrace this new chapter of their life. Their cohort, Brody, a spirited Leonberger (a very large, friendly dog) is a testament to their dog-friendly policies.
A couple of doors down finds Rural Roots, a new store that offers eclectic and natural home accessories and serves as an interior design showroom. But showroom really doesn’t do this special place justice. Interior designer Laurie Long can do all the things that any other designer can, but her curated collection of naturally-inspired pieces, vintage finds and one-of-a-kind seaside sensible items keeps you thinking about her products and her unique take on decorating long after you have left the shop.
A small enclave known as Queens Buyway rounds up the village. Local favorite Coffee Obsession has been attracting a coffeehouse crowd for decades, and new owners of Buyway Boutique, a consignmet shop of note, offer an unparalled selection of designer clothes and a great collection of jeans. Oil painters Hillary Osborn and Doug Rugh are the husband-wife team at Osborn & Rugh Gallery in the triangular corner of Palmer Avenue and Main Street. Part art gallery, part working studio, either or both artists can be found indulging their passion and creating fine art for the rest of us.
From one end of downtown Falmouth to the next, there is sure to be some piece of long ago, or maybe a glimpse from a generation before, or a favorite thing of today, or perhaps even a preview of what’s to come next for everyone to find and enjoy. Take a stroll down Main Street and see where you end up.
Visiting the Village
For over 11 years, Bean and Cod has been teasing the taste buds of Village shoppers with scrumptious sandwiches and prepared meals. You’ll enjoy store-roasted Misty Knoll turkey, Pineland Farms’ roast beef, Niman Ranch ham and bacon, and their famous chicken salad and mac and cheese. Gift baskets featuring artisanal cheeses and unique condiments are custom made.
See daily specials at facebook.com/Bean-and-Cod. 145 Main Street. 508-548-8840.
Caline’s has been providing the town of Falmouth with quality children’s clothing for over 47 years. They are known for their extensive selection of baby gifts. Stop in to experience the high quality of their merchandise. They carry a great selection of clothing, shoes and accessories for boys and girls, from newborn to size 14!
149 Main Street. 508-548-2533. calineforkids.com
A Cape Cod tradition, the Flying Bridge has been serving fresh seafood and classic fare in its sublime setting at the mouth of Falmouth Harbor for over 30 years. Sweeping views of the harbor set the scene for a memorable dining experience or special event, whether dockside on the multi-level terrace or inside the cosmopolitan-style dining rooms.
220 Scranton Ave. 508-548-2700. flyingbridgerestaurant.com
Harvest of Barnstable, celebrating its third year in the Falmouth market, has been creating floral and shell-themed home décor and unique gifts since 1982 in their Yarmouth Port location (89 Willow Street). Seasonal designs change constantly, so there’s always something new. Custom designs are available for your home or workplace.
261 Main Street. 508-444-6668. harvestofbarnstable.com
Island Queen Ferry
The fun way to Martha’s Vineyard! Sail away on the Island Queen from Falmouth and experience Martha’s Vineyard within 35 minutes. Parking is 200 yards from our dock, with Dockside Valet Parking too! Daily sailings from May to October. 2019 roundtrip fares are $22/adult, $12/child. Children 4 and under travel FREE!
75 Falmouth Heights Road. 508-548-4800. islandqueen.com
At Longfellow Design Build, teamwork is a constant. Whether you’re looking to build a new home or remodel your kitchen or bathroom, Longfellow streamlines the process, with all design and construction work completed by their dedicated in-house staff. The results are cost-efficient, custom home designs of the highest quality that complement the client’s Cape Cod lifestyle.
367 Main Street. (Showrooms also in Osterville and Chatham.)
You’ll feel right at home in Falmouth with a stay at the charming Palmer House Inn. This cozy 17-room Victorian transports guests to a bygone era with its traditional styling, all while offering modern comforts. Each room, named after a poet, features a private bath and complimentary Wi-Fi, and guests are treated to a three-course hot breakfast every morning.
81 Palmer Ave. 508-548-1230. palmerhouseinn.com
“Bringing You Home” is what Rural Roots is all about with their personalized interior design services. With 25 years of interior design experience, owner Laurie Long will transform your house into a home, offering everything from custom furniture and window treatments to a gorgeous selection of pillows, fabrics, wallpapers, lighting and much more.
95 Palmer Ave. 508-863-7939.
For classic Cape style, look no further than Settings. There’s no shortage of coastal-themed treasures to be discovered throughout Settings’ quaint Main Street storefront, featuring a curated collection of home décor and artisan crafts. Additionally, the design team at Settings offers interior decorating and staging services to help your home look its Cape Cod best.
143 Main Street. 774-612-3920.
With The Gallery on Main, artists Karen Rinaldo and Don Cross have established a creative space that offers a well-rounded artistic experience. In addition to the 26 local artists represented, the gallery, now in its second year, also hosts musical events. This year, expect to see performances by world-class jazz and folk musicians, including Marshall Wood and John Gorka.
317 Main Street. 508-444-6073. thegalleryonmainfalmouth.com
A fine jewelry boutique that brings together local heritage, timeless elegance and unique treasures, The Gilded Oyster features beautiful designs by New England artisans and many one-of-a-kind, exclusive pieces. Every visit is an exploration of coastal craftsmanship and artistry. Come discover your own piece of Cape Cod today.
155 Main Street. 774-763-5742. TheGildedOyster.com
William Raveis Real Estate is a 45-year-old, family-owned company addressing the complete needs of our clientele by providing real estate sales, mortgage and insurance. We combine our global networks with deep local experience to serve you at the highest level. Welcome to real estate.
222 Main Street. 508-563-5100. Raveis.com