A July 2004 trip
to Cape Cod by gorboduc
Quote: Where do Bostonians go for the summer? The Cape, of course! From nature walks to swimming to the all-important mini-golf, Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard have it all.
The ocean beaches of the National Seashore, which runs the whole length of the east side of the Cape, are beautiful and unspoilt, with sandy cliffs rising out of the sea, but the water is colder and rougher than at the bay beaches. Stroll along past the lifeguards and you'll have the beach all to yourself -- unless you're joined by a curious group of seals as we were. Although you can easily rent a house within walking distance to a bay beach, building restrictions mean that it's much harder to find a rental within walking distance of the National Seashore beaches, so you'll probably have to drive to the beach and park in a lot.
The National Seashore beaches have a season-long parking pass that allows you to park at any National Seashore beach for per year. Note, though, that National Seashore lots, especially Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light Beach in Eastham and Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, tend to fill early, around lunchtime.
If you tire of the beaches and are staying on the Upper Cape (the part closest to the mainland), Martha's Vineyard is a good day trip. Ferries from Falmouth/Woods Hole run frequently and cost round trip. The boat ride takes 45 minutes each way, and arrives in either Oak Bluffs (summer and fall only) or Edgartown (year round). Leave extra time before departure for parking. You'll park in a satellite lot and take a bus to the ferry termial. The bus ride takes between 20 and 30 minutes.
If you plan to stay for a week or more, consider bringing a bike. The Cape is crisscrossed with bike trails, from the Rail Trail that runs down the center of the Cape from Dennis to Provincetown, to the bike trails that run along side the Cape Cod Canal from Bourne/Sandwich to Falmouth.
The property’s helpful owners live in a house on site and will be happy to help you with any questions you have about places to go and things to do--if you can tear yourself away from the screen porch and the tranquil view, that is.
The Rental Company's Eastham office rents out Marshview Cottage (www.capecodvacation.com, property ID 18010). Either request information through their website, or call 508/255-4949.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 7, 2004
2170 Route 6
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
The rental is located about 4 miles from Sandwich proper and its grocery stores. The association's sandy beach is nice and clean, with grass-covered dunes heading down towards the water. Because it's open only to association members (or their renters), it's never crowded. The water (since this is a bay side beach, rather than an ocean side one) is shallow, warm, and calm. It's a great place to learn to sea kayak, if the number of families who had brought one along with them is any indication. Even better, it's close enough to the house so you can walk the beach before breakfast, go home and eat, return to the beach until lunch, then go home to eat and nap before going back to the beach for the late afternoon.
The house itself is a modern half-cape that's equipped with just about any amenity you can think of--outdoor shower, gas grill, deck, beach chairs, cable TV, washer, dishwasher, two bedrooms (one queen-sized bed, one full), and two baths. Pots, pans, plates, cups, and utensils are provided, so all you bring are sheets and towels. The house is comfortably furnished and decorated, with an open floor plan downstairs; traditional, knotty pine paneling; a tiled breakfast bar; comfy couches; and pleasant bedrooms (one with a skylight). It's a casual place where you feel that you can relax and put your feet up.
If you get tired of lounging on the beach, Sandwich is a great base of operations for sightseeing. It is home to the Sandwich Glass museum, as well as a number of antique shops and boutiques and a cute teashop. Plymouth is half an hour away, as is Wood's Hole and the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. At $11 per adult round trip, and a 45-minute boat ride each way, the Vineyard makes a fun day trip.
The house is rented by Beach Realty of Sandwich. You can either follow the link to their website to book, or call 800/886-4998. The cost, as of summer 2004, is $1,000 per week in season.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 14, 2004
12 Beach Way
12 Beach Way
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Nashua House is a large, old-fashioned, white Victorian -- quite different in scale and color from the rainbow of miniscule gingerbread cottages which compose most of Oak Bluffs. The entry is shaded by a porch that runs the length of the building, complete with porch swings for relaxing. The desk staff is friendly and helpful. Be aware, though, that you may have to wait a minute to get in if you arrive in the evening -- the main door is locked, and you have to ring the bell to alert the staff that you're there and need to be let in. Also be aware that if you need a place to leave your luggage between checkout and when your ferry leaves, the staff will let you leave your things in the lobby (if you ask nicely), but there is no secure luggage room.
The hotel has a Nantuckety sort of charm. My friend and I stayed in the double-bedded, lavender room on the third floor. It's light and bright, the rustic beadboard walls painted pale lavender, with a white coverlet and lavender linens upon the bed. Its bay window looked out over Oak Bluffs, with a view of the ocean to the right. Fluffy towels and cakes of glycerin soap are provided for guests.
Most of the rooms on the second floor have two twin beds, except for the two double-bedded rooms in the front, which have ocean views and porch access -- book early if you want them. There are also one or two single rooms in the hotel.
All of the rooms are decorated similarly to the lavender room -- pastel colors and beadboard walls, old-fashioned quilts, and coverlets on the beds. Staying at Nashua House is sort of like going to grandma's rambling old house -- especially as the bathrooms are shared.
Each floor has six rooms and two bathrooms (shower/sink/toilet) which are, hands down, the most spotlessly clean I've ever seen. They're squeezed into odd crannies in the house, and tend to have quirky details like funky windows, old-fashioned taps in the sink, and hardwood floors. The hotel was fully booked when I stayed, yet, I never had to wait for the bathroom at all.
The Nashua House is two blocks from the beach (one block from an ocean-front park), one block from an ATM and Linda Jean's restaurant (great for breakfast), a block from Zapotec (southwestern food), and three blocks from the ferry landing and the famous Flying Horses Merry-go-round.
Rooms run from $49 per night (for a single bedded room in the low season) to $119 per night for a double or twin in the high season -- a bargain on an island where rates easily top $300 per night in season. You can check the place out at their website, http://www.nashuahouse.com.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 18, 2004
30 Kennebec Avenue
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Restaurant | "Hole-In-One Donuts"
To get a taste of real old-fashioned donuts, try Hole-in-One instead.
Hole-in-One has two locations, one on Route 6 in Eastham, and one on Route 6A in Orleans. The Orleans shop contains a sit-down restaurant with table service, and it provides traditional breakfasts and sandwiches. Our waitress was cheerful and attentive, but a touch clueless -- she didn't know what a raised donut was, a surprise given that she works in a donut shop.
The egg and hash breakfast was average -- the eggs were exactly as ordered, and the hash was homemade (though I much prefer the hash at Red's in Salem), but the homefries were the frozen kind, coated with starch and spices to make them crispy -- ick.
I prefer the Eastham location. Don't be afraid of the line that snakes around the small building--it moves rapidly, and if you only want baked goods or donuts and coffee, you can order at the outdoor express ordering window.
If you want something more substantial than donuts, there's counter service and cooked breakfasts inside. Locals and tourists alike come for good cheap coffee (under $1 for a small) and hand-cut donuts; try the raised -- they're a revelation. Sorry I can't say more, description just fails when faced with these donuts. Plus, if you smile real nice at the friendly lady behind the counter, she might just sneak a donut hole or two into your donut bag.
Hole In One Donut Shop
Cape Cod, Massachusetts 02651
The cozy country decor makes it a nice place to have a big breakfast on a chilly fall morning. Check out the specials list for tantalizing fruit-topped pancakes (I loved the apple-cinnamon ones), egg dishes, waffles, and the like.
Lots of families come in, drawn by the comforting favorites on the menu (what kid doesn't like sausage links rolled in pancakes?) and reasonable prices -- most breakfasts run about $6, with bottomless coffee an extra dollar or so more.
Linda Jean's also serves lunch (sandwiches, soups, and the like) and dinner. Specials like old-fashioned Yankee Pot Roast are tasty, and cheap at $9. As a result, be prepared for a line, even in the off season -- though it moves quickly and the wait is seldom longer than 20 minutes.
25 Circuit Ave.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts 02568
Restaurant | "Arnold's "
My sister and I decided that we'd take Food and Wine's word for it and try Arnold's, conveniently located on Route 6, about 3 miles north of our rental.
Perhaps Arnold's was a real shack once, but it's gotten considerably less shacky over the years -- it has a well-manicured lawn and beds of widlflowers that provide a wild profusion of color, an ATM (useful since it's a cash only restaurant), windows that sell ice cream, a rustic dining room, and a screened-in patio with picnic tables.
We had an inkling that Food and Wine might be on to something when we saw the policeman employed to direct traffic into, out of, and around Arnold's. Luckily, we snagged a parking spot and headed for the seemingly unending line that wound out of the building and around the ice cream windows. The guy in front of us suggested that we use our cell phones to call into the restaurant and place our order (yeah, we brough cells on vacation -- my excuse is that the Marshview Cottage has no phone). We thought he was kidding. He wasn't.
The line moved fast enough to get to where we could place our orders and pay -- that took 20 minutes. Then we sat on the benches that run the length of the front room to wait for our fried clams, lobster roll, onion rings, and corn on the cob to come up. We waited, and waited, and waited until at last -- 45 minutes later -- our order was ready. So was it worth the wait?
Yes, yes, yes! The famous onion rings were great -- a mountain of thin-cut onions, lightly dipped in seasoned flour and fried. The lobster roll was exceptional, too. Oddly, the roll wasn't toasted, but the lobster-to-mayo-and-iceburg-lettuce ratio was perfect -- big sweet chunks of claw and tail, lightly napped with mayo and served with just enough lettuce for crunch. And the clams? Fresh and slightly briny like the sea, with a non-greasy breading that held up amazingly well during the car ride home.
Our only regrets? That we didn't try the fried Wellfleet oysters, too. And that we didn't take that guy in line seriously.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 19, 2004
3580 State Highway
Cape Cod, Massachusetts 02642
Attraction | "Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth MA"
"Do you drink tea?" my friend asked, eying the jug standing beside the chicken thirstily. But she was met with a perplexed look and a polite, "Tea? What is that?"
Tea, you see, that stereotypically English beverage, wasn't widely consumed in England or America before the 18th century. No wonder the young Pilgrim woman was confused--the interpreters in the Pilgrim village at Plimoth Plantation act as if they know nothing beyond the year 1627.
Encounters with the interpreters are the best part of visiting Plimoth Plantation--ask them questions about what they're doing as they go about their daily chores: caring for livestock, tending their gardens, maintaining their houses, and preparing food. They'll be happy to tell you all about it (provided, of course, that you don't ask them something that an Englishman or woman of 1627 wouldn't know). You can also stroll the streets (well, street, really) of Plimoth Plantation and snoop in people's homes and gardens.
Once you're done visiting the English settlers, you can visit Native Americans at Hobbamock's homesite. The Natives are dressed in traditional costumes, and, like the colonists, do typical daily tasks. Unlike the colonists, though, the Native interpreters speak from a modern perspective. Stop and spend some time there--it's not only interesting to look around at the summer and winter wigwams (more rustic looking, but better adapted to the forests of Massachusetts than the colonists' homes), it's interesting to hear native perspectives on history and on their culture.
Younger children will enjoy visiting the historic livestock breeds at the Nye Barn, and everybody can get gifts (including crafts made at Plimoth Plantation) at the museum's gift shops.
Plimoth Plantation is located 3 miles south of Plymouth, MA, and is open from 9 -5. The combination ticket also allows visitors to see the Mayflower II, a replica of a 17th Century vessel, that's docked on the Plymouth waterfront (it's really close to Plymouth Rock, so you can kill two sites with one stone, as it were).
137 Warren Avenue
Plymouth, Massachusetts 02360
508 746 1622