A June 2003 trip
to Cape Cod by questors
Quote: A week in Cape Cod let us sample the diversity of the landscape and a variety of activities. Day trips that drew us from our relaxing home base in Brewster included a factory tour, scenic bicycle ride, seashore hike, and tourist Mecca excursion.
Cape Cod is traditionally divided into Outer Cape, Upper Cape, Mid Cape, and Lower Cape. The boundaries are based on town lines that are invisible and meaningless to the tourist. I believe that the terms are deviously maintained just to trip up tourists: "Hah! You foolishly thought that the Upper Cape was above the Lower Cape! You are certainly not from around here, you uneducated lout!"
Instead of those conventional boundaries, why not have divisions that are tourist-based? I propose Peaceful Cape, Popular Cape, and Picturesque Cape.
Peaceful Cape, the length of Route 6a from Sandwich to Brewster, is charming and bucolic. It includes slow drives through historic villages, breathtaking bay beaches, and a good selection of B&Bs. The key shopping magnets are antique shops and farm stands.
Popular Cape, along Route 28 from Hyannis to
Chatham, is exuberant and stylish. It offers kid-friendly ocean beaches, several miniature golf courses, and a large selection of hotels. Its shopping runs from big-box to boutique.
Picturesque Cape, runs from the far southwestern corner, through the kettle ponds in the center, and up to the extreme northeast end of the Cape. It incorporates vast parks, sand dunes, Indian reservations, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. This area offers excellent opportunities for biking, birding, hiking, whale-watching, and kayaking.
Note that although Provincetown is geographically in the last division, it really is a category all its own!
Of course, the tourist-based names ignore the heritage and quirky designations that give Cape Cod much of its personality. But whatever the names, we found that Cape Cod has something enticing to do and see in each neighborhood.
For the three of us, we packed two of their creations (a seafood salad design plus a roast beef-bleu cheese concoction) and one bottle of water for our 10-mile bike ride. The rollwiches fit perfectly in the bottle carriers on the bikes, so no packs were needed.
Box Lunch has been around since the 1970s and is known for its wholesome ingredients, numerous locations, and international student workers.
Even when we weren’t going for a bike ride, we found the sandwiches, priced at about $5, to be a healthy, flavorful, affordable alternative to fast food. They’re a favorite of locals as well as knowledgeable visitors and one more of the many reasons that this visitor really, really wishes she were a local. I’d even learn the difference between Upper Cape and Outer Cape if I could have those rollwiches on a regular basis!
Check out their imaginative menu.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 13, 2005
302 Underpass Rd
Cape Cod, Massachusetts 02631
Attraction | "Cape Cod Potato Chip Company Tour"
Here is the factory
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 13, 2005
Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory Tour
100 Breed's Hill Road
Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601
+1 508 775 3358
I thought it would be cool to follow the same path that Thoreau took along the shoreline, but because the Cape is slowly vanishing into the ocean, that route is now under water several hundred feet offshore. Instead we walked the interconnecting Fort Hill and Red Maple Swamp trails, which start near Eastham.
We followed Fort Hill Trail across open fields, through cedar and oak forests, and along the edge of a marsh. It offered wide vistas of tidal flats and the Atlantic Ocean as well as a Native American sharpening rock. Wildflowers and birdsong accompanied us along the clearly marked trail.
We took the cutoff to the Red Maple Swamp Trail and enjoyed the boardwalk that wound its way through an unexpected grove of maple trees rising from the swamp. I’ll bet this walk is beautiful in autumn, but the cool greenness of the walk was refreshing in the late spring.
The 2-mile loop was easy walking for us. We spent about 2 hours on the paths because we took our time observing the vast assortment of landscape and wildlife along the trails and reading the exhibit panels.
No restrooms, but free parking and information pamphlets are available at the trailhead. Check out the National Seashore for more info on what to see and do in the park. And if you’re thinking of going, go soon: this part of Cape Cod may well be gone in a few hundred years.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Marconi Site Road
Wellfleet, Massachusetts 02667
+1 508 349 3785
Attraction | "Biking the Cape Cod Rail Trail"
A bicycle is the perfect way to explore Cape Cod. You know what it’s like checking out a new locale in a car: you’re either going too fast to really see what you want to see or you’re stuck in traffic – and Cape Cod has its share of that. With a bike, you can stop and explore whenever you want and you can cover more ground than if you’re walking.
The Cape Cod Rail Trail provides an ideal setting for investigating what the Cape has to offer. Cranberry bogs, shady lanes, kettle ponds, and an old-fashioned country store – we saw them all on our 10-mile ride. And the Rail Trail is a delight for us out-of-practice riders: it’s safely removed from traffic, smoothly paved, and mostly level.
The trail lies along the old right of way of a railroad that traversed Cape Cod until the 1960s. In 1978, the first sections were paved for use by cyclists, equestrians, rollerbladers, and walkers. Currently, the trail is about 30 miles long from South Dennis to South Wellfleet.
We started our trip about mid-point in the trail, not far from Nickerson State Park, renting our bikes at one of several bike shops at handy locations right along the trail. We outfitted ourselves with water, map, and sandwiches from Box Lunch and took off on our venture at a leisurely pace.
After a wobbly first hundred feet or so, we were soon in high spirits, captivated by the picturesque surroundings and pleased with our daring-do. Our first stop was at Seymours Pond to enjoy the cool breeze and the antics of the ducks. We later took a break to investigate a cranberry bog then glided serenely through a shady pine forest. At the rotary, we ate our sandwiches and chatted with some local folks out for a walk with their families. We figured we had gone about half as far as we could so we turned back towards our starting point, stopping along the way to examine a wayward tortoise and to take some pictures. At Pleasant Lake General Store we had ice cream and a last breather on their welcoming benches before finishing up the trip, simultaneously exhausted and refreshed.
Not only did we see slices of the real Cape Cod, we found that riding a bicycle along the scenic Rail Trail is the kind of excursion that wakens the senses and livens the spirit.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 14, 2005
Cape Cod Rail Trail
Dennis, Massachusetts 02638
+1 508 896 3491
Who was it who said, "Beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes."? I don’t know if that is true – who doesn’t love new clothes – but in the case of Provincetown, maybe it should be: "Beware of any town that requires parking lots for tourist buses."
I thought I would enjoy Provincetown, a gay, arty, seaside town. It sounded just like Laguna Beach in Southern California, a favorite of ours for dining and strolling and enjoying the sunshine. But my reaction to
P’town was, "I drove all the way here for this?"
I just didn’t get it. Hordes of middle-aged straight tourists (yes – just like me) tramping down a single narrow street, past shops that sell 3-for-$5 T-shirts and souvenirs made from seashells, the overcast sky hidden behind a clutter of overhead wires.
Somehow I missed the charm or the excitement or the shock-value or whatever those busloads of tourists came to see. Or maybe it’s supposed to be kitschy, and I am just too old or too straight or too cynical to get the joke.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on March 14, 2005
Eastern end of Route 6
Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657