A November 2005 trip
to Cape Cod by zabelle
Quote: Five grandchildren, two parents, and two naïve grandparents head for a late fall weekend on Cape Cod. They aren’t called the Hooligans for nothing.
We headed out on Saturday morning, determined to get to Hyannis to see the Kennedy Museum. On the map it looks quite close, but on the Cape, driving is reminiscent of driving in England. Not matter how close it looks, it will take you twice as long as you think. Traffic was quite horrible all the way, as this is mostly back-road driving and it goes through every one-horse town and even some with less than a horse. Needless to say, we were glad when we arrived. It was worth the wait, certainly for the adults. Frankly, the kids didn’t have a clue who JFK was, and the older ones humored us by reading the displays. This is really a museum more suited to adults, but the gift shop is another story. It is filled with all manner of temptation for children. We finally settled on pens and pencils.
After having been confined in the car and museum for two hours, the Hooligans were ready for some exercise, and although, again, it took us longer than we expected, we finally arrived at the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich. This is quite an expensive stop for a group, especially the size of ours, but it was worth every penny. We started off up the hill on a wide path, and it gave the kids a chance to run and yell and just be kids. Our first stop was the car museum, which they enjoyed very much. Only one car can actually be boarded and touched, but they all sat long enough to get their pictures taken.
We were all ravenous by now, and I suggested the Dunbar Tearoom. I know, what was I thinking? Hooligans and tea, oh my. As it turned out, it was an inspired choice. With five tea setups and three hot chocolates, we had a delightfully English tea, and the kids learned a little about culture, tea sandwiches, and delectable sweets.
Walking on the beach in the fall is a real pleasure, and Old Silver Beach where the Seacrest Resort is located is no exception. For the most part, we had the beach all to ourselves.
Restaurant | "Seafood Sam’s"
Don’t expect atmospheric dining, it isn’t romantic or classy. It is one step up from the seafood shacks we have along the shore in Connecticut. It looked more like the local fast-food joint than a good seafood restaurant. How deceiving looks can be.
There is an extensive menu on overhead signs. It is overwhelming for a first timer. We had to step back to read all the signs and let people pass us and place their orders. We finally decided on the calamari special and broiled scallop dinner. You have the choice of one starch, baked potatoes, rice pilaf or French fries, and coleslaw. They serve beer, so Al ordered a Michelob Ultra, and I got an iced tea. Our feast cost us $21.79. You pay and are given a number and told to take a seat. Make sure you stop and pick up your silverware, napkins, and condiments.
While we were waiting for our number to be called, I scooped out the tables around us. There were lots of seniors and families--mostly locals by the look of them. Plenty of nautical décor and a giant lobster set the mood. The tables have green Formica tops, and so do the booths. The staff is constantly out among the tables, keeping things neat and clean. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of not only the restaurant but the restroom as well.
After a short wait, our number is called, and Al went to get our food. It is served on cardboard plates. The scallops were divine--so delicate and fresh, with crispy and very spicy crumbs on top. The scallops were so good, they even overcame the overwhelming flavor of the crumbs. The calamari was excellent--tender with a slightly too-heavy coating, no elastic bands here. The baked potato was cooked perfectly and served with butter and sour cream. The coleslaw was extra good--very crunchy with lots of celery seeds. The only weak spot was very pedestrian French fries.
There is a glass atrium with seating, as well as outdoor dining in the warmer weather. Seafood Sam’s offers a lot of bang for your buck. The Hooligans ate dinner at the hotel. There is a lot to be said for peace and quiet too. To check out their menu and get at $2 coupon for their shirt or hat, go to
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 23, 2005
1006 Route 28
Cape Cod, Massachusetts 02664-5644
Restaurant | "Goulet’s Crabapples"
We did have to wait a bit to put our order in, but that was our fault. When our waitress first visited us, we couldn’t get all the Hooligans to decide on what they wanted--too many choices. Luckily for us, another large party with children came in, and their Hooligans were just as rowdy as ours, so we didn’t attract any undue attention.
I ordered the panini French toast,
and Al had a cheese omelet. All their omelets are made with three eggs and are served with homefries and choice of toast. And what toast they were, including a delicious raisin toast. Al was delighted with his omelet; it was loaded with cheese and cooked to perfection. My French toast was worth going back for--thick and cooked to a golden brown. I added real maple syrup to make it perfect.
Dan had the breakfast burrito,
two scrambled eggs with sausage and cheese in a soft tortilla wrap, and the little boys had bagels. Everyone emptied their plates, which speaks for itself.
They offer breakfast specials in addition to their regular menu, and on the day we were there, these include eggs Florentine--two poached eggs, lobster chunks, and spinach drizzled with hollandaise sauce--and homefries. There were also cran-apple walnut pancakes or blueberry corncakes with two scrambled eggs and two bacon or sausage. The special omelet included spinach, mushroom, onion, and asiago cheese, and the "Cape Codder" was two scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, and fresh-grilled muffins.
Like almost every restaurant in this area, the décor is nautical. The tables were wooden, and the chairs were an eclectic mix.
They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and from what I saw of the lunch and dinner menu, it is worthy of a return visit for a meal beyond breakfast. They offer homemade soups and chowders, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and wraps.
A warm welcome, friendly service, and good food--this restaurant has it all.
553 Palmer Ave
Cape Cod, Massachusetts 02540
Restaurant | "Dunbar Tea Room"
If you are coming without children, the inside room is much more charming with wooden tables and flowered cloths but the plastic chairs and cloths were perfect for us. The menu is not geared for children; there is a five-dollar-per-head charge and no children’s menu. Kasey had a slightly hysterical look on her face as the boys did their usual arguing, jumping, and generally being boys. I told her to relax and let me order. No, they do not count the kids in the five-dollar-per-head count, just as I expected. I ordered five cream teas. This included a scone with jelly and cream, tea sandwiches, and sweets. Everyone ordered his or her drinks separately. I was especially proud of 16-year-old Danny when he asked about the Assam and decided to try it. Hot chocolate for the Hooligans, English Breakfast and Earl Grey for the rest of us, and the hardest part was over.
The five cream teas turned out to be just the perfect amount of food. The little boys had cream cheese and ham sandwiches, followed by, as 2-year-old Josh kept saying, "cake, cake, cake... chocolate." There were plenty of sandwiches, with the addition of the cucumber ones, for all of us to eat our fill. With five teas, we had five scones, and I knew the little ones wouldn’t want to eat a scone after they saw the cake. There were several choices among the cakes: lemon bars, a cheese and nut cake, and of course, the infamous chocolate. It was all very fresh and delicious.
We each had a pot of tea that gave us at least four cups of the steaming brew. Service was exceptional, and we had a fabulous time, thus proving that even the Hooligans can be civilized by a cuppa.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 23, 2005
Dunbar House & Tea Room
1 Water St
Cape Cod, Massachusetts 02563
We had five children with us, and we were not quite sure if this would be a place where they would be welcomed. We need not have worried, as they were welcomed with open arms, and the man who was providing the live entertainment came right over to our table and got the boys involved in his silly song. Everyone in the place was laughing and having a good time. They even have a kid’s menu with things like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips. Décor is what you would expect--lots of wood, a motorcycle, and lots of English quotes and posters.
However, this place has a lot more to offer than just good beer and good fun--they have great food. Everything we tried was better than just good. Even the menu was fun. The choices ran the gamut from nibbles, pasty pies, stateside specialties, bangers and mash, and fish and chips to pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches. It really is a bit overwhelming, and I was afraid that with so many diverse choices, they might be overextending themselves. I needn’t have worried.
We began with a nibble--chips with dips, a combination of spiced fries and sweet potato fries with three dipping sauces, horseradish spread, mango ketchup, and curry sauce. All delicious. Not one was left on the plate. We all like to share, and I had to fight off the grandkids because everyone liked my chips!
For my meal, I had the Tuscany salad, fresh mozzarella, sliced Roma tomatoes, roasted garlic, and balsamic vinaigrette. A large and very delicious serving.
Al had the Tavern Ale Tips, 3/4 pound of hand-cut aged beef marinated in ale, seared over charcoal and served with potato and vegetable.
Kasey, John, and the boys had pizza. They got two--one marguerita and one barbecue-chicken. It is hand-tossed crust with first-class toppings. This was serious pizza and way above-average quality.
If all this wasn’t enough, the kids got free chocolate pudding with their meals. I am never one to pass up the opportunity to have dessert, and I am glad I gave it a go here. They have an interesting selection of tuxedo cake, chocolate cake, crème brulee cheesecake, bread pudding, and pecan pie. We ordered the cheesecake and the bread pudding. Both were good choices. The cheesecake was creamy, with a crunchy sugar crust, and the bread pudding was dense and full of cinnamon flavor.
Check them out at www.britishbeer.com
British Beer Company
263 Grand Avenue
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Attraction | "John F. Kennedy Museum"
For those of us who grew up in the '60s, this has a very special meaning. Once there was a young and handsome president, a beautiful wife and adorable children. The world was a different place. We had survived the Cuban Missal crisis, made the mighty Russian back down, and we believed in fairy tales, misty Avalon, and happily ever after. It all came crashing down on November 22, 1963, and no one who was alive then will ever forget where he or she was. A visit to this museum in downtown Hyannis brought all of the magic that was Camelot back.
You begin by viewing a seven-minute video entitled "Coming Home," narrated by Walter Cronkite. He introduces us to Hyannis as the northern White House. It was the place where the president escaped the pressures of Washington, even if only momentarily. It was very nostalgic for the oldsters in the group and informative for the youngster. It has been years since I have seen video of Caroline and her pony Macaroni. I was rather impressed with myself for knowing the pony’s name.
The rest of the museum consists of photos of the Kennedy family at home in Hyannisport. There are photos from the childhood of Jack and his siblings as well as from the days of the Presidency. There are pictures of the Kennedy Compound, which is in reality three separate houses that are presently owed by Senator Edward Kennedy, Mrs. Ethel Kennedy, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. This is still very much a Kennedy summer getaway. There are photos showing what the house looked like when Joe and Rose bought the first house and some a bit more recent, but none that could be considered an invasion of privacy.
This is a small museum with several small cases of campaign memorabilia from the 1960 race. However, for all of us, the most poignant exhibit was a sculpture called "What Could Have Been". It shows Jack and John Kennedy walking together on a beach. Jack is an older man and John an adult. It brought tears to my eyes, and it affected my daughter Kasey the same way. Though not on par with the Kennedy Library in Boston, it was certainly a worthwhile visit for anyone who has any interest in the Kennedy family or the 35th president.
There is a small gift store that is very kid-friendly, and parking is free in the rear of the building.
John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
397 Main St
Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601
+1 508 790 3077
Attraction | "Heritage Museum and Gardens"
The autos are displayed on two levels and it is an impressive collection. There is a 1930 Duesenberg, which was owned by Gary Cooper. The original price of it was $14,000 and this at a time when the average yearly earnings was under $1400. An 1899 Winton Motor carriage and even a 1962 Corvette. All of them are rare or unusual models. The Lilly’s collect 30 cars and new acquisitions and loans have added to the collection from other collections. We were duly impressed and even the Hooligans enjoyed climbing aboard the one car you are allowed to touch and getting their picture taken.
If this was all there was this museum would be worth a visit but it is only the beginning. Since it was the weekend after Thanksgiving they were opening their winter light show "Spectacle of Lights" that evening and we could see the displays all over the gardens. There is an additional cost to have the light show added to your ticket.
There are over 100 acres of grounds to wander through and they were pretty although the flowers were long since past. We headed to the American History Museum where the collection of historic toys, The Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame and the antique firearm collection entertained us. What the Hooligans particularly liked was the headstone rubbings they were able to do at the display "Art of the Departed" of the gravestones of Cape Cod.
Another walk through the grounds brings you to the Art Museum. Here we found an excellent play area for the kids. They were able to run, climb, and sit in a dinghy. There was sailor gear for them to try on: it was a very hands on area. This is also where the beautiful hand carved antique carousel is located. It is a real beauty. Moreover, this isn’t just for looking at; this is for riding. Even the adults jumped on for a ride.
There is a lot of walking involved in a visit here. There is a bus that can take you from one area to another and though we saw it, we were too anxious to get going to wait for it’s schedule. There is always something going on here, exhibits change and evolve. You can visit their website at www.HeritageMuseumsAndGardens.org to find out what is coming up. None of the restaurants is open in November, so plan accordingly.
67 Grove St
Sandwich, Massachusetts 02563
+1 508 888 3300