Mid-Cape More Commercial, Less Picturesque
I spent a weekend in Yarmouth for my wedding anniversary. I had never been to the Mid-Cape before. I have visited Provincetown and Nantucket and was expecting something like that: weathered cedar singled ocean homes with extravagant flower gardens and a Range Rover or two in the driveway.
Yarmouth was more commercial, more family-oriented, and more middle class. A painted white cement spouting whale at the edge of a miniature golf course was our reminder to turn for our resort. I didn't expect a spouting cement whale to be one of my memories. There were also sneaker outlets, a pay-per-use trampoline center, fast-food restaurants, and strip malls.
I go the gamut when it comes to beaches, with annual trips to both Ocean City, MD, and Nantucket, MA, so I am OK with commercial beach resorts. My husband said he was "underwhelmed" by Yarmouth. I think we were both expecting small, windy, oceanfront streets with art galleries, jewelry stores, and resort-wear boutiques--you know, historic elegance where women wear wide brimmed hats, unreasonable walking shoes, and $200 sunglasses. All that is driving distance from Yartmouth, a mere 30 minutes south on Route 28 brought us to Chatham considered "the elbow of the Cape." Chatham is all that, plus white linen jackets, valet parking, and jazz clubs. But Yarmouth is a T-shirt and sneaker place. Leave those expensive red Italian strappy shoes at home, unless you plan to travel to other towns.
Beaches Are Food for the Soul
No matter what runs along Route 28 in Yarmouth, once you get to the shore, you remember why you came--to go to the ocean. The beaches were glorious. The water was warm. The sky was clear and blue. The water was more turquoise than you'd expect for New England. The breeze was intoxicating. We played on the rocks. We looked for shells. We read. We slept. We took in as much as we could--the organic scent of sea water, the sun sparkling on the sailboats just offshore, the rhythmic crashing of waves, a glimpse of a harbor seal playing in the surf--all made us breathe in deeply to try to take in more warmth, more relaxation, more memories of Cape Cod.
Island Access a Plus
One major asset of Yarmouth is that it is close to Hyannis where you can catch ferries to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard. Yarmouth is just a few miles from the ferry docks. We took a daytrip to Martha's Vineyard, which was pure fun and excitement. The Islands of Cape Cod, although only a few miles off shore, offer an addictive atmosphere of being away from it all. You are "on island time." The world, your worries, and your "to do" list seem a galaxy away when you are visiting the Cape Cod Islands. If you go to Yarmouth, take the ferry to see the Islands. It is well worth the trip. I prefer Nantucket, which is so pristine and preserved -- in miniature, it could be an illuminated porcelain village on someone's fireplace mantel. Martha's Vineyard has more of a Florida Keys feel. You know some serious partying goes on at the Ocean Bluffs section where outdoor bars with grass umbrellas pump out pulsing reggae music. Beyond Ocean Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, you'll find well-preserved, quaint Colonial villages with gourmet shops and art galleries connected by brick sidewalks. Nantucket offers more sightseeing, dining, and shopping in the immediate vicinity of where the ferry drops off. Martha's Vineyard is a little more spread out, but has a good bus system to see all the sights. The Nantucket ferry is longer and more expensive, making Martha's Vineyard more accessible for day tripping.
Yarmouth is a comfortable, affordable, and convenient location for families. I'd go back with the kids for sure. They'd love the spouting cement whale and the trampoline center. But if we were to go again for our anniversary, I'd look beyond the Mid-Cape. I'd consider Chatham to the east or Falmouth to the west. We visited both these towns during our stay and they offered the quaint, historic, upscale, romantic atmosphere we were seeking.