Pilgrim Monument, at left, and the Long Point Light
Station in Provincetown, Mass., are both iconic Cape
COD — Breathtaking beaches and classic seafood shacks.
Quaint villages and postcard-perfect lighthouses. Whale
watches and dune rides. Art galleries and summer theater.
Cape Cod draws millions of tourists each year, including a
sizable number of Connecticut residents, and there’s no
end to the area’s charms.
with all there is to do, it’s tough to know where to
start and what not to miss — even for seasoned visitors.
Kim Grant, author of "Explorer’s Guide Cape Cod,
Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket," and "Cape
Cod Travel Essentials," the book’s free
accompanying app, says the things to do and places to see
are so vast and varied that it’s easy to get overwhelmed
by the choices.
hard to talk about the Cape without resorting to
hyperbole, but there really is no place like it,"
says Grant. "If I had to narrow it down, I’d tell
people to start with the classics like the Cape Cod
National Seashore and the dunes; a drive on Route 6A past
the clusters of iconic little cottages and a visit to
Woods Hole, which is one of the most charming villages
of the most beautiful dunes and beaches in New England are
located around Provincetown at the Cape’s outer tip,
says Grant, and Art’s Dune Tours has been offering
narrated, off-road tours through them since 1946.
has been around for decades, yet there are still people
who come to the Cape every summer who have never done one
of their dune rides," says Grant.
Matt Poland, Hartford Public Library’s CEO. In spite of
the fact that the Hartford resident has been vacationing
on the Cape since 1975 and owns a home in Provincetown, he
took his first dune tour just this month, an experience he
described as "spectacular."
have no idea why we waited so long to do this," says
Poland. "Fabulous scenery and interesting history. It
turned out to be one of our best Cape experiences
with all its natural scenery, Cape Cod is also known for
its art galleries, museums and theaters — and there’s
plenty of history in those venues as well. The Cape
Playhouse in Dennis, declared by Actors’ Equity
Association to be the "Oldest Professional Summer
Theatre" in America, opened in 1927 with a play
starring Basil Rathbone. Bette Davis, a former Playhouse
usher, made her acting debut here, and theater-goers can
still see productions there today.
the same grounds as the Playhouse is Cape Cod Cinema,
which opened in 1930 and continues to screen films in its
art deco auditorium, featuring individual black lacquer
and tangerine suede arm chairs and a 6,400 square foot
mural by American painter Rockwell Kent. A framed poster
in the lobby notes that a 1939 premiere of "The
Wizard of Oz" took place at the Cape Cinema before
its New York showing.
Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch in the movie, had
appeared at the Cape Playhouse and used her influence to
get the film shown here before its Radio City
premiere," says Joseph Guglielmo, general manager.
"Seeing a movie here is quintessential Cape
there are plenty more of those uniquely Cape experiences
available. You can bike the Shining Sea Bikeway, (named
for a line in the song "America the Beautiful,"
written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates) that hugs
the coast from Falmouth to Woods Hole; or kayak around
Pleasant Bay in Orleans.
stop by the Edward Gorey House, a museum in Yarmouth Port
devoted to the quirky artist’s eccentric, humorous
works. Visit Chatham and watch the fishing boats come into
the town dock or the skydivers at Chatham Municipal
Airport. Play golf at Highland Links in Truro and you’ll
get a million-dollar view of the Atlantic Ocean and Cape
Light as well. Go to the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory in
Hyannis and sample the area’s namesake salty snacks.
Take a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.
you choose, don’t forget the food. Eat lobster, fried
clams, chowder, ice cream and fudge almost anywhere from
Bourne to P’Town — and do it outdoors, whenever
possible. While everyone who has ever visited Cape Cod has
their own favorites, Grant suggests a lobster roll at
Chatham Bars Inn’s Beach House Grill and Poland is a fan
of PB Boulangerie & Bistro in South Wellfleet.
eateries that show up on "Best Of" lists include
Sir Cricket Fish ‘N Chips on Route 6A in Orleans, Spanky’s
Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon in Hyannis Port, Captain
Frosty’s in Dennis, The Lobster Pot, (which has been in
business since around 1943), and Spititus Pizza, all in
Provincetown. (Some restaurants operate seasonally and
some only accept cash, so be sure to call ahead.)
really do need to make yourself a bucket list," says
Grant. "Otherwise you’re going to miss out on some
really special things."
John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum highlights the legacy of
President Kennedy, his family, and their deep connection
to Cape Cod. Information: 508-790-3077 or
of visitors have climbed the 252 foot granite Pilgrim
Monument, (built to commemorate the first landing of the
Mayflower Pilgrims in Provincetown), since it opened more
than 100 years ago. Information: www.pilgrim-monument.org
Cape Cod Potato Chip factory in Hyannis, is one of the
area’s top tourist destinations with more than 250,000
visitors each year. Information: 888-881-2447 or
Dune Tours offers National Seashore dune tours, light
house tours and other outings. Tours depart from a central
location in Provincetown. Information: 508-487-1950 or
Cod Playhouse, Dennis. Information: 508-385-3838 or
Cod Cinema, Dennis. Information: 508-385-2503 or
Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod, is a 45-minute ferry
ride from Woods Hole. Information, Martha’s Vineyard
Chamber of Commerce, 508-693-0085, www.mvy.com.
out your poodle skirt and saddle shoes to catch a movie at
the Wellfleet Drive-In, which opened in 1957. Information:
508-349-7176 or www.wellfleetcinemas.com/drive-in-theatre.
122-year-old Highland Links Golf Course in Truro offers
golfers views from bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean,
plus a traditional Scottish links experience. Information:
508-487-9201 or www.highlandlinkscapecod.com.
on Cape Cod National Seashore is available at the National
Park Service web site: www.nps.gov/caco
Cod Shining Sea Bikeway: www.falmouthmass.us
Gorey House, Yarmouth Port: 508-362-3909 or
Cricket Fish ’N Chips, Orleans: 508-255-1019 or
Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon, Hyannis Port: 508-771-2770
Bars Inn: 508-945-0096 or www.chathambarsinn.com
Boulangerie & Bistro, South Wellfleet: 508-349-1600 or
Frosty’s, Dennis: 508-385-8548 or www.captainfrosty.com
Lobster Pot, Provincetown: 508-487-0842 or
Pizza, Provincetown: 508-487-2808 or www.spirituspizza.com