Your Traveler’s Guide to CAPE COD
Thinking of planning a trip to Cape Cod? Are your minds full of questions? Where should we stay? Which town will meet our needs? How will I get around?
At our seaside boutique inn we are always available to answer any questions or help plan your stay. We also have created a new “Cape Cod Traveler’s Guide” -available at your fingertips on your phone, computer or an i- pad in the inn’s parlor, that will answer all of your questions and help plan your holiday- both before and during your stay.
7 important travel tips in planning your Cape Cod Getaway
Once you have decided that Cape Cod is the destination for your holiday, the travel tips below will help you narrow in where you want to stay and our “Cape Cod Traveler’s Guide” will be your concierge to make this getaway a memory of a lifetime!
Travel Tip #1- which airport is best to fly into and should we rent a car?
We like to recommend both Logan Airport in Boston
and the TF Green in Providence R.I.
Both airports are about the same distance to Cape Cod. Logan is a great choice if you have an international flight, and you may decide to stay in Boston a few nights to enjoy Boston’s historical sites, great food and culture before coming to Cape Cod. There is also a passenger train that is a unique rail experience ending in Hyannis where you can rent your car. Providence is a great choice too, as it’s a smaller airport, easy to navigate to get your rental car and has less traffic traveling to Cape Cod.
You will need to plan on having a vehicle during your stay on Cape Cod as the public transportation is limited. There are over 65 miles of beautiful scenic towns to explore, including many breathtaking beaches, preservation land, lighthouses and hiking trails. Many come for our bike paths allowing a wonderful way to explore beaches, cranberry bogs and nature- a bike rack for your car is helpful as there are many different bike paths to enjoy. A previous blog outlines them all.
Travel Tip #2- How do I decide which town to stay in?
Cape Cod, often referred to by locals as “the Cape” was formed as the terminal moraine of a glacier, resulting in a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1914, the Cape Cod Canal was cut through the base or isthmus of the peninsula, forming an island. Many smaller islands are close by- including Monomoy Island, Monomoscoy Island, Popponesset Island, Seconsett Island, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The Cape’s small-town character, large areas of conservation, including the treasured National Seashore makes for unique seaside vacation.
Cape Cod includes 15 towns, all with unique qualities that make each town special. Depending on what you are looking for will help determine which town best suits your needs. For example-Brewster is quaint, historic and quiet bayside town that includes 7 bay beaches, P’Town is know for it’s night life and whale watching , Chatham is a quaint village great for high-end shopping, Falmouth is known for it’s beautiful downtown area and harbors, Wellfleet is an old fishing village and is known for it’s Wellfleet Oysters and Hyannis has easy access to the ferries going to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. (More information on each town is explained further in this blog)
Travel Tip #7- What is the best time of year to visit Cape Cod?
July-August is the most popular time to visit Cape Cod but one insider secret- September is really the best time to visit as the waters are really warm, everything is open and the family crowds are gone. May and June is also a great time but if you enjoy ocean swimming be aware that the water is VERY cold. October and November is a great time to visit as all the towns have great festivals, including the Wellfleet Oyster Festival and our famous cranberries are being harvested.
Now that you know all the travel tips to navigate Cape Cod during your holiday, it’s now time to understand the different sections that make up our peninsula which is divided into four parts: the Upper Cape, the Mid-Cape, the Lower Cape and the Outer Cape. (map provided by the Cape Cod Chamber)
The Upper Cape is made up of Falmouth, Woods Hole, Mashpee and Sandwich. Sandwich is the first town you will encounter once you go over the bridge. It is the oldest town on the Cape and includes the treasured Heritage Museum and Gardens and the Sandwich Glass Museum. Also popular is eating lunch at Fishermen’s View on the canal and walking the Sandwich Boardwalk. Mashpee is known for it’s shopping at Mashpee Commons but does not include many places to stay. If you are planning on spending several days on one of the islands you may choose to stay in Falmouth or Woods Hole which has close access to the ferries. Falmouth is a beautiful coastal town which is know for it’s great down town area and bike and walking trails. Check out a previous blog for details. Woods Hole is also home to the famed Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the Nobska Lighthouse. If you are coming to enjoy the beaches at the Cape Cod National Seashore or to enjoy whale watching in P’Town , remember that this part of the Cape is over 40 miles to reach the National Seashore and with summer traffic may take 2-3 hours to reach.
The Mid Cape area is made up of Hyannis, Yarmouth and Dennis. Hyannis offers easy access to the fast ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket for island day trips. The Kennedy museum is a great spot to visit and you can also hop on a boat to see the Kennedy compound by water. Hyannis is the business center of Cape Cod, including the Cape Cod Airport and train station and has a commercial feel to it as this is where all the big box stores are. If you are looking for quaint galleries and shops and Old Cape Cod this is not the area for you. As you travel further into the Cape you will find many artisan galleries, quaint towns, bed and breakfasts, lots of clam shacks and homemade ice-cream! Yarmouth is known as the family friendly part of the Cape which includes motels, miniature golf, go carts and inflatable parks with baseball batting cages. If you are feeling like being a kid again head over to South Yarmouth on 28 and enjoy a game of miniature golf, an ice cream at Dairy Queen and best of all visit the Whydah Pirate Museum. The Old Scenic Highway (Route 6A) runs on the north side of Cape Cod and personifies what Cape Cod was like in the early days. Gray’s Beach Boardwalk on the way into Dennis is a must see destination with beautiful views of Barnstable Harbor and Cape Cod Bay, along with Mayflower Beach and West Dennis Beach on Nantucket sound. For those looking for a delicious lobster roll stop by the Sesuit Harbor Cafe and later climb the Scargo Tower for magnificent views of Cape Cod Bay.
Many Cape Codders feel that the real Cape does not begin until you enter the Lower Cape which includes Brewster, Harwich, Chatham and Orleans. You will see many more trees, historic churches and homes, conservation land, clam shacks, lighthouses, windmills and sea captain’s home- Classic Cape Cod at it’s finest! There is a much more relaxed atmosphere in this area filled with nature and beaches. You are now also in the middle of Cape Cod and this area is known for it’s central location allowing easy access to whale watching, beaches, ferries and bike trails. Harwich is home to 2 upscale wedding venues- the Wequassett Resort and Wychmere Beach Club. Brewster is known as the Sea Captain’s town and includes 6 wonderful bay beaches and many upscale bed and breakfasts. It is on the quiet side of the Cape and includes great conservation land including the Punkhorns and Nickerson State Park. The Cape Cod Rail Trail runs right though town and is a perfect way to reach the National Seashore and to see Cape Cod cranberry bogs. Chatham is a quintessential New England village with a beautiful lighthouse and village. If you love seals then don’t miss the Chatham Fish Pier and the Chatham Lighthouse Beach where you most always will see seals and seagulls as the fishermen throw in their leftover bait in the water- making for a perfect afternoon snack.
Sailing excursions are mainly focused around the harbors of Harwichport and Orleans and go out into Nantucket Sound. The warm waters and gentle breezes make for perfect para sailing too. Leaving Chatham on 28 and driving toward Orleans is a breathtaking drive with scenic views of Pleasant Bay. Orleans is a quaint town filled with wonderful dress and jewelry shops along with the best hot chocolate and hot fudge sundaes on the Cape at the popular Hot Chocolate Sparrow. This place is loved by locals and tourists alike.
Rock Harbor in Orleans is where many of the sport fishermen leave from. The sunset at this location are breathtaking and the fresh lobster rolls at Captain Cass make for a classic Cape Cod experience.
A favorite beach by many is Nauset Beach in Orleans. It is a huge expanse of natural beach and you can walk for hours in solitude. In the winter time you may even happen to see a snowy owl.
The Lower Cape is where you will find the best places to stay on Cape Cod if you are looking for that special feel of the Cape but also the conveniences of not being too far out.
Everyone thinks of the Outer Cape as “beach country” as this is home to the treasured Cape Cod National Seashore. The Outer Cape includes Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. Nauset Marsh is the perfect place to launch your kayak and the folks at Cape Kayak give wonderful tours.
For those thinking of visiting the Cape in October, the Wellfleet Oysterfest is not to be missed (it is always scheduled the weekend after Columbus Day Weekend) These delicious oysters are available all summer long at many Cape Cod restaurant.
The Outer Cape almost shuts down in the winter but amazingly surfers can be found on many of the Outer Cape Cod beaches year round. There are some wonderful hiking trails in this area including the Great Island Trail in Wellfleet and the White Cedar Swamp Trail in the Marconi Beach area. With so many exceptional hiking trails in this area of the Cape it’s hard to decide which one to explore. After a day at the beach, it’s fun to stop into one of the many clam shacks that are close by including Mac’s Shack, Moby Dicks and Arnolds. This area is all about beach life and it doesn’t get more laid back then here- you’ll see plenty of flip flops and baseball hats. If you are looking for a popular spot for live music, relaxation at it’s finest and great views of the Atlantic stop by the Beachcomber in Wellfleet. The Cape Cod Rail Trail, running 26 miles total, continues through Eastham and ends in Wellfleet at the Marconi Beach. The White Cedar Swamp Trail is a shaded trail that’s fun to walk after a busy day of beaching or biking. Truro has the most expensive houses on the Cape- many that sit up in the hills looking over the ocean. This town is much less inhabited and more isolated from conveniences like grocery stores or restaurants. Head of The Meadow beach in Truro is a quiet beach that often has objects wash ashore like old lobster traps or a few years ago, an old ship wreck washed up on the beach. If you like solitude and quiet this is the area for you.
Saving Provincetown for last as this is the crazy part of the Cape. It originated as a whaling and fishing community, blended into an art community and in the 80’s supported a large gay community. Sitting at the tip of Cape Cod it continues to be filled with creative art, colorful parades and a very high energy community. It is a good idea to check what big events will be taking place in Provincetown during your stay as P’town is ALWAYS crowded in the summer, especially on event days including the Portuguese Festival, Carnival, Bear Week, Pride Festival, and July Fourth celebrations. There is a ferry from P-Town to Boston which would work perfectly for those wanting to stay in one location without a car. P’Town is filled with many wonderful restaurants and bars and is the best place to stay on Cape Cod if you are looking for high energy and partying.
P’Town is also home to the Dolphin Fleet which is a wonderful way to see whales in their natural habitat. In the summer time many boats go out a day for this unique 4 hour excursion.
For detailed information on things to do during your stay on Cape Cod, be sure to check out our Cape Cod Traveler’s Guide- shown on our web site as “concierge” which is filled with information and ideas on things to do during your stay.
The Best Place to Stay on Cape Cod
And now the question to decide- where should we stay on Cape Cod?
The Captain Freeman Inn is Cape Cod’s best place to stay on Cape Cod! Our top rated inn has it all- a wonderful, central location in Brewster, a beautifully restored Sea Captain’s home with all of the modern conveniences, a short stroll to beautiful Breakwater Beach and fabulous Farm to Table Breakfasts.
Check out our boutique rooms, complete with new central air and luxurious baths.
Come see what all the excitement is about at our Best Place to Stay on Cape Cod. Check out our reviews on Trip Adviser and see why we were voted #7 in Best Bed and breakfast in the country.
Come Stay with us and experience a Cape Cod getaway that you will remember for years to come. Remember to take advantage of our free concierge services as well as our on-line “Cape Cod Traveler’s Guide” which will be there for you to plan you getaway from start to finish.
Happy vacationing in our little slice of heaven on Cape Cod!
Our salt water, sold heated pool is the perfect place to come relax after a hot day at the beach.