Cape Cod and the Islands

Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket are the most popular destinations for Massachusetts visitors in the summertime. The Cape – as it’s known to local residents – in comprised of several towns that are separated into three sections: Upper Cape, Mid-Cape & Lower Cape.

Upper Cape

Upper Cape includes the towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Sandwich & Mashpee.

Great locations to visit in Upper Cape include Wood’s Hole, The Cape Cod Canal & Sandwich Glass. Falmouth is home to the world famous Wood’s Hole which houses a Coast Guard Station & the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Wood’s Hole is very close to Martha’s Vineyard and you can catch a ferry to the island from town. Sandwich is popular with antiquers and glass blowers. The Sandwich Glass Museum makes a great activity if you enjoy glass blowing & looking at amazing glass sculptures. The Cape Cod Canal connects Cape Cod to mainland Massachusetts and there is a bike trail that runs the length of the canal which is great for biking, running, rollerblading and watching the boats go by. You have to cross over the canal to enter Cape Cod and it is spanned by two highway bridges – The Bourne Bridge & The Sagamore Bridge.

Mid Cape

Mid Cape includes the towns of Barnstable, Yarmouth & Dennis.

Within each town are several popular villages. Barnstable includes the villages of Centerville, Cotuit, Marston Mills, Osterville, West Barnstable, Barnstable Village and the world famous Hyannis. Villages of Yarmouth include South Yarmouth, West Yarmouth & Yarmouth Port. Dennis is home to five villages including North Dennis, East Dennis & South Dennis, Dennis & Dennis Port. Dennis Port however is considered part of Upper Cape. Hyannis is the nightlife haven of the Cape and any visit should include plenty of shopping, eating & drinking in the hopping center of town. Hyannis is also the jumping off point for Nantucket Island and Hyannisport is home to the Kennedy family. You can view JFK’s eternal flame in Hyannisport and a harbor cruise will include a viewing of the Kennedy Compound from the water. Yarmouth is the geographic center of Cape Cod and is bordered on the north by Cape Cod Bay and on the south by Nantucket Sound. It is one of the oldest Cape Cod towns with many historical buildings and it is a popular spot for beach goers. The many beaches, bike paths & hiking trails make it a great place to start off your Cape Cod vacation. The Bass River divides Yarmouth from the neighoring town of Dennis and hanging out on both sides of the river are popular pastimes. Fresh & saltwater fishing are some of the most popular attractions in Dennis and located on it’s shores is the largest beach on Cape Cod – the West Dennis town beach.

Lower Cape

Lower Cape includes the towns of Harwich, Brewster, Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, Dennis Port & Provincetown.

Brewster is on the Cape Cod Bay and some of the most prominent residents included many sea captains that sailed from Boston to the Orient. Because of this it is also called “America’s Sea Captain’s Town” and many of the Captain’s homes are now bed & breakfast establishments. Harwich is located on Nantucket Sound and is considered the birthplace of the cranberry industry. It has three naturally sheltered & beautiful harbors which make it popular with boaters cruising the Sound. If you like to fish, head to Chatham. Chatham is home to deep sea fishing and is one of the best places on the Cape to drop a line. Also located in Chatham is the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. It is one of the only four remaining wildlife refuges between Maine and New Jersey and over 285 wildlife species call it home. It is the best places to view birds on the east coast. Orleans is a quiet and quaint town with plenty of dining, shopping and activities. It’s a perfect place to get away from it all and relax on the coast in the clean Cape Cod air. Eastham is considered the gateway to the National Seashore and is known for great surf and amazing scenery. Wellfleet is well known for it’s tasty oysters – some of which are shipped worldwide. Art galleries abound in this cute little town and it is also where the first distress signal was received from the ill fated Titanic. Truro is one of the Cape’s most exclusive neighborhoods and has miles of sandy beaches and dunes which are part of the National Seashore. It is home to many affluent artists & writers but historically it has it’s roots in fishing, whaling and ship building. Provincetown is located at the very far tip of the Cape and is the nation’s oldest art colony. Poets, writers & actors flock to this strip of land surrounded by beaches and open sea. It makes a fantastic and memorable getaway for any visitor to the Cape and is especially popular with the lesbian and gay community.

The Cape Cod Islands

The most prominent Cape Cod islands include Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket.

Martha’s Vineyard is located seven miles off the coast of Falmouth. It includes the six towns of Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Chilmark, Edgartown, Gay Head & West Tisbury. It is home to gingerbread houses, wildlife sancturaries & seaside cliffs. Martha’s Vineyard is a premier summer vaction destination and should not be missed. A couple random tid bits of information: the oldest U.S. carosel is located in Oak Bluffs and the actor John Belushi’s is buried in Chilmark.

Nantucket is located 30 miles off the coast of Hyannis. Nantucket is a scenic beauty with ponds, marshes, cranberry bogs, dunes and beaches. It used to be considered the whaling capital of the world but now has a high concentration of artists and galleries. It is a premier Cape Cod destination with several world-class museums. A couple random tid bits of information: Moby Dick characters Ahab & Starbuck are both from Nantucket.


Leave a Comment