© 2012; 2006 Connecting: Solo Travel Network & Jane Barcott. Information
Note: This article is reproduced here for inspirational value alone and will not normally be updated.
Therefore, all facts, figures, and author's opinions are subject to change as time goes on.

A Week in Old Cape Cod – A Solo Travel Report

By Jane Barcott

I remember hot Minnesota nights years ago, listening to Patti Page singing Old Cape Cod on the radio. In those days it seemed to me the most exotic place imaginable. These days the Cape is an annual must on my summer schedule. This hook-shaped peninsula off the southeast coast of Massachusetts has changed a lot since Patti Page's day. It is a major tourist destination, with sometimes oppressive crowds in July and August, but it has escaped the blocks of beachfront high-rises that blot other resort areas. I like to go in June but autumn would be pleasant too, and with careful planning, you can enjoy all the beauty of the Cape at reasonable prices.

No Car Needed in Hyannis

Located 70 miles from both Boston and Providence, Cape Cod is readily accessible from everywhere. Each of its communities has a distinct personality. Provincetown is lively and tolerant. Sandwich is soberly Northeastern. I prefer Hyannis, a commercial center midway through the Cape's upper arm, for its convenience to beaches, museums, and public transport. From Hyannis it's easy to get to nearby historic coastal towns as well as to the famous islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Route 6A, the Old King's Highway, is the nation's largest historic district, encompassing four centuries of American history and architecture.

I make it a point to spend the first week of June in Hyannis where home base is the immaculate Anchor Inn. The Anchor Inn is situated on the Hyannis marina, a block from the ferry to Nantucket and an easy walk to the town beach.

The Cape offers every type of recreation imaginable with hundreds of miles of coastline, dozens of beaches, golf courses and bicycle trails. You have museums, historical houses, band concerts, symphony, theater and opera companies, dune tours, seal cruises, whale watching, kayaking, canoeing, and horseback riding.

I tend to putter and only loosely plan a week's outings. One day will be spent on the ferry to Nantucket. Tickets and schedules are available at most lodgings in Hyannis or at the terminal, and in off season there is no rush and no need for a car. There is plenty of transportation available for a day on the Island: walking tours, bicycle and motorbike rentals, Island buses, tour buses and taxis, all located as you exit the ferry terminal. There is also a visitor information center by the parking lot.

I am a history buff, so I enjoy touring the historic houses built by whaling profits. This year, I took a walking tour offered by Nantucket Historic Association. Our guide, a gregarious retired minister, described Nantucket's near death when whaling dwindled then its revival by tourism in the early 1900's. He amusingly referred to our group as "Nantucket's substitute whales."

Chatham is Charming

Besides dawdling in antique shops or reading on the beach, I recommend spending a day in Chatham and a day (or more) at the Cape Cod National Seashore. Chatham is a charming town, with upscale shops and attractive cafes. After browsing, it is an easy walk to the Chatham lighthouse where you have spectacular views of the ocean, birdwatching and surf fishing. Or, you can tour or walk the trails of nearby Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

Cape Cod National Seashore

The Cape Cod National Seashore was established in 1961 to stem the tide of tourism and protect less developed areas. It encompasses much of the Lower Cape from Provincetown south to Chatham. At this national treasure you find wide beaches, tall cliffs, 19th century lighthouses, salt marshes, and great sandy dunes. The park can be entered at several points on the upper Cape, but the visitor's center is located in Eastham. Stop by for a map and a list of park activities, then browse the small museum.

There are six classic beaches in the park. Nauset and Coast Guard Beach are in Eastham. Amenities are minimal, so bring beverages, towels, beach chairs and anything else you need for comfort.

Unscheduled activities include self-guided walks on any of nine different nature trails with diverse landscapes. A short 2.5 km walk starts from the visitor's center at Salt Pond. The Great Island Trail in Wellfleet is an 8-mile hike through pine forest, grassy marshes and a ridge with a view of the bay and Provincetown.

While the Cape is relatively mild year-round, you can expect day time temperatures in early June to be in the mid-70's and sunny. The water is still too cold for swimming, but otherwise, early summer is the best time to enjoy Old Cape Cod.

If You Go to Cape Cod

>> JB

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