What is it about Cape Cod that keeps visitors coming back?
The big draw, of course, is the beaches, some of the best in the world. Choose from the northern waters of Cape Cod Bay or the chillier Atlantic. Surfing, fishing, swimming and boating are a few summer pastimes. Drive down Cape to the 27,700 acres of the Cape Cod National Seashore for dramatic sand dunes, cliffs and infinite stretches of beaches. If you prefer fresh water, you are in luck. Harwich, for example, has some of the nicest fresh water ponds for swimming and fishing.
But another reason for Cape Cod’s sustaining popularity may be attributed to the unique character of each town. Quilted together to make this special peninsula, each town has something different to offer and the ability to appeal to people of many interests.
The Cape has always been a destination for musicians, artists, actors and writers. The beauty and solitude, which can be found any time of year, is a constant source of inspiration. Because parts of the Cape are so narrow and surrounded by water, the light in areas can be other-worldly, especially at dawn and dusk. Its beauty has lured artists and photographers from all over the world.
Cape Cod consists of 15 towns, with each town having an assortment of villages. The Upper Cape refers to the area including Falmouth, Bourne, Sandwich and Mashpee. Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis are considered Mid-Cape, Brewster, Harwich, and Chatham comprise the Lower Cape area, and the Outer Cape includes the towns of Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. For clarification, Barnstable is the largest town on the Cape. Barnstable is also a villagewithin the town, and the entire Cape is in Barnstable County.
To get a feel for Cape Cod's geography, drive along Route 6A to the tip of Provincetown and see for yourself the distinct differences in the Upper, Mid, Lower and Outer Cape. When visiting the Cape, whether for a day or a month, it is important to get beyond the main roads and do a little digging. Discover the nooks and crannies that you can call your own, whether it's a pond, beach, bike trail, gallery or restaurant.
Once they cross the arching Bourne and Sagamore bridges, Cape-bound travelers land in the quiet town of Bourne. A part of Bourne, Sagamore is one of many small villages within the 15 larger towns that make up Cape Cod. <More >
The Mid-Cape, which includes the towns of Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis, is a dichotomy. To the north is Route 6A, the largest contiguous historic district in the United States. Also called the Old King’s Highway, after England’s King George III, this meandering road is lined with ancient trees, historic inns, taverns, churches and sea captain’s homes. <More>
Brewster, Harwich and Chatham make up Cape Cod's Lower Cape region. Each town offers several beautiful beaches, accommodations ranging from the mom-and-pop motel to the swanky resort and restaurants and shops galore. <More>
Beginning with the Town of Orleans, at the so-called elbow of Cape Cod, is the region commonly referred to as the Outer Cape. Also included in this area are the towns of Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown.<More>
Martha’s Vineyard’s disposition is a dichotomy of crowds and styles. Up-island are the wind-buffeted, gray shingled shanties of the lesser-developed towns of West Tisbury, Chilmark, Menemsha and Gay Head. The bigger and more touristy towns are down island: Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. <More>
The mood on Nantucket is very different from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Here, 30 miles out to sea, peace pervades the atmosphere and the architecture retains its dignity. Striking blue hydrangeas accent the weathered-shingle cottages. Trellises overgrown with roses conceal passageways to pretty gardens. Century-old elms shade cobblestoned Main Street, remarkably unchanged from its early days. <More>