Once a summer-only destination, Massachusetts’ Cape Cod now has a season that easily extends through mid-December; almost all restaurants and hotels, as well as many shops, are open year-round. The area is divided into four parts: Upper, Mid, Lower, and Outer.
Closest to the mainland, the Upper Cape is located along Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal. The Chart Room Restaurant, on Red Brook Harbor in Cataumet, is a perennial favorite for seaside seafood or drinks at sunset. Special occasions call for a trip to Osteria La Civetta, in Falmouth, for authentic northern Italian fare. The Sandwich Antiques Center offers 6,000 square feet of art and collectibles to satisfy shopping urges. It’s worth the drive to Spohr Gardens, in Falmouth, to take in the seasonal blooms in this six-acre woodland garden, open to the public for free.
The Mid Cape is known for its beaches, windsurfing and Hyannis, a town made famous by the Kennedys. Fans of oysters should check out the Naked Oyster, in Hyannis, known for its impressive raw bar. Sit at picnic tables to enjoy your meal at the Sesuit Harbor Café, right on the beach in Dennis. For legendary ice cream, head to Centerville’s Four Seas Ice Cream. If you’re planning to throw your own clambake or lobster boil, find everything you need at All Cape Cook’s Supply, in Hyannis. Design Works, in Yarmouthport, sells fashions and home furnishings from around the world, while the artisanal items at Scargo Pottery & Art Gallery, in Dennis, are all made by hand on-site.
LOWER AND OUTER CAPES
These two areas encompass the base of the curve, and the curve itself, of Cape Cod. Much of the Outer Cape is part of Cape Cod National Seashore. The Cape Cod Rail Trail—a paved 22.mile path that follows a former railroad track—is used by cyclists, runners and horseback riders. It starts (or ends, depending on your point of view) in Wellfleet. The Brewster Store sells Cape Cod books, souvenirs, locally made fudge and jams, and all manner of dime-store knickknacks. For fashions (women’s and children’s), jewelry and home accessories, check out Cape Weekend in East Orleans. And for all things nautical, both practical and decorative, go to Marine Specialties, a classic army-navy store in in Provincetown. The Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre, which dates from 1957, shows double features every summer night.
There's no shortage of eating establishments on the Lower and Outer capes. The Impudent Oyster is an upscale seafood restaurant in an old church in Chatham. Celebrities are often spotted at The Mews, a longtime favorite in Provincetown. And no trip to the Cape would be complete without a visit to a clam shack. The fried clams at Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar, in Eastham, were rated the best on the Outer Cape in Cape Cod Life magazine’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards. A bonus: Arnold’s has its own miniature golf course on-site.