With our trip to Italy cancelled this year and booked for the summer of 2021, vacations in driving distance became appealing. A weekend in Montauk and a much longer stay in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region gave us a chance to get out of the NYC area. Still, with summer waning, we decided one more journey would be in order.
We looked for a place that was open to visitors from New York and truly open to us – restaurants, shops, beaches, and museums. We decided to head up north again but in a more eastern direction and headed to Cape Cod. My only knowledge of Cape Cod was its connection to the Kennedys and my love of the potato chips of the same name.
Having never been there before, we only knew what other people had said about the cape. Much of the noise we got was that it was crowded, had very heavy traffic, and that parking was hard in most towns. I can happily say that none of this is true, but the reality is that many tourists that would have been there – especially European ones – were out of the picture, probably making this a different kind of summer there. People to whom we spoke said it was busy but not like a normal summer.
Our first stop was Hyannis for two days. Hyannis is a sprawling town, and it was very busy seemingly day and night. The food was excellent wherever we went, and on our first night I ordered New England clam chowder – it was the best I ever tasted. This would be my sentiment each time I had chowder on the cape.
In Hyannis, a must see stop is the JFK Museum. Hyannis seems inextricably linked to the Kennedy family, and the museum is a loving homage to the famous American family that were political royalty in the twentieth century.
Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed in the museum, but I respected that rule. We toured the various rooms that were filled with many famous and familiar faces besides the Kennedys. The exhibits showed each phase of JFK’s life and rise to political power. They are moving and powerful, allowing visitors to see how amazing JFK’s short life truly was.
One room that is of particular difficulty to visit is one dedicated to John F. Kennedy Jr. Elements of his even shorter life are displayed, especially the heartbreaking photograph of him as a little boy saluting on the day of JFK’s funeral. Looking at all of his photos and thinking about his potential that never was fulfilled, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears.
Hyannis also has a busy and interesting waterfront. Along the port side of the town, there are colorful artist shacks along the path down to the water. Here artists display an eclectic array of artwork for purchase, and the prices seemed reasonable. There was a feeling here that this was an artsy place but there was no pressure and no worries. Given the beautiful setting, it seemed the perfect place for artists to create their works and share them with the visitors to this lovely seaside town.
Our Next Stop
We were on to Falmouth where we stayed at the beautiful Beach Breeze Inn. This is the first time that we stayed at an inn, but we did our homework before booking this place. The building is a cozy large old house, and our room had a second bedroom for the kids. There were views of the water from our windows where we could see Martha’s Vineyard – our next destination – in the distance across Nantucket Sound.
The owners are friendly, and all guests and workers were wearing their masks dutifully. There is a nice pool on the grounds, lounges, and a separate area with tables with umbrellas, a grill, and a fire pit. It was just short walk across Shore Street to the lovely white sand beach.
We liked Falmouth better than Hyannis because it is a smaller town, and there is less traffic and less people walking around. We spent days alternating between the pool and the beach, and we also explored the town that had a nice selection of cafés, shops, and restaurants. There are some on the water options that are wonderful, but there is sometimes a wait for tables.
These days provided us with time to relax, swim, and enjoy the sun. Besides a brief shower one afternoon, our weather was fabulous. The evenings got a little cooler, requiring a jacket or sweater if your planning to eat at a spot on the waterfront.
Falmouth is an enjoyable place to stay, especially if your looking to relax and get a flavor of Cape Cod. There are plenty of places to eat and enjoy the bounty of the sea.
Falmouth is an ideal place to stay when planning to visit Martha’s Vineyard. Despite social distancing, we stood on a very crowded boarding area waiting to go onto the lovely Island Queen ferry. Once onboard we chose to sit up on deck to enjoy the breeze on a lovely day. On the inner lower deck there is a bar to get snacks and drinks.
The 35-minute ride across the sound is a pleasant one, and we saw multiple watercraft on our journey. The ship docks at Oak Bluffs – one of six towns on Martha’s Vineyard. Oak Bluffs is a nice small town where there are plenty of shopping and eating opportunities. If you have the time you can stop and see the large Vineyard Vines store located there.
We wanted to check out Edgartown – mostly for its connections to the classic film Jaws – and the bus looked very crowded, so we opted to take a taxi. We got to see some of the shoreline between the towns, and the lovely beaches were not overwhelmed with crowds of sunbathers and swimmers.
Once the taxi dropped us off by the waterfront in Edgartown, we realized this town was filled with tourists – and the driver said this was an off season due to the virus! We got to see the building that was used for the town hall in Jaws – where the sheriff meets with the mayor and the town council. On that same street is the old Whaling Church built in the 1820s when Martha’s Vineyard was a hub of whaling activity.
We had a nice lunch right on the water, and once again clam chowder had to be sampled and did not disappoint. In general, the food on the cape seemed extremely fresh, and there were many healthy options on menus, and the always welcome children’s menu seemed to be available everywhere we went.
On the ride back to Oak Bluffs in the taxi, the driver stopped at what he called Jaws Bridge. It was the bridge used in a memorable scene in the film Jaws. On this day a group of young people were lined up waiting their turn to jump over the rail and into the water. Our taxi driver – a young fellow in his twenties – informed us that he had been fishing there the night before and had made the jump a few times.
We Want to Go Back
After our vacation as we drove home, we all felt like we wanted to go back and explore other parts of the cape. I think that there are two ways to gauge how well a vacation went. One is if you wish you could have stayed longer, and the other is wanting to go back. Our time in Cape Cod was relaxing and enjoyable. I highly recommend a visit to the area. It is a family friendly vacation destination that will leave you with good memories and a smile on your face.