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Cape Cod is a beautiful and serene place with some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere in the world. In many ways, the Cape offers a throwback to times gone by. There are few chain hotels or restaurants, rather there are diners and ice cream shops and cottages which have been in the same family for generations. One can trip across bands playing in the park or streetside, pie eating contests, or art in the park.
Cape Cod is shaped like and arm bent up at the elbow. The shoulder is called the Upper Cape. The bicep is Mid-Cape and the forearm and hand is the Lower Cape.
There are too many lovely towns on the Cape to mention. Any where you visit you'll find historic homes and antique shops. On the north side of Cape Cod is Route 6A which runs through the two especially wonderful towns of Barnstable and Yarmouth Port. In Yarmouth Port there is a small park at the corner of Route 6A and Strawberry Lane. Nearby there is a book store called Parnasus Books which has been there forever and is a true treasure. There is the Edward Gorey Museum close by which is located in the house he lived in for many years. Also on the small park are two historical captains homes that are open for tours on a very limited schedule. All along this route which was once the main artery to get from one end of Cape Cod to the other you will find antique shops and Bed & Breakfasts. There is even a shop called Hallet's which has been in business for more than a hundred years- maybe even closer to 200 years. They have great milk shakes and ice cream floats. Another wonderful town on the North side off of 6A is Sandwich. Sandwich is quaint and beautiful and a great place to spend a day antique shopping or visiting local museums. There is a wonderful duck pond in the center of town with a small shop on it's banks that sells locally blown glass.
On the south side of the Cape are the towns of Hyannis Port and Osterville. Hyannis Port is mostly residential and it's fun to drive through to look at the Kennedy Compound or just the beautiful large beach cottages. The south side of the Cape is a bit milder in climate and the beaches are sandy as opposed to most beaches on the North which are rocky and too cold to swim in even in the summer. The North side is generally considered to be more historic than the South. It is where you'll find most of the historic homes and antique shops. The South is considered to be more exclusive and wealthy. It isn't unusual to drive through certain areas in Hyannis Port or Osterville and find a police car following you to see where you are headed or what you may be up to.
Osterville, on the South side, is a wonderful small town to visit. It has a small main street with shops. it is a very wealthy area and tends to be a bit snobby. Osterville, like most towns on Cape Cod, rolls up it's sidewalks at 6PM ( as the locals like to say).
Hyannis is the major town on the Cape. For a tourist it doesn't offer much except for the type of mall you can find anywhere and a main street that has seen better days. With so many beautiful towns to visit it really isn't worth going to Hyannis unless you want to see a movie or buy a Cape Cod souvenir t-shirt or coffee mug.
Traveling further down the Cape you'll pass through Brewster and Chatham. These towns are full of antique shopping and are lovely to visit. they are quiet towns with beautiful old churches and small main streets for shopping.
The lower Cape has the National seashore and Provincetown. The beaches in the National Seashore have powder white sand and rough treacherous waters. Visit any beach on the North side of the Cape or in the National Seashore and you'll see why there were so many ship wrecks around Cape Cod in past centuries. There is an incredible nature walk through the National Seashore that shouldn't be missed. Provincetown, located at the farthest tip of Cape Cod, is a blast and the wild part of the Cape. It looks like a quaint village on the outside but during the summer months especially there are drag shows and all sorts of other fun things to do. Any visit to the Cape really isn't complete without spending a summer day in P-Town people watching.
Any visitor to Cape Cod has to try the lobster rolls and fried clams. Lobster rolls are lobster and mayonnaise served in a hot dog bun. That is it and it's delicious. Fried clams, my favorite food, are a little more daring. The ones you'll find on the Cape still have the clam bellies attached. Basically they are round pods of mushy digested stuff that the clam ate when it was still alive. To me it tastes like eating the ocean. The clam is rolled in batter and deep fried. if the flavor is a little too funky you can eat them with tarter sauce but for me that ruins the experience. Almost any clam shack you come across while driving around the Cape will have decent fried clams. A good simple lobster roll is a little harder to find.
Cape Cod is a beautiful and historic place to visit early summer through the fall. The winters are harsh and many attractions and restaurants are closed and re-open early June.