When I lived in New York, I had many friends from New England who would talk about summering in the Hamptons or Cape Cod, a concept completely foreign to me, as most Southerners I know make for the Florida Panhandle when the beach comes calling. When SVV and I were in Boston with my parents and their friends Ginny and Tom this past July, we decided to take a drive and see what this Cape business was all about.
Our first stop was Plymouth, where we got to step on board the Mayflower II, which is essentially a complete phony as the real Mayflower went missing sometime in the 1900s, and they created this replica to appease tourists. Still, the museum part of it was interesting enough.
We wandered on down the street, stopping for ice cream and keeping our eyes peeled for the town’s other famous inhabitant: Plymouth Rock. My dad, always the goofball, kept picking up pebbles from the beach and exclaiming, “I found it!” Little did we know, he wasn’t too off base.
This is the famous rock I’ve been hearing so much about since elementary school? LAME.
We continued on down the Cape in search of more scenic vistas.
After many missed turns, in which we ended up in SOMEONE’S DRIVEWAY on PRIVATE PROPERTY (oops, Tom), we eventually found ourselves in Cape Cod National Seashore, which did not suck, not one bit.
After several years living in California, where our street dead-ended into a beach—a beach that you could never venture onto without a full-on snow suit—it felt good to pad along with bare feet and stick our toes in the water. (Unless you’re my dad, who doesn’t take off his tennis shoes ever—not even to sleep.)
The blissfully empty beaches, the balmy, breezy nights, the lighthouses, the marshes—this is exactly my romanticized image of Cape Cod.
I now fully understand why my New England friends find Cape Cod so enchanting.
We were there but a mere day; I imagine you need weeks to explore this area, which I plan to do now that we’ll be based in close proximity to the East Coast once more.
What are your favorite parts of the Cape? Where should we return to when we have more time for a week-long coastal getaway?
Hi- I like it here! And you take such lovely photos…. Thanks for sharing your travels. I must ask where you got the dress your wearing?
I got it on the sale rack at the Limited many, many years ago. I buy most of my dresses there (and usually on sale!). Check out their website; they have really good deals.
Looks lovely! But I still prefer our southern beach summer getaways!!! 😉
Well, the nice thing about our Southern beaches is that we can actually lay out on them about nine months out of the year! For the past four years, I lived just a mile from the beach in California, and you know how many times I got to go out on it in a bathing suit? ZERO. To me, it’s a wasted beach unless you can lay out and swim.
I have Cape Cod quite high on my list of places to visit in America. I would like to go in autumn – have this idea it’s quiet, empty and just a little eerie then.
And cold! That just sounds cold to me. I love New England in the fall, but I also prefer my beach getaways be warm =)
We just had our first Cape Cod experience this summer when we went to stay with a friend at her parents’ house. To the romantic views, the beaching and swimming, and the quaint downtown, add beyond hospitable hosts who shared their alcohol and seafood freely. (Friends’s dad and uncle work/ed for fish marts for twenty years and still have ins at all the fishing boats. I shit you not, her uncle would show up every afternoon with a giant plastic bag full of whatever was caught that morning. One afternoon, it was 20 live lobsters. Fucking delicious.) It was a wonderful experience, and we’re crossing our fingers that we get invited back next summer!
I feel like I miss out on so much by not eating shellfish. I want to like it…I just…can’t.
(I will, however, meet you at Cape Cod and match you Bloody Mary for Bloody Mary. That happens to fall within my area of expertise.)
We had zero interest in Cape Cod. BUT… we went in April and were blown away. We are actually plotting a trip back out that way as soon as we can. Let’s meet 🙂
I’m fully supportive of that idea. Perhaps next May when it’s warm enough to enjoy the outdoors but early enough to avoid all the tourists? =)
It’s also somewhere that never occurred to me to visit until we went on vacation with my parents and my mom did all the planning and I just showed up when and where she told me to!
Your photos are lovely, as always! I have wanted to visit Cape Cod for quite some time but we haven’t made it yet. Every year when we’re planning summer vacation we consider it – and then I start to worry that it’s just going to be swarms of people and we end up dismissing it again. Your pics make it look so nice and peaceful though – maybe Cape Cod is back on our short list.
We were there the week after 4th of July, when you’d think it would be at its busiest but surprisingly, it was manageable. Then again, we were mainly in the national seashore area, so maybe the main towns were more packed? There were quite a lot of people in Plymouth when we made that first stop. I’m thinking early September or May would be the best time for weather + lack of crowds.
You would not have any stories to tell your grandchildren about Cape Cod if I had not driven down that private drive. What a great trip! Hurry up and get back here for that BM Ginny keeps talking about.
I wasn’t sure if it was fair to point fingers at you on the Internet or not…my gut said yes =)
Though funny enough, you crossed my mind again today in South Africa as we were using walkie-talkies to communicate with our friends across Cape Town! There was no “Name that Tune,” though. We’ll save that for our Mediterranean cruise in 2013.
I wish Tom had been more specific with the BM reference. It sounds like we have a date to go to the bathroom instead of a “Bloody Mary” Happy Hour. Hope your having a wonderful seasick free trip! Take care.
Your only “true” friend, Ginny
That thought did not even cross my mind!
Love these photos! I haven’t been in so long and it’s so close to me.
I think that’s always how it works, though, isn’t it? I lived 45 minutes from the Smokies and Dollywood and never went to either a single time…until two subsequent visits in the past two years in which I flew across the country to take friends to see my state. The same goes for so many beach towns in California that were within an hour’s drive of San Francisco and which I never managed to visit in four years there. Sad, really.
Also check out Nantucket next time your East Coast bound. A long-time devotee of the Hamptons, I’ve never seen a more perfect/beautiful beachtown than Nantucket Town. There’s always a bit of fog over the island which gives it an ethereal quality but I spent many long days swimming/laying out in a bathing suit in August. And top notch restaurants. Charming town center. Perfection.
Oh, definitely! I plan to make many more visits–preferably for much longer–now that I’m back in the vicinity of the East Coast. We only had three days after Boston, so we spent one in Cape Cod, one in Martha’s Vineyard and one in Newport. Far too much of a whirlwind tour!
I haven’t actually been to the Cape yet. Now, my cousin whom I’m closest to and who lives in MA but upstate near the Berkshires and is the one I visit in that area of the country, makes it a ritual to go to the Cape several times each summer. They like the clams and oysters – which may be one reason I’ve timed my visits to his house not to coincide with that since I’m not a clam chowder or oyster lover.
But, I’ll probably go in the near future. Frankly, the Cape is one of those places that I like to indulge my fantasy into reality imagination on. I mean, it’s got huge, huge personal appeal to me with my own early schoolboy days background in the dark wet English countryside, and this New England moody, windy landscape does it for me. So I go for the stereotypical when I think of it – all that Stephen King based moody, threatening stuff like like Kathy Bates whacking James Caan on the legs with a baseball bat in “Misery” or being a closet killer in “Dolores Claiborne”. Of course, the architecture of “Amityville Horror” does it for me too. I know my more analytical travel journo side will just dissolve all this Gothic nonsense when I actually visit in person, but sometimes it’s those over-the-top fantasies of a place that draw us in, don’t you find? The reality is always more textured and meaningful or course once you get there, but for me sometimes it’s the caricatures that appeal to my imaginative side until then. On the other hand, I might just sleep with doors double locked while staying in any small country inns, and if the receptionist looks like Kathy Bates? I might not check in there at all…:)
Your photo with the purple flowers is a great one, meanwhile!
That rock is so anti-climactic! I feel cheated.
Well, at least you’ve been forewarned before driving all the way there from Richmond!
It is enchanting! I didn’t know there was an actual rock. I always thought that was more of a metaphor…
Places like these are why I love living in Massachusetts.
My boyfriend introduced me to the Cape and I fell in love. He has been making the drive down from Ottawa, Canada since he was little. His parents, both from Canada, met there on the beach and have been going ever since.
Our favourite place is past the touristy, richer towns at the beginning of the Cape. We stay in Orleans or even up in Wellfleet. We love Nauset Beach and Cahoon Hollow. If you’re looking for a great spot for a raw bar or spending the day at the beach before a good meal, go to Cahoon Hollow to the Beachcomber. In Orleans, DON’T skip Sir Cricket’s for takeout seafood and the chowder. The chowder is amazing. You can also buy the same chowder (but frozen as a base that you had milk to yourself) to bring back home and stock your freezer. It’s the fish market attached to Sir Cricket’s, Nauset Fish and Lobster pool I think.
There’s also a little place we call the Secret Lake although the real name is less intriguing. Something like Great Pond. It’s a little freshwater lake that is clean, not busy, and the water is warm and clear. Our favourite days involve renting bikes in Orleans or Wellfleet, and biking up the Cape Cod Rail Trail and ending up at the Secret Lake before a meal at the Beachcomber. Try it out when you’re there, you’ll love it.
I’m late to the party. Again. Here’s my answer to your question.
Cape Cod is beautiful in the summer and nice and quiet in the fall. Did you visit Provincetown, Chatham, Hyannis, Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard? Or Nantucket? Ate fried clams and steamers in a shack? Ride a bicycle on the Cape Cod Trail or along the shores of MV? Take a boat out to see the whales?
On the other hand, I have never been to the Hamptons, and wonder what the big fuss is about that place?
Funny, I lived through a couple summers in NYC and never made it to the Hamptons either. Our Cape Cod visit was very quick so we really didn’t see much of the area at all, and we did a day tour of the Vineyard so we drove through the main towns (very quickly) and spent the bulk of our time in Edgartown. No to Nantucket, but I would love to go!
(The Cape Cod Trail sounds lovely and like my type of vacation activity. The whale-watching on the other hand is probably something I will never do again–after four months living on a ship in the middle of the ocean, you just can’t beat the up-close access we’ve had to marine life! Plus, I get severely ill on small boats…I even spent the time on the ferry from just Providence to MV in the ferry’s bathroom sick!)
I miss being outdoors and I miss being a tourist on my own. You’ve gone to places that I dream, you can add going into mines or underground just to see natural minerals that they say glows while underground. I also wanted to go and dive on the deepest cave in the world.