Rediscover the Cape
Follow these region-by-region itineraries and fall in love with your new ports of call. Plus: The most relaxing beaches and where to eat, shop, and stay.
Mid-Cape: For Fun-Seeking Families
If schoolchildren designed a perfect stretch of highway, it would look a lot like the 10 miles of Route 28 between Hyannis and Dennis, with its abundance of mini-golf courses and ice cream stands. Families have been flocking to the “Disney Cape” for generations, and for good reason.
5 p.m.: After strolling Hyannis’s quaint downtown, duck into the Island Merchant (508-771-1337, theislandmerchant.com) for gourmet Caribbean-fusion fare, a decent kids’ menu, and live music.
7 p.m.: Because one is never enough, Pirate’s Cove (508-394-6200, piratescove.net) features two 18-hole mini-golf courses.
9 a.m.: Breakfast is a latte and a croissant to go from Nirvana Coffee Company (508-744-6983, nirvana coffeecompany.com) en route to Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable (508-362-7475, massaudubon.org), where there are two and a half miles of trails to explore. Pint-size naturalists can earn points for spotting osprey, sparrows, painted turtles, and other wildlife and landmarks in a self-guided Mass Audubon “quest.”
12:30 p.m.: Lunch at the Barnstable Restaurant and Tavern (508-362-2355, barnstablerestaurant.com) means upscale Cape fare for the adults—seafood with more olive oil, less beer batter—and thin-crust pizza and burgers for the tots.
2:30 p.m.: The Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis (508-775-1723, capecodmaritimemuseum.org) offers a fun look at the region’s nautical heritage, from the boat builders in the workshop to the remains of a 17th-century ship- wreck. You can brush up on your pirate trivia, too.
5:30 p.m.: What is there left to say about Captain Parker’s (508-771-4266, captainparkers.com)? This West Yarmouth spot is a multi-time Cape Cod Chowder Champion, and even had a cameo on Jeopardy(!). A cup is practically mandatory.
7 p.m.: The summer of 2012 marks the 128th season of the Cape Cod Baseball League (most games start between 5 and 7 p.m.; capecod baseball.org). Grab a seat at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth or McKeon Field in Hyannis on select Saturdays and you might catch the next Nomar Garciaparra (Orleans ’93) or Tim Lincecum (Harwich ’05) before he lands in the major leagues.
10 a.m.: Putter along the Bass River to explore a windmill built in 1791, a marsh island frequented by ospreys, and Boaters Beach, where you can take a break at the concession truck. Bass River Cruises and Kayaks in West Dennis (508-398-0060, capecodkayaking.com) will supply the kayaks and life jackets, plus extras like cushions (so the kids can see), half paddles (so they can help), and tow lines (in case someone gets too tired to row back to shore).
1 p.m.: Crispy scallops or flounder at Kream ‘n’ Kone in West Dennis (508-394-0808, kreamnkone.com) make for a worthy final fried-food fix before you head back to the mainland. Prolong the vacation with a soft-serve cone for the car ride—bubblegum and cheesecake are among the 24 flavors. – Sharon Kunz
GET SOME SUN
Bass Hole/Gray’s Beach, Yarmouth: At high tide, it can feel like there’s more boardwalk than beach, but the long walk over the salt marsh is part of the appeal, and children will love exploring the teeming tide pools.
Corporation Beach, Dennis: Calm bay waters and some of the best views on the Cape. Enough said.
Craigville Beach, Centerville: Older kids will like the social scene at Craigville, and the soft white sand and mild water make it a good pick for little guys, too. The lovely sunsets are a great day ender.
REST YOUR HEAD
Red Jacket Blue Water Resort, South Yarmouth: The Kids Klub, included with your stay, keeps the tykes (ages 6 to 12) occupied with soccer, swimming, and arts and crafts while you relax at the resort’s private Nantucket Sound-side beach (summer rates from $145; 508-398-2288, redjacketresorts.com).
Town N’ Country, West Yarmouth: Tidy rooms, outdoor and indoor pools, and a small arcade make this a perfect kid-friendly base of exploration (summer rates from $70; 508-771-0212, towncountrycapecod.com).
The indoor wave pool and water slide at Hyannis’s Cape Codder Resort and Spa will dull the sting of a missed beach day (855-861-4370, capecodderresort.com).