“If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there, (you’re sure) to fall in love with old Cape Cod” – As sung by Patti Page, written by Rothrack/Yakus/Jeffrey c. 1957.
There’s nothing new on Cape Cod. I’ve been vacationing there for over 30 years, and I never ask about new stores or restaurants. Time seems to move very slowly here, and that is the joy of visiting this unique New England experience. You cross over bridges built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s, and enter a postcard rotary that weaves through pines and sand up the island all the way to Provincetown at it’s tip. Cue the chorus of “Old Cape Cod”.
Since it’s surrounded by the sea – The Atlantic on the ocean side and Cape Cod Bay inside “the hook”, your sense of smell envelops you immediately in this place, and once you find your cottage (no big hotel chains here), the beautiful hydrangeas provide a sweet aroma to add to the sense of relaxation that pervades your entire spirit. Stay for a week or two and you’ll hope they blow the bridges (there are plans afoot to replace them anyway).
This isn’t the place for adventurers, but it is a place for bicycling on old railroad trails; it’s not for luxury boutiques, but it is chock full of stores selling candy, puzzles, and anything with a lobster printed on it. Try the town of Chatham mid-cape for a street full of them, complete with a “Five and Ten”, and a town park with gazebo. At Yankee Ingenuity you can find locally crafted seafaring gifts of brass. Oh yes, and every restaurant here and throughout serves that famous Cape Cod sandwich.
The Lobster Roll probably started in Maine, but I’ll bet more are consumed on the Cape than anywhere up the coast. The meat here is fresh, and the split-top rolls toasted lightly. A touch of mayo and a small garnish of lemon is all that’s needed for that perfect Lobster Roll, although every place seems to claim to have the one “voted #1 on the Cape” (my vote goes to the one from the shack at Susuit Harbor.
More than anything, the Cape is about spending time together. It’s small enough that everyone in the family can hop in the SUV and be at the go-carts, trampolines, mini-golf during the day, and still stop for ice cream in an afternoon. Beaches abound, one more captivating than another – try one on each side – especially the National Seashore Parks.
A big trip would be driving up to Provincetown, the most diverse town on the island, or in many states I would guess. Think hippie culture mixed in with LGBTQ. Yet tradition still shows up in the form of The Lobster Pot restaurant, a fixture you can’t miss with its neon name on the white clapboard facade right on Commercial Street. Try the Lobster pan roasted in Sherry wine for a spectacular taste.
Yes, the Cape will stimulate, yet paradoxically soothe all your senses. It isn’t a place you go to see and check-off the list – it really does call you back again and again. Just doesn’t expect anything different. Although, you could order the scallop roll instead of the lobster roll next time.