Sunday, May 31, 2015


A note on when to travel : We don’t like crowds so we decided to go to Cape Cod and the islands in mid-May. Not only were there not a lot of crowds, we also got really good hotel rates. The downside was that some of the attractions we were interested in weren’t open for the season yet, although we still found plenty to do.

Sandwich :

The town of Sandwich is actually fairly large and spread out, but the historic downtown area is full of quaint little shops and eateries.  

Sandwich Glass Museum :
Located in the historic downtown area, the Sandwich Glass Museum highlights the history of the glass that used to be manufactured here. There are daily glass blowing demonstrations and a nice gift shop. 

Shawme Pond & Gristmill :
Also located in the historic downtown area is a lovely little pond and the Dexter Gristmill. The mill doesn’t usually open until June but we were able to see the outside of it.

Sandwich Boardwalk :
A mile from the town center is the boardwalk (which also has a parking area if you’d rather drive there). The boardwalk is built over a salt marsh, a creek, and low sand dunes and goes to the beach on Cape Cod Bay. The boards are inscribed and it’s fun to read them as you walk.

Shopping :
If it's shopping you're interested in, be sure to check out Collections Gallery, which is an artist co-op.

Dennis Village :

The village of Dennis (not to be confused with Dennis Port and West Dennis) is a peaceful little village with historic homes and also the Scargo Tower. It’s a short stone tower, only 30 feet high, but is built on a hill. After a short climb to the top you can see Scargo Lake, a strip of land, and then Cape Cod bay behind the land.

Brewster :

The town of Brewster is full of historic homes and businesses including the Brewster Store which was originally built as a church and is now home to a general store which also has antiques and memorabilia upstairs.

Provincetown : 

Provincetown is shopping, lighthouses and beaches, and the Pilgrim Monument.

The main road in Provincetown is Commercial St., which is 3-miles long and full of shops and restaurants. And on a warm weekend in May, and probably most days during the summer season, it’s packed with people and energy. So much so that you don’t even want to try to drive down it. If you’re not staying someplace close enough to walk, then park in one of the paid lots on Bradford St. (During the tourist season there is a shuttle bus that runs but it wasn’t running when we were there.) It reminded us of Key West.

There are three lighthouses in the Provincetown area, and although you can view them from the outside, they aren’t open to the public. (Above is the Long Point Light).

Race Point Light and Keeper’s House : a 1.75 mile walk from the Race Point Road parking lot. While there were several points of interest that weren’t open for the season yet, we did get lucky with this one. The Race Point Light is only open one day a year as a fund-raiser and it happened to be open the day we were there. So not only did we get to go into this lighthouse, they also had volunteers who drove us over the dunes from the parking lot, so we got to go on a dune ride. The photo is the view of the Keeper’s House from the lighthouse with the sand dunes around it. You can’t see much beyond that because it was foggy that morning. An interesting side note: You can stay overnight in the Keeper’s House.

Long Point Light : directly across the harbor, and during the tourist season you can take a ferry to this beach and lighthouse, otherwise it’s a 2.5 mile walk across the Breakwater walk from the Pilgrim’s First Landing Park. The ferry wasn’t yet operating when we were there, so I didn’t go, but Scott got up early and walked out to it.

Wood End Light : a 1.5 mile walk across the Breakwater walk from the Pilgrim’s First Landing Park.

Pilgrim Monument : While you can’t usually go into any of the lighthouses, you can go to the top of the Pilgrim Monument. The tower is 252-feet high and sits on a hill so it offers wonderful views of Provincetown and Cape Cod Bay. There are only 116 steps because there are also 60 short ramps to get to the top.

Since parking is at a premium in Provincetown, it's worth noting that there is a parking lot behind the monument. When we were there they charged $12 to park there but also gave us a ticket to go into the monument, which was worth $12. And they said we could leave the car there all day and walk the few blocks to the downtown area, so that was a pretty good deal.
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A note on resources : We checked out a few travel guides from our local library and liked the Fodor’s one, only when we went to order a copy on-line it turns out that 2011 is the most recent edition. I guess they’re focusing on updating their website and we don’t yet have a smart phone, we really wanted a copy of a book. We ended up ordering the 2011 version to use as a general guide but before we went I did visit the websites of the places we were sure we were interested in to check their hours and prices. Overall we found it very handy to have the book and didn’t find a lot that was out-of-date.

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