Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Cape Cod was practically made for road trips. The mere mention of Cape Cod to some travellers is synonymous with road trip. Sure, there’s beaches, hikes, and bike paths that are only accessible via foot or bike, but the drive to Cape Cod and through Cape Cod is especially memorable. Just drive on by the sand dunes between Truro in Provincetown, the backroads that lead to Nauset Lighthouse in Eastham, or take the “mother road” of all routes on Cape Cod, Old King’s Highway, and you’ll know exactly why Cape Cod is prime road trip territory.
Planning a Cape Cod road trip is just like any other road trip, except for a couple of things. First, you have to keep in mind that many Cape Cod beaches are private. The ones that aren’t private are going to charge you a fee to use the beach, which can really add up over a week’s stay. That means you’ll need cash (credit isn’t accepted at most of them). Next, the speed limit all over Cape Cod is low, even on the main route, Route 6. There are also cops all over Cape Cod’s backroads and on Route 6 clocking people, so watch your speed. Tickets can be very expensive, and speeding, cocky tourists are just what Cape Cod police are on the lookout for! Lastly, know that things close early on Cape Cod. Plan to eat at normal times, this isn’t New York City. Many of the restaurants on Cape Cod are also fairly expensive, even for “regular” American food like hot dogs and hamburgers. Keep this in mind, and maybe pack a cooler and visit a grocery store to save some cash. Also, don't forget about the road trip essentials to keep you entertained and happy.
Some must-see places on your Cape Cod road trip:
The Cape Cod Canal
Some people whizz right by one of Cape Cod’s best scenic destinations. It's located in the town of Bourne, and is the unofficial gateway to the Cape. Yeah, sure, it’s man-made, but it also has 7 miles of bike paths on each side of the canal, and has a lot of interesting boat traffic that comes and goes on the canal. The Cape Cod Canal is located right on Route 6, you can’t miss it if you’re headed to the Cape. The best parking areas are by the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge and the Bourne Scenic Park area, which is in between the Sagamore and Bourne bridges.
Old King’s Highway
This departs from Route 6 as Route 6A, travelling through the towns of Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Brewster, and Orleans. Along the route, you’ll find art galleries, antique shops, craft stores, town centers, furniture stores, old Cape Cod homes, and tucked away views of Cape Cod Bay. Venture off the main road to find some real coastal beauty at Yarmouth Port and along the shores of Brewster.
This isn’t the most scenic road on Cape Cod, but at certain points, it does lead to some real stunning Cape Cod beauty on the Nantucket Sound. Between Hyannis and Chatham, you’ll find miles of public and private beaches. Bust out the map and travel up and down the backroads along the southern shore of Cape Cod to find hidden beaches and seaside views of marshes, wildlife, and beautiful shoreside homes. Route 28 itself, however, can be very congested in the summer, so keep this in mind for when you’re planning your trip. Weekdays are often far less congested than weekends.
Route 6, Between Orleans and Provincetown
While Route 6 is the furthest inland you can get on most of Cape Cod, it gets quite beautiful once you hit the Orleans Rotary. After that point, you’ll reach the towns of Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown, or the Outer Cape region. This is where the Cape gets really interesting. The east facing beaches of these towns have the most rugged surf on Cape Cod, while on the west side, the beaches are a lot calmer. These Cape Cod Bay, or west facing beaches, are perfect for a relaxing day with kids and family. For surfers, people looking for beaches without kids, and beautiful sunrises, then the Atlantic Ocean facing beaches are more suited for you. The beaches in these towns are all located off of Route 6, and no more than two miles from it. Some of the most popular ones are Marconi Beach, Rock Harbor, and Nauset Light Beach.
The Backroads of Provincetown
There aren’t that many roads in Provincetown, but the few that do run through town are especially impressive. A drive down Race Point Beach Road seems like you’re on an island far away from Massachusetts. The road offers views of Race Point Light, which can be seen in the distance at points. If you’re feeling really adventurous, walk out the two miles to the light from the side of the road. At the end of Race Point Beach Road, is… you guessed it, Race Point Beach. This beach is one of the best on Cape Cod, and has outstanding views. The sand on the beach is also pure white, and there’s plenty of boat traffic nearby to gaze out upon.
Here’s some recommended reading before and after your next Cape Cod trip:
* Things to do on Cape Cod
* Towns of Cape Cod
* Top Ten Places to See on Cape Cod
If you're travelling from the west coast, you might find this guide useful:
* Boston to California Road Trip