Our friend Jo, who lives here in the Bay Area, has a summer home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and has been telling me for years to bring the kids and visit her. I finally decided to do it and made it out to Cape Cod this past July. What an amazing time we had. Beaches, boats, hydrangeas, and cedar cottages. This is the best way to describe this charming area of Cape Cod.
When I was making my travel plans to visit Cape Cod, Jo gave me clear instructions. Do not arrive on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. These are the days when traffic to and from Boston to The Cape is the worst, it’s when the locals go back to work in Boston and to their vacation homes at The Cape. What will normally take 2 hours, can take up to 4 – 5 hours. So I took Jo’s advice and arrived in Boston on a Tuesday night, with the plan to head to Cape Cod on Thursday night. Since we had never been to Boston before, we decided to stay here for a couple days to do some sightseeing around the Boston area. I will do another story on our fun visit to Boston where we walked over 15 miles in two days and explored this historic city.
Cape Cod is a local summer favorite destination outside the Boston area. Residents from Boston and surrounding suburbs all converge on The Cape every summer. As Jo educated me, the moment school gets out, the locals are at Cape Cod. Many folks rent homes for the entire summer and commute back and forth between Boston and The Cape over the summer months. A large number of local residents even have summer homes at The Cape. These homes sometimes get passed down from generation to generation. Cape Cod is a very popular beach destination for locals in this area.
Here is something interesting I discovered after coming to The Cape. I assumed Cape Cod is the name of a town like Carmel, California. When in fact Cape Cod is the name for the area of land that extends into the Atlantic Ocean from the South East corner of Massachusetts near Boston. This land is in the shape of a hooked arm and protrudes out into the Atlantic Ocean. The Cape territory as it is called is divided into fifteen towns with many small villages. Jo and Oliver have a place in the town of Dennis Port, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, which is situated more towards the center of Cape Cod.
Thursday evening, July 21st: After two days of touring Boston, we were ready to head to Cape Cod Thursday evening. Jo drove to Boston to pick us up and met us for dinner in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here we had dinner with Jo’s friend Julie who joined us at restaurant Henrietta’s Table in Harvard Square. After a wonderful farm-to-table style dinner, we hit the road for our 1 1/2 drive to Cape Cod and the town of Dennis Port.
By the time we got home Thursday night to Dennis Port, it was past midnight. Jo told us to sleep in the next morning, and we could start the next day on Friday on a leisurely note. We took Jo’s advice and woke up at 11am on Friday 🙂
Friday, July 22nd: The plan for the day was to check out a couple of local beaches and visit the town of Chatham, Massachusetts; a short 30-minute drive from Dennis Port. Chatham is a lovely little town with artsy local boutiques and cafes. We had a fun time strolling in this downtown area and checking out the local shops. Chatham is a trendy destination on The Cape for people who want to enjoy the hustle and bustle of this lively shopping district.
Anjali even picked up a fish-rubbing tote here in Chatham downtown. Know what fish rubbing is? It’s an ancient Japanese art called Gyo-taku. This is a traditional Japanese method of printing using fish and fish bones. In Chatham one of the boutiques Blue Water Fish Rubbing sells fish-rubbing t-shirts and bags made by local artist Jenny Bovey.
A few minutes drive from the downtown strip is the Chatham Lighthouse. This is a popular local tourist spot with a gorgeous beach. The day that we were here there were some wedding shots being taken with the lighthouse as the backdrop.
Here is something that made the Chatham Lighthouse and beach famous. You know the new movie The Finest Hours with Chris Pine that got released over the summer? It is the true life story of a coastguard’s daring rescue during a big storm, when he was sent out on a small boat to save the crew of a sinking ship off shore. That story happened right here with the beautiful Chatham Lighthouse and Chatham beach as the setting.
From the Chatham Lighthouse we headed to Chatham Pier Fish Market, hoping to watch fisherman bringing in their catch of the day and seeing the seals eat what scraps slipped through the netting. But we arrived too late as the Pier was quiet and the fisherman had already left for the day. However we did catch a glimpse of a couple of seals lazily swimming by. The scene here was calm and beautiful with tons of fishing boats bobbing in the gorgeous dark blue waters off Chatham Stage Harbor.
From Chatham Pier, Jo drove us to the beaches at Harwich Port where the sands were pristine and the ocean waves gently lapped onshore. The beach here was just spectacular. Hardly a person in sight, clean sands with not a trash item to be seen, and the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean at our feet, this was the perfect introduction to the beaches of Cape Cod.
After a relaxing day and a great start to our vacation at The Cape we ended the day with a hearty dinner at a local Italian restaurant.
Saturday, July 23rd: We started Saturday on another leisurely note with all of us heading out at 11am for a casual breakfast followed by more beach combing. We liked Harwich Port beach so much that we headed back to spend more time enjoying the sand and ocean. The girls and I picked up the most amazing shells at the beach here 🙂
This is also the day that Oliver and Hitesh flew across the country from The Bay Area to spend the weekend with us. After showing Hitesh around Chatham downtown and the Chatham Lighthouse, Oliver, Hitesh, and the girls headed to Cold Storage Beach for a late afternoon walk on the sand and fun in the water.
This evening Oliver made a scrumptious meal of pasta, grilled fish, grilled carrots, and grilled asparagus.
After dinner, the girls and guys walked over to Sundae School Creamery for ice cream. It was the perfect ending to a perfectly easygoing day. Speaking of ice cream parlors, I have never seen so many ice cream parlors in one area ever in my life. Cape Cod has ice cream parlors on every block, in every corner, in every town, on every street. There are more creameries here than there are coffee shops, and they all have lines out the door in the late evenings. Best of all, these creameries stay open till 11pm and even midnight. This is definitely ice cream country!🍨🍨🍦🍦
Sunday, July 24th: The plan for Sunday was an all-day trip to Nantucket, Massachusetts. A quaint island a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride from Cape Cod. We left home at 8:00am and came home at 11pm on this Sunday. We had the most amazing time on Nantucket island. I will do a more detailed post on this wonderful day trip spent with Hitesh, Oliver, Jo, Jo’s friend Marlena, and the twins.
Monday, July 25th: Hitesh flew home to San Francisco early morning as he had to get back to work and get things in order before our upcoming trip to Kenya. Oliver took the twins back to Cold Storage Beach for another afternoon on this pristine beach with warm waters that the twins thought was the best beach ever.
While the girls and Oliver were at the beach, Jo and I drove around Cape Cod, where I had plenty of opportunities to take photos of the spectacular hydrangeas that grow in profusion here. I was amazed to see such gorgeous hydrangeas growing with reckless abandon everywhere.
While driving around, Jo pointed out a cranberry bog off the road. I had never seen a cranberry bog before. The bushes grow in low ditch-like areas. Jo explained that once the cranberries are ready to be harvested, the farmers flood the bog and the cranberries float to the top. The farmers then collect the cranberries with netting and pack and ship them out to stores. Pretty neat.
Our last adventure of the day was a boat ride off Cape Cod under the stewardship of Oliver our Captain and sailor. I have to be honest, I was nervous. I get seasick so I thought I would be miserable on this ride, but the twins were eager to go and Oliver said there were so many sites to see around The Cape that could only be seen by sea. He knew how to entice me to get me on board 😏 So I tagged along and Jo joined us as well.
It turned out to be an outstanding boat ride. The waters were not as choppy as I expected, and Oliver did a great job of steering the boat in a way that gave the girls the thrill ride they were looking for, while keeping it more calm for me and Jo.
The most beautiful scene we saw on this boat ride, which I realized could only be seen by sea, was the secluded island off Barnstable Town. This island with over 40 homes and one small lighthouse is only accessible by sea for residents. Groceries, sundries, and anything the residents need can only be brought on the island by boats. While we were sailing by, we saw a resident hauling groceries off a boat onto their dock. This island looked like something out of a fiction novel.
Sailing is a big part of the culture here at The Cape. I understand why now. The waters here are perfect for sailing and the surrounding scenery is beautiful and very enjoyable.
After our fun boat ride, we headed home for the evening where Oliver prepared a delicious meal of pan-seared tofu with veggies, tossed green salad, grilled fish, roasted brussels sprouts, and caprese salad. Friends Julie and Sarah joined us for this festive dinner on our last night at The Cape. We ended the evening with dessert of local ice cream from one of the many ice cream parlors here in town 🍨
Tuesday, July 26th: We got ready for our flight back home and after a hearty breakfast of omelet and toast, Jo drove us to Boston’s Logan airport.
Our visit to Cape Cod was one fabulous memorable holiday. We got to see a part of America that we have never seen before and loved every bit of it. With its cedar cottages and pristine beaches, Cape Cod is a lovely area with a laid-back beach culture. We still have to explore the National Seashores, Provincetown, and so much more that Cape Cod has to offer, that we are looking forward to visiting again soon.
A very special and heartfelt thank you to our amazing friends Jo and Oliver who had us over at their beautiful home in Dennis Port in Cape Cod. I’d like to share this quote by Henry van Dyke which expresses so eloquently how Jo and Oliver’s warmth made us feel welcomed and loved.
“Every house where love abides And friendship is a guest, Is surely home, and home, sweet home, For there the heart can rest.” ~Henry van Dyke