Cape Cod Feature


Clam Shacks

Cape Codders have been clamming for generations, and their iconic mollusks are a celebrated part of the culture here. Classic clam shacks are known for their bountiful baskets of crispy fried clams, which, according to Cape Codders, should always be ordered "whole"—that is, with the bellies. Fried clams are never the only item on the menu. Typical fare also includes clam chowder, lobster rolls, fried fish, scallops, shrimp, coleslaw, fries, potato salad, and other non-seafood items. The quintessential experience usually involves ordering at one window, picking up at another, and eating at a picnic table—hopefully one with a beach or harbor view! A few of our favorites on Cape Cod include The Clam Shack in Falmouth, Mac's Seafood in Wellfleet, and Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar in Eastham. The Bite in Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard is also worth a try. Commercial shellfishing on the Cape is one of America's oldest industries, and locals aren't the only ones clamoring for shellfishing licenses these days. Some of the Cape's more "clambitious" visitors also want to get in on the hunt for these scrumptious fruits of the sea. But it's not as easy as just hitting the shore with your rake and basket. Shellfishing is regulated by the state, and each town has its own regulations regarding license costs, clam size and quantity, and the areas and days shellfishing is permitted. If you're ready to try recreational clamming, put on your clamdiggers, grab your rake and basket, and head to the local town hall to get your license and any other necessary information. You can also take a class, like the ones offered by Barnstable's Association for Recreational Shellfishing (, or check in with the local shellfish warden to find out about any organized clamming excursions.

Martha's Vineyard

Far less developed than Cape Cod—thanks to a few local conservation organizations—yet more cosmopolitan than neighboring Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard is an island with a double life. From Memorial Day through Labor Day the quieter (some might say real) Vineyard quickens into a vibrant, star-studded place.

The busy main port, Vineyard Haven, welcomes day-trippers fresh off ferries and private yachts to browse in its array of shops. Oak Bluffs, where pizza and ice cream emporiums reign supreme, has the air of a Victorian boardwalk. Edgartown is flooded with seekers of chic who wander tiny streets that hold boutiques, stately whaling captains' homes, and charming inns.

Summer regulars have included a host of celebrities over the years, among them Carly Simon, Ted Danson, Spike Lee, and Diane Sawyer. If you're planning to stay overnight on a summer weekend, be sure to make reservations well in advance; spring is not too early. Things stay busy on September and October weekends, a favorite time for weddings, but begin to slow down soon after. In many ways the Vineyard's off-season persona is even more appealing than its summer self, with more time to linger over pastoral and ocean vistas, free from the throngs of cars, bicycles, and mopeds.

Except for Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, the Vineyard is "dry," but many restaurants allow you to bring your own beer or wine. The town of Vineyard Haven has recently allowed beer and wine—but no liquor—to be sold in restaurants only.

Updated: 05-2013

View all features