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Cape Cod after Columbus Day weekend

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Jan 8th, 2011, 08:55 PM
  #1
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Cape Cod after Columbus Day weekend

Hi, I just would like to know if ammenities in Cape Cod close down somewhat after the Columbus Day weekend? Some travel books I am reading tell you this. I am wanting to go to the Cape for about 3 days in October but am driving up the mountains to see your beautiful foliage for the first two weeks. Timewise, it makes more sense for me to arrive at the Cape after 10th October. We wont have a car at that stage and are hoping to get their either by ferry from Boston or bus so I am still researching the best place to stay seeing our transport will be limited and I will want to be near the port to head out to either Marthas' Vineyard or Nantucket. If anyone has a preference for a day trip, or favourite place on the Cape, I'd like to hear about it. Also should I be worried about hurricane season at all?
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Jan 8th, 2011, 10:31 PM
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the seasonal shuttle buses close down the last week in September:
http://www.capecodtransit.org/ptown-...90DB318C4C7498

You should really consider keeping the car for the Cape Cod portion of your trip. Its unnecessarily difficult to get around. The Boston-Ptown ferry shuts down sometime in October as well, I believe. The Cape, off season, is very lovely, but its not someplace I would go without a car.

Also, the beginning of October is a tad early for foliage, depending on where you will be. Why not do the Cape first, and the mountains afterwards?
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Jan 9th, 2011, 04:23 AM
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Everything china_cat says is true.

Nantucket is an easy day trip from Hyannis on the Steamship Authority fast ferry, which does not carry vehicles. You will not need a car once you are there, and guided tours of the island are readily available at that time, and the best restaurants are still open. It is often the best weather of the year, and the weekend after Columbus Day is usually cranberry harvesting.

Do not be seduced into spending all your time in the shops, which stand between you and the historic streets beyond the Pacific Bank. If you do decide to make this trip, repost and I will give you some more information.
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Jan 9th, 2011, 08:16 AM
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Very difficult at any time of the year to do Cape Cod without a car, but off-season even more difficult. For example, you can take a bus from Boston to Hyannis but the bus station is in an ugly part of town and not near anything. You could not then walk to much of anything - I imagine there are cabs, but taking one anytime you wanted to go anywhere would probably cost more than a rental car.

Hurricaines rarely hit Cape Cod in full force - but it is certainly possible that the fringes of one could cause bad weather with wind and rain for a few days - even more of a reason to have a car so you could find someplace to go. You leave the car at the ferry port when going to MV or Nantucket for the day.
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Jan 9th, 2011, 12:30 PM
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The bus station in Hyannis is right next to the downtown strip of Hyannis, which is chock full of nice restaurants, shops, places to stay, and two of the area's primary attractions. I wouldn't characterize this as an "ugly part of town."

But yes, several attractions and restaurants do close on Cape Cod after Columbus Day -- in fact, some close after Labor Day weekend.

As to whether you'll need a car on Cape Cod or not, that depends on what you want to see and do. A few of the trolley type conveyances do stop running after Labor Day (the ones in P-town and between Woods Hole and Falmouth) but the primary bus routes run year-round. They don't reach everyplace on the Cape, though, even in high season.
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Jan 9th, 2011, 01:50 PM
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Keep the car!
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Jan 9th, 2011, 10:43 PM
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Thanks everyone, I am only hesitant as I am from Australia and will be driving completely opposite to normal, hope my brain can cope (lol) - but you are right if we are going to see quite a few of the towns and head over to Nantucket we really do need a vehicle. Perhaps I will stay after Columbus Day that way there wont be much traffic around...
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Jan 10th, 2011, 03:26 AM
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You have to have a car if you are going to Cape Cod. This is the only way to sightsee in this area. Not to be missed is scenic 6A, the National Seashore, Chatham, Provincetown, and yes, Nantucket is a great choice. I went in May and it was cool but nice. You could get away without a car on Nantucket Island because you could pick up a small tour that will take you to the important scenic spots. I can not recommend the tour I took unless you want to tour the island with someone else's dog and dog hair all over you. The tour itself was nice and they are all similar. Just follow Fodors Cape Cod book it is the best resource. Some things are closed, this is true but October is still a great time to go. Have fun.
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Jan 10th, 2011, 11:11 AM
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Traffic-wise, it won't make any difference if you visit before or after Columbus Day. It will be quiet there, regardless. However, you may receive considerably lower rates for accommodations just after Columbus Day weekend.

Lodging on Nantucket is pricey with strict cancellation policies. You can see plenty of Nantucket in a day trip if you get an early start. Though, it seems ridiculous to tour a tiny island on a huge coach, they're right at the dock and do a nice job. I'm another who was very disappointed with a smaller tour (and the van was uncomfortable). Our guide was totally unenthusiastic late in the season and skipped most of the commentary in favor of chatting with those near the driver's seat. She also spent a lot of time on her cell phone. I would recommend considering flying over and back for the fastest way and better choice of times.

Again, you would want to head north first for the foliage. Timing is everything and a few days can make a considerable difference.

The Rabbit Hill Inn is very nice and could not be more romantic, though it's rather remote so the dining room is your best choice for breakfast and dinner.

We love the Mountain View Grand (Whitefield, NH), more a full service inn, and it's spectacular setting.
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Jan 10th, 2011, 01:23 PM
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Thanks djkbooks, I will look up the Mountain View Grand I will plan to keep the car and depending on our dates head to the mountains from Boston first then probably drive to the Cape on the 11, 12 and 13th Oct to get the cheaper rates. As you said Nantucket ferries will be still going, that was my main concern and its not as if I will be swimming anywhere, just shopping, relaxing and walking the beaches I suspect. Cannot wait!!
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Jan 10th, 2011, 01:58 PM
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Yes, the ferries will still be running. The "slow" ferry, though a relaxing ride, will take a chunk out of a day trip. If you take that both ways, you have to plan around the October schedule. The fast ferry is faster, but you still have to plan around the schedule. Cost to fly is about the same as the fast ferry, a faster trip with more scheduled times.

Actually, if the weather is pleasant, we park the car at the airport in Hyannis and take one ferry or the other over. Very scenic as you approach Nantucket harbor! Then, we fly back.

Do shop rates, making no assumptions. Rates vary with the property, and are raised/lowered independently.

Also, in the "off" season, it's important to know check-in criteria. At some places, the desk is not staffed 24/7 and you must arrive by a certain time.

A terrific place to stay on the Cape is Chatham Tides (in Chatham). Modern, condo style units, a very short drive from town, but a world away and right on Long Island Sound. We gave up on most B&B's and small country inns due to plumbing, soundproofing, privacy, "rules", and other problems. Another favorite is the Bradford Inn in Chatham (for the gas fireplaces in the rooms and short walk from the town center).
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Jan 10th, 2011, 06:46 PM
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djkbooks, a place in Chatham "right on Long Island Sound"?
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Jan 10th, 2011, 09:21 PM
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OK, technically, it extends only to Rhode Island. So, Nantucket Sound.

Scenery is just as spectacular, along with the glorious sunsets.

Perhaps, ggreen, you have other suggestions?
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Jan 11th, 2011, 04:29 AM
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How you get to Nantucket, even in October, is completely weather dependent.

You can fly in 20 minutes if you don't mind a 9 passenger Cessna 402. On a clear day, it is fantastic, especially is you get to sit in the copilot's seat. If the wind is over 25 mph, takeoff and landing can be an adventure, though the pilots generally find smoother air in between.

You can take a fast ferry from the Steamship Authority or the HyLine in anything up to stormy weather. In October, they essentially provide hourly service between the two lines. The HyLine is more expensive, and it is less likely to arrive on time. Both have websites.

The Steamship Authority slow ferries leave Hyannis at 9:15, 2:45, and 8:00, taking 2 hours and 15 minutes for the journey and carry both cars and passengers. They run in anything up to 40 knot winds. It is the captain's call.

For an adventure, you can often ride one of the freight ferries that ordinarily carries only trucks. If there is space and they are not carrying hazardous cargo like fuel trucks, you may be able to ride in the passenger compartment with the drivers. They depart between the passenger ferries, and the crew at the kiosk can tell you when they leave and if you can go. Usually, they can take about 15 people in addition to drivers, and it is a unique way to arrive.
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Jan 11th, 2011, 06:56 AM
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A further word about weather - October on Cape Cod can be glorious. Sunny, temperatures in the 60s. Or it can be cold and raw and miserable. Sometimes the tip of the Cape (Provincetown, Wellfleet, Truro area) is cold and misty and just 25 miles or so west it can be nice.

Since you are from Australia, be sure to explore some of the seasonal fairs and activities in New England at that time of year. Pick some apples or visit a pumpkin patch. There is a huge fair in Springfield, MA (Big E) end of Sept/early Oct and in eastern MA is Topsfield Fair shortly thereafter. Both started as agricultural fairs and the non-farm vendors have taken over quite a bit of the fairs - but there are still farm exhibits, silly things like racing pigs, etc. Many much smaller craft and fall fairs thruout New England.

Enjoy your trip

(Ackislander - interesting info on freight ferries - sounds like fun and had never heard of this before)
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Jan 11th, 2011, 12:46 PM
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If you keep a car and would like the treat of to staying INSIDE the Cape Cod National Seashore take a look at Fort Hill Bed and Breakfast in Eastham. THis historic property is the only lodging inside the park. The Fort Hill Area is off the beaten track (100 acres of walking trails and scenic views) but centrally located for visiting Provincetown (30 minutes), Chatham (20 minutes), Wellfleet (10 minutes) Orleans (5 minutes) and the ferry to Nantucket out of Hyannis (30 minutes). The ocean views and walking trails around the inn make the Fort Hill Area one of the most popular scenic locations in the park. Coast Guard Beach in Eastham is regularly one of the top 10 beaches in the US.

We often visit Nantucket from Fort Hill and take the fast ferry out of Hyannis. Here is a great link with all your travel options:
http://www.smartguide.org/capecod/land-links.html
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Jan 11th, 2011, 02:02 PM
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djkbooks, I must admit I've never heard the bodies of water north or east of Block Island called Long Island Sound. On the outer edge, from "armpit" to "elbow" of the Cape is on Nantucket Sound, with the armpit also creating the northern part of Buzzards Bay; from the elbow upwards is on the ocean. All of which leaves Chatham in a bit of a quandary, I guess! Sadly, google maps doesn't help at all. Now I'm intrigued!
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Jan 12th, 2011, 01:31 AM
  #18
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Thanks heaps guys, I am going to stick with my original plan of visiting the Cape after Columbus Day however do heed the advice and will keep the car for 3 extra days. I am sure I will be pleased I 'spoke' with you all. Thanks in particular for your recommendations on accomodation, its always better to try a place after someone has recommended it. So looking forward to visiting Nantucket especially. Thanks for the alternative advice on taking the plane, I'm sure it will help others, but for me I like to keep my feet on the ground where possible
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Jan 12th, 2011, 01:35 AM
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PS, Ackislander, any more information is widly appreciated, the more knowledge I head off with the better I will be...
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Jan 12th, 2011, 04:56 AM
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You can do Nantucket as a day trip from Hyannis but since you are visiting out of high season, you might want to spend a night or two on the island. Mid week you should have no trouble getting a room in a B&B, but on the weekend there may be a two or three night minimum.

Nantucket, until 1845, was the greatest whaling port in the world, and it was developed as a city. When the fishery collapsed, it was more or less preserved in amber for 35 years, then becoming a summer resort. It has an enormous collection of historic architecture in all sizes (including a 1740ish windmill) dating back to the end of the 17th century. Only now is the year round population reaching its 1849 levels.

Because whalers went everywhere, the Historical Association Museum has artefacts from everywhere -- including a lot of stuff from the South Seas and New Zealand!

In addition to walking around town to see these things, you will want to visit Sconset, which will be very quiet at this time of year. The village shop and liquor store both close at Columbus Day! If you want to take a van tour, Gail's is said to be excellent.

Because Nantucket is a summer home for the wealthy and very wealthy, it has a lot of high-end shops in the town. Nantuket Looms, now on Main Street, is a standout because it is both expensive and full of really beautiful things. The Nantucket Atheneum (public library) is a pleasant place to rest if you only come out for the day -- or to read on a rainy day if you are there longer. Patina on Centre Street and Blue Beetle on Main have good women's clothing and accessories.

If the weather is good and it is still in the water, have a sail with Captain Jim Genthner on the Endeavor (note: he is a close friend).

To eat at dinner at the very highest end, the Pearl, which has delicious food at NY/London prices. Just below this price level is American Seasons, where I have never had a meal that was less than delicious. The cheapest place in town is Easy Street Cafe at the foot of Steamship Wharf which has cheap seafood and Cisco draft beer at lower prices than at the brewery itself. The Brotherhood of Thieves on Broad Street is more atmospheric for lunch. You want to eat in the basement. The food is not good enough to bother eating upstairs, but a beer and burger downstairs is great. A treat for American nostalgists is the lunch counter at the Nantucket Pharmacy on Main Street. Regulars gather there for lunch, coffee or ice cream just as if it were 1955. Finally, for places that are a bit trendier, Corazon del Mar and LoLa41 can both be recommended off season. They tend to get overwhelmed in the summer.
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