Narrowed Down Cape Cod Lodgings

Jul 19th, 2003, 10:15 AM
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Narrowed Down Cape Cod Lodgings

After researching many Fodorite recommendations for Cape Cod Lodgings, I have narrowed down my list to just a few. This is a difficult decision for several reasons: 1) I am completely unfamiliar with the Cape 2) There are many beautiful B&Bs and inns from which to choose, as well as many towns with unique characteristics to offer.

You might say that I should choose based on these unique characteristics, but I am interested in many things, and am open, to a degree, concerning price range. I love ocean views, concerts, quaint towns and villages, viewing wildlife, and good quality dining. I also love historic and romantic B&Bs and inns, with good service, in a charming and non-touristy area, not far from all the actvities I mentioned above. I also appreciate good value in regard to accommodations.

Given this information, I hope that you can give me feedback on my list of 5 selections.

1. Isaiah Jones Homestead, Sandwich
$115 for nicely decorated room -no fireplace and shower only.
$165 for large room with fireplace and whirlpool tub.

2. Moses Nickerson House, Chatham
$165 for room with no special features

3. Captain Farris House, Bass River Village(South Yarmouth area)
$180 for room with fireplace, private sundeck, whirlpool tub, very nicely decorated, pretty outdoor breakfast dining

4. Wedgewood Inn, Yarmouth Port
$165 for beautifully decorated large room with fireplace
$205 for suite with fireplace, separate sitting area, whirlpool tub, and private screened in porch.

5. Old Sea Pines Inn, Brewster
$150 for private bath with fireplace
$165 for suite with bath and fireplace
(I am only considering this in for the town)


Please let me know your opinions based on the quality of accommodations, service, value, and location. Some say that Sandwich is charming with lots to do, and is in a quiet non-touristy location, though others state that the location prevents visitors from getting a good taste of the Cape's ambience, and is too far from many attractions. Many think that Chatham is the most charming town on the Cape, and epitomizes the character of Cape Cod , and others feel that it is too touristy and crowded. Yarmouth Port sounds like it is in a very charming area of the Cape with lots of character and history, yet, I have read that it is typical New England but not typical Cape, and it does not have a concentrated downtown. South Yarmouth has many nice B&Bs, especially the Captain Farris, but many people warn to avoid the south Cape due to congestion on route 28, and the fact that it does not have the charm of the north.

I have planned many big trips with less confusion than this short 3 night getaway. Any feedback that you care to share would be most appreciated. I am sure it will help me come to a decision, which I would like to make quickly before I lose the opportunity to book these accommodations.

Thank you again. I look forward to your replies.

happy2travel is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 03:14 PM
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Just tryng one more time. Thanks.
happy2travel is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 04:14 PM
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I am far from an expert on the Cape, but I will give you my "opinion" of location for staying on the cape since we were just there over the 4th of July for 3 days--the same as you. And I, too, put far too many hours in deciding where to stay, moreso than any other trip I've taken. With that said, and again, this being my point of view since just having visited, if I had to do over, I would definitely stay in or near Chatham. Chatham was sooo charming and has the ambience of a quaint N.E. town, plus has opportunities for day or night time walks on the streets to window shop or to the shore when you don't want to leave base. I saw many places to stay along the main drag and quite frankly, they all looked nice, at least from the outside. I pictured the Cape much differently from my actual visit. I expected the towns to be close together and it does take a while traveling to get from place to place. Chatham would make a good base of operations, especially if you plan to travel up to Provincetown for a day visit or go to Hyannis to catch one of the ferries to M.V. or Nantucket. Be aware, if you don't already know this, the ferry just to M.V. takes almost two hours. They ask that you arrive 45 minutes prior to departure. If you go to M.V., plan on it taking up most of your day. Chatham also would have enough eateries within your reach when you need to grab a quick bite after an exhausting day. We stayed at the Ocean Pointe Resort in Brewster. Brewster was much too quiet for me with little in the way of restaurants, shops, etc. We ended up traveling to Orleans to eat most days. Chatham would also be close enough to drive to one of the trail heads to the Cape Cod Rail Trail--which if you bike at all, is highly recommended. It is a beautiful, paved scenic trail, although crowded; however, never have I seen so much correct etiquette for biking as here! We biked from Brewster to Wellfleet and back in one day and stopped for a BBQ lunch before returning. This afforded us the chance to take a side trip to take in the views of the National Seashore and just the one mile bike trip through the forest to get there was magnificent!!! I personally feel Sandwich would be too far out of the way "driving wise" to catch a lot of the different towns on the lower cape. Traffic when we were there was a bear (expected), even on highway 6. I'm sorry to be so long winded, hope this helps you some! By the way, if I had to do over today, I would probably choose the Winstead Inn or Beach Resort in Harwich, www.winsteadinn.com.
hugglynn is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 09:36 PM
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Hugglynn, thank you for your detailed reply. Although you stated that you are not an expert, it helps to get advice from someone who has recently visited the Cape. I am going to take a look at the Winstead Inn's website tomorrow morning.

By the way, after all of your research prior to the trip, what made you decide to stay in Brewster?

Thanks again, Hugglynn!
happy2travel is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 01:31 AM
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I am worried you will be disappointed by the Cape, especially if you are going in the summer. While there are the ocean views, concerts, etc. you are looking for in several towns (Chatham, Sandwich, Wellfleet come to mind) the part about non-touristy area is more difficult. The whole Cape is touristy - you may find a more quiet portion of a town, but the idea of quiet beaches with birds and wildlife just is not part of the summer experience.

The Cape is very popular and crowded with families - the beaches are beautiful, and there are some wonderful paths, bike trails, walks (there is a nature center near Dennis that has some nice woodsey walking paths - but in the end you must return to Route 6, 28, or 6A - all likely to have much traffic and, within a very close drive, a great multitude of tacky gift shops, sub shops, pizza joints, and tourist traps (6A the least of all - Route 6 is not an issue until you get towards end of Cape). If it rains, gridlock of cars trying to find something to do from one end of the Cape to the other.

All that negativity said, we have been to the Cape perhaps 15 times over the last 20 years. It can be great fun, and can be quite relaxing in the off-season. Just want you to be forewarned as you say you are completely unfamiliea with the Cape.
gail is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 05:49 AM
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As my name states I live on Cape Cod. My advice for the time you have is to stay in Chatham. It is a beautiful town with all the unique characteristics that you are looking for here.
Be aware the traffic is going to be horrendous and plan accordingly. Can I assume that your 3 nights will be a long weekend? Try to get to the Cape as early as possible on Friday. Consider driving on Rte 6A part of the way to Chatham to get a feel for that part of the Cape if the weather is nice. Plan on leaving Sunday night late if your drive isn't too long. If you have a cell phone *1 will get you Boston's Smart Traveler traffic line and *71 will give you an update on the bridge traffic. Keep an eye on the weather report. Leave the shops on Main Street Chatham for a rainy day especially if you can walk there. Yes it will be a zoo but it is easier to dodge around people on foot than in cars.
Rereading this it seems very negative but the reason it is so crowded is that it is so nice.
Places to dine-
Vining's Bistro on Main St Chatham upstairs across from the Christian Science Reading roomNauset Beach Club in Orleans
Finely JPs on Rte 6 in Wellfleet
Go to Wellfleet for the galleries
I hope you have fun.
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Jul 20th, 2003, 07:37 AM
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Happy2,

The reason I chose Brewster was not for the town, but after looking at all the places to stay, decided on Ocean Point Resort b/c it was a full service facility--restaurants, health club, has a so-called "beach" on the Bay, it is connected to the Cape Cod Rail Trail and within close proximity to the other towns. We are very active--runners (marathoners) and bikers--so when looking for a place to stay, this is one more aspect we consider. After having spent all the time researching places, Ocean Point wasn't worth the money--sure they provide robes in the room, a nightly turndown and the rooms are oversized, with that said, still overpriced at $318/night. In the end, we were so busy that we never used the health club or their restaurants. We did spend a lot of time on the rail trail fitting in runs and bike rides. Having just been there, the other two posters after my original post hit the nail on the head with everything they've said. I will just add that if you can avoid Route 28, esp. between Hyannis to Falmouth to do so.

hugglynn is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 09:08 AM
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Thank you Gail, for the warning. I assumed the Cape would be busy, but thought there might be a few areas that are less so. I have read from many sources that 6A is a beautiful route. You mentioned that 6A is less crowded, but can it still be bumper to bumper?

My husband and I don't mind driving to get from place to place, but constant gridlock can certainly become tiresome. I have asked several innkeepers about the traffic conditions during summer weekends, and they all assured me that it can get crowded, but from Hyannis going east really isn't too bad. Is this not so?

Gail, which town would be your preference? I am sure that you have stayed in many towns over the course of your 15 vacations -I would love to know your opinion.

AGM Cape Cod, thank you for all of the helpful information. I am sure that it will come in handy! I am having difficulty, however, finding reasonable accommodations in Chatham. It seems that I can have either wonderful accommodations, at a beautiful B&B, in another town, or have so-so accommodations, in Chatham, for the same rates.

The rooms at the Captain Farris, in South Yarmouth, and the Wedgewood Inn, in Yarmouth Port, are absolutely beautiful, and both come with full country breakfasts. The Moses Nickerson House is, so far, the most affordable B&B or inn I have come across in Chatham. They have some accommodations at the same rate as the above mentioned B&Bs, but they are definitely not as charming or beautifully decorated. If you have any suggestions for a nice romantic place to stay in Chatham (preferably below $180 -our original hope was not to go over $150, but I don't think that is possible in Chatham), I would appreciate it.

Hugglynn, thanks for getting back to me about why you selected Brewster. Usually, when I go to a seaside area, I like to be right on the water, but I usually have my kids with me. This trip will just be my husband and myself, and I am hoping for something romantic. I don't need a larger inn with a pool and restaurants, or a place right on the beach. What I really want is a classic B&B or inn, with pretty rooms, in a good location. The location doesn't have to be right in the middle of a busy town, but someplace that we can walk to some dining, maybe a few shops, or to get ice cram. My husband and I really love to see the sights, so we probably won't be in the room all that much, either. But, at the end of the day, it will be nice to have a nice cozy and romantic room to come back to.

So, I guess the big decision is to stay in Chatham with lesser accommodations, but be right in the middle of a charming seaside town, or to stay in another town like Yarmouth Port or South Yarmouth for the B&Bs, but not be in the best location. I just wish I could picture, in my mind's eye, what these small towns along 6A are like. Is this a road that we would enjoy walking, or is it too much like a highway? And, also, what the drive from Yarmouth to Chatham would be like.

Thanks you again, Hugglynn, Gail, and AGM Cape Cod. I am looking forward to reading your replies.


happy2travel is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 10:22 AM
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Hello, hubby & I just returned from a week long stay in Chatham and had a terrific time. Crowds weren't that bad but yes, there were many noisy families with children. As recommended above, the Vinings restaurant provides mostly an adult dining option as high chairs and childrens menu are not provided. Chatham was much, much more quiet than the surrounding areas of Hyannis/Yarmouth. There were a few secluded beaches near our Inn, The Captain's House B&B. If it is not over your budget I highly suggest Captain's House. It was so peaceful and quiet, the rooms were beautiful, staff friendly and accomodating, and the food was very good. Just what I was hoping for in a romantic getaway.

Traffic was a bear. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get back and fourt from Boston, bumper to bumper. If traffic is important you may want to consider Sandwich but it will be a trek to visit other nice parts of the Cape. The highlight of our vacation was whale watching in Provincetown. We saw about 15 humpback and minca (sp) whales right in front of our boat. Hope this is helpful.
cnmiranda is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 10:58 AM
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Cnmiranda, thanks so much for the information. For some reason, I thought that Chatham was very busy. I am glad to hear that it is not. The Captain's House is rather pricey for this vacation. Normally, it wouldn't be a problem, but we just spent 21/2 weeks in Europe, so we have to watch the cost of this weekend getaway. The only reason we're going Labor Day weekend is that it is my husband's birthday, and I wanted to give him a special romantic weekend getaway as a gift. Could you tell me which room you stayed in? Did you stay at the Captain's Inn for the whole week? I am also wondering what their breakfast and afternoon tea are like, as far as variety and quality. Is breakfast a full sit-down affair, or is it a buffet? And just one last question, please: was it South Yarmouth or Yarmouth Port (on the north side) that you found to be busy?

Cnmiranda, thank you again for your input.
happy2travel is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 01:29 PM
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I understand your frustration, Happy2, because most people are only giving their personal prefernces & opinions rather than addressing your concerns! I will try to be brief and to the point.

1. There is no public boat from anywhere in Massachusetts to Provincetown, other than the ferries from Boston.

2. You need to get a map of Cape Cod and study it in detail so you understand the geography and distances between cape towns and villages.

3. You need to realize you have picked the end-of-summer holiday weekend for your 3 day vacation. This means very high traffic everywhere and minimum 5 day stays at most accomodations.

4. Route 6 is the only typical "highway" on Cape Cod and this is true only to Orleans. Routes 6A and 28 are both scenic drives, which can both backup at times, but what do you care since you are on vacation and both routes provide ample things to see especially for first-time visitors.

5. You seem to be overly concerned with visiting/staying at "touristy" areas on the Cape. The majority of Cape Cod visitors are affluent, families, staying on vacation at mid to upper scale resorts like you.

6. The Cape is 70 miles long from the canal to Provincetown. There are 15 unique towns and hundreds of quaint villages, harbors, beaches and sites. A big part of the charm of CC is to explore the Cape on your own. You cannot get lost completely because it is surrounded by water.

7. Finally, you need to get a map of CC as I said earlier, and make a decision as to where you would like to stay and what trips you would like to make to explore the Cape.

Gene is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 05:58 PM
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Gene, thank you for the tips and facts you have offered, but I am also interested in personal opinions. I know that opinions vary widely, but they also provide useful info. I appreciate the time and effort fellow Fodorites have put into sharing their experiences with me.

As you have suggested, I have studied a map of the Cape, but have not been able to decide based on that, alone. My purpose in posting my question was to get feedback, in hopes that it would facilitate my decision.

I am thinking, now, about staying the first 2 nights in Chatham, and then spending the last night in Sanwich. I have tickets for the Cape Cod Melody Tent, in Hyannis, for the last evening so, instead of driving back to Chatham, I thought we could just head west to Sandwich. This will give us a chance to explore the Sandwich area a bit, and will also help us bypass some of the traffic going home on Monday. Does this seem like a good plan?

Thanks again!

happy2travel is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 06:17 PM
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I think your plan is excellent and be sure to drop by the Dan'l Webster Inn while in Sandwich and also visit the town boardwalk to the sea if you have time.

When driving onto the Cape I would definitely take route 6A for a truly wonderful drive. As you drive along 6A almost every road on your left will take you to a beach on CC bay.
Gene is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 07:59 PM
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Hi Happy, I just wrote a mini hotel review under the rants section if you'd like to check it out later. As you can see, Gene really knows Cape Cod and was very helpful when we were planning our vacation

Regarding Captain's House, we stayed in both the Clarissa Suite and and the Hiram Harding room. They were beautifully appointed with victorian/antique boat house stlyes per room. The little extras made like candles around the bath (Clarissa) and a fireplace in the Hiram rooms made our stay so romantic. The fridge and room were stocked with other little extras such as juice, water, nutri-grain bars and Cape Cod chips. Now for perhaps the best part of our stay: afternoon tea and scones and finger sandwiches with cookies and breads such as chocolate cake, strawberry and banana bread and more exotic selections of pound cakes. The Innkeepers wife is English and the menu reflects the true feeling like being in England. All the food is made on the premises. Morning breakfast menus are given with turndown service with the choice of two warm plates and again a wide selection of continental and homemade goodies. In the evening one is free to enjoy cookies and tea in the kitchen. Also one can opt for breakfast or afternoon tea to be delivered to your room. Although it was a little pricey I feel it was definitely worth it, the tranquility, location, and beautiful gardens feel like you're relaxing on your own little historic estate. The majority of staff are English business management students and go out of their way to make your stay great. Walking down Main Street in the evening was a very nice way to end the day.

Regarding Yarmouth, I think it was South Yarmouth we visited (the Zooquarium and the Natural History Museum north I believe), it was much more crowded and I was happy to be able to return to the much more quiet area of Chatham.
cnmiranda is offline  
Jul 21st, 2003, 05:26 AM
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jd
 
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We have been going to the cape for years as we live in the area. Another great town to look into is Orleans, which is right next to Chatham. Here you have access to the best beaches of the National Seashore, or the tamer bay beaches. One of the best beaches is Nauset Beach. There are a few bed and breakfasts within walking distance. One is the Ships Knee Inn which also has a swimming pool. There is also The Farmhouse, and Nauset House Inn. This location is close to Chatham, the highway, Provincetown, and the National seashore beaches.
jd is offline  
Jul 21st, 2003, 06:58 AM
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happy2travel, your plans sound fine, but I thought I'd clear up your question about Yarmouth. Yarmouthport is on the North side of the Cape along Route 6A and Cape Cod Bay. It is a charming and non-commercial area. South Yarmouth and especially West Yarmouth are along Route 28 on the South side approaching Hyannis and much more commercial and crowded.

Each area on the Cape has charm, however. If you like to explore you will find plenty to interest you.

On the subject of ocean views and viewing wildlife, I can recommend a boat trip I took last week from Harwichport by Monomoy Excursions (others run from Chatham) to see the seals off the Monomoy islands. It is a fast catamaran and a fun ride as well as fascinating for the wildlife.

Many other wildlife viewing opportunities at the Audubon sanctuary in Wellfleet and the Museum of Natural History in Brewster.

Nikki is offline  
Jul 21st, 2003, 07:13 AM
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Another vote for Chatham and especially the Captain's House Inn. I think if this is your first visit to the Cape, Chatham is a perfect location for you. It is very quaint and has lots of shops/galleries/restaurants to walk to. Plus, because it is mid-Cape, you can access other areas of the Cape more easily than if you stay at one end or the other.

The Captain's House Inn is a real oasis in Chatham. It has a beautiful lawn and gardens with chairs/benches for relaxing. The room we stayed in (don't remember the name, but it was in the addition), was lovely, private and well-appointed. The innkeepers are terribly nice. They hire lots of college kids from England and Ireland who are as gracious and accommodating as you can imagine. They have a delicious, full breakfast (at separate tables -- a key for my husband!) and will accommodate your preferences at breakfast if possible. They also have a lovely tea in the afternoon and even leave goodies out in the kitchen for late-night snacking. Another nice feature -- they have a library of VHS tapes for loan.

I also suggest you go to Provincetown for a day. It's got lots of shops/galleries/restaurants and the whale watching is truly amazing. It also has real "nightlife" there, which many towns on the Cape don't.

Personally, I find the western part of the Cape to be much more touristy than mid-cape toward Provincetown. I guess it depends on what you mean by "touristy." Yes, there will be traffice. Yes, you might have to wait in line or have a reservation for dinner. But the western part of the Cape has more roadside motels, miniature golf, etc. That, to me, is touristy.
lisettemac is offline  
Jul 21st, 2003, 11:31 AM
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All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you for your wonderful replies! They are chock full of helpful information!

Gene, I am so happy that you like my idea of spending 2 nights in Chatham, and then the last night in Sandwich. If my husband can swing one more day off, and I can find an innkeeper that will agree to it, I was thinking about adding one more night onto the beginning of our stay in Cape Cod. I can't really afford to spend 3 nights in Chatham, so I was thinking about spending Thursday night in Yarmouth Port. This way, we can explore 6A, the first day, on the way into Yarmouth Port, and then go to an Eastham beach that afternoon. Or, as an alternative, possibly continue to Provincetown that afternoon since it will be a Thursday and hopefully the traffic will be lighter that day. I would love your opinion on this idea !

cnmiranda, thanks for getting back to me regarding the details at the Captain's House. The inn DOES look lovely with beautiful grounds and wonderful rooms. I checked the website for the 2 rooms you enjoyed and they look fabulous, especially the Hiram Harding room. I wonder if ALL of the rooms have a small refrigerator stocked with water and treats? Also, the food that they offer sounds fabulous. Although many inns offer full gourmet breakfasts, the full afternoon tea certainly is a luxurious addition!

jd, thanks for your suggestion of staying in Orleans. I wish I had 2 weeks so that I could sample several more villages and inns!

Nikki, thanks for the clarification. You pretty much confirmed what I thought to be true about the 2 villages, South Yarmouth and Yarmouth Port. I think that I'll skip South Yarmouth (it sounds a bit too congested to me) , although there are some nice B&Bs in that area. Though, as I mentiond above, I am considering spending 1 night in Yarmouth Port at the beginning of our vacation.

Also, thank you for the recommendation for Monomoy Excursions. It DOES sound like a fun ride -not the typical sightseeing boat trip. Were you able to see the seals interacting with each other, or did you only see a couple of seals at a time, just sunning themselves? The reason I ask is, when we went to Alaska, we saw seals and whales, but the seals were just sunning themselves on a buoy, here and there, and the whale sightings were in the distance. Although it was a great experience, I would only do it again if I were ablr to see a bit more. However, I am definitely going to try to visit the Audubon sanctuary.

lisettemac, I am glad to read another vote for the Captain's House Inn, in Chatham. It truly must be a wonderful inn to be the recipient of so many recommendations and accolades. It seems to have everything-beautifully manicured gardens, wonderful rooms, fabulous food presentations, and a very gracious staff!

I am definitely planning on visiting Provincetown one day. I love art galleries, and I have read that P-town truly IS unique. I am looking forward to experiencing it.

In reference to my idea of touristy, it is exactly the same as your definition -t-shirt shops, mini-golf, roadside motels, etc...

Once again, thanks to everyone for your kind, patient, and informative guidance. It is VERY much appreciated!!!

happy2travel is offline  
Jul 21st, 2003, 11:39 AM
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For a three-day weekend, Chatham is the nicest location. On Saturday, you could drive to Provincetown and back via Brewster, stopping in appealing towns all along the way (just over 80 miles).

Sunday, you could drive to Woods Hole. The coastal drive from East Falmouth past Nobska Light is magnificent. Leaving from Chatham and going to the Melody Tent on your way back to Chatham would be just over 90 miles round trip.

You'd still have plenty of time each day (before starting out or after coming back on Saturday) to explore Chatham.

There is much less traffic around the Outer and Lower Cape and along the coastal routes than on the main routes (6 and 28), so a good detailed map is essential.

As for spending your last night in Sandwich, depending on the accomodations, you'd probably have to check in before going to the Melody Tent, as most B&B owners prefer that you arrive at a reasonable time. And, you'd have to pack and unpack that day.

The Cape Cod Melody Tent is about midway between Falmouth and Chatham.

From Cape Cod Meloday Tent to Sandwich is about 15 miles, to Chatham just over 20 miles. From Chatham to Sandwich is only 34 miles, with much to explore along the way.

The time not to be heading for the bridges, which is where traffic is heaviest, after a three day weekend, is early morning, hotel checkout time, or after dinner, generally speaking.

Unless you plan to have breakfast and then head home your last day, you could take a route you haven't already driven, that includes Sandwich, from Chatham and enjoy nearly another full day on the Cape on your way home.

Any of the towns on the Lower Cape would be wonderful base points - Chatham, Brewster, Harwich, Orleans.

You just never know what you'll fall into on the Cape. For years, we always concluded our visit with brunch or lunch at the Daniel Webster Inn. After two successive visits with dismal service, we stopped doing this. Then, a few years ago, we gave it another try. What do you know, I found a magnificent cedar chest for sale on someone's porch nearby!

I highly recommend "Cape Cod, An Explorer's Guide". This is far more comprehensive than any other guide or the free literature. It lists beaches, seeing and doing, scenic drives, parks, unknown to most visitors, who flock to all the destinations listed in the "major" tour guides and on the websites.

djkbooks is offline  
Jul 21st, 2003, 02:32 PM
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The majority of Cape Cod visitors are affluent, families, staying on vacation at mid to upper scale resorts like you.
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