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Where to rent in Cape Cod - Dennis/West Dennis or Brewster ?

Where to rent in Cape Cod - Dennis/West Dennis or Brewster ?

Old Jun 20th, 2009, 09:32 PM
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Where to rent in Cape Cod - Dennis/West Dennis or Brewster ?

Although I am from Boston, we've never really had much opportunity in the past to explore Cape Cod and thought that now might be a good time to do that (if the weather finally cooperates!). I am trying to plan a very last minute trip to the Cape and was very fortunate to find a couple of very good rental possibilities - one in West Dennis and the other in Brewster.

I was wondering if people out there who are familiar with the Cape could provide some insight as to the flavor of each town. I tried reading up on it and although I get all the facts, recommendations, etc., that's all it is, "facts" - I haven't found any that speaks to the town feel. We are a family of 3 and just want to spend the days exploring the different beaches, very low key, and looking for the calmer beaches with warm water (I've seen that mentioned several times about Brewster beaches) since my daughter is quite afraid of waves : ) She likes to spend time looking for critters and rocks on the beach. I think she will also enjoy clamming. We are also looking for a place that has a quaint feel, a nice, not "overrun by tourists like me" town center with nice little shops, antiquing, some good restaurants that provide good value.

Also, is there a big difference in the feel between the towns of Dennis/West Dennis/South Dennis and Dennisport - its a bit confusing : )

Lastly, how does parking and beach permits work in these towns? Do we buy a permit for the week and that includes parking and use of all town beaches, or only certain beaches depending on the address of the property you're staying at?

Thank you!
bosgal is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2009, 04:21 AM
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To help with some confusion - many of the towns on the Cape have an East something, West something and something Port. Since the Cape is narrow, West something is the top of the Cape (the Bay side), East something is the bottom part of the Cape, and Port something is a small area that is, surprise, the primary port area. A beach sticker for one part of the town gets you to visitor beaches in the others (but only that town - Dennis is not good for Brewster, etc.). BUT - some towns have permanent resident only beaches where parking is not allowed by weekly renters - and the stickers generally refer to parking, not use - so if you can walk to it, you are generally OK. However, beaches/streets are set up so there is virtually no street or other parking near a beach without a sticker. There are some beaches thruout the Cape where it is pay parking for anyone. And sometimes it is cheaper to pay a daily fee to park than buy a sticker - we somehow always end up buying a weekly sticker and then it rains for a week - hope you have better luck.

To make it even more confusing, the Cape Cod National Seashore, is part of the National Park Service. You can pay a daily parking fee or if you have a National Parks pass, that gets you in for free. Many of these National Seashore lots fill early - and the main one involves a short shuttle ride to beach.

Beach stickers are purchased at some town entity - either town hall, small booth - we have always gotten that info from realtor or owner of rental property and most properties have some sort of info booklet or sheet in the house telling you useful things like that.

The Cape in the summer will be overrun with tourists - easier to avoid when the weather is good - but when it rains, the roads are jammed with tourists like you looking for something to do.

Another possibility that meets more of your criteria is Wellfleet - it has flat (no waves at all) bay beaches, a cute downtown, some decent restaurants - and since it is farther out on the Cape less crowds. There is also a little island connected by a pedestrian bridge that has more little land crabs per inch than I have seen anywhere - running around into their holes - that was a delight to my kids.
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 12:03 PM
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Thank you! I did check Wellfleet but couldn't find a place in the same condition as the one I am considering : ) Anyone else give me a better sense of the towns?
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 12:23 PM
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I will second Wellfleet. With that said, the section of Dennis (Dennisport) along Rt. 28 on the south side of the Cape is very commercial, with many, many summer rental, motels, mini-golf, T-shirts shops etc. but it is not especially conducive to walking. The Nantucket Sound beaches are crowded with families because they offer warm water and modest waves. Look at the location of the places you have found to see which part of Dennis/Brewster they are in.

The north side of Dennis offers a quieter alternative, with Cape Cod Bay and less commercial development, but not much of a town center. Brewster shares the Bay-side feeling being IMO slower and quieter with tidal flats your daughter would love. If the house you are looking at is north of Rt 6A you may be able to walk to a beach. Brewster center is tiny and can be seen in about 1 hour, max. A drive along scenic 6A will give you more shopping options like the Lemon Tree Shops and several nice galleries.

Really, perhaps you should just rent the house you like best and then go to one of the other locations that suites you depending on the activities you are looking for. Towns on the cape are not that far apart. You could easily stay in Dennis and enjoy Brewster beaches, Wellfleet's town pier and Chaatham's Main street. Do make a trip to the Salt Pond Visitor's Center at the Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham to check out the activities for kids...most are free. You can get a feeling for the types of activities at www.nps.gov/caco
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Old Jun 25th, 2009, 09:11 AM
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If you stay in Dennis/Brewster area, pick a nice day/evening to head to First Encounter Beach for a picnic dinner on the bay side in Eastham. While there are definitely others there, it doesn't ever feel "crowded" as the tidal flats go out so far, and the view is fantastic at sunset. Family friendly. There is no fee for the parking lot after a certain hour--5 or 6pm, I believe.

I'll second the advice to go to the CCNS. As the other poster said, they have several free activities everyday--hikes, kids walks, history talks, campfire sing-a-longs, all top notch.
tmagyari is offline  
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