By WMRC's Ray Auger
For most of us who have been vacationing on the Cape since childhood, the sight of either bridge breaking through the treelines or appearing from around a highway bend has always meant that a long period of fun and sun was about to commence. There would be ample supplies of ice cream consumed and mini-golf to be played, walks along downtown strips collecting souvenirs and chances, every 50 yards or so on Route 28, to purchase a brand new beach raft or kite. As time went on, those staples remain the same with the addition of more adult options like river kayaking, lobster rolls and rumrunners on the patio. But no matter your age, it remains true that there is something to do on Cape Cod and, even better, always something new.
We asked some of our listeners what they love to do when visiting their home away from home. Although the ultimate list is long and relaxing, and beaches are considered a given therefore excluded from this list, here are a few of their responses. Got plans this weekend? You do now!
Biking Along the Cape Cod Canal
As mentioned, those bridges are some of the best New England sights in all the area. And there’s no better view of the mighty Bourne and Sagamore than the view you get pedaling up and down the canal on a bicycle built for two. (Not necessary, but it rhymed.) Both sides stretch a little over 7 miles with plenty of areas to start riding from. The two-way, yellow-lined path is well paved for smooth sailing, while hugging the canal. Perfect views of, not only the bridges, but also canal activity and beautiful scenery. Great for the casual biker.
The beauty of the Cape can be enjoyed way beyond the canal. There are miles and miles of bike paths to be explored. The Cape Cod Chamber provides a great resource for your two-wheeled adventures… http://www.capecodchamber.org/bike-paths
Cape Cod Beer - Hyannis
I love beer… something you may not know about me. And more than my love for beer is my love for the microbrew, the little guy, the hunt for the hard-to-find, small distribution brew. Although it is, after 12 years, a Cape Cod staple and can be found in most bars and liquor stores throughout the Cape, it remains one of the best microbreweries in New England.
Staying true to their commitment to location, location, location, Cape Cod Beer is only available throughout the Cape with a few spots east of Carver and up and down on the edge of the bay. Cape Cod Beer is one of the best ways to toast any Cape moment. Whether it’s after a long day on the beach or winning a round of minigolf or simply declaring a day of doing nothing and drinking some Cape Cod Beer. And the taste… Cape Cod Beer literally tastes like vacation. You know exactly where you are when you take that first sip.
Cape Cod Beer offers tours and tastings at their two year-old, 4,000 square foot facility in Hyannis, a sightseeing highlight for many vacationers. You can choose from one self-guided tour a day (Monday though Saturday) or show yourself around anytime during hours of operation. For only $5 you can sample five different beers and walk away with a souvenir glass imprinted with that beautiful sloshing brew logo.
Green Briar Jam Kitchen – East Sandwich
“Tis a wonderful thing to sweeten the world which is in a jam and needs preserving”. These words couldn’t be any more relevant today, yet were actually said to Ida Putnam nearly 70 years ago by author and naturalist Thorton W. Burgess. In 1903, Ida began the Jam Kitchen, which today is America’s oldest jam kitchen. This living museum invites fans of preserved sweetness to watch and learn about Ida’s original process of slow-cooking jams, jellies and relishes using the country’s oldest solar-cooking operation. Jam-making workshops are offered as well in Ida’s historic and roomy original Jam Kitchen.
The Sundae School - Dennisport, East Orleans, Harwichport
Besides purchasing one iron-on transfer t-shirt at the end of the week (Dukes of Hazzard was my go-to choice), our trips were never complete without a visit to the Sundae School in Dennisport. The fact that the parking lot was always full and the line was long only made that homemade ice cream taste that much sweeter. The Endres Family’s dream of spending summers on the Cape began in 1976 when they first opened their doors. Two years later they moved into their current Dennisport location after renovating a barn and have since opened locations in Harwichport and East Orleans. Only the freshest and finest fruits are used, along with real whipped cream and in-season Bing cherries. Now, as I get older the staff seems to get younger and younger, consisting of local teenagers working their way through the summer and Endres family members, but one thing remains the same… that magical mixture of milk, cream and sugar along with a high butterfat content makes the Sundae School one of the Cape’s must-visit destinations for this, and any, Cape vacationer.
Now there are a few different types of mini golf and everyone has their favorite… level, hilly, themed and traditional. I personally play on them all. For nostalgic reasons a trip to Holiday Hill in Dennisport is usually on the schedule. The course has remained basically the same since I was a kid but that’s the beauty and simplicity of it. Be sure to try the ice cream after your round. I just recently discovered this delicious 19th hole treat of large portioned, multi-variety goodness.
For the more adventurous types, Pirates Cove in Yarmouth and Skull Island in South Yarmouth won’t disappoint. Careful with your backswing as their hilly terrain and water hazards make it easy to lose a ball or two. Both courses are normally busy with Pirates being the more popular of the two. Skull is part of an entertainment complex which offers batting cages, gocarts and an arcade full of money consuming ticket games. Not bad if you have a need for more whoopee cushions and finger cuffs in your life. Regardless, it’s one of my favorites and the kids love it. And in all honesty… last time we visited I won the most tickets! Pirates has a great nautically themed marketplace next door for all your souvenir needs.
Now, I’m a Mid Cape guy and these are just a few of my favorites in that area. For a more extensive list of mini golf on the Cape check out this list… http://capecodalist.cityvoter.com/best/miniature-golf/outdoors/cape-cod
The Chart Room - Cataumet
No matter whom I talk to about dining on the Cape, one restaurant comes up in conversation more than any other and that’s the converted New Jersey Central Railroad Barge on Red Brook Harbor called The Chart Room since 1966. My wife has a history working summers there in her youth alongside her dad, who many now know affectionately as “Kevin The Bartender” at the popular Bobby Byrnes at Mashpee Commons. I visited the Chart Room only once with Molly and her family and thoroughly enjoyed a menu full of fresh catches and land-loving favorites. It’s a place where the regulars are friends and newcomers are welcomed with open arms. The deck offers an amazing sunset view and the piano, which is located in the former diesel engine rebuilding area, keeps the airy mood alive and relaxing on a traditional Cape Cod summer night. The Chart Room is exactly what you want from a local Cape Cod eatery and is the quintessential opposite of the typical Route 28 tourist trap.
There you have it, a quick tour of some of our favorite things to do on the Cape. I could go on and on, and I skipped over a ton more, but that’s what the comment section is for! What are some of your favorites?