We were lucky enough to tag along on one of Dad’s “vacations” this summer and spent a week on Cape Cod. I didn’t have many expectations going into the trip other than eating a lot of lobster (or lobstah) and hopefully some relaxing. The kids’ only request was to spend some time at the beach.
After making the easy drive up to the Cape we spent our first evening in downtown Hyannis strolling the village and eating some pizza. The next day was our first day of adventuring. Dad had to do some work so the kids and I set off to find the beach. We ended up at Skaket Beach on the bay side. The tide was out so we had nearly 100 yards of packed sand to run around on. We barely dipped our toes in the water but the kids didn’t seem to mind since they were too busy starting our seashell collection. Our adventure was brief the first day since we ended up visiting Phil at work, followed by the first of many ice cream stops. Ice cream can most certainly count as a meal on vacation! We rounded out our first day with dinner at a cute french spot, Pain D’Avignon, that Phil had chosen. Sophia claimed the mussels were the best she’s ever had. We weren’t sure how discerning her pallet was but after a quick sample we had to agree.
Our second full day was spent road tripping up to the tippy-top of the Cape with lots of stops along the way. We picked up some picnic fare at Whole Foods before hitting the road and then made our first stop at Bass Hole Boardwalk at Gray’s Beach. We had fun watching all the crabs scurrying around in the shallow water as well as watching the kayaks maneuver out to the sandbars to set up their camp for the day. We continued east stopping at Scargo Tower which had beautiful views of Scargo Lake and the bay. We even found a pottery shop off the beaten path and picked up a souvenir. Our next stop was Coastguard Beach at the Cape Cod National Seashore. This was when my expectations of the Cape were quickly surpassed. I didn’t expect much of the beaches since it’s the Atlantic Ocean. However, the water at the Cape is so blue and beautiful compared to the Atlantic beaches I’ve visited in North Carolina. Of course the water is still pretty cold since we’re so far north but I didn’t mind. Coast Guard Beach is very family friendly so it was a bit crowded. Lucky for us a gentleman passing buy told us that about 100 yards down the beach there were dozens of seals in the water and the beach was much quieter. We took the quick stroll stopping to splash (or surf as the kids kept saying) in all the waves and checked out the sea life. Once our suits and bodies were sufficiently covered in sand we packed up our stuff and hit the road again. We made a quick stop at the Nauset lighthouse (the one pictured on the Cape Cod potato chip bags) and then continued up the Cape.
In my effort to see as many of the lighthouses on the Cape as possible, we headed towards Race Point Beach and lighthouse at the tip of the cape. The plan was to check it out and then head to Provincetown (aka P-Town) which is the northernmost town on Cape Cod. Unfortunately, I must not have done enough research because after arriving at the beach area we found out that the lighthouse is only accessible by foot or getting a beach permit for your vehicle and it was about 2 miles each way. We didn’t think the kids were up for that adventure so we pressed on. P-Town was Phil’s least favorite spot on the Cape but it still had some charming features. Of course there was more ice cream, and then we climbed the nearly 200 steps of the Pilgrim Monument to take in the views from the tippy-top of the Cape. The kids loved it and the views were pretty wonderful. Since we had made it as far north as we could go it was time to turn around and head back towards Hyannis. We stopped for dinner on the way home at the Sesuit Harbor Cafe in Dennis. The reviews online mentioned that this BYOB cafe had some of the best lobster rolls on the Cape and that the long lines were certainly worth it. We took their advice and showed up with our wine and some patience. I waited in line while Phil and the kids explored the harbor and scouted out a table. The food did not disappoint but the scenery stole the show. You can’t beat outdoor dining at sunset when it’s 80 and no humidity. Call me fickle, but I thought it was pretty close to perfect.
Dad was back to work the next day so the kids and I decided we should check out another beach and collect some more shells. After a quick visit to the Cape Cod potato chip factory in the morning we headed to Chatham, one of the villages on the outer Cape. We stopped in the village to pick up lunch and then made the short stroll from the village towards Lighthouse Beach. As the name implies, there is another lighthouse there but I somehow forgot to snap a picture. I’ll blame it on the seagull who ruined my relaxing lunch by continuing to dive bomb me in attempt to steal my sandwich. I ended up giving up after I ate half my sandwich and buried the rest of my lunch at the bottom of my beach bag. I wanted to put as much space as possible between me and the obnoxious bird! Seagull misadventures aside, Lighthouse Beach was lovely. The water was calm and the kids had more fun “surfing” and collecting shells. Sophia was thrilled she found another oyster shell and it was the highlight of her day. Mom’s highlight was probably the requisite stop for ice cream after our fun day in the surf and sand.
Our last day at the Cape the four of us hopped on the ferry towards Martha’s Vineyard to explore. Upon docking in Oak Bluffs it was aparent that we didn’t want to spend all of our time in the main villages. Very crowded and very touristy. We were lucky to have access to a car for the day and drove to the opposite side of the island to check out Aquinnah and the Gay Head Cliffs and Lighthouse. This lighthouse was open so we made the climb and checked out the views from it’s new location. It was just relocated last summer, a mere 135ft away from it’s previous home on the cliffs. The views at Gay Head Cliffs were without a doubt the best in all the Cape. I would love to go back when we have more time to explore and hike down to the beaches below the cliffs. Once again, the water exceeded my expectations! At the recommendation of one of Phil’s coworkers, we stopped in Menemsha and Chilmark on the way back to Edgartown to sample some food at the seafood markets. Once back in Edgartown I was happy to snag my afternoon ice cream snack. We were hoping to stroll around the shore line near Edgartown beach but parking proved to be a problem (hence the touristy, crowded comment mentioned earlier) so I had to settle for a quick photo op. We headed back to Oak Bluffs (passing over the Jaws bridge along the way) to grab dinner before heading home. Unfortunately, we were under a bit of a time crunch which was especially disappointing since it was one of the best meals we had on the trip. We ended up deviating from the typical lobster roll/fried sea food restaurants that fill the area around the harbor at Oak Bluffs and ate at 20byNine. The restaurant specialized in whiskey and craft beer and prepared locally sourced food. I’m still thinking of the smoked bluefish appetizer we had and wishing I could recreate it.
The next morning we hit the road after breakfast. Dad got to stay and “vacation” a bit longer at the Cape and the kids and I continued on to Minnesota for round two of our summer vacation. After looking through our vacation photos I’m ready to go back and do it all over again…and have some ice cream.