Feted for its beaches, lighthouses and history-laden sites, Cape Cod is what salty coastal escapes are all about, writes Mike Yardley.
As part of a New England road-trip, I headed south from Boston, basing myself in Hyannis, for a fleeting foray with some of Cape Cod’s star attractions. (You’ll want to dodge the summer crush for a far more relaxing experience.) Watching boats sail by in Hyannis Harbour is a visually soothing spectacle. You can also catch some of the local artists selling their boutique works along the harbour, in their merrily-painted wooden shanties. Peckish? It’s not a fluke that Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon has scooped multiple awards for its seafood.
The unmissable JFK Hayannis Museum
In the heart of Hyannis, on Main Street, an absolute unmissable is the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, brimming with photographs, archival films, documents, and memorabilia related to JFK and his family. A statue of a young JFK striding barefoot through beach grass, adorns the museum’s frontage. Previously the town hall of Hyannis, the museum was built as a tribute to the Kennedy family and their profound connection with the area.
The family’s love of Cape Cod and the sea is lustily celebrated, along with themed exhibits that have focus on everything from the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port to Jackie’s impact on global fashion. We also popped into the cute-as-a-button Cape Cod Maritime Museum. Edging the eye-catching harbour, the nautical history of Cape Cod is beautifully presented, with maritime artifacts, art and models offering illuminating glimpses of the seafaring history of the people.
You’ll ooh and aah over Cape Cod-style houses – comfort food architecture that has stood the test of time. Rest your head in Hyannis at Sea Street Inn, a meticulously-maintained modern luxury B&B-style inn that was opened five years ago by a New York couple, plumping for a sea change. Impeccably stylish and comfortable, this small boutique inn near the sea is a triumph of authentic hospitality and indulgence. Yes, this is a foodies’ favourite and the crowning jewel is the four-course breakfast, which is positively five-star. In fact, it should be Michelin-starred. Strongly influenced by traditional French culinary techniques, Adrian D’Ambrosi’s lavish breakfast showcases the exceptional seafood and locally-sourced produce synonymous with the Cape. During my stay, I noshed on a wide array of delectable small dishes, from Lobster Benedict and Corned Beef Hash with Quail Egg, to Spanakopita, French Toast and Egg Salad Baguette. Treat yourself to a truly irresistible stay at Sea Street Inn.
Throughout the Cape Cod National Seashore historic lighthouses make for postcard-perfect photos. We ventured to a handful of lighthouses including the most iconic structure, Nauset Light. Adjoined with the keeper’s house, this red and cream lighthouse has found added fame as the symbol that emblazons the bags of Cape Cod potato chips! Located in Eastham and within walking distance of Nauset Light, check out the Three Sisters Lighthouses. These lighthouses were the original guards of the Nauset Cliffs before being replaced by Nauset Light. They were named the Three Sisters because from out at sea, they resembled three women dressed in white, wearing black hats.
Be sure to add Chatham to your sightseeing route, one of Cape Cod’s most appealing beach towns, with a gracious air, white-sand beach and classic lighthouse. Take a stroll in downtown Chatham, where upscale boutiques, art galleries, antique stores and fine dining establishments stretch for a mile along Main Street.