We had a delightful three days in that charming New England area known as Cape Cod, following five days in New York City. It was my first visit to Cape Cod and I loved it. It is a destination for all ages. So what do you do with kids in Cape Cod? Anything and everything! Okay, maybe not everything. We met some extended family from Canada in Cape Cod and they had a peculiar obsession with going to T. J. Maxx while we were there. To each his own, as they say. So, aside from several different discount department stores, here is a list of some of the things we enjoyed and recommend to other families!
Of course there are beaches. Now being from sunny South Florida the cool air (even in June) and cold water were not my idea of beach weather. But we did spend time there, combing the beach for wildlife, rocks, and shells different from our own. Our fun idea of watching the sunset out there were dampened by the no-see-ums that swarmed us as darkness approached. Some borrowed bug repellent brought quick relief, though. The loveliest of the beaches is, of course, Cape Cod National Seashore. We viewed the shore from atop the cliff, then we walked down the long path to the shore. I would recommend one of the shorter beaches for families with elderly along.
There are an amazing number of lighthouses in Cape Cod! We visited several during our stay. Our first stop was to Chatham Lighthouse. It is the home of the true story depicted in the movie The Finest Hours (review), which we loved. I recommend the movie for families with older kids, especially if you are going to see the lighthouse and Coast Guard station, complete with the boat used in the movie. There is a beautiful beach to walk down to. You cannot go into this working lighthouse. You drive past picturesque gift shops and restaurants on the way, if you are tempted to stop and buy lobster themed, well, anything.
Across from Cape Cod National Seashore is Nauset Lighthouse. It is what you would expect from a lighthouse – imposing, sturdy, and stately. Right next to it is a tiny ‘house” worth a look. It is the French Cable Hut, marking the beginning of a transatlantic cable line laid in the 1870’s. A fairly short path from Nauset Lighthouse takes you to the final resting place of the Three Sisters Lighthouses, which the Nauset Lighthouse replaced. They are surprisingly short. Each lighthouse has a fascinating history to look into.
Also along Cape Cod National Seashore is Highland Lighthouse. It is a working Coast Guard Lighthouse. It was scenic to drive by. Tours can be taken of some of the lighthouses at certain times of year. Since it is not a baby friendly activity, we did not climb any crazy staircases. There was plenty to see without taking any tours.
Another interesting sight in Cape Cod are the windmills. Many of them are still functional. It is a cool piece of history to see up close. There are a number of them, but we chose to visit the Eastham Windmill. My daughters were inspired to re-enact the windmill scene from Don Quixote.
Curious to see the funky little curly tip at the toe of Massachusetts we drove to P-town. Parking was non-existent and the crowds oppressive. We stopped for a quick photo op in front of Pilgrim Monument. It felt like it would be a rip-off to pay admission price to go in ($12!). The drive, however, afforded us a couple of pleasantly surprising stops. The first was an exquisite menu of treats and hot chocolates at Chequessett Chocolate.
The second awesome surprise was Atlantic Spice Company. We stopped by on a whim and came out with amazing teas, spice mixes, and gourmet souvenirs. I am so sad that I am almost out of their Herbs de Provence mix. It is the best I have tasted. The bulk prices are excellent. This is the place to buy gifts to take home. The third of the fun surprises was Mac’s Market and Kitchen. We bought fresh scallops to make back at the timeshare unit. While we were there we needed some homemade cornbread to go with it. Then I needed to try the piping hot clam chowder. You can see where this is going, right? This place is perfect for taking out a meal (seating inside is very limited). Everything we tasted was delicious.
We were on a budget and looking for the best seafood and the best price. Yelp is a good app to have on your phone for such occasions. We found several great places. The Chatham Pier Fish Market had great views and delicious seafood eaten on picnic benches outdoors. Bring your jacket. It was really chilly on a June evening. Cobie’s was very family friendly outdoor dining with soft serve ice cream right alongside all manner of fried fish. Come to think of it, everything in Cape Cod is accompanied by ice cream. They definitely have a thing for ice cream there. So we fit right in. I honestly can’t remember the names of other the ice cream shops we visited. They were all good. Cape Cod is a yummy place to be.
We were headed to Boston after Cape Cod and stopped at Plymouth for a heaping helping of history. I was pre-warned that Plymouth Rock was not impressive, so I was expecting very little, but actually enjoyed myself quite a bit in Plymouth. Yes, it is just a rock. But it is a rock that represents the landing of democracy! Take a quick look at the Mayflower Compact and compare it to the Virginia Charter. But that is a history lesson for another day! After seeing Plymouth Rock we spent a little time along the scenic water front.
Then we toured the Jabez Howland House. It was reasonable admission ($6 for adults and $2 for children) and the tour fairly extensive. It was the only house standing that was lived in by an original Pilgrim that came over on the Mayflower. We really enjoyed browsing the original documents are seeing how quickly these brave frontiersmen were able to carve a home out of the wild and foreign land, building, buying and selling property within one generation!
Cape Cod and Plymouth were both quaint, scenic, and relaxing vacation destinations. I can hardly wait to visit again. Next up: back to a bustling city – Boston with kids!
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