Cape Cod has long been popular with retirees, artists, beach goers and vacationers from all over the world. With over 500 miles of coastline, it’s sandy beaches, over 30 golf courses, bed & breakfasts,sport fishing, lighthouses, art galleries, marinas and little fish shanties, help to make memorable vacations and has inspired artists such as Norman Mailer, Patti Page ,Kurt Vonnegut and Henry David Thoreau..
Barnstable County is comprised of all 15 towns on Cape Cod whereas Dukes County has Martha’s Vineyard and the mostly privately owned Elizabeth Islands while the isle of Nantucket belongs to Nantucket County.
Cape Cod can be divided by two different ways. First, by North and South. South of Rt 28 is well known as the (ocean side) and typically has a more commercial feel with warmer waters, while the north side (bay side) has the cooler waters and a more quiet, historical feel. The second division has the Cape consisting of three separate sections known as the Upper, Mid and Lower Cape.
- The Upper Cape is closet to the mainland and consists of the towns, Bourne, Falmouth, Sandwich and Mashpee.
- The Mid Cape includes Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis.
- The Lower Cape has the towns, Harwich, Orleans, Chatham,Brewster, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown.
Each town is extremely unique in itself and offers so many wonderful attributes. Please read below for an overview and a link for each towns chamber of commerce. Please feel free to contact me for a more information.
Upper Cape Cod
Falmouth is a large town geographically and probably has the longest coastlines in the State. Consequently, there is a lot of land development with high value, high demand and the choice views that create real property wealth. There is a lot of very attractive development in the community because folks have the money to invest in the waterfront or water view properties. Southeastern Massachusetts, situated on the shoulder, or southwest end, of Cape Cod. Bordered by Bourne and Sandwich on the North, Mashpee on the East, Buzzards Bay on the west and Vineyard and Nantucket Sound on the South. Falmouth is 72 mi south of Boston. http://www.falmouthchamber.com/
Mashpee is the fasted growing municipality in the Commenwealth. It is also unique as one of the remaining homes of the Wampanoag Nation, The Native Americans which met the Pilgrims at Plymouth. With 5 mi. of sandy beaches on Nantucket and Vineyard Sound, extensive waterfront on Waquoit & Popponesset Bays , 4 of the largest fresh water ponds on Cape Cod, 3 championship golf courses, gated New Seabury and Willowbend, Mashpee is a prime resort, 2nd home and retirement community. Located on the southwest end of Cape Cod and is bordered by Sandwich on the north, Barnstable on the east, Nantucket Sound on the south and Falmouth on the west. 66 mi southeast of Boston. http://www.mashpeechamber.com/
Incorporated in 1639, Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod. It is located on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal with the majority of it’s population on the southerly side of the bridge. It’s beaches along the Cape Cod Bay stretch for miles and provide views of the many fishermen that can be seen daily on the docks at the Sandwich Marina, the only harbor along the canal. Sandwich Village, a world renowned tourist destination provides a glimpse into New England’s rich colonial history. Heritage Museum, Sandwich Glass Museum, Hoxie House(oldest house on Cape Cod), Daniel Webster Inn,rare book and antique stores are just some examples of what attracts visitors from all over the world. Located at the beginning of the Cape, bordered by the Cape Cod Bay on the north, Barnstable on the east Falmouth and Mashpee on the south and Bourne on the west. 57 mi southwest of Boston. http://www.sandwichchamber.com/index.html
The town of Bourne is a medium sized rural community at the gateway to Cape Cod. The canal bisects the community, with both the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges and the lift railroad bridge all located in Bourne. The canal is known for it’s superb sports fishing and for carrying ship flying the flags of all nations. Bourne has numerous quiet harbors and inlets for boating and bathing. It’s quiet community is without the summer tourist crush experienced by some of the other Cape communities. Bordered by Plymouth on the north, the Atlantic Ocean on the northeast, Sandwich on the east, Falmouth on the south and Buzzards Bay on the west. 57 mi. from Boston. http://www.capecodcanalchamber.org/cwt/external/wcpages/index.aspx
The town of Barnstable includes seven villages within it’s boundaries. Each village has its own unique and significant cultural and historical qualities. Centerville, located on the south side is, primarily residential, includes the Christian Campground and world famous Craigville Beach.
Osterville is located in the south side, primarily residential, and includes inlets and harbors for fishing and boating. Hyannis is the towns’ central business/commercial district which includes town offices and several shopping malls. Hyannis is also a fishing village and its harbor provides steamship access to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Islands.
Marstons Mills is primarily residential and is located on Rt 28. Cotuit is a village located on a peninsula located on the south side, mostly residential and has several small beaches. West Barnstable, located on the north side is mostly residential yet sparsely populated. Barnstable, also located on the north side, houses the county complex and has a working harbor and several small beaches.
Bordered by Cape Cod Bay on the north, Nantucket Sound on the south, Sandwich and Mashpee on the west, and Yarmouth on the east. Barnstable is 69 mi. southeast of Boston.http://www.barnstablecapecod.com/
Yarmouth was incorporated in 1639 and is one of the Cape towns that extends from the Cape Cod Bay on the north side across the peninsula south to Nantucket Sound. Yarmouth is comprised of Yarmouthport, South Yarmouth and West Yarmouth.
The town’s southern shore is known for it’s popular beaches. The community enjoys a variety of recreational programs as well as the town’s 15 saltwater public beaches, 5 fresh water beaches and two municipal golf courses.
Dennis, named All American Town in 1978, combines New England heritage with modern day conveniences. The villages of East Dennis, Dennis and South Dennis feature scenic historic districts hailing back to whaling days, while tranquil tree-lined street meander through Dennisport and West Dennis. Sixteen inviting beaches lie on the warm waters of Nantucket Sound to the south and on the crisp refreshing waters of the Bay side to the north. The town was incorporated in 1793 and was named for Josiah Dennis, a favorite minister. Home to the nation’s oldest theater, the Cape Playhouse, Dennis offers varied summer activities with arts and craft shows, concerts on the village green, and festivals which help to celebrate it’s friendly heritage.
Bordered by Cape Cod Bay on the north, Brewster and Harwich on the east, Nantucket Sound on the south and Yarmouth on the west. Dennis is 76 mi. southeast of Boston. http://dennischamber.com/
Bordered by Cape Cod Bay on the north, Dennis on the east, Nantucket Sound on the south, and Barnstable on the west. Yarmouth is 75 mi. southeast of Boston.http://yarmouthcapecod.com/
Harwich is a resort and residential community located on the south side of the Cape, with an extensive shoreline on Nantucket Sound. Incorporated in 1694, it’s early economy included agriculture and maritime industries. When the whaling industry collapsed, the community shifted to Cod fishing. Residents. As their fishing industry declined, the community turned to the development of cranberry bogs and resorts for summer visitors. The first hotel resort opened in 1880 and both the cranberry and tourist industries remain a substantial part of Harwich’s economy. Bordered by Dennis on the west, Brewster and Orleans on the north, Chatham on the east and Nantucket Sound on the south. Harwich is 82 mi. southeast of Boston. http://www.harwichcc.com/
Brewster is a historic sea captains’ town located on the bay side. Established in 1803, the town encompasses approximately 23 sq mi., including over 325 acres of beach, with 24 ponds larger than 10 acres. Brewster has taken action to protect the town’s historic character by establishing sign codes and site plan review by-laws. Currently, over 1/3 of Brewster’s land has been retained for conservation and watershed protection. Brewster boasts award winning drinking water and 2 nationally acclaimed 18 hole golf courses. Nickerson Sate Park contains 400 acres of trails and fresh water ponds for swimming, fishing, boating hiking and camping. Brewster has over 15 bed & breakfasts and over 30 art galleries, craft and antique shops, most of which are along historic 6A, the old “King’s Highway”. Bordered by Cape Cod on the north, Orleans on the east, Harwich on the south and Dennis on the west. Brewster is 83 mi. southeast of Boston. http://www.brewstercapecod.org/
Chatham was settled in 1656 by a handful of Pilgrims, whose surnames still dominate the town’s census list. Originally a farming community, it’s inhabitants found deep sea fishing more lucrative, and today small boat deep sea fishing is still an important source of the town’s revenue. Approximately 17 sq mi., Chatham is a happy combination of past and present. The town still operates under a town meeting form of government. Chatham boasts a quaint Main St. full of shops, concerts in a downtown gazebo in the summer, its coast guard station with lighthouse and home to the world famous cape Cod Baseball League Warm summer days with cool summer night, beautiful, warm Indian summers and relatively mild winters make Chatham a comfortable place in which to live year round or vacation. Bordered by Pleasant Bay and Orleans on the north, the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Nantucket Sound on the south and Harwich on the west. Chatham is 89 mi. southeast of Boston. http://www.chathaminfo.com/
Orleans, incorporated in 1797 is a resort community on the outer Cape whose European history begins in 1642 with its’first settlement by the Snow family who purchased rights to the town from the Manamoyick Indians. Commercial fishing and whaling supplemented local incomes in the 18thcentury. Today, Orleans continues to thrive as a popular resort community which features fabulous dining, shopping, galleries, museums, wonderful beaches, live theater performance and it’s historic charm Bordered by Eastham on the north, the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Chatham and harwich on the south and Brewster and Cape Cod Bay on the west. Orleans is 88 mi. southeast of Boston. http://capecod-orleans.com/
Eastham is a coastal resort community known as the “gateway to the National Seashore” which was founded in 1961 by President Kennedy to protect Cape Cod’s coast from erosion and overpopulation. Located on the lower Cape, the town has several harbors and these with the abundant shellfish are probably what brought the early settlers from the Plymouth Colony. The town has many beaches, both on the Atlantic and bay sides as well as the famous Nauset Light and is home to the oldest windmill on Cape Cod. Eastham is still considered to be a small town and prides itself on being more quiet than the other Cape Cod towns. Bordered by Wellfleet on th north, the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Orleans on the south and Cape Cod Bay on the west. Eastham is 92 mi. southeast of Boston. http://easthamchamber.com/
Truro is a small rural community of the lower Cape where the quaint and unique character of “Old Cape Cod” is preserved. It is quite rich in history and strongly tied to the sea. Truro along with Provincetown was first visited by the Pilgrims as their first choice of a landing before later declaring the area unsuitable. Truro possesses beautiful beaches on Cape Cod and some of the most magnificent beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. A source of inspiration to artists and beach goers alike, it’s beaches,dunes and landscape are an attraction to many tourists, fishermen, and ever growing retirees. The town is home to the famous cape Cod Light, Cape Cod’s oldest lighthouse. With over half of its land area within the Cape Cod National Seashore District, the residents of Truro are deictade preserving the special character of this seashore community. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and east, Wellfleet on the south, and Cape Cod Bay and Provincetown on the west. Truro is 106 mi. southeast of Boston. http://www.trurochamberofcommerce.com/
Located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown, also known as “P-Town”, is loved for it’s miles of beaches, harbor, restaurants, galleries, cultural following, artists, festivals, little quaint shops, and well known as a gay friendly community. Although incorporated in 1727, it’s history begins much earlier. The European explorer Gosnold recorded a stop as early as 1602 and it’s harbor was the site of the first landing of the Mayflower. By the 20th century, Provincetown had acquired an international reputation for it’s artistic and literary output and is a favorite vacation destination for many throughout the world. Home to the popular Provincetown Jazz Festival, Provincetown Players, historic charm, lure of the sea, Provincetown has been the home and inspiration behind many famous actors, authors, poets and songs. Bordered by Truro on the east, and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on all other sides. Provincetown is 114 mi. southeast of Boston. http://www.ptownchamber.com/
* Information used in the above narrative has been from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and Wikipedia.