The Beach Times
3 Ways to Enjoy Oyster Season on Cape Cod
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Cape Cod has always been oyster country, as even before the arrival of the pilgrims in 1620, French explorer Samuel de Champlain noted the abundance of the shellfish in areas like Wellfleet Harbor. And while the oysters of Cape Cod are known internationally, it is becoming more challenging to get your hands on them unless you come to The Cape.
The quality of Cape Cod oysters has spawned an entirely different type of visitor to the area, as people will rent a vacation home just for the opportunity to try some of the heavenly, fresh oysters found here.
Typically, Cape Cod oyster season runs from October until sometime in February or March, depending on when the supply starts to get low. Since oysters are one of the region's most valuable natural resources, officials regularly monitor the stock and adjust the season accordingly.
Keep in mind that oysters are commonly part of Thanksgiving and Christmas meals on Cape Cod, so if you want to do the holidays the Cape Cod way, make sure you track some down.
Once you arrive, you’ll find some different ways to get yourself some oysters, depending on how adventurous you are and how badly you want the freshest shellfish available on The Cape.
Do Some Oyster Picking
Feel like spending your vacation digging in the sand? For a small fee, non-residents can pick up a shellfishing permit to do their own oyster picking on many of Cape Cod’s beaches.
Before you head out on your recreational shellfishing excursion, make sure that you are aware of any town-specific rules that are present. These laws govern how many oysters you can harvest per day, the minimum size of the oysters you can pick, the times that you can be out in the water, and even the water temperature that you can be out in.
The rules are in place to prevent the supply of oysters from eroding too quickly and keep you safe, so either give the local town hall a call or ask about the rules when picking up your permit.
From there, you'll want to grab the right equipment. While you might luck out and find some oysters right along the beach, most are out in the water. You don't need anything fancy like a lobster trap, as just a few pieces of equipment will make you more comfortable as you venture into the ocean during Cape Cod oyster season.
Start by picking up a pair of chest waders, as you won't want to venture into the frigid Cape Cod waters without the necessary protection and these waders allow you to go into deeper water. A wetsuit jacket and a pair of waterproof gloves are advisable, especially when visiting in the winter. A floating bucket is also a good idea because it allows you store your catch without returning to shore.
There isn't a specific technique involved with harvesting oysters; all you have to do is search the shallow waters along the beach. Oysters don't bury themselves and are relatively easy to spot, so you shouldn't have much trouble as long as you end up in the right location.
Finding the perfect spot can be a challenge, as very few locals are willing to give theirs up. Look for other people searching for oysters because as long as they’re in a public area, you’re free to harvest there, too.
Find an Oyster Farm
The oysters of Wellfleet are known the world over, and there's no better place to get them than through the Puffer family at Wellfleet Oyster and Clam. Farmers catch wild oyster seed and then raise the oysters the same way that they would be in the wild. The result is some of the world's best oysters. You can order some by calling the company directly.
East Dennis Oyster Farm has a store in East Dennis where you can buy oysters by the box. You can also call ahead to place an order and schedule a pickup, which makes sense if you are staying in town or a neighboring community like Barnstable.
Chatham Shellfish Company has been in business since 1976 and sells its oysters throughout stores in the area. It is possible to order oysters directly through the company’s website, and they will be delivered right to the door of your vacation rental in a matter of days.
Visit an Oyster Bar
Of course, no visit to Cape Cod is complete without stopping by an oyster bar. In Wellfleet, Mac's Shack is the place to go. This restaurant doesn't allow reservations, so make sure that you get there early for access to incredibly fresh Wellfleet oysters, in addition to an extensive wine list. Keep in mind that this location doesn’t open until the very end of oyster season.
It doesn't get much better than Oyster Company Raw Bar & Grill in Dennis Port, which has been around for a long time and remains a favorite for locals. The restaurant harvests its own oysters, and clams and other shellfish are available there, too.
Sitting right on Main Street in Hyannis, The Naked Oyster Bistro & Raw Bar harvests oysters from its own farm, ensuring that you have access to the freshest shellfish available in any restaurant.
The World’s Best Oysters
As you can see, you won’t have any trouble finding somewhere to try some of the world’s best oysters on Cape Cod. What you might struggle with is figuring out which variety you like the best, as the oysters from each location differ slightly in their flavor.
Take some time exploring the local oyster scene to see if you can tell the difference between the varieties or, better yet, get out there and harvest your own this winter.
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The Cape Cod Christmas Shopping Experience
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Thursday, December 14, 2017
As you've probably noticed if you've been following this blog, things are done a little bit differently on Cape Cod, and holiday shopping is no different. The Cape isn’t Boston, New York, or any of the other major centers on the East Coast and, therefore, you won’t find the same shopping experience.
While there is a Walmart in Falmouth and a Kmart and Sears at Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, big-box retailers are less prevalent in this part of the country.
Instead, local boutiques are where Cape Cod residents do their shopping. The popularity of these local businesses means that the holidays are a busy time for retailers, and also provide a unique shopping experience for all who visit the area during this extraordinary time of year.
From antique shops on Main Street to Christmas strolls with horse-drawn carriage rides and Santa Claus appearances, shopping on The Cape at Christmas time is something that the whole family can enjoy.
Find Gifts at the Boutiques
For the small-town shopping experience, look no further than The Plum Porch in Marstons Mills. This small gift shop has been in business since 2000 but has recently been taken on by new ownership. The store sells sophisticated, yet simple, gifts and provides an intimate shopping environment.
Located in Sandwich’s Merchants Square, Wish Gift Company is another local gift shop that is full of Christmas present ideas. If you’re struggling to come up with the perfect gift for that special someone, chances are you’ll find something unique at this little store.
Dig For One-of-a-Kind Antiques
Harwich Port is home to a great deal of history, and Windsong Antiques is proudly part of this past. Not only is this a store where you can buy antique goods to bring home, but it also sits inside a carriage barn on the same grounds as an 18th-century sea captain's house.
The MEWS at Brewster Antiques sells a variety of functional antique products, including furniture, tools, stoneware, and pattern glass, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The selection at The MEWS is astounding, so it comes by its popularity honestly.
Check Out Some Art
Fancy some local art? Well, look for further than Local Color Art Gallery in Chatham. The main draw associated with this gallery is the selection of pieces by local artists. If you're from elsewhere in the country, there's no better way to expose yourself to the bustling art scene on Cape Cod than at this location.
Local art can also be found at Books by the Sea. As the name suggests, this Centerville store sells books, both fiction and non-fiction, that are either written by local authors or about the region. The shop doubles as an art gallery, however, which also takes on a local flair.
Invest in Locally-made Gifts
Everything found in Cape Coddle, which is an Orleans retailer, is made in the United States and the vast majority of the toys, ornaments, decor, and jewelry found there are created by Cape Cod locals. This retailer is a one-of-a-kind venue where you aren't just buying a gift for a loved one, you’re giving a piece of Americana.
Every Christmas season, between mid-November and the third week of December, the Falmouth Art Center hosts the Holiday Market & Gift Gallery. The market showcases hand-crafted gifts, including pottery and knit items, that are made in the area by local artisans.
Plan Around the Sales and Special Events
Various communities on Cape Cod organize holiday strolls to kick-off the Christmas shopping season. An example of this is the Wellfleet Holiday Stroll, an event that highlights local businesses and provides music and entertainment for all who attend. You might even catch a brass band performance, depending on the year.
A similar event is the Yarmouth Port Christmas Stroll, which features trolley rides, food, crafts, and a Christmas tree lighting. Local businesses have giveaways and attractions throughout the night, as well. Watch for sales and special discounts at the winter strolls. Afterward, head over to Barnstable Village to warm up with a cup of organic coffee and a delicious sandwich at Nirvana Coffee Company. You won’t regret your decision.
More Than Just a Christmas Shop
Christmas shopping can be stressful, but the events and shops on Cape Cod prove that this doesn’t always have to be the case. The stores here are smaller and less hectic, providing locals with a more peaceful experience around the holidays
When visiting The Cape over the holidays, save some of your Christmas shopping energy for these wonderful small businesses. You won’t regret choosing to make the most of your Cape Cod Christmas.
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Cape Cod Christmas Events and Happenings
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Thursday, December 7, 2017
Parades, lights, fairs, and concerts, Christmas is an extraordinary time on Cape Cod. Winter brings shorter days and quieter streets, making it is far easier to have a look at some local vacation rentals and take life at your own pace.
It is also possible to enjoy the serenity of the empty beaches and the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, giving Christmas a far different feel from the rest of the country.
After all, where else can you watch Santa arrive by boat or take a walk over snow-covered sand dunes?
Have a look at the Christmas events on Cape Cod and start planning your holiday season visit today.
Gardens Aglow and Holly Days in Sandwich
Starting near the end of November and running through much of December is Gardens Aglow, an event that turns Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich into the perfect Christmas destination.
During this time, the outdoor garden area at the museum is decorated with 12 miles of lights, creating a fun atmosphere for the entire family.
Joining the lights are musical performances, model train displays, Santa Claus appearances, and baby animals, creating a Winter Wonderland. The museum is perhaps the most festive location that you’ll come across on Cape Cod, although it does have some steep competition.
Gardens Aglow is part of the Sandwich Holly Days celebration, which also includes holiday home tours, community caroling opportunities, the lighting of the Christmas tree, and even a breakfast with Santa Claus.
There’s no shortage of holiday events in Cape Cod’s oldest town during the holidays.
Concerts, Sales, and Chatham's Seaside
Sandwich might get a lot of attention around Christmas because of the plethora of events that take place, but Chatham is doing its part to keep the holiday spirit alive.
It all starts in Chatham with the Christmas By The Sea Stroll, an event featuring a tree-lighting ceremony, carriage rides, Santa Claus, and Christmas caroling. You can also tour the area's inns and museums, which are decorated just for the holidays.
On the same weekend as the Christmas By The Sea Stroll, Chatham has its Cookie Express sale. This bake sale is an annual event that attracts people from all over The Cape because of the volume and quality of the holiday goodies.
Christmas music is a large part of getting into the spirit and Chatham has you covered there, as well. The Chatham Community Christmas Concert is hosted by the First Congregational Church and features a full choir and orchestra. It's a must-see if you are spending the holidays on Cape Cod.
Dennis' Village Stroll and Holiday Decor
Not to be outdone, the Dennis Village Christmas Stroll contributes further opportunities to immerse yourself in the Cape Cod Christmas season.
This festival, which takes place in mid-December, has a Christmas tree lighting, hayrides, rides on the trolley, and even a petting zoo.
Of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus are on-site, and there is a face painting station for the kids. Adults will take joy in the silent auction and food samples, as well. There is live music throughout the day at the Village Green Bandstand.
Keep in mind that similar festivals take place in towns like Orleans, Hyannis, Falmouth, Brewster, Harwich, Provincetown, and Yarmouth Port, so even if you’re not in Dennis, Chatham, or Sandwich, you can experience the magic of a Cape Cod Christmas. Hyannis is also home to the Cape Cod Enchanted Village at Cape Codder Resort, featuring carolers, Santa, and bonfires.
Part of the Dennis Village Christmas Stroll is a night at the Manse, which is a colonial house done up in Christmas decorations every year. All you have to do is get on the trolley at the Stroll, and you'll end up at the Manse and the magic that this trip entails.
Holiday Hike in Falmouth
Falmouth's Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary features a large holly plantation, making it the perfect place to check out during the holidays. In fact, the farm is one of the largest in all of New England, and it takes advantage of this stature by holding an event every Christmas season.
The sanctuary has over 65 different types of holly, and for a small fee, visitors can fill a bag with these specimens and take them home for holiday decorating.
The Holiday Hike is one reason why Falmouth becomes a Christmas town every winter.
The Christmas Parade
While there are other Christmas parades on Cape Cod, such as the one in Falmouth, no town does it better than Mashpee. This town's annual Christmas parade follows a unique theme each year and is an all-day event, plan on spending some serious time there.
From award-winning bands to parade floats decorated in Christmas lights, the Mashpee Chamber Christmas Parade has something for everyone.
Hot chocolate stands sit throughout the parade route, encouraging parade-goers to have a look around and see what they can find.
Experience Christmas on Cape Cod
There’s something old-world about Christmas on Cape Cod that you’ll have to experience to appreciate. As Christmas becomes more commercialized every year, it’s refreshing to have a place where events, festivals, and togetherness remain in high regard and where communities go out of their way to organize such an atmosphere.
No matter where on The Cape you choose to spend your holidays, you’re sure to find unique seaside Christmas features that are becoming lost elsewhere in the country.
Cape Cod Christmas
Cape Cod Bike Paths
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, December 4, 2017
This is the first in a series of articles about cycling on Cape Cod. Expect in depth articles on individual bike paths in the upcoming months. Bike trails and paths are everywhere on Cape Cod, and this isn't by accident. The presence and design of the trails are purposefully done, as those who planned the bikeways studied similar coastal areas, such as those found in California, and tried to emulate their scenery and accessibility.
The natural beauty of the area means that visitors want to spend their time outdoors and there’s no more convenient or exciting way to experience the environment than by choosing a route and following it for a few miles.
Cycling is popular from early spring through the autumn. Basically, if you don’t see snow on the ground, you are sure to come across locals and tourists alike using the bike paths. While cycling has always had a place on Cape Cod, it really took off following the 1978 purchase of part of the old Pennsylvania Central Railroad grade by the Department of Environmental Management. This purchase provided the land necessary for the Rail Trail, which has become very popular and has helped to create the cycling culture that is present today.
In fact, the popularity of biking has risen to the point where if you visit The Cape and don't get some cycling in, expect some serious questioning from friends and family as to why when you get home.
So get out there and enjoy nature on your next visit to Cape Cod!
Activities Along the Trails
Heading out for a cycle on Cape Cod doesn’t stop at choosing a destination and then starting your journey, as each trail has its own story and a unique set of activities along the way.
Many trails have picnic spots, complete with tables and shade, providing you with everything that you need for a quick meal. These points, which often sit in a state park, are fabulous because you can pack a lunch, eat along the trail, and then return to your vacation rental for dinner.
Some paths, such as those along the National Seashore or in Nickerson State Park, have swimming opportunities, as well. Be sure to pack your swimsuit because you can work up a sweat along the trail and then cool off in the water.
The great thing about accessing a beach via a bike path is that they tend to be away from the roadways and, therefore, are secluded and less crowded. Locals will tell you that the best place to relax on the beach and enjoy the dunes is along an oceanfront trail.
Cycling or Mountain Biking
Don’t know which type of bike to bring to Cape Cod? Well, in short, it depends on the type of bike trail you wish to take. There are numerous paved paths in the area, which you can easily navigate with a road bike. These pathways are well-maintained and smooth, so you won’t have any trouble travelling from place to place.
If you plan on trying some of the unpaved trails in the region, however, a mountain bike is a must. These trails offer a more technical and challenging ride, but the payoff is always worth it.
View, View, and More Views
And when speaking of the payoff, of course, we mean the views. Each bikeway has a different landscape and, therefore, a unique scene to offer those who complete it. One trail might present a panoramic look at a lake, while another might get you up close and personal with a cranberry bog.
There are woodlands, parks, canals, flowers, wildlife, and anything else that you could hope to see on Cape Cod along these trails.
You can also get close to history while taking a bike trip, as bridges, homesteads, and museums seem to pop out of nowhere, allowing to experience one-of-a-kind attractions while out for your cycle.
Rules and Regulations
Before embarking on a cycling journey on The Cape, make sure that you are aware of the rules.
Most of the rules are common sense, as all riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet, but it is advisable that all bikers have one.
Riders should stay in single file and announce themselves when passing others. It is critical that you don’t ride too fast, either.
Finally, riders should keep to the marked trails because it is illegal to ride your bike off the paths.
Following the rules and guidelines ensures that you'll have fun, and stay safe at the same time.
Go For a Ride
That’s it! You’re now ready to take on the breathtaking and accessible bike trails that line all areas of Cape Cod. It doesn't matter if you're staying in Woods Hole or South Dennis, there is a scenic trail at your disposal.
Just don’t forget to bring or rent a bike on your next visit.
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