The Beach Times

Historic Places to Stop on the Old King’s Highway
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, June 25, 2018


A must-do while on Cape Cod is to drive down Route 6A, much of which is known as the Old King's Highway, as it is full of historic attractions that will give you greater insight into life on the Cape as a whole. Along the highway, you'll come across architecture that reflects the changes the area has undergone, as there are buildings from the 1600s all the way through the 1900s.

This portion of Route 6A starts in Sandwich and runs all the way to Orleans. As you drive the highway, you'll be following the same route used by Native Americans before settlers even arrived in the United States, as it was first a trail connecting local villages and camps. The path was also used by the first European settlers, as they came to Cape Cod from Plymouth, before settling in the region and creating the still-standing society we enjoy to this day.

Of course, a lot has changed over the years, but you'll have views of the same beaches and green spaces that pilgrims saw over 375 years ago, and can even enter some of the homes built by some of Cape Cod’s first inhabitants. The Old King’s Highway is a look at living American history that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in the country.

Get Started in Sandwich

Soon after crossing the Sagamore Bridge onto Cape Cod, you’ll reach Sandwich. Here, you’ll want to make sure you get onto Route 6A, rather than Route 6, as 6A will take you through many of the Cape’s historic districts.

Sandwich is not only the oldest town on Cape Cod, having been incorporated in 1639, but is also one of the oldest centers in the entire country. To start your tour of Sandwich, you'll head south just off the Old King's Highway into the town's historic center. Here, you'll come across the Sandwich Glass Museum, known for its rare glass creations dating back to the 1880s.

The historic district also has Dexter Grist Mill, which was built in 1637 and in commercial operation until 1881. It remains one of the country's oldest water mill sites, and you can purchase cornmeal ground right there at the mill.

Just south of the mill is Hoxie House, one of the oldest houses on the Cape, having been raised in 1675. There are tours through the house’s interior, which still features period decor. If you head a little further south off 6A, you'll come to the Heritage Museums and Gardens, a structure that is home to pretty much everything you'd expect to find in an American museum, including classic cars.

As you move along the Old King's Highway, you'll quickly reach East Sandwich, an area home to the Wing Fort House, the oldest continuously-owned-by-the-same-family home in New England, having been built in 1641. You can do a tour of the house during the high season for a small fee. This area is also where the Nye Family of America Homestead stands. This homestead was constructed in 1678 and is now a museum, with each room being representative on a different era of the home's existence, right down to the period decor.

 

Continue Through Barnstable

The Old King's Highway Historic District in Barnstable runs the entire length of the city from east to west on Main Street. In that space, there are nearly 500 buildings, some of which were built as far back as the 1630s, with the newer buildings being constructed in the mid 1800s. The area as a whole was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Of particular interest in Allyn House, which dates back to the late 1600s, and Barnstable House, a structure that might be haunted. The district is also home to the Old Jail, built in 1690 and the country's oldest wooden jail. The jail now houses a museum, along with the Old Customshouse.

 

A Stop in Yarmouth Port

The great thing about Yarmouth Port is you won't have to venture off Route 6A to visit most of the town's historic sites. This part of Cape Cod was popular with sea captains, as many built large homes there and, as luck would have it, a number of these structures remain to this day.

Captain Bangs Hallet House is Cape Cod's only fully-furnished former captain's house that is open to daily visitors. The residence provides insight into how a sea captain would have lived in the 1800s, right down to furniture and decor.

Just across fro Hallet House is Winslow Crocker House, which was moved to Yarmouth from West Barnstable in 1936. The house was originally built sometime around 1780 and was a very high-end home for its time period. The building belonged to a merchant and trader, who might have been a rum runner, and today is a museum with public tours available daily.

Edward Gorey House offers a different kind of Cape Cod history because it is an art gallery and museum dedicated to the life and works of Edward Gorey. Gorey purchased the home, which was 200 years old at the time, in 1979 and it became a museum after his death in 2000.

Yarmouth New Church dates back to 1870 and is one of Cape Cod's choicest examples of Gothic architecture. The building is detailed and very similar in quality to what you'd expect to find in an old European neighborhood. It is no longer an active church but does host events throughout the year.

 

Some History in Dennis

After crossing through Yarmouth, Route 6A heads north into the heart of Dennis, where you'll find Josiah Dennis House and the West Schoolhouse occupying the same grounds. Josiah Dennis House dates back to 1736 when it was home to a local reverend. In fact, the town of Dennis is named after this man, who was a minister for 38 years in the area. Today, the home is a museum, as is the West Schoolhouse, which was moved to the land in 1973. The school was constructed between 1770 and 1775 and is the last remaining schoolhouse from that era.

The Scargo Tower isn't as old as many structures along the Old King's Highway, having been built in 1901 as a lookout, but it is free to visit and at 30 feet tall, provides panoramic views of the entire area. In fact, on a sunny day, you can see all the way to Provincetown in the north and the Sagamore Bridge to the west.

 

Drive Through Brewster

In Brewster, Route 6A runs along Main Street and is surrounded by historic sites. As you approach the town's center, you'll see Drummer Boy Park, which is home to a windmill from the 1700s, along with a blacksmith shop. Just down the road from the park is the Cape Cod Museum Of Natural History, an entity that takes a more ecological approach to the area's history.

Moving into central Brewster, you'll find Captain Elijah Cobb House. This building is the permanent home of the Brewster History Society and hosts a variety of museum artifacts while offering tours. The home was built in about 1799.

The Crosby Mansion, just north of Route 6A near Nickerson State Park, is a massive 35-room house built in 1888 by Albert Crosby, a wealthy alcohol distiller. The home, which was built around the homestead in which Crosby was raised, would become an art gallery after his death in 1906. Today, the mansion is a museum but is only accessible to the public a few times per year.

 

The End in Orleans

Finally, the Old King's Highway runs through the heart of Orleans. Here, the official name of the road changes to the Cranberry Highway, but it's still part of historic Route 6A. Just off the highway is the French Cable Station Museum, providing an in-depth look at the undersea telegraphic cables used by the United States and France during World War One.

Just north of the museum is the Jonathan Young Windmill, which is unique because all of its original parts and mechanisms remain intact, despite the fact it was moved to Hyannis in 1897 and then back to Orleans in 1983. The windmill was constructed sometime around 1720 and now sits in a small park just off Route 6A.

 

Make a Day of Route 6A

After heading through Orleans, the Old King's Highway joins with Route 6, or the Mid-Cape Highway, where it runs through Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro. Route 6A reappears in North Truro and heads through the heart of Provincetown, before coming to an end at Herring Cove Beach.

There are other historic sites to explore along Route 6, but that’s a journey for another day because if you stop at even a fraction of the museums and homes along the Old King’s Highway, you’ll quickly find it’s time to return to your vacation rental for some much-deserved relaxation.

 

 



Barnstable Brewster Dennis Old Kings Highway Orleans Route 6a Sandwich Yarmouth Yarmouth Port

Live on the Outer Cape: Music, Drama, and Comedy
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, May 14, 2018


When staying on Cape Cod for any length of time, consider taking in some of the local performing arts scenes, as there is something to check out on pretty much any night of the week during the summer. Depending on your mood, you might want to see a live performance of a Shakespearean drama, laugh with a stand-up comedian at an intimate local venue, or dine with live music in the background before getting up and cutting a rug after your meal.

All of these opportunities and more are available on the Outer Cape on any given day, providing you with loads of different ways to spend your evenings. Have a look at the events calendar at the following venues or check out some of the highlighted festivals to ensure you don’t miss a top-notch performance during your Cape Cod vacation.


Performances and Events in Provincetown

Since Provincetown is one of the Cape's cultural hubs, it makes sense that the town has plenty of live venues from which to choose. The Provincetown Theater is known as the Birthplace of Modern American Theater, as it dates back to 1915 when a group of New Yorkers vacationing in the area started performing and eventually built a makeshift theater. Their performances drew attention from all over the East Coast, helping to grow the industry as a whole. Today, the Provincetown Theater hosts Broadway comedies, dramas, and musicals, in addition to performing arts festivals throughout the year. If you're on the Outer Cape in the summer, there's a good chance this venue will have something going on.

Not to be outdone, the Peregrine Theatre Ensemble also brings Broadway plays and musicals to Provincetown, producing them at Fishermen Hall. In 2018, the group will perform “Hair, the Musical” between July and September.

Of course, there’s also the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, an annual event taking place each September. In 2017, the festival combined plays by Williams and William Shakespeare, while the theme in 2018 will be "Wishful Thinking". The performances take place at a variety of venues throughout town, even non-traditional venues, as 2017 saw "Hamlet" performed in a tank of water on the beach and "Pericles" performed on a boat.

Smaller music venues are found up and down Provincetown’s Commercial Street. Bubala’s By The Bay, for example, is where the town's West End begins and hosts live music every night during the summer. There is no cover or minimum charge, so you can get out and enjoy everything from jazz to country music without worrying about the cost. Governor Bradford Restaurant & Club is an all ages venue that features a different act every Saturday night. The music gets started at 8 PM and runs until about 11. Tin Pan Alley is a piano bar with live performances every night of the week.

The Provincetown Jazz Festival has been around since 2005 and brings musicians from all over the world to the area at a variety of different venues. If you're in the area in mid-August, it is well worth checking out at least a few performances.

The Crown & Anchor is well known throughout the Cape because of its cabaret shows, but this significant venue is also the home of comedy in Provincetown. Some performances will be local comedians, such as Julie Wheeler and James Judd, who have weekly performances from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Other times, the venue brings in better-known acts, like Bruce Vilanch and Leslie Jordan in 2018, for a couple of sets.
 

Events in Truro This Summer

Just a short drive down Route 6 from Provincetown is Truro, where there are even more live performances to attend. In North Truro, the Payomet Performing Arts Center hosts music, comedy, and theater starting in the spring, with some pretty big acts coming to town in the summer.

You’ll also find music at Truro Vineyards every Sunday throughout the summer. Admission to the show is free, and there's a food truck on-site, so you can have a meal, enjoy some local wine, and listen to a live performance. The vineyard also hosts Grape Stomp & Music Fest and the Vinegrass Music Festival in late September. Both of these festivals bring wine, cocktails, food, and music together and are a great way to end your summer on Cape Cod.
 

Music and Theater in Wellfleet

Continuing down Route 6 from Truro brings you to Wellfleet and, more specifically, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater. This venue presents a series of thought-provoking dramas all summer long, with each presentation running for a few weeks at a time. There's a summer concert series at the venue, too, so you can get your fill of live music on Monday nights.

The Harbor Stage Company is in the heart of Wellfleet's downtown area. The venue is small and intimate, offering the chance to get up close and personal with classic dramas and comedies that you've probably heard of before, but maybe haven't seen performed live. In 2018, "The Weir", "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", and "The Deer and the Antelope" are on the docket between the middle of June and early September.

For live music, The Beachcomber is the place to be in Wellfleet. Throughout July and August, this restaurant on Cahoon Hollow Beach brings in musical acts every day of the week. You'll have to buy tickets in advance for most shows and keep in mind that the music usually starts at 9 PM, so you'll have time to either have dinner in the restaurant or eat elsewhere before things get going.


Orleans Live Performances

Finally, as you come down Route 6 and exit onto 6A, you'll reach the center of Orleans, where even more live performances can be found. The Academy Playhouse is right on Main Street and has a mixture renowned shows throughout the year. There are children's performances in the afternoons, including the Little Mermaid in 2018, and both theater, including Shakespeare, and music at night.

The Elements Theatre Company is on the grounds of the Church of the Transfiguration on Rock Harbor, giving it one of the more scenic locations for performances on the Cape. This venue mostly hosts dramatic productions, although there are retreats and workshops during the summer for those interested in acting themselves.

The Barley Neck Inn dates back to 1848 when Isaac and Mary Doane purchased the land where the property now sits. Part of the original building now makes up this venue, which hosts live music every Friday and Saturday night. It's not glamorous, but catching a performance at The Barley Neck is a quintessential thing to do while on Cape Cod.


Finding Your Performances

As you can see, no matter what type of entertainment you’re into, you’re sure to find it on the Outer Cape during the summer. Once you book your vacation rental on Cape Cod, start looking at the local venues holding events because you’re sure to find a new and exciting way to spend your nights, no matter what you are looking to experience.



Cape Cod Festivals Jazz Orleans Outer Cape Provincetown Theater Truro Wellfleet

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