The Beach Times

Spending the Day at Mashpee's South Cape Beach State Park
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Wednesday, January 27, 2021

With so many beaches on Cape Cod, selecting one to visit can be a challenge.

Sure, heading to the Cape Cod National Seashore is a must-do, but what about days on the calmer waters of Cape Cod Bay or Nantucket Sound?

One location worth checking out in Mashpee is South Cape Beach State Park, a scenic venue with access to both Waquoit Bay and Vineyard Sound sitting just west of New Seabury.

This park is secluded but has all of the activities you'd want to try on your vacation, making it an excellent place to spend an entire day in the sun.

Getting There

It doesn't take much to reach South Cape Beach State Park, despite its seemingly remote location. 

The easiest way to get there is via Great Neck Road South, which intersects with Route 28 near Mashpee Commons. Great Neck Road South eventually turns into Great Oak Road, and you can follow it to the park's entrance. The drive from the highway only takes about ten minutes.

There's a dirt parking lot near the beach, and the daily fees are $15 for Massachusetts residents and $40 for non-residents between Memorial Day and November. The vehicle's license plates determine residency.

After getting to the parking lot, you'll have to walk to the beach. Fortunately, there's a boardwalk that connects to the waterfront area, making it an easy jaunt. It isn't a long stroll, and the payoff is spectacular.

What's at the Beach?

Once you get to the water, you'll have access to over a mile of white sand. Here, you can swim in the ocean, enjoy the picnic area or use the on-site grills. There's a lookout over the beach, too, which is an excellent place to take in a sunset.

You might see a few people fishing from the shore, although they'll typically move down the beach and away from the swimmers.

The water is relatively calm at this location, as well, and there are public washrooms near the parking lot.

This beach is a pleasant place for families because it has so much space, and even those who don't like lounging in the sand will find some activities to keep them occupied.

Nearby Hiking Trails

While you'll likely spend much of your day at South Cape Beach State Park by the water, there are also some hiking trails to explore.

The easiest to access is the Great Flat Pond Loop, which you can reach from the main parking lot. There are other parking areas along the road into the park, too, so you'll have a few different places to begin. The trail heads through woodlands and wetlands and meanders over to Sage Lot Pond and its surrounding salt marsh.

The other primary path through this area is Dead Neck Trail, which runs from the parking lot along the dunes to Waquoit Bay's mouth. The best thing about Dead Neck Trail is that you can walk down to a private section of the beach at any point, providing reason enough to give it a try.

These hiking trails aren't rugged or technical, but they provide scenic places to explore away from the bustle of some of the Cape's other beaches.

The Boat Launch

Finally, there's a boat launch at the far west end of the park where you can put a canoe or kayak into Waquoit Bay. In fact, this is one of the only places you can reach Waquoit Bay via car.

Once at the boat launch, you can carry your small boat to the water and explore the bay. There's also a small beach with calm, shallow water that might be worth a look if you're traveling with kids.

This boat launch isn't anything fancy, but Waquoit Bay is one of the Cape's most scenic and secluded locations, so if you have the opportunity to do some paddling there, make sure you do it.

A Full Day on the Ocean

When you book a vacation rental on Cape Cod, beaches are undoubtedly in your future. The only question is which ones you'll choose to visit because you will have nearly unlimited options.

If you're staying in the Mashpee area, South Cape Beach is well worth your time because it feels like an off-the-beaten-path location while sitting mere minutes from downtown.

As a result, you can spend an entire day in the sun at this beach before returning to your vacation rental for dinner in no time at all.

For the perfect mix of serenity and accessibility, it's tough to beach South Cape Beach in Mashpee, Massachusetts.

Beach Cape Cod Beaches Mashpee

Places to Buy Fresh Produce in Dennis, MA
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Wednesday, January 20, 2021

One of the best things about booking a vacation rental on Cape Cod is that it allows you to cook. Sure, you'll likely want to check out the local dining scene, but there's something therapeutic about heading to a market and picking up whatever you need for dinner that night.

In Dennis, buying produce could involve stopping by a local farm, as there are a few of them in town that are open to the public.

These farms carry whatever is in season at that particular time, ensuring you're buying the freshest fruit and vegetables available anywhere.

Here's a look at some of the farms you'll find on your vacation in Dennis, Massachusetts.

Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm

Whether you're looking for breakfast or dessert, Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm should be on your list of farms to check out. Here, you can pick blueberries from the on-site fields or buy a pint or two of pre-picked berries from their roadside stand.

The farm enjoys a convenient location on East-West Dennis Road in East Dennis, not far from Dennis Pines Golf Course. Keep in mind that berry season only runs between early July and mid-August, and the farm occasionally closes early for the season if it runs out of blueberries.

Still, for fresh blueberries on the Mid-Cape, it's tough to beat Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm.

Not Enough Acres Farm

East Dennis is also home to Not Enough Acres Farm, an organic produce market sitting just north of Main Street on Sesuit Neck Road.

As its name suggests, this is a small farm with just six acres of land. Nevertheless, owners Jeff and Beth Deck make the most of the space, selling popular produce items like broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, kale, mushrooms, onions, garlic, peas, salad greens, spinach, tomatoes, and squash.

You'll also find herbs like basil, parsley, and thyme, in addition to honey, goat cheese, and eggs.

The great thing about Not Enough Acres Farm is that they're open from sunrise until sunset throughout the summer. As a result, you'll always have access to fresh seasonal vegetables to bring to your vacation rental.

Cape Abilities Farm

Cape Abilities Farm is just outside of downtown Dennis Village on Main Street, a few blocks from Dennis Public Market. This organic farm features a large market with cheese, dairy products, grocery items, meats, and frozen foods. There's also an on-site bakery.

As for the produce, you'll find all kinds of fruit and vegetables at Cape Abilities Farm, including apples, blueberries, strawberries, lettuce, cucumber, mushrooms, onions, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Keep in mind that not everything at Cape Abilities is grown on-site, as they source many items from around the Cape, elsewhere in the country, and even internationally. However, most things at this market are organic and high in quality, and they do grow some produce in their on-site greenhouses, too.

If you only want to make one stop as you put your next Cape Cod meal together, chances are you'll find everything you need at Cape Abilities Farm.

Annie's Crannies

If you love cranberries, Annie's Crannies is a must-visit location as you explore the Cape.

This shop is dedicated entirely to cranberries, and it even sits right on a cranberry bog that you can tour if you stop by at the right time.

Once you head inside, you can purchase cranberry jams, candles, soaps, and preserves. There are also fresh cranberries for sale in the fall, and honey from the farm's very own hives, as well.

Visiting Annie's Crannies is more of an experience than the other farms on this list. If you're on the Cape between early October and the middle of November, make sure you stop at their Scarsdale Road location.

Cooking at Your Vacation Rental

Although Dennis only has a population of about 14,000 people, its five villages are pretty spread out. The result is plenty of space for golf courses, forests, and, of course, farms, all of which you can use while vacationing in the area.

Having a vacation rental with a kitchen offers a massive advantage as you explore the Cape. Not only can you save some money by not eating out for every meal, but you can explore some of these local farms and try produce that you otherwise couldn't sample.

Cape Cod is full of beautiful attractions, but the organic farms in its communities are some of the hidden gems that most visitors will never get to experience.

Dennis Farmers Market

Where the Locals Go: Upper Mill Pond in Brewster
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Friday, January 15, 2021

Cape Cod is full of great places to spend your days, including the beaches, parks, trails, restaurants, and golf courses. You'll never run out of things to do on your vacation to the Cape.

However, if you're looking to spend a day living like a local, you might want to explore one of the region's off-the-beaten-path sections.

The area around Upper Mill Pond in Brewster provides such an experience, as it features about 875 acres of conservation land that's popular with hikers. The pond is also an excellent kayaking or fishing location, and there's plenty of parking to go around, too.

After dealing with crowds at some of Cape Cod's most famous destinations, take a day to yourself to unwind at this hidden gem between Old King's Highway and the Mid-Cape Highway in a secluded residential area in Brewster, Massachusetts.

Getting to the Pond

Upper Mill Pond is a large water body in a relatively secluded location. Getting there involves taking either Route 6 or Route 6A to the Brewster area.

Arriving from the south on Route 6, you'll get onto North Westgate Road in Harwich. This road will take you to the main parking area on the southern shores of Upper Mill Pond.

When coming from Route 6A in the north, you can turn onto Stony Brook Road on the west end of downtown Brewster and then onto Run Hill Road. This road will take you to the conservation area's parking lot.

As you arrive in the parking area, you'll see a gravel lot in a forested area. Parking here gives you direct access to some trails through the woods.

There's another nearby parking lot that's closer to the pond. However, this lot is far smaller, and you'll need a Brewster town beach sticker to use it.

This southern section of the pond is where most of the recreational activities take place, so it's where you'll want to begin your day.

Do Some Hiking

The trails in this area run through a region called the Punkhorn Parklands. Some paths are relatively secluded, so you'll have to know where you're going to reach them.

However, the Eagle Point Trails, which sit just west of the main gravel parking lot, are easily accessible and a relatively short walk.

These two paths cover about a mile of distance and end up at the bluff overlooking the pond. You'll pass a cranberry bog, too, and pass oak, pine, and huckleberry bushes along the way.

A series of trails begin at the far end of the main parking lot. Three of them, Calf Field Red, Calf Field Orange, and Calf Field Blue, head north to Calf Field Pond.

Other trails that begin in the same area include Quaking Bog Trail, Seymour Pond Trail, and the Boot Swap Trails. All of these trails head south into the woods, and you'll cross streams, pass ponds, and have all kinds of wildlife watching opportunities on your trek.

The paths through the woods are well-maintained, but you'll want to keep your bearings because you're heading into dense forests, and some of the trails aren't adequately marked.

There's a map before you enter the trails, and it's a good idea to take a picture, so you know where you are at all times.

Once you get out there, you can spend an entire day wandering the woods of Cape Cod and genuinely getting to know the area.

Head to the Pond

If you aren't into hiking through the woods, there's still reason to visit Upper Mill Pond. That's because you can swim, kayak, or fish there.

To swim, you can drive directly to the shore. Remember, parking here requires a beach sticker, but you can leave your car at the main lot and walk down, too. Parking is also extremely limited by the water.

Once you get to the water, you'll see a small beach. There isn't a lifeguard on duty, so be careful if you're swimming with young children. There are some docks in the water, but they're private, so you can't use them.

It's possible to fish from the shore at this location. Yellow perch are the dominant species in the pond, but there are also largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bullhead, and banded killifish. River herring also make seasonal appearances in the pond.

When looking to head out into the pond, kayaks are available for rent through the town of Brewster. There are kayaks right on the shore, but you'll have to call the number on the stand for access. Alternatively, Rail Trail Bike & Kayak will deliver kayaks and paddleboards to the pond for a fee.

Your Day Away From the Crowds

Cape Cod can be overwhelming in the summer because it seems as though everyone is trying to visit the same locations. Many beaches get incredibly busy, and you might find yourself looking for a less-crowded activity for a day or two.

Upper Mill Pond isn't the type of place that will attract hundreds of visitors on a given day. However, the surrounding conservation area provides a relaxing escape from the Cape's bustle and provides a quiet day for you and your family.

Brewster Upper Mill Pond

The Top 5 Coffee Shops in Orleans, Massachusetts
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Mornings on your Cape Cod vacation are always relaxing. Your routine could include meandering on one of the region's countless beaches or renting a bike and riding on a scenic paved path.

Of course, before getting to your early-morning activities, a cup of coffee and some breakfast are in order.

Local coffee shops are prevalent all over the Cape, so you shouldn't struggle to find a preferred spot to make part of your daily ritual.

Here's a look at some of the best coffee shops you'll find in downtown Orleans, Massachusetts.

1) Hot Chocolate Sparrow

Hot Chocolate Sparrow enjoys a convenient location on Old Colony Way in the heart of downtown Orleans. It's steps from Main Street and Route 6A, making it easily accessible, and there is even direct access to the Cape Cod Rail Trail across the street.

Buying a coffee at Hot Chocolate Sparrow is easy because it has two sides: a cafe and a candy shop. You can grab a self-serve coffee from the candy shop if you're in a hurry, or there's a line-up, or you can go to the coffee shop side if you don't mind waiting.

The coffee shop also has light breakfast items like bagels, sandwiches, biscotti, muffins, oatmeal, cereal, and croissants, in addition to cake, pie, and ice cream desserts.

As for the coffee, you'll find a wide selection of blends and single-bean options from around the world, many of which are organic. There are iced coffees, hot chocolates, and various teas available, too, and the cafe is known for its specialty coffee items, including its espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte, and mocha.

2) Jo Mama's

Over on Route 6A is Jo Mama's, another local coffee shop that focuses more on the food than Hot Chocolate Sparrow. Here, you can create a breakfast sandwich using the dozens of ingredients they have on hand or order a breakfast bagel, smoothie, omelet sandwich, or breakfast sandwich. They also have soup and salad if you arrive later in the day.

Jo Mama's doesn't have as many coffee options as Hot Chocolate Sparrow, but you'll still find about half a dozen self-serve options and an espresso bar with hot, cold, and frozen items.

You can choose to sit-in or take-out at Jo Mama's, depending on where you're heading next that morning.

3) Ice Cream Cafe

Toward the north end of downtown on Route 28 is the Ice Cream Cafe. As you might expect, this venue sells homemade ice cream, and lots of it, including items like ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, frozen yogurt, and milkshakes.

However, you'll have some options if you're looking for a cup of coffee, as the venue sells multiple products roasted by Dean's Beans Organic Coffee Company in Orange, Massachusetts. Their coffee is organic and fair trade, and they also have espresso, cappuccino, mocha, iced coffee, cold brews, teas, and hot chocolate. There are coffee specials with various flavorings, as well.

One potential issue with buying coffee at the Ice Cream Cafe is that they don't open until 11:00 AM in the summer and noon in the shoulder season. Therefore, this is a better place for your second or third cup unless, of course, you sleep-in during your vacation.

4) Hole in One Breakfast and Lunch

The first real breakfast restaurant on this list is Hole in One Breakfast and Lunch, a diner enjoying a central location on Route 6A, just off Main Street.

Here, you can enjoy breakfast favorites like eggs, pancakes, French toast, omelets, sausage, bacon, and breakfast sandwiches, in addition to some of Orleans' best coffee.

In addition to the basic coffee, Hole in One also has espresso, cappuccino, lattes, iced coffees, teas, chai lattes, and a selection of specialty coffee drinks that rotates every month.

You can sit-down with your meal and coffee or grab a quick cup and bagel to-go; the choice is up to you at Hole in One.

5) Cottage Street Bakery

The Cottage Street Bakery shares a parking lot with the Ice Cream Cafe, giving you a couple of different options when searching for a cup of coffee. However, the Cottage Street Bakery opens at 7:00 AM, rather than 11:00, so if you're out and about early, it's probably your better option.

Once inside, you'll see a good selection of muffins, biscotti, and Danishes, which are baked on-site, in addition to omelet sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, croissants, and granola.

The coffee is also roasted in Wellfleet by Beanstock Coffee, an outstanding local company that provides beans up and down the Cape.

Always a Place for a Cup of Coffee

The downtown Orleans area is pretty compact, so all of these coffee shops are within a few blocks of each other. That's good news if you want to sample a few of them during your Cape cod vacation, as you can spend your mornings wandering and comparing brews.

These venues are also close to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, if you want to take a ride or walk after your coffee, and near waterfront locations like Rock Harbor, Nauset Beach, and Skaket Beach. This position makes it possible to spend your mornings overlooking the ocean with a cup of coffee from one of Orleans' best shops.

Coffee Coffee Shops Orleans

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