The Beach Times
From Centerville to the Major Leagues: The History of Barnstable Bat Company
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, December 23, 2019
Do you want to take a small piece of Cape Cod home with you from your vacation?
One option is picking up a souvenir from Barnstable Bat Company, which makes both novelty bats and game-quality items that you can use in your baseball league at home.
In fact, many players in the Cape Cod Baseball League currently use these bats, and they have even made appearances in the Major Leagues over the years, making them one of the Cape's most famous exports.
Here's what you should know about the history of Barnstable Bat Company and the products available at its reclusive Centerville location.
Barnstable Bat Company opened its doors back in 1992 when Tom Bednark decided to combine his love of baseball with his woodworking skills. A custom woodworker by trade, Bednark was taking in a Cape Cod Baseball League game one day when he declared that he would begin making and selling bats of his own.
When first getting started, Bednark exclusively made novelty bats and faced a bit of a learning curve. Over time, he improved his novelty bat creations, leading to players in the Cape Cod League asking if he'd consider making real bats for them. At that time, Bednark shifted his focus and hasn't looked back since.
Bednark believes that he can get higher quality wood than some of the larger manufacturers in the United States because he needs less material for his relatively small operation.
Within a few years, Bednark's bats had exploded in popularity, partially due to John Petkey winning the Cape League's batting title in 1994 while using one.
The evolution of Barnstable Bat Company didn't stop there, however, as it would rapidly reach heights that Bednark would never have expected.
Bats in the Major Leagues
Word of Barnstable Bat Company got around quickly, to the point where Major Leaguers started using them in 1995. Supplying bats for Major League Baseball is an exclusive club, as only 13 companies have ever received approval. Bednark was able to gain permission, however, leading to even more notoriety for his creations.
At its peak, Barnstable Bat Company was supplying bats to about 250 Major League players in any given year. In fact, well-known players like Manny Ramirez, Mo Vaughn, and Jose Canseco used Barnstable Bats at one point or another, and Geronimo Berroa hit 36 home runs using Bednark's products in 1996.
By 2002, however, it was no longer financially viable for Barnstable Bat Company to continue selling bats at the Major League level because the insurance costs became prohibitive. Bednark reports that liability insurance alone is $100,000 per year, and since Bednark makes every bat himself, it would be challenging to sell enough bats to keep up.
Bats Currently Available
Today, Bednark manufactures about 10,000 bats per year with his computerized lathe. All he has to do is load up a piece of wood, and the machinery takes care of the rest, ensuring that he makes every item to the exact specifications. The machine can make about 40 bats per hour, so he's able to turn out a lot of products on any given day.
Bednark makes most of his inventory for the Cape Cod League and little leagues around the country that use wooden bats, with many of the company's sales coming from places like Texas, Florida, and California. These items are also popular with softball and other recreational adult leagues.
Wood types used by Barnstable Bat Company include ash, maple, and birch, with fungo bats, youth bats, pony bats, softball bats, and tee-ball bats also being available.
If you have a special event that you'd like to commemorate, Barnstable Bat Company will engrave a custom bat for you, too. Customers commonly use these custom bats for birth announcements, but you can have them customized in a variety of different ways.
You'll likely have to order your custom bat before leaving on your Cape Cod vacation to ensure that Bednark can complete it on time.
Visiting Barnstable Bat Company
If you want to visit Barnstable Bat Company during your time on Cape Cod, you'll first have to find the place. You see, despite the business' success, the Bednarks run the company out of the walk-out basement of their house in Centerville.
The house is just north of Wequaquet Lake on Pleasant Pines Avenue. You can get there by exiting the Mid-Cape Highway onto Iyannough Road and then taking a right on Huckins Neck Road. You'll then take another right onto Pleasant Pines and find the home on the right-hand side.
When you get there, follow the long driveway around the back of the building and park near the blue shop. There's a sign marking the entrance of Barnstable Bat Company.
On most days, the company will have about 300 bats in stock, so you'll have a significant amount of inventory from which to choose. You can also pre-order bats on their website and pick them up during your time on the Cape.
Call Barnstable Bat Company ahead of time to make sure they're open before your arrival. If you're a baseball lover, you won't want anything to prevent you from visiting this Cape Cod institution.
Barnstable Barnstable Bats Cape Cod Baseball
The Top 5 Fun Places for Kids in Barnstable, Massachusetts
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, December 2, 2019
When planning a family vacation to Cape Cod, it's essential to keep your kids' interests in mind. After all, you want them to enjoy themselves, too, and spending too much time relaxing on the beach or exploring the historic sites might get a little repetitive for them.
Luckily, Cape Cod is full of child-friendly activities and locations, giving you plenty of ways to keep them busy.
Whether you want a night out with the entire family or to check out the wildlife on a nature walk, you'll have countless options throughout the Cape.
Barnstable is particularly loaded with places to spend time with your children, so here are the top five fun sites for kids in Cape Cod's only city.
1) Ryan's Ten Pin Eatery
When looking for a location that the entire family can enjoy, Ryan's Ten Pin Eatery is at the top of the list because it has a little bit of everything. This venue is, first and foremost, a bowling alley, but it also features an arcade, some escape rooms, laser tag, and a golf simulator to enjoy.
In addition, there is an on-site restaurant where you can feed the family or stop in for drinks while the kids play.
Ryan's Ten Pin Eatery truly is a destination for everyone who is joining you on your Cape Cod vacation, and since it's located at the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, it's easily accessible from many vacation rentals on the Mid Cape. If you want to keep your kids occupied, they can spend hours at a time at Ryan's Ten Pin Eatery without any trouble whatsoever.
2) Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary
The great thing about vacationing on Cape Cod is that not everything has to cost a fortune. Case and point, the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Cummaquid, which provides 2.5 miles of hiking trails and wildlife viewing opportunities with reasonable rates of $4 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.
The Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary leads to an area that overlooks Barnstable Harbor, but before you get there, you'll cross meadows filled with butterflies, wander trails through the woods, and even see a working farm with animals. Eventually, you'll get to the sandy beach, where you'll see tidal flats and have a view of Sandy Neck Barrier Beach.
Depending on when you visit, you might even have the chance to participate in an interactive kayak or boat tour into the harbor, ensuring that you get to know as much about this scenic portion of Cape Cod as possible.
3) Cape Codder Water Park
There's a chance that you won't have sun every day of your vacation on the Cape, which is why you'll be happy that the Cape Codder Water Park exists. This park, which is part of the Cape Codder Resort and Spa in Hyannis, has a retractable roof, so when it's raining outside, the roof closes, and you won't have to worry about the weather.
No matter what the weather looks like outside, this park is the place to keep your kids entertained because it features two giant waterslides, two smaller options, a river ride, an area for smaller children, and a wave pool. There are also saunas, hot tubs, change rooms, and a cafe, making the water park a spot where you can spend the entire day.
You'll also be happy to know that the waterpark is open year-round, so if you're visiting the Cape during the off-season, you can still take your children to the waterslides.
4) Steve & Sue's Par-Tee Freeze
Located just outside of downtown Hyannis, on West Main Street, Steve & Sue's Par-Tee Freeze is a great place to spend a few hours with the kids. For starters, this venue has a wide selection of soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt, so it's an excellent choice if you're heading out for dessert.
Or, if you're after something a little more substantial, Steve & Sue's Par-Tee Freeze has a small menu featuring hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, and, of course, a lobster roll.
The major draw at Steve & Sue's Par-Tee Freeze, however, is the mini-golf course, which provides the perfect place to wind down after a day spent exploring the Cape, or an excellent way to keep the children active after enjoying a hearty lunch.
No matter how you choose to spend your time at Steve & Sue's Par-Tee Freeze, your family is sure to love it.
5) Luke's Love Boundless Playground
For younger children, Luke's Love Boundless Playground gives you the chance to relax while the kids blow off some energy. The park is named after Luke Powers, a baby boy who tragically passed away in 2000. Luke's parents created the Luke Vincent Powers Foundation, a charity that funds opportunities for children in need, in his memory.
On April 5, 2019, the Powers family was able to open Luke's Love Boundless Playground, providing a free place to spend some time in West Barnstable. The park is along Meetinghouse Way, right beside the Lombard Park baseball diamond, and close to both Route 6 and Route 6A.
As for the park itself, it has slides, a climbing wall, some swings, and other playground favorites for your kids to enjoy. It also features a rubber-based floor that prevents injuries. If you're looking for a place to fill a few hours in Barnstable without spending any money, Luke's Love Boundless Playground is worth considering.
Options for Any Budget
As you can see, you don't have to spend a lot of money to keep your kids busy because there are places that you can visit for free or with nominal fees. Or, if you want to find the perfect mix of entertainment for the children and fun for the adults, there are venues offering activities for both.
Barnstable is home to some of the Cape's most bustling villages, and also has excellent beaches, scenic marinas, outstanding shopping, and first-class dining. The city is perfect for kids, too, so make sure you check out some places that they'll appreciate during your Cape Cod vacation.
Barnstable Kids Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary Lukes Love Playground Mini Golf Steve Sues Ten Pin Eatery Water Parks
The Top 5 Coffee Shops in Barnstable
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, November 25, 2019
As the sun comes up on each morning of your Cape Cod vacation, finding that perfect cup of coffee is essential.
Sure, you could brew a cup yourself in your vacation rental, but maybe you want to get out to explore the Cape and try some local coffee shops.
But with so many choices, where do you go?
In Barnstable, locals definitely have their favorites, so here are the top five coffee shops in Cape Cod’s only city.
1) Nirvana Coffee Company
Located on Main Street in the heart of Barnstable Village, Nirvana Coffee Company is a must-visit during your Cape Cod vacation.
For starters, the coffee shop sits in a converted, historic house, which is reason enough to want to go inside for a cup.
In addition, Nirvana Coffee Company has some of the Cape's best brews, along with breakfast sandwiches, a lunch menu, and iced drinks to enjoy on warmer days.
In short, Nirvana offers everything you could ever want from a coffee shop, and the friendly atmosphere and historic venue just add to its charming vibe.
2) Marylou's Coffee
Located right along Iyannough Road in Hyannis, Marylou's Coffee is almost impossible to miss because of its bright pink decor. As you drive past, you're sure to see the pink sign, and once you head inside, you'll see that their commitment to pink continues there, as well.
Marylou's Coffee is a chain with locations all over Massachusetts, including a second Cape Cod store in Sandwich. It has become a local favorite in Hyannis, however, because it serves perhaps the best coffee in town, in addition to iced drinks, smoothies, teas, and seasonal favorites.
Of course, if you're looking for a quick meal in the morning, you'll find pastries, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and donuts at Marylou's Coffee, too. You can also take a bag of coffee back to your vacation rental, so you don't have to head out the next morning to find the perfect cup of coffee.
3) Pain D'Avignon Restaurant Boulangerie
Pain D'Avignon is a little different from the other venues on this list because it's both a bakery and a restaurant. If you show up in the morning between 7:00 and 11:00 AM, Pain D'Avignon has a coffee shop vibe to it, with a variety of French-style breakfasts available, in addition to fresh pastries and coffee.
On Sundays, the restaurant serves brunch between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM, as well.
Then, in the evenings, Pain D'Avignon becomes a French bistro offering some of the Cape's best cuisine.
When stopping by for a coffee in the morning, you'll quickly see why Pain D'Avignon is so popular, and its location near the Cape Cod Mall makes it easily accessible throughout your time in Barnstable.
4) The Daily Paper
There are two The Daily Paper location in Hyannis: one on Main Street near the harbor and another on West Main Street beside the Barnstable Performing Arts Center.
Both locations are open from 6:00 AM until 2:00 PM Monday through Saturday, with reduced hours on Sundays, and both are known for their classic coffee shop atmosphere.
The coffee at The Daily Paper is from Beanstock Coffee Roasters of Wellfleet, so you know you're getting something local every time you visit. They also try to source as much of their food locally as possible.
Speaking of the food, The Daily Paper has an extensive breakfast menu featuring just about anything you could ever want in the morning, and they have a lunch menu, too.
If you're in the Hyannis area, it's worth stopping by this local favorite for a quick cup of coffee or an entire meal.
Yes, this is just another franchise in the international Starbucks chain, but people in Barnstable love it for one simple reason: they know what to expect.
If you're a fan of Starbucks, there won't be any surprises here, as you can order the same menu items that you enjoy at home, so you're not taking a risk with your morning coffee.
The main Starbucks in Barnstable sits on Iyannough Road, just outside the Cape Cod Mall, but there is another store inside the mall, as well.
There's no reason why your Cape Cod vacation should prevent you from getting your Starbucks fix, and, luckily, Barnstable has you covered.
Coffee and More
As you can tell, Barnstable has a variety of coffee shops, with each having a different atmosphere and a unique way of doing things.
If you’re into enjoying a local cup of coffee with a diner-style meal, you’re in luck.
Likewise, if you’d rather have the same coffee that you order at home, Cape Cod has options for you, as well.
The good news is that you can try a different coffee shop every day in Barnstable because there are so many from which to choose.
Barnstable Coffee Coffee Shops Marylous Nirvana Pain Davignon Starbucks The Daily Paper
The Top 5 Clam Shacks in Barnstable
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, June 24, 2019
Any vacation on Cape Cod must include at least one visit to a local clam shack. After all, these shacks are a significant part of summers on the Cape, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check them out during your stay.
Of course, since there are so many clam shacks on Cape Cod, choosing which ones to eat at can be challenging. Barnstable, the only actual city on the Cape, is particularly full of these shacks, with many of them sitting right along the ocean. For that reason, we’ve put together a list of the top five clam shacks to try in Barnstable this summer.
1) Osterville Fish
You’ll find two Osterville Fish locations in Barnstable, one in Osterville and one in Barnstable Village. The original Osterville Fish Market sits just off Route 28, while the newer storefront, Osterville Fish, Too, is steps from Millway Marina on Barnstable Harbor.
Osterville Fish Market allows you to purchase seafood to cook at home, and also has a take-out menu. Osterville Fish, Too offers patio dining, in addition to its take out menu and fish market. The menus at both locations feature everything you could ever want from a clam shack, including lobster rolls, clam boils, broiled seafood plates, crab cakes, soups, and salads. The Barnstable Harbor location also has burgers, hot dogs, and chicken dishes.
2) Baxter's Boathouse
As you'll soon see, Hyannis Inner Harbor is full of clam shacks, and if your Cape Cod vacation rental is in this area, you'll never run out of places to try. The first location to check out is Baxter's, which is two separate entities: Baxter's Boathouse Club, a 21+ establishment, and Baxter's Fish 'n' Chips, offering family-friendly dining. Baxter's is right on the water and has a dock, so you can even take your boat right to the restaurant for a meal and drinks.
The menu is the same at both versions of Baxter's, although the family-friendly side has a kids' menu, as well. On the menu, you'll find local favorites like stuffed quahog, New England Clam Chowder, seafood plates, steamed clams, lobster rolls, and swordfish dishes. There are also steaks, hamburgers, and chicken entrees available.
3) Spanky's Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon
A second option on Hyannis Inner Harbor is Spanky's Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon, a venue enjoying a prime location on Ocean Street and a patio area overlooking the water. Spanky's shares a building with Pirate Adventures Hyannis and is close to the Hy-Line Ferry Docks, so if you want to grab a bit before heading onto the water, this is the place to do it.
The appetizers at Spanky's are always a draw, including the oysters, scallops, baked oysters, crab cakes, and stuffed quahog. At lunchtime, select from a diverse menu that includes the fried clam roll, lobster roll, and fried scallop roll. You can also get amazing clam chowder, choose from a variety of lobster feasts, go with Spanky's Clambake, or try the restaurant's pasta dishes. Of course, if you're not into seafood, steak, chicken, and salad are also available.
4) The Black Cat Harbor Shack
A final option on the Inner Harbor is The Black Cat, which is actually three restaurants in one. First, there's The Black Cat Tavern, a casual, family-friendly option with pub-style decor. There is also a lounge where you'll find live music four nights per week in the summer. Next door is The Black Cat Harbor Shack, which is basically a take-out window, but you can grab a drink and eat on the patio, as well. Finally, you'll find the Shack Out Back Raw Bar behind the Harbor Shack. This venue has a covered patio and full bar, and also offers live music in the summer. Keep in mind that these restaurants are across the street from the Inner Harbor, but still very scenic.
All three restaurants serve a selection of fried seafood, salads, appetizers, and sandwiches, including their famous lobster salad roll. You can also choose from the raw bar and entree menus at Shack Out Back and The Black Cat Tavern.
5) Wimpy's Seafood Cafe & Market
Wimpy’s sits on Main Street in downtown Osterville, so it’s a little away from the waterfront, but it still serves fresh seafood in a laidback, diner-style atmosphere, making it well worth a visit. Wimpy's dates back to 1938 and is both a restaurant and marketplace so you can order a meal to enjoy on-site or grab some seafood to take back to your Cape Cod vacation rental with you. There is often live entertainment on weekends at Wimpy's, as well.
The menu at Wimpy's is a little different from others on this list because it has dinners like meatloaf, chicken parmesan, and turkey, but there is also a great deal of seafood available, starting with Wimpy's Famous Quahog Chowder. You'll also find a raw bar, fried seafood meals, and, as is Cape Cod tradition, a lobster roll on the menu.
Check Out a Clam Shack on This Vacation
As you can see, there is no shortage of clam shacks in Barnstable, and as you start exploring the city, you’re sure to come across many great restaurants to sample. Make sure you get out to at least one of the city’s top shacks on your upcoming vacation because you can’t beat the authentic Cape Cod vibe and fresh seafood that each of them provides.
Barnstable Cape Cod Restaurants Clam Shacks
Beaches That Allow Offroading on Cape Cod
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, June 10, 2019
The beaches of Cape Cod provide a paradise for all who visit them, but did you know that you can drive your vehicle in search of secluded spots with no one else nearby? Many residents of the Cape take advantage of this feature every year because they can escape the crowds and relax in peace on quite pieces of sand.
As a visitor to Cape Cod, you might find it more challenging to go ahead with this venture, but if you drive to the area and have a four-wheel drive vehicle, nothing is stopping you from offroading on some of the Cape’s exceptional beaches.
Here is a list of some of Cape Cod's top ORV beaches, along with the rules and regulations that you must follow.
Rules and Equipment
To access any of Cape Cod's beaches in your vehicle, you must, first of all, have a four-wheel drive truck or SUV. Attempting to drive on the sand without this equipment is a recipe for failure and will lead to you getting stuck. In fact, officials won't even let you attempt it.
Before being permitted on these beaches, your car or truck will have to pass an inspection. If you've passed an inspection in the last year, you might be spared this time around, but park employees are allowed to have a look at your vehicle at any point to make sure it meets the requirements. You're also required to have the following six items in your vehicle at all times: a tire gauge, a spare tire, a shovel, tow straps, a jack, and a support board. All of these articles will assist you if you get stuck in the sand.
Each beach has its own rules that you’ll have to follow. We’ll outline many of these rules and regulations later in the article.
Staying safe is crucial whenever you're close to the ocean, so make sure you follow the advice and instructions of local town administrators. You'll also want to keep an eye on the tide chart yourself, just in case you miss a warning that is put out by the town.
When driving, try to stay out of the ruts. While you'll probably want to follow the tracks of other vehicles in soft sand, as they will provide more traction, you'll want to avoid deeper ruts because they can cause your car or truck to bottom out and get stuck.
The reason for bringing a tire gauge is to monitor your tire pressure. You should lower the pressure in all of your tires to between 11 and 15 psi because this provides better traction in soft sand.
Nauset Beach in Orleans
Nauset Beach in Orleans frequently closes because of the threatened and endangered birds that reside on its shores, but if you happen to be around when it's open, there's nothing like it. You'll need to have your vehicle inspected before you can purchase a beach access sticker, which is $66 for residents and $196 for out of towners, with discounted rates available for the winter.
You can spend the night on the beach if you have a self-contained vehicle, defined here as a camper, motorhome, or trailer with a water source and toilet. The permit for taking these vehicles onto the beach costs $266 per year. Fires on the beach are prohibited.
The Cape Cod National Seashore
Depending on the time of year, much of the Cape Cod National Seashore allows ORV access, but you'll have to be prepared for closures here, as well. Vehicles are permitted everywhere from Race Point Light to Long Nook Beach, which is just south of Coast Guard Beach.
During the spring, however, there are restrictions on many places along the beach because of piping plover nesting, and you'll also see beaches closed when there are unsafe conditions or work being done to prepare the beaches for the summer. On Coast Guard Beach, you can only access the sand in your vehicle between 6:00 PM and 7:00 AM for night fishing purposes, as it's too busy during the day.
To get a permit to enter the Cape Cod National Seashore in your vehicle, you'll have to pass a vehicle inspection, have all the required safety equipment, view the orientation program, and purchase a pass. This pass will cost you $50 for seven days or $150 for the entire year. Keep in mind that rental vehicles are not permitted and you must be the registered owner of the truck to obtain a pass. If you wish to spend the night on one of the beaches, you’ll need a self-contained vehicle pass, which is $225 per year or $75 per week. Camping is only permitted on Race Point Beach, and trailers are prohibited.
Sandy Neck Beach in West Barnstable
In Barnstable, certain portions of Sandy Neck Beach are accessible via offroad vehicle. The beach is very long, and much of the vehicle-friendly area is at the far east end of the park. To reach these areas, turn right onto the trail that is just north of the Sandy Neck Gate House. This trail will take you to the dunes, which you can drive on until you reach your desired location. You can drive all the way out near Beach Point, which is a secluded area where you can find a piece of sand all to yourself.
To obtain a beach pass, you'll have to provide your driver's license, proof of address, and vehicle registration at the Sandy Neck Gate House. Barnstable residents can buy a pass for $30 for the winter or $90 for the year, while non-resident passes are $60 for the winter and $180 for the year. You are permitted to spend the night on the beach if you have a self-contained vehicle, although it will cost you an extra $5-10 per night. You can also use a tent in the designated camping area. Campfires are allowed with a permit.
Chapin Memorial and Crowes Pasture in Dennis
In Dennis, you’ll have access to two ORV-friendly locations in a relatively small area at Chapin Memorial and Crowes Pasture beaches. Chapin Memorial Beach provides easy access to the sand through its main parking area. Once you head through the parking lot, turn left and head south along the beach until you find a spot to yourself.
At the far east end of town is Crowes Pasture Conservation Area, which is home to a long stretch of beach that is ORV-friendly. Getting to this beach is a little more complicated, however, as you'll have to turn onto South Street from the Old King's Highway. Follow South Street in a northeast direction until you get to the sand. From there, turn right, and you can follow the sand out to Quivett Neck. There are plenty of secluded spots on this beach, especially since it's not as popular with tourist beachgoers as many others in the area.
The Town of Dennis doesn't offer daily or weekly passes, so you'll have to purchase an annual ORV sticker if you want to take your vehicle onto one of its beaches. The sticker costs $150 for locals and $300 for everyone else. Your vehicle might have to pass an inspection before being allowed on the sand, and only the registered owner can drive it. No rental cars are allowed, and these beaches do not allow overnight stays of any kind.
Watch for Closures
Keep an eye out for beach closures that could impact your ability to drive on a particular beach. In the spring, for example, many beaches close sections to protect the piping plover, a threatened shorebird that nests in the Cape’s sands, most notably on the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Poor weather or damaged beaches could also lead to closures, particularly for offroad vehicles. Have a look at your desired beach’s website and social media pages to make sure it’s open before venturing onto the sand.
As long as you take the necessary precautions, you should have an excellent time exploring Cape Cod’s beaches in your vehicle.
Barnstable Cape Cod Beaches Cape Cod National Seashore Chapin Beach Coast Guard Beach Crowes Pasture Dennis Long Nook Beach Nauset Beach Offroading Orleans Provincetown Race Point Sandy Neck
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
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