The Beach Times

What's Open on Cape Cod?
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, July 27, 2020


There's a lot of uncertainty around the globe, as the COVID-19 pandemic forces closures to numerous businesses and makes air travel far more challenging and risky.

This issue has led to many people putting off their travel plans for the near future, choosing to stay close to home.

If you live somewhere in the Northeast, you're likely within driving distance of Cape Cod, and the good news is that many outdoor venues are open to visitors.

Here's a look at some of the top activities you can participate in while following social distancing protocols and staying safe on Cape Cod.

The Beaches

If you're going to be around people during a COVID-19 outbreak, you should stay outdoors, and the beaches of Cape Cod provide an excellent opportunity to enjoy the weather. All six beaches on the Cape Cod National Seashore are open for visitors, as are other popular destinations like West Dennis Beach, Kalmus Beach, Bank Street Beach, and Breakwater Beach.

Depending on the beach you visit, you can also rent a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, canoe, or jet ski, giving you even more activities during your time on the Cape.

Cape Cod has enough beach space that you can spread out without feeling overcrowded, allowing you to enjoy your vacation without the risks of higher density locations.

Hiking Trails

There are hiking and walking trails everywhere on Cape Cod, and you can walk all day in some of these areas without encountering another human being. These trails are maintained by groups like Mass Audubon, MassWildlife, the Barnstable Land Trust, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and various local groups, giving you all kinds of variety.

Some of the paths, such as Great Island Trail, go through coastal marshes while others, like the Lowell Holly Reservation, take you through the woods around the area's kettle ponds. Other hiking areas that you'll want to explore include Beebe Woods, Sandy Neck Beach Park, and the Knob, depending on how far you want to walk and your preferred destination.

Bike Paths

The trails on Cape Cod aren't all reserved for hiking, as there are over 114 miles of bike paths to explore that will take you through some of the region's most secluded environments.

The biggest name of this list is the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which runs 25.7 miles between South Yarmouth and South Wellfleet, passing ponds and forests along the way. The trail makes it easy to socially distance while seeing some of the Cape's most beautiful locations.

For a more urban bike ride, you can cycle on the Cape Cod Canal's 7 miles of trails. These paths are on both sides of the canal, as are easily accessible for beginners because they're mostly paved.

In the Falmouth area, the Shining Sea Bikeway takes you from North Falmouth to Woods Hole while providing Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound views. The trail is less than 11 miles long, with numerous access points throughout Falmouth.

Smaller bike trails like Head of Meadow Trail in Truro, Nauset Marsh Trail near Coast Guard Beach, the Chatham Loop, and the Province Lands Trail in Provincetown also provide excellent opportunities to explore Cape Cod's natural environment and avoid the crowds.

Pop-Up Drive-Ins

You might think that going to the movies is out of the question when socially distancing, but Cape Cod has a solution for you: the drive-in.

For years, the Wellfleet Drive-In was the only venue of this nature on the Cape, and it's still the only permanent one. However, there are pop-up drive-ins in West Yarmouth, Hyannis, and Falmouth that provide another way to spend your time in the evening on the Cape.

The cost of these venues varies, but they're generally an affordable way to see a movie without the risk of sitting beside a stranger in a crowded theater.

Fishing and Whale Watching Charters

If you're driving to Cape Cod, you'll have the opportunity to bring a boat with you, if you have one at home. Otherwise, there's still the opportunity to get on the water because numerous fishing and whale watching charters are open for business.

Cape Cod Whale Watch in Provincetown and Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises are operating with enhanced safety protocols, giving you the chance to see rare sea mammals in their natural environment.

As for fishing charters, most of the boats are currently operating, including Affordable Cape Cod Charter Fishing in Chatham, Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro, and Helen H Deep Sea Fishing in Hyannis.

Check around because many other charter companies are operating with enhanced sanitizing and safety procedures in effect.

Staying Close to Home

Cape Cod isn't closed for tourism, as many businesses have taken it upon themselves to keep their customers safe during this challenging time.

The Cape's beaches and parks are also open and offer a low-risk destination on your vacation.

Remember that there could be quarantining protocol in effect if you're from outside of Massachusetts, but many other northeastern states are considered "safe" by state officials.

COVID-19 has made travel more difficult, but several of the Cape's top attractions are up and running, giving you the rare opportunity to experience some of the country's most beautiful locations without the crowds.



Activities Beaches Biking Drivein Movie Things To Do On Cape Cod Whale Watch

Yes, Cape Cod Has Mountain Biking, Too
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Tuesday, January 21, 2020


mountain biking on cape cod

Although the paved bike paths on Cape Cod get much of the attention, there is an active mountain bike scene here, too. In fact, those in-the-know report that the Cape is becoming a mountain bikers' mecca thanks to the hundreds of miles of maintained trails found here.

If you're able to bring your mountain bike to your Cape Cod vacation rental, you'll have access to all of these trails, as many are minutes from the downtown sections of the Cape's largest towns.

Here's what you need to know about the best places to mountain bike on Cape Cod.

The Trail of Tears

The best-known mountain biking area on Cape Cod is the Trail of Tears in West Barnstable. The Trail of Tears sits inside a 1,200-acre conservation area on Race Lane that is popular with hikers, runners, cross-country skiers, and, of course, mountain bikers.

There's about 21 miles of track that run through the region and feature a variety of steep and twisted sections. The trail isn't overly technical, but there are some opportunities to catch some air because of the abundance of short climbs.

To get to the park, exit the Mid-Cape Highway on either Prospect Street or Chase Road and follow the street until you reach Race Lane. The parking area for the West Barnstable Conservation Area has a sign along the main road.

Willow Street Trails

The Willow Street riding area in Hyannis and Yarmouth is actually made up of two separate locations. When you ride both of them, however, it creates 35 miles of track that will keep you occupied for hours.

The first area is 20 miles in size and heads through the Hyannis Ponds Wildlife Management Area. Much of this trail is right along Route 6, but you can escape the highway and head into the woods at various points. Getting to this path is as simple as exiting Route 6 at Exit 7 and parking beside the railroad tracks.

The other area in Yarmouth features 15 miles of track off Higgins Crowell Road. You can follow the trail to Little Sandy Pond, which provides a great place to stop for a quick break on your journey. There's a small parking lot on Higgins Crowell Road that you can use while exploring the area.

The Otis Trails

Use caution when riding the Otis in Bourne and Falmouth because there are some restricted areas along the way. There's a very good reason for this, as the trails pass the Otis Air Force Base, and civilians aren't allowed on that land under any circumstances. If you go too far, you run the risk of having military police escort you off the property.

It can be challenging to know where the trails end and the base begins because there aren't any signs or markings. As a general rule, don't cross any paved roads on your ride, and you should be fine.

Although many riders are scared away by the prospect of having to deal with military police, the Otis provides one of the best rides on the Cape because a lot of it heads through the Frances Crane Wildlife Management Area.

Much of the track here is quite fast, with plenty of ups and downs throughout the ride. Some of the hills are quite long, and you'll find some technical sections here, too.

Parking for the Otis Trails is relatively easy to find, as it sits just east of where Route 28 and Route 151 meet. There's a small pullout on the side of Route 151 that provides direct access to the trails and will act as your starting point. Just be careful to avoid the military base, and you'll have a great time on this journey.

Nickerson State Park

Probably the best-known location on this list is Nickerson State Park in Brewster, which is a popular hiking, fishing, swimming, and boating area. The park has over 1,900 acres of forests, ponds, and trails, giving you plenty of places to explore.

One thing to remember about Nickerson State Park is that the trails around Flax Pond, Cliff Pond, and Little Cliff Pond are for hiking only, so you cannot bring your bike there. You can ride around Higgin's Pond and Ruth Pond, however, and there is a good mix of beginner and intermediate paths, as well.

Parking at Nickerson State Park is relatively easy, as there are lots throughout the space that are open to the public. The mountain bike trails also meet up with the Cape Cod Rail Trail, making it possible to ride in and out of the park if you wish.

The Badlands

There are tons of trails at the Badlands in Yarmouth, and if you want to explore them all, you'll have to return for at least a second day.

Most of the trails are relatively easy, as they wind through a conservation area featuring a cranberry bog and some wetlands. The singletracks here are smooth and easy to navigate, with small hills and some gentle ups and downs that provide a leisurely ride. One of the trails even connects to another path that will take you to Maple Swamp, which is about 30 miles away.

This park does have a devious side, however, as the Badland Trail is something a little different. The Badland Trail isn't a natural mountain biking area, but rather a constructed singletrack that winds around and around through an abandoned sandpit.

Many who have ridden this trail say it is unlike anything they've ever experienced before, so if you dare to attempt it, make sure you're ready for a unique ride.

The Badlands sits just off the Mid-Cape Highway with parking available on West Great Western Road, Union Street, and Weir Road. There aren't any designated parking lots, but rather pullouts along the side of the roads that you'll have to find.

Mountain Biking on Cape Cod

This list is just a small taste of some of the better-known mountain biking spots on the Cape, but there is plenty more to explore.

If you're planning a trip to Cape Cod and are interested in learning more about the mountain biking scene, check out the New England Mountain Bike Association's website. There, you'll find trail maps and more information on the best places to ride during your Cape Cod vacation.



Badlands Biking Hyannis Mountain Biking Nickerson State Park Otis Trails Trail Of Tears West Barnstable Yarmouth

The Top 5 Fun Places for Kids in Falmouth
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, June 3, 2019


 

As you first enter Cape Cod over the Bourne Bridge, take Massachusetts Route 28 to the south, and you'll quickly end up in the town of Falmouth, a community with about 30,000 residents, great beaches, and amazing access to the Cape's waterways. In fact, Falmouth has beaches on both Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, making it the only town on Cape Cod to boast those features.

Those visiting Falmouth with their kids will also love the plethora of available activities in all parts of the town. You'll have no problem keeping your kids occupied because of the following top five fun places for kids in Falmouth.

 

1) Cataumet Crossing Light Mini Golf

Mini golf is always a hit with the kids and just outside of North Falmouth is where you’ll find Cataumet Crossing Light Mini Golf. The great thing about this venue is that there's more than just mini golf, as they have bumper boats, batting cages, and an assortment of rides for young children. There's also Lazy Sundaes Ice Cream, made at the world famous Richardson's Dairy, so your kids can have a treat after playing in the sun.

Although not officially part of the business, Cataumet Crossing Light Mini Golf shares a parking lot with Daily Brew Coffee House and The Parrot Bar & Grill, allowing you to easily step out for a cup of joe or take the family for dinner at the end of the day.

 

2) Uncle Bill's Country Store

Just down the North Falmouth Highway from the mini golf place sits Uncle Bill's Country Store, a fascinating location for old and young alike. To be clear, the main reason why your kids will like Uncle Bill's is because of its old fashioned penny candy, but older children might appreciate the handcrafted furniture, ship models, artwork, and jewelry sold there, as well.

This gift shop is attached to the Silver Lounge Restaurant, which is home to one of Cape Cod's best lobster rolls and features an extensive children's menu, so you can easily make a stop by Uncle Bill's after your meal.

 

3) Shining Sea Bikeway

The Shining Sea Bikeway is a 10.7-mile path that heads through cranberry bogs, marshland, and farms while providing remarkable views of West Falmouth Harbor, Salt Pond, and Oyster Pond. Riding or walking along the path is an excellent activity to do with your kids because it provides free entertainment and allows them to get outdoors for the day. The main parking areas for the path are in North Falmouth and Woods Hole, although you can enter and exit the bikeway in numerous locations along the way.

If bringing the bikes on your Cape Cod vacation is impossible, you can rent from Bike Zone or Art's Bike Rental near the trailhead in North Falmouth or Corner Cycle in downtown Falmouth. Art's Bike Rental has trailer bikes, pull-behind trailers, and bicycle baby seats, while Bike Zone features kids' bike rentals and pull-behind wagons. There are swimming areas, restaurants, washrooms, and information centers as you head along the Shining Sea Bikeway, as well.

 

4) Woods Hole Aquarium

The Woods Hole area has one of the country's top oceanographic institutions and also features a world-class aquarium to explore with your kids. The aquarium is small but gives children the chance to get up close with and even touch lobsters, clams, small fish, starfish, and shells, while learning about marine mammals, sea turtles, and other species native to the Cape Cod area.

Admission to the Woods Hole Science Aquarium is by donation, and since the venue dates back to 1885, it's the oldest marine aquarium in the entire country.

 

5) Highfield Hall

Deep in the woods just outside of downtown Falmouth is where you'll find Highfield Hall & Gardens. The hall sits in a restored Victorian home from 1878 and is surrounded by 400 acres of conservation land, providing plenty of space for your kids to wander around and explore. Of particular interest to the young ones are the trails through Beebe Woods and the family-friendly events featuring bands, artists, and activities held through the year.

Highfield Hall & Gardens is open from the middle of April until the end of October every year and is free for kids under 12. Many special events are free for adults, as well, although regular admission is $8 for non-members.

 

So Many Children’s Activities

The Cape is full of notable things to do with your kids, and if you’re staying in the Falmouth area, you won’t have to travel far to find them.

Cape Cod truly is a destination for the entire family, as there are very few places in the country where you can hike, bike, play mini golf, eat at delicious restaurants, visit the beach, and check out a renowned aquarium over the course of a few days, but that is precisely what you can expect in Falmouth.



Activities Aquarium Bike Paths Biking Country Store Falmouth Highfield Hall Kids Mini Golf Shining Sea Bikeway Whoi Woods Hole Aquarium

The Extension of the Cape Cod Rail Trail
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, May 27, 2019


rail trail

There's no better way to explore the Cape than by taking a bike along the Cape Cod Rail Trail. The trail follows the route of the Old Colony Railroad and is paved all the way through, making it a smooth ride that even novice riders can enjoy. The trail also has wide lanes, plenty of places to stop for food and drinks, and is incredibly well maintained.

In November 2018, local officials put the finishing touches on a new section of trail, expanding the CCRT to from its original western trailhead in Dennis to a new area in Yarmouth. This expansion should make the path more accessible for those staying in Yarmouth and improve access to parking, as well.

There are bike shops in multiple locations along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, giving you the chance to get out there and explore from your Cape Cod vacation rental.

 

New Section of Trail

Adding a new section of trail was actually a massive undertaking because the updated route crosses Route 134, near the Dennis Trailhead, and the Bass River. The solution was to create two bridges, one over the highway and another over the river, to ensure that riders could cross these obstacles without having to deal with vehicle traffic.

The bridge over the Bass River is incredibly scenic and adds an entirely new element to the trail. Keep in mind that this new section is close to Route 6, however, so it isn’t as quiet as other parts.

Along with the new trail, there is now a large parking lot on Main Street in South Dennis, just west of the parking area on Route 134.

 

Connecting with Other Trails

Perhaps the main benefit of the expanded trail is that it meets with an existing section of path in Yarmouth. While the latest extension of the Cape Cod Rail Trail ends at North Main Street in Yarmouth, it reaches an additional segment of pathway that has a bridge running over Station Avenue and goes all the way to Peter Homer Park. There is a large parking area on Station Avenue, just before the bridge, and further spaces available at the park, so riders will have plenty of options when driving to the trailhead.

From the park, you can also get on a paved, but narrower and less maintained, trail that goes past Bayberry Hills Golf Course and ends at Higgins Crowell Road in West Yarmouth. In fact, thanks to these trails, you can almost get to Hyannis Harbor and the Barnstable Municipal Airport from Wellfleet without having to ride on any roads. Improvements to the section of trail between Peter Homer Park and Higgins Crowell Road, including integrating it into the CCRT, are expected in the coming years.

 

Possible Extensions in the Future

There is already talk of expanding the Cape Cod Rail Trail to a parking lot just south of Cahoon Hollow Road in Wellfleet, about two miles from the current northeastern trailhead near Lecount Hollow Road in South Wellfleet. The expansion would see the trail run right alongside Route 6 and approach downtown Wellfleet. Opponents of the development believe running the trail along the highway brings unnecessary danger, however, and would prefer to wait until they can agree on a safer expansion route.

The goal is to have the trail eventually reach Truro, where it will meet with existing trails heading into Provincetown, but many locals want to see the expansion head along the Cape Cod National Seashore, rather than following Route 6 the entire way. This leg hasn’t even entered the planning stage, so it remains at least a few years away.

Another expansion into Barnstable is a little further along, with officials saying the new route is about 25% designed and due for completion by 2022. This route will see another bridge built over Willow Street, with the entire track finishing up at Independence Park in Hyannis.

From there, eventually, the Cape Cod Rail Trail will run from Sandwich to Truro, with connecting trails heading into Provincetown, giving locals and visitors the chance to ride the entire Cape. There is no set timeline on the completion of the whole project.

 

Spend Your Vacation Exploring the Trail

Even if you’re unable to bring your bike to Cape Cod, it’s easy to rent one, as there are shops near most of the main trail entry points. Don’t miss out on one of the Cape’s top activities, especially now that the Cape Cod Rail Trail is more accessible than ever.

No matter where on the Cape you book a vacation rental, you’re never too far from the Cape Cod Rail Trail and all of its amazing scenery, views, and history.



Bike Paths Biking Cape Cod Rail Trail Rail

Cape Cod Rail Trail Bike Rentals and Parking
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, September 24, 2018


Cape Cod Rail Trail Bike Shop

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is something that you’ll surely want to check out during your vacation, but it makes sense to go over the logistics of the outing before you arrive. Are you driving to the Cape? If so, you can always throw a bike rack on your vehicle while you make the journey. But what if you’re flying into the area or you’re unsure if you want to haul your bikes all the way to Cape Cod?

The good news is that not having a bike with you doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the scenery and history of the Cape Cod Rail Trail. All you have to do is locate one of the bicycle rental shops near the trail, and you’re all set.

It’s also smart to learn where the largest parking areas along the trail are positioned. That way, you won’t spend your morning looking for a space when you could be pedaling through the woods or trying one of the great breakfast places near the path.

Here are some of the bike rental shops near the Cape Cod Rail Trail’s various access points.

 

Barb's Bike Shop

Right at the South Dennis Trailhead is Barb's Bike Shop, a full-service store offering bike rentals, repairs, and sales. Every bike rental at this shop comes with a free helmet, and they also have a bike delivery service to locations in Harwich, Yarmouth, and Dennis. The service means you can request a delivery to your vacation rental, so you don't have to worry about transporting it yourself.

 

Dennis Cycle Center

A short distance down the trail in Dennis is the Dennis Cycle Center. This store also offers deliveries, which are free if you rent the bike for more than a day. Repairs and sales are available at the shop, and they even have adult tricycles, tandem bikes, and electric bicycles from which to choose.

 

Old Colony Bikes

There is an area in Harwich where the Cape Cod Rail Trail comes to a fork. If you head north, you'll continue on the Rail Trail, while heading east takes you on the Old Colony Trail. The first section of this secondary trail is also where you'll find Old Colony Bikes, a shop specializing in bike rentals. You can rent for anywhere from half a day to an entire week, depending on how much riding you want to do.

 

Bike Rentals in Brewster

As you come into Brewster, you'll reach Rail Trail Bike & Kayak Shop and Brewster Bike, which are steps from each other. At Rail Trail Bike & Kayak Shop, you can not only rent a bicycle but a kayak or paddleboard, as well. The great thing about this location is that you can leave your vehicle in the parking lot when you head out on the trail before returning at the end of the day. Brewster Bike offers a wide selection of bikes and has a delivery service, as well.

 

Idle Times Bike Shop

If you're planning to enter the trail from Eastham, Orleans, or Wellfleet, Idle Times Bike Shop has you covered. These shops offer rentals, in addition to deliveries throughout the Outer Cape. The Orleans location is right downtown, while the two spots in Eastham are near the Rail Trail and less than a block from each other. The Wellfleet store is north of the Wellfleet Trailhead.

 

Orleans Cycle

Heading to downtown Orleans, you’ll come across Orleans Cycle. This shop is convenient because it sits right where the Rail Trail and Main Street cross, making it easy to access. It's also across the street from Idle Times, so you'll have plenty of options. Keep in mind that for single-day rentals, you must drop the bike off at least an hour before closing time.

 

Mike’s Bike Trail Rentals

A unique place to rent a bicycle is Mike’s Bike Trail Rentals, which runs out of a small trailer at Cape Cod Adventure Golf. This store is just off the Rail Trail and has a large parking area, so you can leave your vehicle while you head out and enjoy the sights. This location doesn't have the same inventory as the others, but if you're looking for a basic bike for a short ride with the family, they've got you covered.

 

Wellfleet Bike Rentals

It’s very simple to explore the trail from Wellfleet Bike Rentals because the bikeway run right behind the shop. The store is in a secluded area on Route 6 that also provides access to the Cape Cod National Seashore, should you want to try something different. Ebikes and electric bikes are offered, too.

 

Little Capistrano Bike Shop

Another shop with multiple locations is Little Capistrano Bike Shop, as it has stores in Wellfleet and Eastham. The Wellfleet shop is right at the trailhead, making it convenient if you’re starting from there. The Eastham store is about a four-minute ride from the trail at the Cape Cod National Seashore Salt Pond Visitor Center, so it’s also a handy spot to head out on the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

 

Where to Park

If you do bring your own vehicle or have a rental car that you wish to leave near the trail, you’ll have a few free options, depending on where you start and end your ride.

The South Dennis Trailhead has a sizable parking area right where the trail begins. There are also a few dining options nearby. Other official Cape Cod Rail Trail parking locations can be found in South Yarmouth, Harwich, Brewster, and Orleans. There is a brand new lot in South Yarmouth right near Stop & Shop. The lot in Harwich is near Hinckleys Pond, the Brewster spaces are across the street from Ferretti's Market, and the Orleans parking area is in the heart of downtown.

If you start in the north, the Wellfleet Trailhead also has a large parking lot. You can also park at the Cape Cod National Seashore at the Salt Pond Visitors Center or in the Marconi Beach area for free.

As was mentioned, some bike shops will let you leave your vehicle there while you head on the trail. Inquire prior to arrival if parking is an important feature for you.

 

Getting Out on the Trail

You’ll have so many options when choosing where to start your Cape Cod Rail Trail journey that it can be overwhelming. Your best bet is to figure out how far you want to ride and go from there. If you’re only looking to head out for a few hours, you can start from anywhere, but if you want to complete the entire trail, you’ll have to be a little more strategic.

The great thing about having a Cape Cod vacation rental to call your own is that you can split the journey up into multiple days and take advantage of the various parking spots up and down the trail. As you experience more of the sights and sounds of the path, you’ll clearly see why it is a favorite place to spend a day on the Cape.



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