Hampton’s, Bar Harbor, Newport. Everyone has their vacation spot for a preppy, WASPy, beachy summer getaway. I was born into a Cape Cod family. For over forty years, my mom’s family has been coming to Yarmouth, Cape Cod, and from the middle of May through Labor Day, we’re at my grandma’s summer house every weekend. Some of my favorite family memories are from the beaches of South Yarmouth, and it will always be the place where my beloved Grandpa Paul and I used to play on the beach and read Berenstein Bears books in the mornings.
At the end of every summer, my family takes what we call “The Big Vacation,” two weeks of uninterrupted berry-picking, kayaking, biking, and beaching. Though we aren’t completely isolated from reality, our Cape house comes pretty close. The TV is huge, a giant cube dating back at least to the early 90s, and every appliance in the kitchen makes you feel like you’re in a time warp. Until a few years ago, we didn’t have WIFI, and the cell phone reception is still highly questionable. Wet towels and laundry get hung out to dry on a clothesline in the yard, and our main transportation is my ’96 Mercury Sable. Even for an Instagram lover like myself, the vacation from reality is an enormous gift and treasure, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the fast pace of life.
Some of my family’s Cape favorites, as photographed during this year’s Big Vacation:
If you’ve seen any of the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Chapin Beach in Dennis is the Cape Cod version of all those gorgeous endless beaches. During low tide, you can walk for miles on the sandbars on some of the softest, most beautiful sand on the Cape.
Ice cream is a HUGE part of the Cape. Ice cream trucks at the beaches, and hundreds of ice cream shoppes everywhere else. My family is a Sundae School family, but if you’re into the old-fashioned soda fountain style WITH food, Hallet’s of Yarmouthport has been making delicious food and homemade ice cream since 1889. Their root beer floats are to die for.
If you’re into that whole, dinner-with-a-gorgeous-view thing, Mattakeese Wharf in Barnstable is literally a sunset-palooza. My family eats one big fancy dinner here for my birthday every year, and we spend about 60% of the meal getting up to take pictures from various spots in the restaurant. If the two photos above don’t sell you on it, go see your eye doctor.
Cape Cod is famous for seafood and fish, but in my religious Jewish family, most of the food of the sea is lost on us. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Cape scrod from Hearth & Kettle, or a grilled tuna steak, but my family was thrilled when Green Lotus Cafe opened on Main St. in Hyannis. They have tons of delicious drinks, amazing Potato-Fennel and Fresh Green Bean soups, and their vegetarian/vegan-optional sandwiches are delish.
If you want natural Cape beauty of the undiscovered, off-the-beaten-track variety, take a tour of the dunes in Provincetown with Art’s Dune Tours. They’ve been doing tours of the dunes in Provincetown for over 60 years, and aside from Park Rangers, they’re the only people authorized to drive through National Seashore’s beautiful protected dunes. My family took one of these tours today, and our guide, Al, did a great job of showing us a hidden Cape treasure that President JFK loved enough to designate as protected land in 1962. The tours last an hour, and leave from the center of Provincetown, so you can make a day of it.
Provincetown’s main drag is full of yummy restaurants and fabulous clothing and novelty shops. My dad and I hit up Grab n Go Health Bar for smoothies and healthy wraps, while my mom and grandma opted for the more traditional baked goods at the Nut House.