Upper Cape Cod
The “shoulder” of the alluring arm shaped cape on the map connects to mainland Massachusetts via two busy bridges, the Sagamore and the Bourne. Blue hydrangeas, shops and restaurants permeate the towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Sandwich, and Mashpee.
The Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth has spacious guest rooms and suites with nautical décor, resting on a white sandy beach. Green Harbor Waterfront Lodging has special package rates with a private saltwater cove. Falmouth is the gateway to all of the cape and Martha’s Vineyard.
The Cape Club by Troon in Falmouth is one of the best courses in the region after undergoing an expansive transformation that included all new green complexes, new/re-contoured fairways, larger playing corridors and more. The spectacular 3-story clubhouse is perched on a hilltop with plenty of meeting space and a veranda to escape the crowds. Feel the breeze from nearby Buzzards Bay. A local favorite is Falmouth Country Club with rates starting at $26 to play the championship 18-hole course or the bonus 9-hole Talon course. Ride, walk or surf on the golf board. Woods Hole Golf Club has high standards restricting play to “experienced golfers with their own personal clubs.”
Cycle one of the most picturesque ocean trails in the world – the Shining Sea Trail. Pass through shaded woods, cranberry bogs, ponds, marshes and seaside. From Falmouth to Woods Hole where the ferries cross to the islands is a pretty flat 10.5-mile excursion. Use caution at the few road crossings. After, savor the seafood at the Flying Bridge restaurant on the water – a great view and worth the possible wait.
Mid Cape Cod
The “bicep” includes the towns of Yarmouth, Dennis and Barnstable as well as the village of Hyannis within Barnstable, made famous as the summer home of the Kennedy clan. Beach going vacationers enjoy the warm waters and soft sand of Nantucket Sound shores. T-shirt stands along Route 28 brand the area with wearable souvenirs.
Hyannis Holiday Hotel delivers a bargain vacation with stay and play packages.
The beautifully landscaped entrance to Dennis Pines and Dennis Highlands sets the stage for the 7,000 and 6500-yard runs that challenge all players. Towering pines adorn each fairway with plenty of water obstacles to enhance the experience. Even in the early foggy mist Hyannis is clearly a beautiful course with higher elevations than most of the Cape Cod landscape.
Walkers get a great workout and a great value at $59 per round. It is natural scenery sans homes. The Sound of Music might ring in your ears as you golf around to the famous horseshoe number 8. Picture rolling hills and long narrow fairways with pines and maple forests that become vibrant with fall colors. Old Barnstable Fairgrounds, designed by Geoffrey Cornish and Mark Mangeam is an enjoyable walkable course highlighted by the spacious clubhouse with pro shop and restaurant atop a high hill overlooking the scenic countryside. It is annually voted one of the best municipal courses on the Cape.
Check out the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis and learn about Rum Running or head to the waterfront along the brick walkway to sip your own rum and crunch Cape Cod Potato Chips (factory tour is available).
Lower Cape Cod
In the “elbow” leading to the “forearm” or outer Cape Cod lies the towns of Harwich, Chatham, Orleans and Brewster.
Brewster’s Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club has it all. Watch the tidal chart for low tide and venture out for miles in the soft wet sand through tidal pools teeming with life across the “salt flat.” Cages full of Brewster’s oysters are harvested and transported with small wagons for commercial sale and preparation at the Ocean Edge Terrace. Fine cuisine is served inside or on the terrace overlooking the water. An open fire pit draws guests together to toast the sunset. The 1890s historic Mansion Hotel offers the Presidential Bay Collection, Grand Corner Suites or Guest Rooms, all generously sized with a balcony.
The Jack Nicklaus Course at Ocean Edge has matured into a beauty. Great service begins with John Sheffler welcoming members and guests of the resort to the Troon Prive venue. Immaculate conditions and floral gardens permeate the course over hills and along Blueberry Pond. Separate public and member bars share the scenic patio for nineteenth hole delights.
Cranberry Valley Golf Course has 800+members for good reason. It is pretty, challenging and very friendly. Starter Pete sets the pace juggling public play with member leagues. It is a multigenerational affair with senior ladies ready at 6am. Junior programs follow. Locals come to the Stove for a hearty breakfast and daily news, golfers or not.
Take history buffs to the Cape Cod Museum of natural history or the Drummer Boy Park or Stony Grist Mill.
Perhaps the most renowned island getaway for the rich and famous, Martha’s Vineyard is accessible to all.
One of the many charming B&B cottages unless The Mansion House is available. The rooftop view is amazing of the island port where the Steamship Authority ferries over from Woods Hole, Cape Cod. While The Mansion House advises to “leave your car in America” because of the efficiency of public transportation and limited parking, we loved zipping around the island loop on our own time clock.
The iconic Farm Neck Golf Club is where Tim Sweet has worked since day one meeting “presidents, kings and queens, all sorts of people.” The clubhouses and café are unpretentious with their shake cedar siding and well appointed with merchandise, great food and drinks. Groups line up at the first tee box but no one is in a hurry for there is a serenity that envelops the grounds. Tall oaks and pines line the first open fairway for an easy beginning. Hole three delivers the first water view. A few elevated holes, blooms and more ocean views mark the outing on the scenic Farm Neck, a worthy check on the list of must plays.
Visit Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown for native people history and a special whaling exhibit. A Wampanaug tribal outpost is operated in Aquinnah where the Gay Head Cliffs and lighthouse pose breathtaking views against the crashing Atlantic. Legend has it that Moshup, a benevolent giant, reddened the clay with whales’ blood when flinging them by the tail against the cliffs. Now that’s a whale of a tale. The shop sells wampum, gifts, seafood and homemade pies.
Twenty-seven miles off Cape Cod’s south coast, the quaint island of Nantucket is a short 14 miles long and 3½ miles wide but long on serenity and relaxation.
Choose from many B&Bs or inns that are former sea and whaling captains’ homes, beautifully restored with 21st century conveniences. Nantucket Hotel and Resort is the island’s oldest grand hotel, built in 1891 with renovations in 2012, preserving the ambience of Nantucket’s halcyon days. Also highly recommended is Greydon House, a new boutique hotel.
Nantucket Golf Management operates the two public courses on the island.
Miacomet Golf Course has 18-holes, expanded and renovated by architect Howard Maurer. Environmental efforts have achieved designation of Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Anyone can also play a quick 9 on the par 34 Siasconset Golf Course.
Sankaty Head Golf Club is one of the few true world-class links style golf courses in the US. The famous Sankaty Head Lighthouse looms over the front, still shining brightly. This private club is currently not open to the public but maybe you can find a member friend.
Beach combers love to stroll on the 80 miles of approximately 23 beaches and scour for shells, sea glass and artifacts. Surf, cast or fish from its piers and docks; kayak, canoe, and windsurf the waves or float into the inland waterways.
Tour four more lighthouses, three of which are open for climbing and viewing from late June to mid September. Nantucket is a National Historic Landmark itself with a fine assortment of historic museums as well as fine and performing arts.
The cobblestones of Main Street lead to traditional island stores with hand crafted jewelry and wooden ships or Nantucket antiques, stuff you will never find in any mall.
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