Cape Escape: Three Months and Three Destinations for One Good Time

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Posted June 19, 2013 by Scott Kearnan in Theater & Arts
Provincetown

A Boston to Cape Cod getaway? Sounds like summer. But when to go and what to do? Excellent question. We’ve handpicked three months’ worth of events from three parts of the Cape and created a mini itinerary to get you going. Use this as a starting point—the rest of the trip is up to you.

The Cape Islands

When to go: The 18th Annual Nantucket Film Festival, June 26-30

The phrase “summer movie” probably brings to mind big-budget blockbusters with lots of explosions and little plot. There’s nothing wrong with a good popcorn flick, but movie buffs with more on their mind will love this film festival, which highlights independent features and art films. The NFF even sponsors screenwriting competitions and colonies—so committed is it to the idea that good writing is the foundation of a great movie. This year’s schedule includes a diverse array of documentaries and feature films, plus special events: film discussions, panels, and even an “All-Star Comedy Roundtable” presented by funnyman Ben Stiller.

How to get there: We don’t suggest swimming. (You do know Jaws was based on the Cape islands, right?) Your best bet is to order a Zipcar and drive to Hyannis to board a ferry. Steamship Authority keeps a great summer schedule, for one. However, Cape Air offers flights from Logan airport that’ll get you to the Cape islands in just 45 minutes. The touristy areas on both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are largely walkable, though you can always rent a bike for sightseeing.

Nantucket Trip

ACK attack. Cure: a Nantucket trip, stat. Photo Credit: Wiki Commons image by Bobak Ha’Eri.

What to do: City slickers spending a night on Nantucket may want to look into The Veranda House or The Chapman House. These boutique hotels eschew the J. Crew-catalogue-chic of other island lodgings for something more distinctly urbane: Think Mad Men meets Sex and the City. Crack open some shells at waterfront Cru Oyster Bar, a favorite among visiting Bostonians, or American Seasons, the Nantucket outpost from Kathy Trustman of the Hub-based MET restaurants. Once you’re full, beach yourself on the sand. Soak up the rays while your ear buds blast Cave Rave, the sunny new album from Crystal Fighters (guitarist Graham Dickson is a prized ACK export). Then try your hand riding waves with Nantucket Surf School.

The Mid-Cape

When to go: Barnstable County Fair, July 20-27

What’s summer without a country fair? The 169-year-old East Falmouth tradition attracts tens of thousands from across the state with midway rides and games, live music, more food vendors than you can shake a corn dog at—and there’s even a monster truck demo. (Yes, really. Put on your best late-night commercial voice.) This also overlaps with the nearby Hyannis Summer Arts & Crafts Festival, on July 19-21, if artisan-made gifts and gourmet food is more your vibe.

How to get there: Hallelujah! Getting from Boston to Cape Cod is a lot easier now that, for the first time in years, train service to the Cape is restored. Last week saw the reintroduction of the CapeFlyer, a Friday-through-Sunday commuter line from Boston to Hyannis that will run through Labor Day. Hello, Hyannis. Goodbye, bridge traffic.

What to do: The mid-Cape is filled with motels and hotels, but many are pretty anonymous. For a unique stay, check out the Belfry Inne & Bistro, which offers accommodations inside a former Sandwich church. Six guest rooms—with church-pew beds and stained glass windows—are named for days of the week. Explore the local town centers and shop for souvenirs (Chatham has a good mix of high-end goods and bric-a-brac), get on your (mini) golf game, and tip back fruity drinks at the various waterfront bars. We’d also suggest a tasting and vineyard tour at Falmouth’s Cape Winery, and the fabulous eats at French bakery and restaurant Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis.

The Outer Cape

When to go: Provincetown Carnival, August 17-23

Never been to P-Town? For shame! The outermost tip of Cape Cod is a top tourist destination with loads of history. Since the Pilgrims first landed here (before moving on to Plymouth) Provincetown has been a major whaling port, fishing village, trailblazing artists’ colony, and in more recent years a favorite resort town for LGBT vacationers. The annual Carnival, celebrating its 35th year in August, is famous for its outlandish parade and colorful waterfront dance parties. It’s far from a gay-only event. All summer long, young straight couples and families walk the picturesque town hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder with the most diverse crowd on the Cape.

How to get there: Hop over the harbor with Cape Air or grab a ferry. During the summer, Bay State Cruise Company offers both standard schedules (three-hour sail) and a Fast Ferry service (90 minutes) perfect for a day trip. If you decide to drive, it’s a scenic ride. Detour into the Wellfleet Drive-In, one of the region’s last retro, outdoor movie theaters.

What to do: P-Town is extremely walkable. Most action is concentrated on Commercial Street, lined with inns, art galleries, restaurants and nightspots, cabarets and theaters—and usually a wildly costumed street performer, zipping by on a scooter. There’s no shortage of fun options. The Harbor Hotel Provincetown in the East End is a cool and campy-chic motel straight out of a 1950s surf movie. Gorge on fried seafood from local legend Lobster Spot or bite something juicy at a Burger Queen picnic table. Emjoy some wine while taking the First Friday art walk between locally owned galleries, then show off your moves at the A-House nightclub. Looking for something more? Book an elegant guestroom at the rambling Land’s End Inn on the west side of town, indulge in locavore cuisine at the P-Town outpost of Boston-based Ten Tables, and take in a show from one of the marquee names playing the Art House, Crown & Anchor, or Provincetown Theater.

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