Cape Cod, MA

Welcome to Gay Friendly Cape Cod Massachusetts…

The essence of Cape Cod and the Islands lies in the eyes of the beholder, visitor and resident alike.  On the surface, the Cape is a 70-mile sandy spit off the coast of Massachusetts, bravely out there in the ocean, the islands in its orbit. Maps delineate an outstretched arm with its elbow and fist. There’s the canal, the bridges and the Upper, Mid, Lower, and Outer Cape.  A guide can only steer direction; experiences, discoveries and rediscoveries are personal excursions.


Upper Cape…

Falmouth was once home to sea captains and played a role in the whaling industry. A drive surfside from Falmouth’s Menauhant Beach down through Falmouth Heights to Woods Hole affords some of the most beautiful scenery on the Cape. Martha’s Vineyard lies seven miles across the Sound, easily seen from the coastline. Nobska Light sits on a bluff as if posing for an Edward Hopper painting. Woods Hole, known as a scientific community with its famous Oceanographic Institution and Marine Biological Laboratory, is a busy jumping-off point for ferries to both islands. Take a drive along Woods Hole Road back to Falmouth Village and on up along Rte 28A through Sippewisset, West and North Falmouth and view beautiful homes and glimpses of marsh and beachfront. Hike the Knob for unspoiled ocean views. Falmouth has twelve public beaches, some of the nicest on the Cape.

The Cape Cod Canal cuts a scenic swath through the town of Bourne. The Bourne, Sagamore and Railroad Bridges connect Buzzards Bay, Sagamore Beach, Sagamore Highlands and Bournedale to their sister villages on the other side of the canal.  In all, there are eleven villages.
Those lying peninsula-side are Sagamore, Bourne Village, Pocasset, Cataumet, Gray Gables, Mashpee, and Monument Beach, names which reflect each  village’s unique character and history. A drive through Bourneillustrates the town’s many facets: its colonial past at the Aptucxet Trading Post, a replica honoring 17th-century trade between Pilgrims, the Dutchand Indians, and its attraction as a seaside retreat for such notables as Grover Cleveland. Present-day visitors can also take in the canal, enjoying a bike ride, a picnic, even world-class striper fishing in season along its seven-mile length.

A tour of Sandwich is a tour through history. Incorporated in 1639, it is the oldest town on Cape Cod and is home to museums reflecting the historical perspective.  Come back to the present by beachcombing on Sandwich’s pebbled beaches, reached by way of the Boardwalk over expanses of beautiful marsh.

Mashpee has something for everyone. Fresh-water ponds and the ocean to the south offer fishing and boating aficionados their choice of both worlds. Swimmers can opt for salt water or fresh; hikers can explore South Cape Beach or walk through old-growth forest overlooking ponds at Lowell Holly Reservation. There’s plenty for the golfer as well, with several courses nearby.  Mashpee is diverse in its history and culture. The town is the ancestral home of the Mashpee Wampanoag and this heritage is carried on by their descendants.


Mid Cape…

Hyannis is the most well-known of Barnstable’s seven villages.  Locals often think of it as “the city” because of its size, its shopping opportunities and restaurants, its busy airport and respected medical community. Visitors may first think of the Kennedys and their summer compound, which lend a romantic air.  Hyannis’ harbor bustles with ferry traffic and other boats. It can be fun to spend a vicarious hour just watching people come and go. Venture beyond Hyannis and there is still more to explore in Barnstable. If the water on the town’s Cape Cod Bayside is too cold, explore the dunes on Sandy Neck or go south to Nantucket Sound and take a dip off Craigville Beach.   Marstons Mills, Osterville and Centerville are worth exploring for their scenery as well as their uniqueness.  Rte 6A through West Barnstable and Barnstable has a colonial flavor with its beautifully maintained antique homes and tree-lined borders.

Once part of Yarmouth, Dennis has been a town since 1793, named for its first minister, Josiah Dennis. Early in the town’s history, residents farmed and whaled near shore. Clipper ships were built at the Shiverick Shipyard.  Over the years, theatergoers have seen such stars as Bette Davis and Henry Fonda perform. Visitors may opt to climb the 38 steps of Scargo Tower, 160 feet above sea level, for panoramic views all the way to Provincetown. Many hiking and fishing opportunities can be seen from this vantage point. Dennis also has beaches along Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound, perhaps the most well-known being Corporation Beach. The Cape Cod Rail Trail begins in town, running all the way to Wellfleet.

The town of Yarmouth has two distinct faces: the south side is pure vacation with mini-golf avenues, souvenir shops and other amusements, the north side along Rte 6A is quietly historic with sea captain’s homes and homes with distinct architectural styles such as Cape,Gingerbread and Federal. These beautiful buildings reflect Yarmouth’slucrative shipping past. The town’s tourist industry began with the arrival of the railroad in the 1800s. There’s something for every mood. After a game of mini-golf, take a swim at one of the town’s fifteen saltwater beaches or try freshwater if you’re so inclined.


Lower Cape…

Ideally located halfway between either ends of Cape Cod, Harwich enjoys spectacular salt water beaches on Nantucket Sound, four well protected harbors, an abundance of freshwater ponds, salt and fresh-water boating and fishing, miles of picturesque biking and walking trails, and a nationally recognized 18-hole as well as a charming 9-hole golf course.  With fun festivals and fairs throughout the year and many special events you will always feel welcome.  Seven unique villages offer award-winning restaurants, exciting shops and galleries, a wide range of lodging from ocean front resorts to quaint cottages and charming inns and a vast array of activities to suit every age and interest.  We invite you to stop by our Harwich Information Center, located on Route 28 in the heart of Harwich Port, to find out more about the town we lovingly refer to as home.

Brewster’s coastline lies along Cape Cod Bay.  An ebb tide can go out over a mile, uncovering a large swath of sand and mud pools called the Brewster Flats.  Another interesting occurrence of nature is the herring migration in spring from the ocean to fresh water, best seen at the Herring Run and Stony Brook Grist Mill.  Nature lovers can also visit the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History on Rte. 6A perched on the edge of a marsh.  Nickerson State Park has 400 acres for hiking, camping, and freshwater swimming.  Get on the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Brewster and see the scenery of “America’s Sea Captains Town.”

Chatham sits on the “elbow” of Cape Cod, taking that shape as it fronts Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic.  The shore route offers beautiful views of Chatham’s vulnerable coastline.  Visit the observation area in front of Chatham Lighthouse overlooking spits of sand and ocean.  The U.S. Coast Guard is here as is the United States Weather Service.  Chatham’s harbor was breached during a winter storm several years ago, causing boaters to be wary of dangerous currents. Less rugged, but no less beautiful, are the charming houses, white picket fences and, depending on the year, the gorgeous displays of blue hydrangeas lining walkways and driveways paved with white shell. A trip down Main Street offers many interesting shops and galleries.  Even window-shopping is art appreciation.

Orleans became a town in 1797, named after Louis Phillipe de Bourbon, Duc d’Orleans, who, it is said, came to the town during his exile from France.  Orleans has much to offer the visitor: some of the best seafood dining, beautiful views of the Atlantic and Cape Cod Bay, and eclectic shopping experiences.  Nauset Beach is a great destination for ocean lovers and off-roaders.  Orleans is on the threshold of the Outer Cape and the scenery becomes more coastal and windswept. The Cape Cod National Seashore is here; a treasure of crashing waves and bluffs that shouldn’t be missed.  Established in 1962, the Seashore brought full-fledged tourism to the region and Orleans has grown in the years since.


Outer Cape…

Travelers can get swept along with busy Rte 6 traffic, missing out on what Eastham has to offer.  It’s worth it to slow down and match pace with the town’s leisurely one.  A visit to the town green is to stumble upon the Cape’s oldest working windmill. First Encounter Beach on the Cape Cod Bay side is where hunters from the Mayflower first met Native Americans.  A third of Eastham is within the Cape Cod National Seashore.  Nauset Lighthouse overlooks the Atlantic and the Salt Pond Visitor Center offers exhibits on Cape Cod history and its environment.  There are trails through micro-environments such as the Red Maple Swamp.  Along with scenic opportunities overlooking the  open Atlantic, Eastham also has the sheltered Nauset Marsh.   The town has its share of lodging, restaurants and shops to enjoy.

Wellfleet has the ambience of an art colony with its galleries and photogenic architecture. Wellfleet oysters are famous and shipped around the world. Once called Billingsgate, the town was incorporated in 1763. The name may be derived from the words “whale fleet” as Wellfleet had 30 whalers during the whaling era. Marconi Wireless Station overlooks the Atlantic, famous for transmitting the first wireless telegraph in 1903. The headquarters of the National Seashore is in town and more than half of its land lies within the Seashore. On the opposite coast is Wellfleet Bay. The Wellfleet Audubon Society Wildlife Center attracts nature lovers as does the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp. Adults who visited Wellfleet as children may remember the Cape’s only drive-in theater. It’s still there.

Golfers on the Highland Links course in Truro might think they were in Scotland, due to the type of course they’re playing and its wonderful views of the Atlantic and of Highland Lightnearby. The lighthouse is the oldest on Cape Cod, built in 1797, rebuilt in 1857, and moved back from its eroding bluff in the 1990s. The views in Truro are spectacular, whether you’re on the Cape Cod Bay side with its sunsets over the water and its rows of picturesque cabins built on a stretch of beach or the open Atlantic with its pounding surf and shifting dunes. The Cape Cod National Seashore comprises more than 60% of the town and the town’s population is the smallest on Cape Cod.

Provincetown fits many descriptions. It’s a town synonymous with the LGBT community; it’s an art colony and a community of fishermen, many of them Portuguese. These descriptions need not have distinct boundaries; often they overlap. Ultimately, a picture is worth more than words: take a trip down Commercial Street and everything that is Provincetown is there. There are all the shops and restaurants and people to watch that you would expect, but with everything sensory turned up a notch. There’s the Portuguese Festival and Carnival in summer. In winter, the street is quiet and bleakly beautiful.  The Pilgrims landed here in 1620 and the Mayflower Compact was signed on board their ship in Provincetown Harbor.


Route 6A…

There are those of us residents who make a day trip out of Route 6A…as it is in many ways a destination unto itself.  It begins in Sandwich and continues all the way to Orleans.  There’s a lot to see in those 34 miles, but the road is winding, often narrow, as its ancestor must have been, the original Native American trail it once was.  Eventually named “Old King’s Highway,”  it served as the main thoroughfare down the Cape until Route 6 was built (Route 28 will get you there too, but it is more twentieth and twenty-first century).  When you want Cape Cod history incarnate, Route 6A gives you this and more.  Every season is the best one to make the trip.  Many grand homes owned by sea captains who knew about storms and so built away from the water have water views yet, if only in winter.  The traveler can catch glimpses of the bleached dunes of Sandy Neck between side porches and through side yards.  The front lawns of simple Capes are graced in spring with daffodils and hedges of forsythia. In summer, the heat clings in the lush green of stately trees.  Autumn is a long bittersweet ride of oranges, reds, old fashioned mums blooming over stone walls.  But these are just the visuals.  There are antique shops, galleries, restaurants, conservation areas and side roads to the water along the way.


Route 28…

This is a road with multiple personalities.  It actually exists on the other side of the Canal, coming through Wareham and Buzzard’s Bay as Cranberry Highway.  Over the Bourne Bridge and it becomes a four-lane divided highway just off the Rotary called MacArthur’s Boulevard.  Here it continues as all-business; car dealerships, fast food places, bank branches. It runs all the way into Falmouth, makes a curve into downtown, past the Falmouth Town Green.  Now it is Main Street, lined with shops, churches, bed and breakfasts in antique homes.   It winds through Mashpee through several of the villages in Barnstable, including Hyannis, all the way to Orleans.  This is not the easiest road to travel, especially in summer, but if you’re patient, open-minded to different atmospheres, you won’t miss out.  From mini-golf to fine dining, it’s all here.