The villages of Cape Cod are some
of the most quaint in the country.
Town of Provincetown
Provincetown is at the tip of Cape Cod. This last stop
on the continent, at the tip of this great sandy curve, has
been home to Native Americans, explorers, Pilgrims, fishermen,
whalers, artists, beach-lovers and pleasure seekers.
This is the spot where the Pilgrims first landed; a 252-foot
tower, the tallest granite structure in the nation, commemorates
that landing. Here, too, the Mayflower Compact was signed.
Provincetown’s sheltered harbor contributes to its
long economic success as a fishing port, and many of the
town’s fishermen are descendants of Portuguese sailors
who arrived here during the whaling days of the 1800s.
Artists and writers have widened the town’s spectrum
with their libertarian lifestyles, creating a colorful mix
of inhabitants. And the community patchwork is nowhere more
evident than on vivacious Commercial Street.
Town of Truro
Beyond a post office, a seasonal gourmet food market and
a single blinking light, there is hardly a town to Truro.
And beyond beautiful homes built into the hills and a narrow
strip of tiny cottages and motels, there is little real commercial
Beyond the highway is a sleepy and rural world of moors,
hills, valleys and rivers with homes hidden amongst the trees.
Back roads wind through fascinating scenery dominated by
long rolling hills called “hogsbacks.” Near a
high ocean bluff overlooking the ocean is Cape Cod Light,
which has been a warning beacon to mariners since the age
The beauty and solitude of Truro attracts people who want
to live or vacation in a beautiful, peaceful place.
Town of Wellfleet, MA
Wellfleet is an old whaling port, a contemporary fishing
village and a cultural haven as well. Its walkable streets
are lined with art galleries representing artists and crafters
of both local and national acclaim; bookstores and boutiques
dwell within its historic residences.
The Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theatre shares harbor
space with the town’s shellfishermen, and the town’s
clock still strikes ship’s time. The town has long
been recognized for its plentiful supply of shellfish, including
the famous “Wellfleet Oyster.”
Nature-lovers and families will enjoy hiking the trails
of the 1,000-acre Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary and visiting the
dune-top site where Marconi dispatched the first transatlantic
wireless message in 1903.
Town of Eastham, MA
Eastham, in southeastern Massachusetts, was settled by the
Pilgrims in 1644, incorporated as "Nausett" in
1646, and was ultimately named Eastham in 1651. It is a town
of 5400 year-round residents (2000), with a population swelling
to over 20,000 during the summer months.
With its beautiful bayside and ocean beaches, miles of bicycle
and walking trails, a historic schoolhouse, and the Cape's
oldest wind-driven windmill, Eastham is the ideal place for
the fisherman, beach-goer, birder, photographer, bicyclist,
Included within the boundaries of Eastham is the Salt Pond
Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor's Center. With its many
programs, tours, and a small museum,
it is usually among the first stops for visitors to the Cape.
The ocean beaches in Eastham, Coast Guard Beach and Nauset
Light Beach, as well as the land bordering them, were incorporated
into the Cape Cod National Seashore, under the auspices of
the National Park Service, on August 7, 1961. The National
Park Service also is the caretaker and runs tours through
the Penniman House, a partially restored whaling captain's
house built in 1868, and the Three Sisters Lighthouses, a
set of three small wooden lighthouses which functioned as
a trio when they were active.
Town of Orleans, Massachusetts
The Town of Orleans, incorporated in 1797, is a resort
community on the outer Cape whose European history begins
in 1642 with
the first permanent settlement established by Nicholas
Snow and his family. Settlers had purchased rights to the
from Mattaguason, sachem of the Manamoyick Indians.
The Colonial economy was built on agriculture, especially
corn, rye and wheat, plus the growing of hay and vegetables.
In the 18th century commercial fishing and shellfishing supplemented
local incomes and residents worked on herring boats and went
after whales. By the 19th century, coastal packets from Boston
were being serviced and several windmills created power resources
in the town, but the heaviest reliance by residents was on
cod and mackerel fishing. Life long residents recall that
in those days the very old and the very young farmed, while
all the able-bodied men fished. Fishing in Orleans declined
as competition from larger boats and larger ports grew, but
the town had established a commercial importance on the Cape
as a market center for other communities, that continues
into the 20th century.
Small businesses like the Mayo Duck Farm that produced 50,000
ducklings in 1918 were welcomed by the town, but the major
modern change in Orleans was spurred by the impact of summer
development. This resort home development, which accelerated
between 1915 and 1940 and still continues, has had the greatest
effect on the town and in turn has supported increasing commercial
development along Route 6.
Town of Brewster
the mid-1800s, there were said to be more masters and mates
of vessels roaming the globe belonging to Brewster
than any other town in the country.
Though those glory days of seafaring have long past, many
of the 100 sea captains’ mansions and estates along
Route 6A are now serving as B&Bs, art galleries, craft
studios and antique shops.
There is no real village center to this rural town, but
the Brewster General Store is an old-fashioned gathering
place at one of the town’s main crossroads.
Just off the main drag, the herring still run upstream
in spring to the 1660 Stony Brook Mill.
Here also you will find 300 acres of beaches and tidal pools
along Cape Cod Bay, and the 400 acres of trails, camping
areas and freshwater ponds of Nickerson State Park.
Town of Chatham
Often cloaked in morning fog, Chatham, bounded by Nantucket
Sound to the south, Pleasant Bay to the east and the open
Atlantic to the east, forms the ragged elbow of Cape Cod.
Encompassing a mere 16 square miles of dry ground, Chatham
is a decidedly maritime place of pristine beaches, wild barrier
islands, tidal shoals, fleeting sandbars, circular coves
and miles of saltwater inlets.
Incorporated in 1712, Chatham remains remarkable old-fashioned,
despite a well-deserved reputation for shopping. Chichi boutiques
reside in quaint storefronts along its winding Main Street
lined with historic inns, white-steepled churches, varied
eateries and art galleries.
A visit to the busy commercial fishing pier reveals the
thriving fishing village that exists beneath Chatham’s stylish
Town of Harwich
The villages of Harwich lie along the waters of Nantucket
Sound and reach all the way east to Pleasant Bay.
Harwichport is the town’s most charming spot; its
picture-perfect Wychmere Harbor is a favorite for photographers.
Harwich Center, which lies inland, is a quiet and almost
isolated village. Only a few stores, including an old-fashioned
hardware store and friendly coffee shop, are among the pristine
structures of this historic district.
Though no longer host to a thriving fishing industry, Harwich
is today one of the most productive cranberry areas on the
Cape with many well-maintained bogs scattered throughout
the town. The town’s annual Cranberry Festival in autumn
celebrates the prosperity of that tart little berry.