Cape Cod’s 5 Views That Will Make You Want To Stay
There’s a magical moment as you crest the Sagamore Bridge, after sitting in hours of Cape Cod-bound traffic, when the Christmas Tree Shops’ windmill comes into focus and you breathe in the fresh ocean air. It makes the horrific ride in the car worth it.
The same can be said for the moment when you clear the Bourne Bridge and are greeted by the perfectly manicured “Welcome to Cape Cod” hedge, sculpted inside of the Bourne rotary.
Those two views are what welcome you — the rest of the views, of coastline, harbors, quaint village streets and endless beaches, are what make you never want to leave.
Growing up on Cape Cod, I had ample time to explore the peninsula and find everything from its best peak to its best table, and I’ve rounded them up just for you.
If you’re planning a trip to Cape Cod this summer, here are the five best views the area has to offer, for five types of summer travelers.
Travelzoo Tip: Save 35% on rates into October including select summer dates at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth.
For adventurers: Fort Hill, Eastham
As Massachusetts’ beach-blanketed arm curves North, it’s inhabitable land begins to stretch thin and gives way to some of the most breathtaking marshland views in New England. The best of those views can be found at Eastham’s Fort Hill. The walkable coastal trails are full of marsh vegetation and wildlife, which makes it the perfect place for families and adventurers alike. The National Park Service created a brief 2-page including a map of the area (trails, parking, landmarks) and its history, to bring as you explore. Tip: There is parking in two free lots, but it is limited. If you can’t snag a spot right away, don’t get discouraged.
Instead, continue your drive on Route 6 East and pick up sandwiches at Sam’s Deli or a clam roll at Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar before heading back for a second attempt.
Honorable mention: Sandy Neck Off-Road Beach (West Barnstable)
For climbers: Pilgrim Monument, Provincetown
There are few sights more iconically Cape Cod than Pilgrim Monument, which was built to commemorate the Pilgrims’ landing on the peninsula in November 1620.
With its vantage point 350 feet above sea level and 252 feet from its base, visitors can take in a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Cape’s tip and its picturesque town below. The “heart-healthy” walk to the top takes about 10 minutes and covers 116 steps and 60 ramps.
Unless you do a little reading on the monument’s history before you go, you might not know that President Theodore Roosevelt laid its cornerstone in 1907, and his successor, President William H. Taft, led the dedication ceremony three years later.
Fun fact: My parents told me that this was where the Tooth Fairy lived when I was little, so on field trips to the monument I always had to tell my friends to be on their best behavior when they got to the top. No one wants to upset the person responsible for giving them money for teeth!
Honorable mention: Scargo Tower (Dennis)
For beachgoers: West Dennis Beach, Dennis
Fellow tourists and residents alike will tell you that the ultimate in “Cape Cod” beaches is Chatham Light. I agree — it’s a fabulous stretch — but it’s also super crowded and in order to dip your toes in its sand, you have to traipse down what seems like a million steps carrying coolers, beach bags and sand toys. It’s a drag — literally.
Instead of heading to Chatham, instead re-route your GPS to West Dennis Beach, where cars line more than a mile of shoreline, making for an easy onto-the-beach transition. Facing South, you’ll see open ocean (and on a good day, perhaps get a glimpse of one of the islands), but facing north is where you’ll find the real gems: marsh and mansions meld into one.
Tip: Head to West Dennis Beach at sunset and climb a then vacant lifeguard tower for some killer photos.
Honorable mention: Sandwich boardwalk (Sandwich)
For diners: Ross’s Grill, Provincetown
If you make it to Provincetown to visit Pilgrim Monument, follow up your climb with a bite at waterfront hidden gem, Ross’s Grill. Nestled in MacMillan Pier in a second floor suite, the American harborfront New American restaurant features plates as striking as its views, which overlook Provincetown harbor.
The perfect lunch (or dinner) — from someone who’s been too many times to count — starts with one of the restaurant’s more than 75 wines by the glass. Then, order the swoon-worthy housemade chicken liver and pistachio pate plate featuring whole grain mustard, hard-boiled egg slices, baby gherkins, red onion and fresh, crusty baguette.
For those who have worked up an appetite, follow it with the fried fish sandwich or scallop po’boy — or if you’re feeling fancy, the lobster salad sandwich on brioche. If you want to keep things on the lighter side, the Asian chicken or steak salad is my go-to — only because I always save room for what I consider the best part of Ross’s — desserts.
On display in a glass showcase inside the entryway, fronting the restaurant’s open kitchen, are the ultimate in confections (which I dream of throughout the year). The selection varies depending on the day, but no dish has ever topped Ross’s banana bread pudding when it comes to the ultimate in decadence.
Tip: The restaurant draws a steady crowd and seating is limited, so make reservations in advance.
For drivers: The Old King’s Highway (Route 6A), spans most of Cape Cod (Bourne – Orleans to Provincetown)
To get a glimpse of the history Cape Cod has to offer without leaving your car, look no further than Route 6A. The highway is lined by the bay to its north and runs from Bourne to Provincetown. It’s studded by some of the Cape’s oldest — and most gorgeous — homes, innumerable antique shops, inns, churches, parks and shops.
First developed as a Native American trail, the road was settled over centuries, giving way to a variety of architecture and greenery — my favorite being the towered Victorians. The road is also home to dozens of antique shops, cafes, restaurants and parks.
Some of the best stretches: Sandwich, between Route 130 and Quaker Meetinghouse Road; East Dennis to Brewster, between Route 134 and Route 137; Barnstable Village, between Route 132 and Willow Street.
Best coffee shops along the way: Cafe Chew in Sandwich, Nirvana Coffee Co. in Barnstable Village, and Cafe Alfresco in Brewster.
Honorable mention: South Main Street to Main Street, Centerville – Osterville