If you have lived in New England for any length of time you have probably spent a weekend on Cape Cod, or simply The Cape if you are a true New Englander. We had the opportunity to spend a 3 day weekend on The Cape with our family and I am convinced spring is the best time to visit Cape Cod. If you are a Massachusetts parent looking for a great way to enjoy your April school vacation, look no further than Cape Cod
Did you know Cape Cod has over 600 miles of conservation trails, 130 different beaches and over 40,000 acres of national seashore? With so much open space it is hard to imagine feeling crowded until you realize that Cape Cod sees almost 3.5 million tourists in the summer and early fall. Why not enjoy the beauty of all that Cape Cod has to offer with out the crowds, traffic and time spent hunting for parking or the off the beaten path spot only to find it full of people when you can have the beauty all (mostly) to yourself by visiting in the spring? Spring brings nicer weather, sun and more daylight hours. With average temps in the mid 50s in April you can stay outside enjoying yourself with out worrying about freezing or over heating. As a parent, you know all the time you spend layering kids up in snow gear or endless full-body coats of sunscreen.
We were graciously hosted by the Bayside Resort in West Yarmouth, all our opinions are our own. Bayside Resort is conveniently located, has friendly helpful staff and has taken numerous precautions to ensure the safety of their staff and guests. It has an on site in door poolside restaurant Moby Dick’s pub and an outdoor pool and poolside tiki bar called Bellyfloppers. There is a backyard beach area complete with chairs and an evening smore roasting campfire during the busy season. It is a perfect spot to enjoy sunrise or sunset. We spent a few minutes playing there just about any time we were coming or going from the hotel. Buffet breakfast has morphed into take out breakfast where you are served by staff from behind a counter and can eat in your room or only a small number of tables in the breakfast room. While we never needed anything extra from the staff, they were always quick to offer help. We spent our first morning enjoying the pool, which we had almost entirely to ourselves. Each room has their own pool towels so guests do not need to bring them from home. We thoroughly enjoyed the game room which had an air hockey, billiard and foosball tables and both skill and chance arcade games. The boys were perfectly happy to “play” the arcade games by watching the game trailers. Bayside Resort is a great family friendly base to launch your Cape Cod adventures and we would happily stay here again.
Bagels & Beyond: Our choice for lunch was suggested by a local friend and happens to be 2 minutes down the road from The Bayside Resort. Although bagels is in the name, we opted for croissant sandwiches and have no regrets. We picked up a tuna melt, BLT and two deli sandwiches all on grilled croissants served with chips and they were all satisfying. They also have a variety of baked goods and coffee.
Dinner at Wicked Restaurant and Wine Bar: This bright and welcoming restaurant really is a family establishment run by husband and wife team Rob and Shari Catania for over 12 years with the more recent addition of their three adult children to both front and back of house. What used to be an over flow dining area connected to the main restaurant has been converted to Crave by Wicked, a grab an go bakery café open weekdays 11a-3p with a penchant for gluten free and vegan baking. The wood fired pizza that they are known for its also available by the slice here during the day along with sandwiches and gf sweets. As summer approaches, they will be offering complete picnic baskets ready for the beach but BYOB: bring your own blanket. For appetizers we ordered delicious deviled eggs and arancini with pancetta and fontina, something I order almost every time it is available. We had to try a mix of everything Wicked Restaurant has to offer our main course and we might have gone a little overboard (again, no regrets). Pappardelle Bolognese was just the right mix of chewy noodles and rich meat sauce that sticks to your ribs. The scallops were expertly cooked with crispy smashed potatoes, spinach and cauliflower puree. We couldn’t pass up a thin crust pizza with fig, prosciutto and arugula that hit the spot. We ordered one brownie sundae with four spoons and it felt like a cage match to share that with the boys. I had to hold the dish in place to prevent it from flying off the table. Tears were shed when it was all gone, an indication of how good it was. If you are planning on dining in, be sure to make a reservation in advance but no reservations necesssary for take out.
Mashpee River Reservation: Walk off your amazing meal with a sunset walk around Mashpee River Reservation, only 4 minutes down the road from Wicked Restaurant and Wine Bar. The bowls of pasta and brownies didn’t seem to slow down the boys who sprinted as soon as we hit the trail. We didn’t make it very far (we rarely do) into the 248 acre reservation area because we found a great tree to climb on and our smallest member needed a bathroom break. While I was attending to that, Craig and Benton walked further down the trail along the water and spotted an otter and a blue heron. They didn’t take any pictures so I’ll just have to take their word for it. This tidal stream remains one of the most pristine areas on Cape Cod and definitely worth a stop on your Cape Cod visit.
Three Fins Coffee Roasters: After breakfast in our hotel room we set out on our day but needed another coffee to really get going. This West Dennis coffee shop should be a must visit for anyone who enjoys a high quality cup of jo and a good pastry to go with it. With a focus on fair trade, small farm coffees at an accessible price point served in a bright open environment, it is easy to understand why we stopped here twice on our three day visit. We tried a few different pastries (8 of them to be precise) and they were all delicious. You can’t go wrong!
Cape Cod National Seashore: Coffees in hand, head to the Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet for some ocean views and to walk off all the Three Fins pastries. Soak in sweeping views of Marconi Beach from Marconi Wireless Station where my kids just ran around and played in the sand while I gazed calmly at the ocean waves bellow. Our purpose for heading this way was to walk the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail. It is a 1.1 mile trail that can be done as a loop or out and back. While it is beautiful the entire walk, the good stuff is right around the half-way point where trail transitions to boardwalk over the swamp and the trees transition from stunted oak and pine forest to mature woodland full of, you guessed it, cedar trees. Sorry pups but dog are not allowed on this trail. We did not make it to Three Sisters Lighthouses but it is very close and this would be a perfect time to tack on a visit.
Rock Harbor Beach: Rock Harbor sits on the north side of Cape Cod in Orleans. We lucked out by arriving during low tide but don’t be like us, check the tide charts before you visit to time your arrival an hour or two before low tide. The beach goes on for what seems like forever at low did with wonderful seaweed covered rocks and tide pools filled with small sea snails that are just perfect for kids to explore.
Lunch at Sir Cricket’s Fish & Chips: From the outside Sir Cricket’s is nothing to write home about, but don’t let that stop you from taking part in the New England staple that doesn’t need to be relegated to a summer only enjoyment: the fisherman’s platter! We ordered a lobster roll, fried oysters, and fisherman’s platter which came with fried shrimp, scallops, clam strips, haddock and fries. They also sell a wide selection of fresh seafood at Nauset Fish Market if you want to cook at your Airbnb. While it is predominantly a grab and go establishment, they do have one picnic table we managed to snag to eat on site.
Ten Pin Eatery & Arcade: Located just inside the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, Ten Pin has it all: bowling, laser tag, arcade games and food. The boys went bowling for the first time and thankfully each bowling lane is has the capacity to adjust things like bumpers for each bowler. We started with bumpers up only for the boys but quickly put bumpers up for everyone once we realized we would not be sticking to traditional turns bowling with two small kids. We played a few arcade games, including a laser space challenge and whack-a-mole pictu1red bellow and a driving race game which might have been Benton’s favorite. The timing was just off enough for enough with naps and exhaustion from a full day of exploring that we couldn’t take advantage of all Ten Pin has to offer, so we will just have to go back on our next visit. Ten Pin would be a great place to escape the heat of summer or provide a special treat for kids (and give parents a breather on spring break).
Gray’s Beach: There is a long boardwalk over the salt marsh to get to the beach. There is free parking and a small beach before you even set foot on the boardwalk. Honestly, we never made it all the way across the boardwalk to the beach even though we visited twice. The wind was whipping and it was just cold enough for the wind to feel sharp. Gray’s Beach is located on the north side of Yarmouth and it is an excellent place to watch the sun set. As we were leaving we noticed there were a few dozen cars parked to watch the sky from the comfort of their cars.
We started our 3rd day enjoying the sunrise glow in the backyard of Bayside Resort before picking up coffee and pastries again from Three Fins Coffee Roasters.
Chatham Fish Market: We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Chatham fish pier since it is one of the best places on The Cape to see seals. There are a few parking spots at the fish market and additional parking for seal watches at an upper lot but they can fill up during the busy season. If you get there early or at off times, you would have no problem parking. There is a deck behind the fish processing building that provides a great place to see seals when they are there. Unfortunately we didn’t see any but our boys didn’t seem to mind just playing on the beach throwing rocks into the water.
Lowell Holly Trail: If you are not looking for Lowell Holly Reservation you would likely dive right past it without even knowing. It is managed by The Trustees of the Reservation but there is no parking fee for the small parking lot. This 135 acre reservation is named for its donor, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, and its abundance of holly trees which dot the trails and are common along the New England coastline. We walked most of the 2.4 mile Lowell Holly Trail. This loop will bring you to a peninsula where you are surrounded by Wakeby and Mashpee ponds. While there is virtually no elevation change along the hike, the trail crosses many exposed root systems and is not stroller friendly. Dogs are allowed if your pup is visiting Cape Cod with you.
Lunch at Naukabout Brewery and Taproom: Naukabout Brewery has turned all their outdoor space into a very spaced out beer garden complete with string lights, picnic tables and a family friendly menu including hotdogs and Honest juice boxes. We stopped here just before 1pm before hitting the road home to eat lunch, run around a little bit more and so dad could sample a few beers. Service was quick and friendly and it is located right next o a small beach and playground for kids to burn off any excess energy. They have taken all possible covid precautions including having patrons sign in for potential contact tracing and only seating guests outside. We ordered hot dogs, a chicken salad sandwich, stuffed quahogs, and a bag of pita chips and humus along with juice boxes, seltzer and 3 different 5oz beers.
Sandwich Boardwalk: We planned to visit here as a last stop before jumping on the highway but Wyatt fell asleep a few minutes after leaving the brewery so we will have to save it for our next visit. Even though we visited Gray’s Beach earlier in the weekend, a few people suggested we experience both boardwalks as they each offer something unique. Sandwich boardwalk would be a perfect last stop as is located close to the major roadway in and out of town. Sandwich Boardwalk was named one of the top 10 boardwalks in the country by National Geographic and it was the only one without amusement rides. The boardwalk spans over 1350ft to connect to Boardwalk beach over salt marshes. It is a great place to bird watch and will likely be one of our first stops on our next Cape Cod trip
It feels like we were able to see and do so much in such a short period of time but still left so much of Cape Cod unexplored. We will definitely return again soon for another off-season visit. Thank you Visit Cape Cod for helping us organize this adventure and Bayside Resort, Wicked Restaurant and Ten Pin Eatery for hosting us.