Escape RI with Easy Fall Day Trips
Here are four fun getaways to explore for a few hours, or maybe the weekend.
CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS
A relaxing jaunt just over the canal. By Samantha Labrecque
The coast is clear. Tourists are sparse, sweltering summer beach days are things of the past and, most importantly, there is no bridge traffic in sight. If you know, you know — but if you don’t? Well, bumper-to-bumper backup to cross over the canal and on to old Cape Cod, Massachusetts, stretches for miles in the summertime, with no end in sight.
Insider tip: The transition from summer to fall is the perfect time to explore the Cape. The weather is still warm, the roads and sidewalks are not as crowded with summer tourists and there are plenty of fun happenings to keep yourself busy. Take it from me: A few years back, I lived on this little slice of heaven on Earth, through the summer, fall and (mellow) winter months. I worked in small shops, got to know some of the locals and saw the beauty that the Cape has to offer year-round.
From seafood shanties to upscale waterfront dining to an autumn stroll on any number of the Cape’s fifty-plus beaches, I found some of the best spots for a post-summer day trip that’s worth the drive.
My boyfriend and I head to his family’s hometown, where we begin our day at 9 a.m. with a quick bite of breakfast and a cup (or two!) of coffee at Cafe Chew in Sandwich. I opt for the french toast: a slab of brioche made from another local European-style bakery, Pain D’Avignon, topped with whipped butter and powdered sugar. A side of fresh fruit is a must-have, but other traditional breakfast basics including pancakes, omelets and bacon, egg and cheese sandies are offered as well. cafechew.com
Take your to-go cup of morning joe on the road, where you’ll head down picturesque Route 6-A towards West Yarmouth Road located on mid-Cape. Here you will discover the untold secrets of Sam Bellamy and the world’s only authenticated pirate ship, the Whydah Gally, at the Whydah Pirate Museum. See real treasure and artifacts including weapons, jewelry and clothing uncovered from the 1717 wreck of the Golden Age pirate ship just off the coast of Cape Cod. Get up close to many of the artifacts that are still being recovered, while researchers in the museum’s lab chip away at sediment on the pirates’ bounty. discoverpirates.com
After the museum, we head back towards Sandwich for lunch to munch on — you guessed it — sandwiches (and warm buttered lobster rolls). The best kind of meal is sea-to-plate or farm-to-table, and this is as close to the real deal as you can get. Fishermen’s View sits along the Cape Cod Canal, a spot for not only spectacular sunset views and large barge passersby, but for the freshest catches of the day, too. Slurp on briny bivalves from the raw bar, snack on calamari or take a bite out of a Jonah crab melt Texas toast sandwich. fishermensview.com
On the other side of the harbor sits Seafood Sam’s, an upscale seafood shanty if you will. If you’re pressed for time, this is the spot to chow down on all things from the ocean including fried popcorn shrimp, chowder, whole belly clams and more. Looking for an express meal sans seafood? Try the fried chicken tender platter. Seafood Sam’s closes for the season on November 11. seafoodsams.com
By now our bellies are full of the ocean’s greatest harvests. We decide to walk off our pick of the sea with a quick jaunt down the road at the iconic Sandwich Boardwalk. We make our way from the parking lot over the marsh on the suspended narrow bridge and towards the sound of the waves kissing the shore. The smell of the salty ocean air draws me close; we make our way up over the sand dunes and I sigh with a smile at the picture-perfect seaside scape.
After a relaxing walk along the shoreline, we pop back in the car for a quick drive to the center of town. Several local boutiques, a few small antique shops and the Sandwich Glass Museum line the quaint streets of Sandwich Village. Inside the glass museum, we watch a glassblowing demonstration and we find hundreds of beautifully curated pieces of handblown glass in all shapes, sizes and colors. We learn that the oldest town on Cape Cod was once a factory township that produced exquisite glassware and was home to artists and other Cape Codders alike. sandwichglassmuseum.org
I look at the intricate little details of the glass ornament I purchased; the sight of a wave crashing into the abyss of the ocean is a small farewell to our day spent just over the canal. As we cross back over the bridge to the mainland, I twirl my keepsake so that the cast of the golden sun hits the glass just right. I will keep it up in the window of my home until next year, when I return once again to old Cape Cod with no throngs of people and no traffic in sight.
Nuts and Bolts
Drive time: 1 hour
Mikes: About 175 round-trip
How to get there: Take 195 E to MA-25 E
Best season to go: Late summer or early fall to avoid bridge traffic
If you stay over: Dan’l Webster Inn and Spa. The historic inn has offered Cape Cod lodging for more than 300 years and is nestled in quaint Sandwich Village. Small shops and local restaurants are just a short walk from the guest rooms and suites. Plus, there’s an outdoor pool, a tavern with onsite dining and a spa for total R and R too. 149 Main St., Sandwich, Mass., 800-444-3566, danlwebsterinn.com
Don’t miss: Sandy Neck Beach Park. Warm summer days aren’t the only requisite for a beach day. Throw on an extra layer and take a stroll along Sandy Neck Beach. The smell of fresh salty air and the sight of dunes that travel as far as the eye can see are a sweet reminder of summers past. 425 Sandy Neck Rd., West Barnstable, Mass., 508-362-8300, town.barnstable.ma.us.
Worth a detour: Woods Hole Science Aquarium. Woods Hole, which lies in the extreme Southwest corner of the Cape, features the Woods Hole Science Aquarium. It is home to approximately 140 different species of marine animals found in Northeast and Middle Atlantic waters. Visitors can watch staff feed the animals, clean tanks and work on the life support systems. The aquarium rehabilitates and releases cold-stunned turtles and provides a permanent home for stranded seals that cannot be released to the wild. 166 Water St., Woods Hole, Mass., 508-495-2001, aquarium.nefsc.noaa.gov.
Closer to home: George’s of Galilee. If you like seafood, George’s of Galilee is your oyster. Overlooking the Block Island Sound in the port of Galilee, this seaside restaurant serves boat-to-plate seafood fare straight from the docks. Don’t dismiss the clam cakes and chowder! 250 Sand Hill Cove Rd., Galilee, 783-2306, georgesofgalilee.com.