Cape Cod is an arm-shaped peninsula located on the easternmost portion of Massachusetts. It is a well-traveled tourist and vacation area, featuring miles and miles of beaches, natural attractions, historic sites, art galleries and many four star restaurants. The area is also very popular amongst antique enthusiasts and people who enjoy bed and breakfasts. Many opportunities exist here for golf, fishing and other outdoor activities. The town of Provincetown, at the very tip of the peninsula, is the site of the first landing of the Pilgrims.
Cape Cod Bay lies in between Cape Cod and the mainland – bounded on the north by a horizontal line between Provincetown and Marshfield. North of Cape Cod Bay (and Provincetown) is Massachusetts Bay, which contains the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 8 kilometres north of Provincetown. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east of Cape Cod, and to the southwest of the Cape is Buzzards Bay. The Cape Cod Canal, completed in 1916, connects Buzzards Bay to Cape Cod Bay; its creation shortened the trade route between New York and Boston by 100 kilometres.
Cape Cod extends 105 kilometres into the Atlantic Ocean, with a breadth of between 2-32 kilometres, and covers more than 650 kilometres of shoreline. Its elevation ranges from 93 metres at its highest point, at the top of Pine Hill, in the Bourne portion of Joint Base Cape Cod, down to sea level.
One of the biggest barrier islands in the world, Cape Cod shields much of the Massachusetts coastline from North Atlantic storm waves. This protection erodes the Cape's shoreline at the expense of its cliffs, while protecting towns from Fairhaven to Marshfield.
Cape Cod and the Islands are part of a continuous archipelagic region consisting of a thin line of islands stretching west to include Long Island, in New York. This region is historically and collectively known by naturalists as the Outer Lands.
Cape Cod incorporates all of Barnstable County, which comprises 15 towns: Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Harwich, Dennis, Brewster, Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown.
Although Cape Cod's weather is typically more moderate than inland locations, there have been occasions where Cape Cod has dealt with the brunt of extreme weather situations (such as the Blizzard of 2005 and Hurricane Bob). Because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, temperatures are typically a few degrees cooler in the summer and a few degrees warmer in the winter.
Cape Cod's climate is also notorious for a delayed spring season, being surrounded by an ocean which is still cold from the winter; however, it is also known for an exceptionally mild fall season (Indian summer), thanks to the ocean remaining warm from the summer. The highest temperature ever recorded on Cape Cod was 40 °C in Provincetown, and the lowest temperature ever was -24 °C in Barnstable.
Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA) is Cape Cod's major airport. Regional affiliates of United Airlines and US Airways formerly served Hyannis from New York and Philadelphia and JetBlue has been considering offering service from JFK for several years, although at this time commercial service is largely limited to 9-seater Cessnas as well as charters and private aviation. Nantucket Airlines and Island Airlines offer hourly service to Nantucket. Cape Air flies year-round service to Boston and Martha's Vineyard and seasonally to Providence and White Planes, NY. Cape Air codeshares with JetBlue on the HYA-BOS route.
Provincetown Airport (PVC) is served by three daily flights on Cape Air from Boston.
The Cape Flyer offers direct rail service between Boston's South Station and Hyannis over the Cape Cod Canal Rail Bridge. The joint operation between the MBTA Commuter Rail and the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority will operate weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day with a travel time of 2-2.5 hours.
Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway, 17 Elm Av, ☎ +1 508 771-6191 has hourly departures from Boston (South Station Bus Terminal, Park Square, and Logan Airport) to Sagamore, Barnstable (Rt. 132) and Hyannis, a few trips also serve the Lower and Outer Cape. $19 one way / $34 round trip for South Station and Park Square, $25 one way / $45 round trip for the Airport.
Cape Cod Central Railroad offers a 2 1/2 hour scenic tour from Hyannis to the Cape Cod Canal, as well as evening dinner trains and family brunch trains on the weekends. Kids under 12 ride free on the 2:30pm narrated train. Scenic daily trips only operate during the summer and fall, but holiday trips for Thanksgiving and Christmas are available in the winter.
The easiest way to get around is by car along the main routes 6, 6a and 28.
Public transit bus service is offered through the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and Plymouth and Brockton Street Railway.
As is commonplace for a New England area, seafood restaurants are a regular sight. There is no shortage of restaurants in the entire region, both seafood and not. Wellfleet is well known for its shellfish, particularly oysters.
Cape Cod is home to many different types of places to grab a drink. There are all sorts of bars, pubs, restaurants with bars and so on. Nearly all are open in season (typically June-August), many are open for extended periods (April-October, for example) and fewer are open year round. In the off-season it would be wise to call ahead or go online before making a trip to one of the bars.
Cape Cod has a very large number of accommodations ranging from basic motels to plush spa resorts. Resort areas include Chatham, Hyannis and Provincetown. Note that many hotels are only open seasonally (April through October) and that prices can increase dramatically during the summer high season and during festivals. Cape Cod is also home to several campgrounds.
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