Best Things to Do
There are plenty of choices for breakfast depending on where you are on Cape Cod. You can start your day at Cafe Chew in Sandwich, a locals' spot for oversized pancake and egg breakfasts, freshly baked breads, and a wide selection of desserts and pastries. Or breakfast at The Red Cottage Restaurant in South Dennis, for one of those dining experiences where the atmosphere rivals the cuisine for top marks. Servings are huge and orders run the gamut from the traditional to the creative. The building is, as the name implies, a large red cottage with diner décor that hasn't been touched since about 1955.
In Hyannis, the town made famous by the Kennedy clan, there's The Original Gourmet Brunch — a sure bet for breakfast. The restaurant on Hyannis' Main Street specializes in brunch foods and, in fact, serves nothing but brunch. In addition to offerings of eggs, quiches, pancakes and waffles, there are design-your-own omelets from a list of ingredients as long as your arm.
For lunch, you can either stop in Marshlands in the town of Sandwich for the stuffed quohog made famous by Food Network star and Sandwich native Duff Goldman, or stop in at the Brown Jug or Lambert's Farm Market for picnic provisions like Pain d'Avignon bread, local fruit and country pâté.
You can also grab a meal at Spanky's Clam Shack in Hyannis or one of the many other casual spots along the docks, which all feature fried seafood, salads and burgers. Here you can watch the ferries load and unload visitors to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket while enjoying the perfume of salty sea air.
After lunch head to Woods Hole via the town of Centerville, which is, depending on traffic, about a 15-minute drive from downtown Hyannis. Although not much of a tourist destination, Centerville is home to what Cape residents swear by as the best ice cream around. Four Seas Ice Cream is a Kennedy family favorite with rich, homemade ice cream in flavors from coffee to ginger to cranberry sorbet. In fact, the ice cream is so good, you might want to skip lunch and save the room for dessert!
From Woods Hole, take the short drive north for either of two of the Cape locals' favorite dining spots. For well-priced food with a bit of an international flair, try the Chapoquoit Grill. The restaurant does not take reservations, but an early arrival usually has little to no wait. Here you will find delicious wood fired pizzas and a lengthy list of specials.
If seafood is your thing, then continue on to the sleepy village of Cataumet. Follow the curving road to the harbor, a sparkling oasis lively with locals. Here, you'll find the great New England tradition of the lobster roll. Although many Cape Cod restaurants offer renditions of this New England classic, locals know that the Chart Room in Cataumet is where you go for the real deal. Arrive before sunset to enjoy drinks at the outdoor bar and views of the boats, coming and going from the Cape Cod Canal.
When visiting Provincetown, park your car in one of the many lots just off Commercial Street, Provincetown's main drag. Commercial Street offers a multitude of dining choices. A local favorite, Bubala's by the Bay, offers American fare and a lot of local color. (Provincetown boasts several drag shows and performers often walk the street during the day to promote their evening performances.) For an ocean view, try Ross' Grill on the second floor of the Whaler's Warf shopping arcade.
Unlike much of the Cape, Provincetown offers a wide array of upscale dining options. Try The Red Inn for a traditional, New England fine dining experience. Enjoy those famous Wellfleet oysters, locally caught fish specials or rich meats like lamb chops in demi-glace in the setting of a charming, 200 year-old home. Or on the other side of town, try Edwige at Night to enjoy contemporary cuisine and creative cocktails. For a casual meal and a little local color, hang at Spiritus pizza for the town's best pie and excellent people watching.
If you want to experience nightlife Provincetown-style, hit the Crown and Anchor for entertainment and dining. Or try the Post Office Cabaret, which offers drag and/or comedy shows most nights.
For dinner, we recommend Chillingsworth located in the town of Brewster, but be sure to book in advance, particularly during the high season. Considered one of the finest restaurants in New England, Chillingsworth is housed in one of Cape Cod's charming, historic homes. A traditional French set menu is on offer at two nightly seatings. Or, for a less extravagant experience, reserve a table in Chill's Bistro and Bar, which boasts a more casual atmosphere and contemporary cuisine.
If you are strictly seeking native seafoods, you may want to consider the Brewster Fish House, just down the road from Chillingsworth. Be warned, however, that the restaurant does not take reservations and the wait can be lengthy in high season.
For live music, try Liam Maguire's Irish Pub, in Falmouth, where owner Liam performs several nights each week. For a nightcap, head to Chatham via Route 6, (which at night is usually free of traffic), to catch last call at the Wequassett Inn's LiBAYtion beachside bar and celebrate the region's beauty with one final toast.