Exploring the Main Streets of Cape Cod
There is much to be said about Cape Cod’s scenic backroads and byways, but the Cape’s bustling downtown hubs are just as alluring, offering unique dining, shopping, art and activities—all within walking distance. These seven village centers are worth the trip. Just park your car and explore on foot!
No visit to Provincetown would be complete without a stop at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum (460 Commercial Street), which celebrates the town’s distinction as America’s oldest active art colony with an inspired line-up of art exhibitions, lectures and programs. Next, head over to Marine Specialties (235 Commercial Street) to check out a unique collection of vintage signs, salvaged goods and nautical finds. A laid-back, beachy lunch vibe awaits at The Canteen (225 Commercial Street), where the hot and cold lobster rolls are made from local lobsters shucked by hand that very day. Once you’re fueled up, wander down to Commercial Street’s East End, where you’ll find dozens of eclectic art galleries with fine art by both local and internationally known artists. For dinner with a sunset view, look for the iconic neon sign at the Lobster Pot (321 Commercial Street). They serve lobster every way imaginable, as well as other native seafood and Portuguese specialties. Central House at the Crown & Anchor (247 Commercial Street) is a great stop for both nightly entertainment and flavorful cuisine, with a menu featuring locally sourced food with a twist.
Friday nights are always a lively time to visit downtown Chatham in season because the Chatham Band puts on a free outdoor concert there weekly. For other entertainment, the Chatham Orpheum Theater (637 Main Street) offers two movie choices with comfortable seating and an on-site café with full bar. Kids and collectors will love the Ducks in the Window gift shop (507 Main Street), which boasts the largest rubber duck collection in the world. Chatham Jewelers (532 Main Street) has fine nautical jewelry (think gold sand dollars, anchors and sea shells) that make a great keepsake of your Cape Cod vacation. And find the perfect gift for your favorite foodie at Gustare Oils & Vinegars (461 Main Street), showcasing gourmet food products from around the world.Dining options are many, from the locals’ favorite pub—The Chatham Squire (487 Main Street)—to the elegant outdoor dining at The Blue Coral (483 Main Street).
In Hyannis, the Main Street hub area offers a little of everything. For history buffs, the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum (397 Main Street) is a must-see attraction. After you soak up some of the Camelot vibe, take a walk on the Kennedy Legacy Trail to visit sites in downtown Hyannis that are significant to the Kennedys’ time spent on Cape Cod. Shoppers will love the whimsical treasures found at Red Fish Blue Fish (374 Main Street). At nearby Cellar Leather (578 Main Street), leather artist Jeff Taylor has been handcrafting belts, nautical themed buckles and handbags for over four decades. Let the kids unwind with some arcade fun and classic games at Wackenhammer’s Clockwork STEAMuseum and Carousel (541 Main Street). Afterward, bring them by Kandy Korner Gifts (474 Main Street) for a bag of old-fashioned penny candy or homemade fudge. Depending on your mood, great choices for dining include The Naked Oyster Bistro & Raw Bar (410 Main Street) for upscale seafood and cocktails, Añejo Mexican Bistro & Tequila (599 Main Street) for some fabulous south of the border dishes, and the Brazilian Grill (680 Main Street) for flavorful barbecued meats cut right at your table. Leave room for an after-dinner tiramisu or chocolate-dipped cannoli at Colombo’s Café and Pastries (544 Main Street).
Cape Cod’s oldest town, Sandwich, is a great place to explore art galleries and grab a bite to eat. Gallery on Jarves (2 Jarves Street) is a beautifully renovated historic building that features innovative and traditional media. Collections Gallery (23 Jarves Street) is a cooperative of local artists and craftsmen offering painting, photography, quilting, glass art and more. Sip afternoon tea with finger sandwiches on the patio overlooking Shawme Pond at Dunbar House Restaurant & Tea Room (1 Water Street), or opt for cozy fireside dining in the original tea room inside. For a more casual option, indulge in one of the 10 gourmet burgers and spiked milkshakes at Next Door Burger Bar (8 Jarves Street).
Mashpee Commons isn’t a historical Main Street, but it’s set up like one, with plenty of shops and eateries to explore. Start your visit with a cup of locally roasted coffee at Cape Cod Coffee (48 Market Street). Find unique and colorful nautical totes fashioned from recycled sails at Sea Bags (8 North Street), then swing into Hot Diggity (1 Central Square) to pick up a trendy dog collar and gourmet treat for your favorite four-legged friend. It may be hard to pass by the window at Sachs Jewelers (3 Central Square) without stopping in; the store’s eye-catching jewelry includes gemstone charms, Tahitian Pearl pendants and designer bracelets. Once your shopping bags are full, visit Estia (26 Steeple Street) for coal-fired pizza and classic Greek cuisine with a modern twist. Those who prefer an upscale French bistro (and great martini list) will love Bleu (10 Market Street).
Wellfleet is known as “the art gallery town,” and Saturday night is gallery night, when art appreciators get their chance to meet the artists and see them at work. Wellfleet Preservation Hall (335 Main Street) offers an amazing array of events, including art shows, classes, live music and thought-provoking films. While in town, you won’t want to miss a taste of Wellfleet’s famous oysters. They are available, along with a plethora of other fresh seafood, at Mac’s Seafood Market (265 Commercial Street) for those who want to cook at home, or at Mac’s on the Pier for those who want to dine out. More fresh seafood can be found at The Bookstore & Restaurant (50 Kendrick Avenue), which boasts waterfront views and a cool vintage bookstore to browse.
On the other end of the Cape, don’t miss Falmouth Museums on the Green (65 Palmer Avenue). The museums tell the story of the town’s colonial past and offer tours of the historic buildings and gardens on the property. Staff at the Eight Cousins Bookshop (189 Main Street) have curated a wonderful selection of children’s books, and even a few adult titles; don’t be surprised if you stay longer than planned perusing this charming shop. Fashion- forward ladies and gents will find stylish preppy apparel at Puritan Cape Cod (199 Main Street), a family-owned clothing store with three other Cape locations in Chatham, Hyannis and Mashpee. Dining opportunities abound in Falmouth and pubs take center stage. Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub & Restaurant (273 Main Street) serves pub classics and has live music, including owner Liam himself on occasion. Newer on the scene is Bear in Boots Gastropub (285 Main Street), which features scratch cooking of locally sourced seasonal food. On your way out, pick up one of Cupcake Charlie’s (153 Main Street) freshly baked gourmet cupcakes. It will be the perfect way to end your day.