The gateway to Cape Cod, Bourne is the first town that greets visitors traveling to this section of the state.
It has the charm that its other counterparts on the Cape have, all while providing relatively quick access to New Bedford, Providence, and Boston, making it an ideal location for those commuting to work in those larger cities.
Where Nature and History Come Alive
The first stop for anyone visiting Bourne is the Cape Cod Canal. Completed in 1914, the Canal celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014. Both sides of the Canal have a bike path which runs roughly 8 miles between the Sagamore Bridge and Bourne Bridge. It’s a popular spot for runners, bikers, and rollerbladers, as well as birders and photographers. The Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge, a vertical lift bridge crossing the canal waterway, was the longest in the world when it was completed in 1935. It's now used as a crossing for the CapeFLYER Boston-to-Hyannis passenger train, which operates weekends in season and is a relaxing alternative to sitting in bridge traffic.
Overlooking the Canal on Keene Street is a striking yellow brick building originally built in 1897, that now is the home of the Bourne Historical Society. The Jonathan Bourne Historical Center serves as the warehouse of the town’s earliest documents and records.
At the nearby Aptucxet Trading Post Museum (the nation's oldest store), dig even deeper into Bourne’s past. Visitors will find a replica of what is believed to be one of the earliest remains of a Pilgrim building, as well as the Joseph Jefferson Windmill and the Gray Gables Railroad Station. Both the windmill and the railroad station have ties to President Grover Cleveland, who maintained a summer home in Bourne from 1892 to 1904.
Nature lovers will want to put Four Ponds Conservation Area on their to-do list. Like its name implies, the centerpiece of this town-owned property in the village of Pocasset is its four man-made ponds. There are four scenic trails visitors can follow for a scenic hike, mountain biking adventure, or quiet walk with their dog.
With the ocean always nearby, there are a number of opportunities to encounter creatures of all shapes and sizes on the Cape. At the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay, staff spend their time rehabilitating many of these creatures, from sea turtles to seals, inside the confines of the animal hospital. The nonprofit also serves as a science and education center, offering a chance to learn about the work they do and, on occasion, see the animals they help. And with the center releasing rehabilitated animals throughout the year, the public is invited to attend those events and watch the creatures return to their natural habitat.
Explore a diverse array of colorful butterflies native to the New England area at Butterflies of Cape Cod, an outdoor enclosed butterfly habitat just off the scenic highway in Bourne. In addition to getting an up close look at these beautiful creatures, learn about the critical role of butterflies and butterfly conservation.
Dinner with a View
While there may be no bad place to view a Cape Cod sunset, there are preferable ones. In Bourne, you can find just that at Kingman Yacht Center, home to the Chart Room, a seasonal restaurant that provides spectacular views of Red Brook Harbor. It’s the perfect setting to enjoy a cocktail (mudslides are their specialty) and watch the sun set over the water.
The aptly-named Sunset Grille at The Brookside Club is another prime spot to end one’s day on Cape Cod. Situated on an 18-hole golf course, the restaurant inspires diners with stellar views of the course's picturesque greens overlooking Buzzards Bay.
What the Sagamore Inn lacks in views, it more than makes up for in a mouthwatering menu, which offers comfort food, seafood platters and Italian dishes. The charming restaurant has been a mainstay of Cape Cod since 1900; it burned down in 1930 and was rebuilt that same year, later serving as a dining and dancing establishment for soldiers training at Camp Edwards prior to World War II.
For something quick, easy, and tasty, you can’t go wrong with The Box Lunch. The sandwich shop has over 60 selections of rollwiches – sandwiches rolled in pita bread – that cover everything from peanut butter and jelly to steak to turkey to ham.
End your meal with some dessert, courtesy of Lazy Sundaes. Located in Cataumet Crossing, it’s a setting the little ones will love, featuring mini-golf and bumper boats. A short walk from Lazy Sundaes are The Parrot Bar & Grill and Courtyard Restaurant & Pub, two local eateries that are a staple of the nightly entertainment scene. The Courtyard, owned by former Boston Bruins left winger Jay Miller, regularly hosts viewing parties during the playoffs, allowing Boston sports fans to take in the action with kindred spirits.
Arts, Events and Excitement
Throughout the year, the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce organizes a number of events intended to bring the community together while showcasing the best the Cape has to offer. Perhaps none epitomizes that more than the annual Scallop Fest, which takes place every September at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in Falmouth. During the summer, the chamber’s Concerts by the Canal Series brings live music to the Bourne Community Center on Main Street.
And every holiday season, Cape Cod Central Railroad departs from the Buzzards Bay station, whisking families on the magical Train to Christmas Town, recreating the beloved children’s book.
Much like other parts of the Cape, Bourne is filled with artisans who lend their talents to create artwork that shines a spotlight on the beauty of the region. Kimberly Jane Sheerin and Hollis Engley of The Barn Pottery do so through their assortment of intricately handcrafted pots, vases, and dishes.
A road trip to Bourne is not complete without a stop at Pairpoint Glass, America's oldest glass company. Located in Bourne's Sagamore Village, Pairpoint's custom hand blown glass pieces include everything from sconces, vases, and chandeliers to barware, bowls and ornaments. Pairpoint has been a breeding ground for many local artists and glassblowers since 1970.
Dubbed by The Providence Journal as “one of New England’s best coastal photographers,” Bobby Baker has left an indelible mark on the Cape’s landscape through his stunning images. His gallery in Cataumet village - Bobby Baker Gallery - features his award-winning renderings of Cape Cod. The inspiration for much of his work? The beautiful seaside town of Bourne.
Blogger's Note: This is part of a series of "Road Trip" blogs that spotlight each of Cape Cod's distinctive towns and villages!