Sandwich is one of the first towns greeting visitors to Cape Cod, and one of the last they see when leaving. While it may be easy to bypass Sandwich en route to other communities further down Cape, you shouldn’t.
That’s because Cape Cod’s oldest town has a lot to offer, including a thriving arts scene and an abundance of opportunities to explore the outdoors. And like its name suggests, Sandwich is a prime spot when it comes to food.
What can you make with glass? In Sandwich, the question should be what can’t you make with glass? The town has even been designated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as the aptly named Glass Town Cultural District for its rich offering of cultural and historical assets, all within walking distance of Sandwich center.
A few hundred feet from the scenic Dexter’s Grist Mill, which dates back to the mid-1600s, is the Sandwich Glass Museum. Featuring 6,000+ pieces - including everything from vases, dishes and lamps to more decorative pieces like the colorful pumpkins on display at its annual PumpkinFest held every October - the museum showcases the creativity that goes into glass-blown pieces. And with its glassblowing demonstration, patrons can get an up-close look at one of the town’s longstanding trades.
Just four miles down the street, witness the talent that abounds at McDermott Glass Studios. Owned by David McDermott, the studio includes the work of his wife, Yukimi Matsumoto, as well as artists Bryan Randa and Isabel Green. McDermott is the elder statesmen of the four, having started glassblowing in 1973. He has commissioned pieces for six U.S. presidents, along with Pope John Paul II, Henry Kissinger and the Bank of Scotland. Further testament to his talent: his pieces are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The wooden planks seemingly continue on into the horizon, but eventually a jaunt down the Sandwich Boardwalk will take you to the ocean. In this case, it's the getting there that’s the fun part. The iconic boardwalk, originally built in 1875 and extending roughly 1,350 feet in length, crosses Mill Creek, low dunes and a marsh that is home to aquatic wildlife and a variety of shorebirds. In addition to these scenic views, people walking the boardwalk also find themselves riveted by the personalized engraved messages on almost every plank, the result of a fundraising effort to rebuild the boardwalk following Hurricane Bob in 1991. Located at the entrance to Sandwich Town Beach, the boardwalk is accessible by taking 6A to Town Neck Road; during the summer there is a fee for parking.
One of Cape Cod’s outdoor jewels can be found in Sandwich at Heritage Museums & Gardens. The museum features a variety of wooded trails, vibrant gardens, innovative sculptures & exhibits and a kid-friendly discovery area (Hidden Hollow), tucked away in a dry kettle hole. Since 2015, it has also included an aerial adventure park that literally allows you to swing through the trees via zip lines and tree-to-tree bridges made out of rope, cable and wood. From the end of November through the mid-December, Heritage transforms into a winter wonderland, thanks to its spectacular Gardens Aglow exhibit, more than ten miles of festive holiday lights decorating the grounds.
Where’s a good place to start? How about breakfast. With two locations in Sandwich, Marshland Restaurant is a popular eatery for those looking to kick off their day. The original restaurant has been a fixture on Route 6A for more than 50 years. A second location (Marshlands Too) was added in 2004 on Cotuit Road.
If you’re looking for a casual, but fun lunch (or dinner spot), Bobby Byrne’s on Route 6A has pub fare to satisfy the heartiest of appetites. Down the road, the British Beer Company offers similar fare along with trivia and live music throughout the week. And creative entrees and craft beer in a laid-back setting is what's on tap at the new Industry Ale House on Route 130.
For a more upscale setting, downtown Sandwich has two restaurants – the Belfry Inn and Bistro (converted from an old church) and the Dan’l Webster Inn – that combine a romantic ambiance with high-quality food and service, each topped with a ubiquitous history that makes this seaside community so unique.
Blogger's Note: This is the first in a new series of "Road Trip" blogs spotlighting each of Cape Cod's distinctive towns and villages!