- Top Ten “Don‘t Miss” Experiences on Cape Cod
In honor of our 10th anniversary of innkeeping at the High Pointe Inn, I thought I’d start a series of “Top Ten” lists. We’ve certainly made a few of these lists during our stewardship here on Cape Cod. We were named to the list of Top Ten Inns in North America 2005, Top Ten Inns in the U.S. 2008, Innkeepers of the Year 2009, Top Ten Romantic Inns 2012 and 2013. David Letterman has nothing on us!
First in the series? Top Ten “Don‘t Miss” Experiences on Cape Cod. We are often asked what to see and do by our guests, so we have some expertise when addressing the topic. The island is 65 miles long and 20 miles wide at its widest, but in some spots that narrows to 1-2 miles wide. Though it seems relatively small to traverse, in reality there is much to see and do beyond the beaten path and even more that you won’t find in a guide book. So here, in no particular order are the 10 most truly Cape Cod experiences to seek out when visiting this beautiful part of the world.
- Drive the length of scenic Route 6A, the Old Kings Highway. Designated one of the 10 most scenic byways in America, the long and winding road will lead you through most of the towns and villages of the historic north side of the Cape, past old sea captains mansions, lovely shops and boutiques, and unique galleries.
- Climb a lighthouse. Our favorite is Highland Light in Truro, where if you’re lucky you’ll spot a whale or two breaching off the coast from the top.
- Take a picnic to Fort Hill in Eastham and walk the trails through Nauset Marsh.
- Go on a whale watching excursion to Stellwagen Bank to see humpbacks, fin backs, and minkes. An awe-inspiring adventure that will most likely be the highlight of your trip.
- Visit one of the National Seashore beaches. Play in the sand and frolic in the waves. Be a kid again.
- Watch the commercial fisherman offload their catch of the day at the fish pier in Chatham. Keep an eye out for the gray seals that swim up to get a piece of the action.
- Eat lobster and fried clams outside at an authentic “clam shack”. Roll up your sleeves and be prepared to devour every last succulent morsel. It’s definitely worth the effort.
- Get out on the water in a boat, kayak, or sightseeing tour. Cape Cod is surrounded by the ocean and it greatly influences our weather and lifestyle. See for yourself the magic of “simply messing about in boats”.
- Ride one of the many beautiful bike paths. Our favorite is the Shining Sea trail that traverses 11 miles from North Falmouth to Woods Hole passing through a cranberry bog, marshland, and forest and along both Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound. Pack a lunch or eat at the Fishmonger at the draw bridge at Eel Pond in Woods Hole.
- Take in a live performance at one of our iconic theaters. Cape Playhouse showcases live theater and the Melody Tent spotlights musical talent from Rock to Country and everything in between.
Of course if you want even more ideas for how to spend your days and nights book a stay at our lovely Inn. We’ll serve you a fantastic breakfast and help you plan the perfect day on Cape Cod.
- What’s New on Cape Cod’s Food Scene 2014?
Rich and I consider ourselves “professional eaters”. Evidence of our forays around the Cape Cod food scene can be found in other blog posts I’ve written about local restaurants, as well as in the bevy of menus we keep handy for guests of the High Pointe Inn to enjoy. We make an effort to try the latest entrants as soon as the pocketbook and waistline allow. This year the list of new restaurants is long, and as usual time is short as the spring and summer seasons unfold. We’ve made it to two of the ten on our list so far and can say that we’ve been impressed with each.
Crisp on Main Street in Osterville is destined to be a hot local hangout, with a long bar inside and a new outdoor bar with fire pit. Specializing in organic wood-fired flatbreads. The night we went the bar inside was hopping and most of the tables were occupied as well. We opted to start with their charcuterie board that came ladened with local cheeses, homemade pickles and marinated olives along with house-cured duck bacon, and a selection of meats. Rich was in hog heaven with the duck bacon and the cheeses were the perfect accompaniment to my wine choice. We shared the short rib pizza that featured root-beer braised short rib, chipotle BBQ, aged gruyere, and caramelized onions. Yum. We can definitely recommend this place, but be forewarned there will be a wait, but it’s worth it.
We joined Rich’s son and daughter-in-law for jaunt to try C Salt in Falmouth recently. Small in size, but big on flavor, the ambiance is a nice blend of east and west coast influences, as is their menu. Cocktails were imaginative, and I absolutely adored their twist on Caesar salad. Dressed with blue cheese and sporting ample bits of smoked bacon and a hard boiled egg it was enough to split, though I didn’t and, with the addition of one of several choices of protein, it would have made a nice entrée. The calamari appetizer was especially interesting with the addition of grapefruit, mango, peas shoots and cashews. The main menu offered a few flatbreads that sounded appealing in addition to a dozen or so entrées that would satisfy the desires of a vegetarian, someone craving seafood, or the most dedicated carnivore. Wait staff is attentive and knowledgeable, and the other diners were clearly enjoying the experience, as did we, though at peak dining hours the noise level is challenging.
What’s next on our list? Hard to say, but by the end of the season we hope to get to all of the following in no particular order:
- Local Break, Eastham; upscale bar food
- Guapo’s, Orleans; Mexican street food
- Mac’s, Provincetown; specializing in fish, sushi, and raw bar
- Rock Harbor Grill, Orleans;;eclectic menu encompassing everything from pizza to classic entrées
- The Canteen, Provincetown; soups, salads, sandwiches, and light bites
- Oak & Ember, Mashpee; combination whisky bar, steakhouse, and southern barbeque joint
- Vers , Chatham; offering a patisserie, light snacks and sandwiches, and modern coastal cuisine
- Quicks Hole Tavern, Woods Hole; fresh catch seafood and comfort food
We’ll keep you posted on anything else we discover as we roam the Cape for new and interesting places for our guests to try.
- Welcome to Spring on Cape Cod
When winter wanes and hope springs eternal for warmth to return to Cape Cod, the hardy souls that endured the cold and gray eagerly watch for their favorite harbingers of the coming season. For us it is the first time we spot a bright yellow feather among the khaki ones on the male goldfinches, the opening of our favorite clam shacks, the return of the ospreys to their nests, and the song of the spring peepers. These transitional weeks are full of anticipation as we watch the sun ooze its shine to entice the crocuses to bloom and buds to form on forsythia and hydrangea bushes. The penultimate thrill is the day the street sweeper creeps its way up our hill to rid the road of the sand that kept us safe from mother nature’s snow and ice.
As innkeepers, however, spring means something entirely different. Now is the time for touch-up painting, window washing, rug cleaning, and garden prepping. The phones are jingling to life with guests planning their summer and fall vacations.
Our favorite attractions are opening this month as well.
- Truro Vineyards opens this weekend, April 4th, with wine tastings every 30 minutes.
- The Steamship Authority’s fast ferry returns to service on April 14th.
- The Edward Gorey Museum opens on April 17th.
- Heritage Museum and Gardens opens for the season on April 19th.
- Cape Cod Railroad is offering its Easter Brunch Train on Sunday, April 20th.
- The Hyannis Whale Watcher sets sail from Barnstable Harbor on April 22nd.
There is definitely a buzz in the air on Cape Cod and we are happy to see the sun, the greening grass, budding trees, and blooming flowers. And we are looking forward to seeing our loyal guests at the High Pointe Inn this year, and meeting new friends as well.
Welcome spring! We’re glad you’re back.
- Sage Advice from a Travel Expert: Stay at a Bed and Breakfast
Arthur Frommer, the legendary travel guidebook author known for his iconic “Europe on $5 a Day” guide, offered some sage advice on how to travel intelligently and economically in a recent interview in AARP magazine.
“Experience new ideas,” he says. “Stay in a bed-and-breakfast. Meet the owners, and guests from other countries. You’ll save money and have a better vacation.”
Music to my ears.
In the 15 years we have been innkeeping, we have witnessed thousands of interactions among guests of varying cultures, ethnicities, economic status, and sexual preference. Winter, spring, summer or fall, guests gather around our breakfast table, out on the deck, or in front of the fire to eat and drink, share stories of their travels and offer opinions on everything from the best seafood restaurants to the most remote beaches.
We have seen friendships form among strangers and have forged fast friendships ourselves with guests we may never have encountered had it not been for the commonality of our Inn.
Apart from the obvious creature comforts offered–a comfortable bed, private bath, home-cooked breakfast–a stay at a bed and breakfast inn is an opportunity. An opportunity to engage your hosts and elicit insider information on the area your visiting. An opportunity to expand your horizons by interacting with guests from foreign lands. An opportunity to share insights and exchange ideas with visitors young and old, world-travelers and neophytes alike.
It’s inspirational when I see guests sharing email addresses for future contact with people they’ve just met. And when handshakes turn into hugs and goodbyes leave the promise of hellos I know that my guests have experienced a phenomena that has added significant value to their stay…a chance encounter with a kindred spirit. And it happened at a bed and breakfast inn.
- February Happenings on Cape Cod
February may be the shortest month of the year, but Cape Cod is not short of fun things to do and see in the month that brings us Valentine‘s Day, President‘s Day, and Ground Hog Day. Once Punxsutawney Phil predicts if an early spring is in the offing this year or not we can turn our attention to more important things like music, love, chocolate, and boats.
On February 7-9, the 8th annual Boatbuilders Show returns to Cape Cod via the Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis. Billed as “the best little boat show in the Northeast” it’s the perfect opportunity to start dreaming about warmer weather and, to quote the Wind in the Willows, “believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” On tap will be an array of custom and limited-production sail and power boats, both small and large, fashioned in wood and fiberglass.
If boating is not your thing, then consider attending the Osterville Chocolate Fest held this year on Saturday, February 8th. Everything from steaming cups of hot chocolate to decadent chocolate desserts and candies will be front and center in the shops and business of the lovely village of Osterville. Festivities begin at 9:00 AM and continue throughout the day.
On February 14-16, the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra presents “Piano Men,” a multimedia rock-musical-tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John. Featuring hits from the 70s including “Rocket Man”, “My Life”, “Only the Good Die Young”, and “Crocodile Rock”, guest artist Jim Witter and his band will join the orchestra for what proves to be a rollicking good time. Tickets are selling fast for this one, so book early and come “Just the Way You Are”.
Of course, the High Pointe Inn should be your headquarters for all of these events, so we’ve created the perfect two night package for you and your honey to enjoy on Valentines Day or anytime in February. We call it the “February is for Lovers” package.
So sweep your Valentines off their feet with this romantic getaway. Choose a deluxe ocean-view room or a spacious fireplace suite and pamper yourselves with luxury. Your two night Cape Cod escape includes breakfast by candlelight, a bottle of chilled champagne and chocolates in your room on arrival, a romantic couples massage, and a 3-course gourmet dinner for two one night. Rates start at just $699 per couple complete.
- Cape Cod Vacation: Ahhhh…Summer at Last
When I was a little girl my family took a two week Cape Cod vacation every summer in a little cottage in Brewster right on Cape Cod Bay. Those two weeks were always magical. Days were filled with visits from family and friends, lots of lazy hours exploring the tide pools in front of our cottage, and evenings punctuated by the sweet smells of sand and sea wafting up from the beach. I remember weekly band concerts on the town green, fishing for flounder in Town Cove in Orleans, and the drive-in movie theater in Wellfleet. We never missed an opportunity to see the sunset over Rock Harbor, enjoy an ice cream treat at Cobie’s, or shop for penny candy at the Brewster General Store. Those memories are among my fondest, though decades have passed since we last vacationed here.
Now as innkeepers on Cape Cod, Rich and I are in the position of helping create memories for our guests at the Inn. Each morning at breakfastwe inquire what folks have planned for the day and offer up dozens of possibilities for those who ask for our assistance. Looking for the perfect beach? No problem. We’ve got you covered. We even have printed directions for those who need it, a cooler if necessary, and of course beach chairs, towels and totes. Feel like an adventure on the high seas? Slam dunk. Whale watching on the Hyannis Whale Watcher out of nearby Barnstable Harbor. We can even save you the price of parking by providing a voucher for a discount. Think a ferry to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard might be the perfect daytrip? Give us a second and we’ll book your ferry tickets online and produce directions to the satellite parking area. Perhaps you’d like to do a driving tour of the lower Cape and check out a lighthouse or two; take a bike ride on one of the paved bike trails; kayak the Great Marsh; or shop ‘til you drop. We’ve got a map, blog article, or brochure that will point you in the right direction. Need recommendations for lunch, dinner, the closest farmer’s market, or the best clam shack? Been there, done that.
Our guests are often amazed at the wealth of information we provide, the amenities we offer in the rooms for their convenience, and the honest-to-goodness joy we take in sharing our knowledge of Cape Cod with them.
Both Rich and I are “from away” though each Massachusetts natives. We choose to live on Cape Cod and built a business here that allows us to do so year-round. Our guests visit for just a few days, though we are convinced that you could spend weeks here and not see all that the Cape has to offer. If we can help to make your vacation a memorable one, one that you will think back on often and smile, then I believe we have served you well. And perhaps you will return again and again.
- Serving Up Homemade Jam at our Cape Cod Inn
We buy all the jams and jellies we serve to guests of the High Pointe Inn from the Chatham Jam and Jelly shop right here on Cape Cod. Of course, as a small business on this magnificent peninsula, we support as many other local businesses as we can. But the Chatham Jam and Jelly shop is really something special. What started as a way to earn some extra cash during the busy tourist season some 30 years ago, has blossomed into a full time career for Carol Cummings and her husband Robin, along with help from their children. In the beginning she made small batches of jam based on family recipes in the kitchen of their home to sell at local gift shops. But their popularity soon soared and the Mom and Pop operation needed to expand quickly to fill orders and meet the demand, so the business eventually took over both their living and dining rooms as well. Their tiny storefront on Vineyard Avenue in Chatham that has served them well since 1983, however, is about to expand once more.
Chatting with them yesterday, when we stopped in to pick up our latest order, we found out that the entire shop will be moving to a new location, hopefully this August, where Carol will have a licensed commercial kitchen in a new facility at 16 Seaquanset Road in West Chatham. There she will once again be able to create her chutneys and relishes, along with the jams and jellies for which she is so famous. They were busy picking out counters and cabinets to hold the nearly 120 varieties they already produce annually and talked excitedly about adding even more creative concoctions to the inventory.
When we first sampled their jams nearly 10 years ago to choose the ones we thought our guests would enjoy most at breakfast, it was an extremely difficult decision. Should we go with standbys like strawberry and blueberry, or more exotic varieties like cranberry fig or spiced peach? In the end we chose something native to Cape Cod (Wild Beach Plum) something traditional (Raspberry), and something a tad more unusual (Cranberry Vanilla). Our guests love these jams, as evidenced by the number of times we need to reorder.
In addition to their jams and jellies, the Chatham Jam and Jelly Shop also carries an assortment of gift items. Store hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Saturday. As a courtesy to our guests who can’t make the trek down to the shop to purchase items to take home to friends and family, we stock a few jars in our gift shop here at our Cape Cod Inn as well.
- The Simple Pleasures of Life on Cape Cod
So I’m up early this morning. Force of habit, I guess, as strangely we had no guests at the Inn last night. It being Monday night of Memorial Day weekend, I’m not surprised. Most everyone had to cross the bridge to return to “America” leaving their idyllic escape on Cape Cod behind. Back to reality, routine, and keeping pace with the rhythm that carries them day to day.
Anyhow, for the first time in the nearly 10 years we have been innkeeping on Cape Cod I have the pleasure of having coffee on the deck, reading the paper while listening to the birds singing, and enjoying the sunshine that evaded us until yesterday. Man I could get used to this.
The silence of the early morning, before alarm clocks chirp and buses swing by to pick up school children, is hypnotic. I am entranced by a humming bird at the feeder, the distant purr of cars cruising along scenic Route 6A, and the gentle burble of the fountains in the courtyard below. The blue sky and green grass seem more intense this morning, perhaps because of the gray of recent mornings.
The deck is freshly painted and the furniture scrubbed clean of winter’s grime. The hanging baskets and potted plants are basking in the sun. The bird feeders are filled and the bird bath ready for action. It is summer finally and we are ready. Ready to greet our guests with smiles, counsel them on the best ways to take in the beauty that is Cape Cod, serve them coffee and breakfast al fresco, and create an ambiance that affords them an opportunity to truly unwind and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Like coffee on the deck.
- Cape Cod Getaway: The Ultimate Package
Our guests frequently ask us what the ultimate Cape Cod getaway activities are when visiting Cape Cod. We have our favorites, of course, and we are happy to share advice, offer counsel, make reservations and otherwise assist guests at our inn on Cape Cod however we can. We want each and every guest at the High Pointe Inn to have the most authentic experience possible while staying with us.
A Welcome Book bursting at the seams with great “insider information” sits on the desk in every guest room. We have a “Directions To…” box loaded with pre-printed directions to our favorite off-the-beaten-path destinations, restaurants, and beaches located right at the front door so guests can grab whatever they need for a day of spectacular sightseeing. And just recently we added a photo slide show of some really beautiful shots of the Cape that Rich has taken over the years to the guest computer in the living room. Sort of a “preview of coming attractions” for arriving guests.
But today we decided to take it one step further and add what we are calling the “Ultimate Cape Cod Getaway Package” to our roster of great specials and packages. This would be the perfect package for a honeymoon, first time visitor to Cape Cod, or for anyone wanting to see what makes this destination so special. In five leisurely days you can take a day trip to Nantucket via high-speed ferry, experience the thrill of a whale watching adventure on Cape Cod Bay, dine at one of the most romantic restaurants on Cape Cod, and enjoy the laid-back luxury of a one-hour side-by-side couples massage in the comfort and privacy of one of our spacious and elegantly appointed rooms or suites. A bottle of hand-selected wine and a specially prepared cheese board are yours to enjoy whenever the spirit moves you during your stay.
This extra-special package is available from mid-May to mid-October, with rates starting at just $1999 complete. Here is a round-up of the highlights of this one-of-a-kind vacation package:
- Five nights in a spacious ocean-view guest room or garden suite with deck.
- A 3-course gourmet dinner for two one night.
- Round trip high-speed ferry tickets to Nantucket.
- Two adult Whale Watch excursion tickets.
- One-hour side-by-side in-room couples massage.
- A bottle of red or white wine in your room on arrival.
- A cheese and cracker platter in your room on arrival.
- Full farm-to-table hot breakfast each morning.
- Afternoon home-baked treats.
- 24-hour hot coffee and tea.
- Complimentary after-dinner drinks at the Inn.
- Access to our super-secret self-guided driving tours.
For more details or to book your Ultimate Cape Cod Getaway package, call us toll free at 1-800-362-4441.
- April, My Favorite Month on Cape Cod (or anywhere)
I love April. It brings so many harbingers of spring. Today we saw an osprey sitting on top of the telephone pole where he built his nest for the past several years. Unfortunately hurricane Sandy and the subsequent Nemo blizzard destroyed whatever was left of last year’s nest. Hopefully he won’t get discouraged by having to start all over again and soon we will be seeing him with his partner in the nest high above the marsh.
Earlier this morning Rich pointed out a brilliant yellow gold finch at the feeder. This prompted me to put out the hummingbird feeder. No hummers have visited it yet, but I expect to see one soon. I’ve heard the spring peepers a couple of times and no doubt the skunk cabbage is fermenting by now in the swampy areas of the woods.
The daffodils are up in our yard about 7-8 inches and the lawn is definitely greening up, at least here at the high Pointe Inn on Cape Cod. Soon we’ll see the sand dollars scattered on Sandy Neck Beach, and hear the street sweepers clearing the roads of winter’s sand and debris.
Besides all the signs of spring, April is my birthday month. I can’t help but be happy in April. It was my Mom’s birthday month too. In fact today is her birthday. She would have been 96. So naturally I have been thinking about her a lot today. I pulled out this recipe card, handwritten by her ages ago. She was a wonderful baker, perhaps because had a sweet tooth, but I think mainly she just loved to make things with her hands. I remember waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread and donuts on Saturday mornings. How can you not be happy waking up to that?
So I’m sharing her recipe with you, with apologies for the lack of details, in honor of her birthday. If you try it, let me know how it works out.