[smg id=60 type=full width=300 align=left] Cape Cod is a curling peninsula only 70 miles long that encompasses hundreds of miles of beaches and more freshwater ponds than there are days in the year. The ocean’s many moods rule this thin spit of land, and in summer, it has a very sunny disposition indeed. The "arm" of the Cape has beckoned wayfarers since pre-Colonial times. These days, more than five million visitors flock from around the world each year to enjoy nature’s nonstop carnival, a combination of torrid sun, and cool, salty air.
On the Cape, days have a way of unfurling aimlessly but pleasantly, with a round of inviolable rituals. First and foremost is a long, restful stint at the beach (you can opt for either the warmer, gently lapping waters of Cape Cod Bay or the pounding Atlantic surf). The beach is generally followed by a stroll through the shops of the nearest town and an obligatory ice-cream stop. After a desalinating shower and perhaps a nap (the pristine air has a way of inspiring snoozes), it’s time for a fabulous dinner. There are few experiences quite so blissful as sitting at a picnic table overlooking a bustling harbor and feasting on a just-caught, butter-dripping, boiled lobster.
[smg id=61type=full width=300 align=right]Be forewarned, however, that the Cape can be a bit too popular at full swing. European settlers waited nearly 3 centuries to go splashing in the surf, but ever since the Victorians donned their bathing costumes there’s been no stopping the waves of sun-, sand-, and sea-worshippers who pour onto this peninsula and the islands beyond every summer.
Experienced travelers are beginning to discover the subtler appeal of the off season, when the population and prices plummet. For some, the prospect of sunbathing with the midsummer crowds on sizzling sand can’t hold a candle to the chance to take long, solitary strolls on a windswept beach, with only the gulls as company. Come Labor Day (or Columbus Day, for stragglers) the crowds clear out, and the whole place hibernates until Memorial Day weekend, the official start of "the season." It’s in this downtime that you’re most likely to experience the "real" Cape. For some, it may take a little resourcefulness to see the beauty in the wintry, shuttered landscape (even the Pilgrims, who forsook this spot for Plymouth, didn’t have quite the necessary mettle), but the people who do stick around are an interesting, independent-minded lot worth getting to know.
As alluring as it is on the surface, the region becomes all the more so as you become more intimately acquainted with it. One visit is likely to prompt a follow-up. Although you can see all of the Cape, and the islands as well, in a matter of days, you could spend a lifetime exploring its many facets and still just begin to take it all in. Early Pilgrims saw in this isolated spot the opportunity for religious freedom, whaling merchants the watery road to riches, and artists the path to capturing the brilliance of nature’s palette. Whatever the incursions of commercialism and overdevelopment, the land is suffused with spirit, and it attracts seekers still.
[smg id=62 type=full width=300 align=left] Narrowing down possible "bests" is a tough call, even for a native of the region. The selections here are intended merely as an introduction to some of the highlights. They’re listed from closest in to farthest out along the Cape, followed by the islands. A great many other outstanding resorts, hotels, inns, attractions, and destinations are described in this guide. Once you start wandering, you’re sure to discover bests of your own.
[size=7pt]Article provided by: Frommer’s[/size]
[td]Nickerson State Park [/td]
[td]Peter’s Pond Park [/td]
[td]Adventure Bound Campground[/td]
[td]Brewster MA [/td]
[td]Sandwich, Upper Cape [/td]
[td]North Truro, MA[/td]
[td](508) 896-3491 [/td]
[td](508) 477-1775 [/td]
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