Bob loves Cape Cod.
Throughout the many years that I have been attached by the hip to my good friend Alex, we have always been born beach rats, jumping on any chance we could to get on the Parkway for about an hour and head down the Shore. Never ones to stay idle for very long, we like that it only takes 60 minutes or so to get to our favorite bars, surfers, restaurants and shorelines. Her dad, Bob, however, isn’t found at our favorite Shore very often. Instead, he’s usually packing up the Cherokee and going north, headed to his true love, Cape Cod.
Brewster Bay Beach
The only memories of Cape Cod that I had prior to last weekend were from the time that Bob lent his bayside paradise to my little clan and we stuffed into my dad’s pickup truck for a miserable eternity where we drove endlessly through a monsoon to a place that, to my untrained eyes, looked a lot like Long Beach Island only a hell of a lot further away.
So, when Alex invited me to Cape Cod for Labor Day Weekend, I was actually excited to go to a place I was sure I had missed out on when I was little and only had my weirdo parents to lead me around.
Upon arriving to Cape Cod and heading to Bob’s favorite hometown breakfast joint, Grumpy’s, and getting in the line wrapping around the building, I asked Bob, among the weeping willows, bayside bungalows and locally own cafes why Bob chose to keep this home in Cape Cod when he could have one at the Shore which he could potentially enjoy every single summer weekend. Being that Cape Cod is five hours away from New Jersey, it’s definitely not the most convenient of summer homes.
“At the Jersey Shore, you get up, go to the beach, go to the boardwalk. If it rains, you can’t do anything. In Cape Cod, there’s always something new and interesting to do. You don’t need a boardwalk to have fun.”
As much as I love the Shore, I had to admit, he had a point. I would soon find, throughout my long weekend in Cape Cod, how right he was.
After a rather friendly breakfast at Grumpy’s, Alex, our friend Megan and I headed over to the Brewster Bay Beach close to Alex’s development for an afternoon hanging out in the sun. Unlike Shore beaches, it had a decidedly untouristy feel, with people fishing and riding their sailboats all around. Although this made the beach not incredibly ideal for sunning with its seaweed-filled water and quick-moving tide, it was a close destination for some much-needed sand time.
That night, Bob and his wife treated us all to a grandiose dinner at The Pearl, a picturesque yet packed restaurant tucked on the Wellfleet Harbor, where we killed some time before dinner checking out the boats and snapping sunset pics. We came across a 19-year-old who had built a boat that was sitting on the harbor, which he used to go crabbing and sell his finds to neighboring restaurants. As we chatted with this happy yet dirty kid who lived his life on his boat in his bay, I really started to wonder if these were the people who were doing life right.
Later, Bob dragged us all to his favorite local watering hole, The Woodshed, which looks pretty much exactly like it sounds. It’s literally an oversized shed/bar absolutely stuffed with people dancing poorly to a live old-man band jamming out in the back.
The next morning, we decided that we would take advantage of the sunny weather and head about an hour north to Provincetown, a notoriously quirky community that’s very reminiscent of Key West with its homey cottages, sparkling water and happy people.
We first hiked the 176 steps of the Pilgrim Monument upon our arrival, a tall monument built in 1892 to commemorate the Mayflower Pilgrims’ first landing in the New World in Provincetown in November 1620. From the summer of the structure, you get a very windy yet scenic view of the Provincetown Harbor. After our descent, we headed to a local bike shop, rented some bikes and baskers and prepared for a leisurely drive to and around the beach.
The Pilgrim Monument overlooking the Provincetown Harbor
We were sadly mistaken. First, we arrived at Herring Cove, a bright and untamed beach, where we simply laid in the sand in our already-sweaty clothes and enjoyed the sunshine and sand for awhile. Then, we hopped back on our bikes and ended up delving deep into the trails surrounding Clapps Round Pond and Province Lands Road. In our beach gear and flip-flops, we were embarrassingly unprepared amongst serious bikers flying up and down the hilly course that spanned several miles.
Back in Provincetown, we arrived sweaty and sleepy, but night was descending quick which meant that it was high time for Commercial Street, the “Main Street” of the town filled with galleries, boutiques, packed seafood restaurants, dive bars and drag shows. Rainbow flags flew overheard the endless train of drag queens that paraded the streets, offering advance tickets for their shows. We gave in to their clever ploys and purchased tickets for Electra at the Post Office Cafe and Caberet, who went from Lucille Ball to Cher to Barbara Streisand and Elton John.
Early next morning, we got in the car and drove to Hyannis, home of the Kennedy Compound and also the locale for our Hyannis Whale Watching tour. Although four hours to spot a couple of whales was pretty hefty for someone who hates sitting still, it was still pretty cool to spot a couple of whales and their babies and imagine the heft that was underneath the water.
A humpack whale on the Hyannis Whale Watching Tour
Cape Cod is no Seaside or bar-packed teen beach destination. Instead, it’s a subdued yet thriving shore community that never needed cheap boardwalk games to have fun because it has real, unique attractions.