What to do: A Weekend in Upper Cape Cod

Over Labor Day weekend, my husband and I snuck out of busy New York City and headed east to Cape Cod, Massachusetts in search of some relaxing coastline. Since we didn’t plan the trip too far in advance, so decided to keep it easy and stay on the ‘upper’ Cape, or the most western section.

The more well-known areas of the cape are on the ‘outer’ Cape, such as the towns of Wellfleet and Provincetown, but they are quite the drive from New York. Instead we saw some of the natural beauty of the upper Cape – so next visit, when we have more time, we can head out even further.

Staying on the upper Cape has its advantages. First, accommodations seemed to a bit more affordable, as most visitors want to stay further out. Second, there is plenty to do in that area including nature preserves, access to beaches, historic sites, and also for those looking to go to Martha’s Vineyard – easy access. It is also not too far to get to the further reaches of Provincetown or Wellfleet, as we did, from the upper Cape. And finally, the location is ideal over a holiday weekend as it is easy to drive off the peninsula without too much inner island traffic.

Our lobster meal at Mac’s Shack in Wellfleet

For those looking to plan an easy weekend trip to Cape Cod, here are some ideas, assuming a Friday evening drive out there.

Saturday Morning: Local Breakfast

The most delicious breakfast bowl at Spoon and Seed

Our first stop on Saturday was breakfast in Barnstable at the popular Spoon and Seed. There was quite a wait to be seated, but once we were inside we watched the waitstaff hustle and when we did get our food, we were blown away. I had the most delicious vegetarian bowl with sweet potato, spinach, quinoa, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. I ate every last bite.

Midday: Hyannis

Hyannis, one of the villages in Barnstable, is known for the Kennedy residence there, and does have a John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum for interested visitors. Instead we walked around town, checked out a local craft fair as well as a number of artist shanties, where local artists display their wares, and walked down to the port to check out the boats. Check the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s events calendar for ideas during your trip.

Lunch: Venture to the Outer Cape

Since we were well-positioned from Hyannis to travel east, we headed to Wellfleet to track down a restaurant I remembered from childhood summer visits to the Cape. We ended up at Mac’s Shack, which was indeed housed in the very same building I had gone with family as a child, but it was not the restaurant I remembered! Since then a new restaurant group had taken over. We still enjoyed our massive seafood meal, but were a little underwhelmed given the restaurant’s high accolades. We had enough lobster to last us for a few more days!

The building, but not the food I remembered at Mac’s Shack.

Following lunch, we were both tired so headed back to the house to store the lobster in the fridge and relax. That evening we ended up going to the local supermarket to buy groceries for easy-to-prepare meals for breakfast and more.

Sunday morning: Nature Walk

The pond at Skunknett River Wildlife Sanctuary

Internet searches will give you plenty of options for beautiful walks on the Cape, and we were lucky to realize that the small Skunknett River Wildlife Sanctuary was nearby, so we decided to take a morning walk after breakfast. This tranquil wooded preserve is centered around a pond. We leisurely walked along the main trail and enjoyed a little sitting area looking out over the pond, taking in the sounds of wildlife splashing and chirping.

Lunch: Seafood Feast

Fast casual seafood at Cooke’s Seafood

By far, the best meal we had was one we weren’t expecting! We were driving around the nearby neighborhoods and didn’t think we’d find great seafood inland. However, Cooke’s Seafood, a casual restaurant, proved us wrong. We had the best meal of the weekend there – sharing grilled shrimp salad, crab cakes, french fries, and a clam chowder.

Evening: Sandy Sunset

Stunning sunset at Craigsville Beach

After lunch we relaxed in the house until the sun was about to set. We went to Craigsville Beach to catch the sunset and take a walk on the sand. Most families had gone home for the day after spending hours out in the sun, so we had plenty of space to walk along the shore, admiring children’s sand castles, and looking at the horseshoe crab exoskeletons that had washed up on the beach. We found a bench to sit on as the sun set and then made our way back to the car!

The following morning, we set out early to make our way back to New York and of course, got stuck in some traffic! Overall our trip was a success and we are looking forward to the next time we visit. Please send us any recommendations you have for our next trip!

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