By Jean Railla
Fall is my favorite time to visit Cape Cod. The sweet ocean air is tinged with autumn crispness but the temperatures remain mild. The traffic on Route 6 and the enormous lines at the clam shacks have all but dissipated. And while a few restaurants close after Labor Day, several of the better options remain open through November or even year-round. Best yet? Prices on hotels and rental are often half the price as the high season, making it ideal for those on a budget.
WHERE TO STAY
To get most from your vacation I recommend staying in Provincetown. During July and August P-Town can be overwhelming, its streets teeming with tourists, gay and lesbian revelers, vendors hawking cheap trinkets and drag queens advertising their nightly cabaret shows. But once September comes, it turns back into the quaint gay-friendly town boasting historical sites and stunning beaches.
With lovely courtyard gardens and historic buildings, Gabriel’s at the Ashbrook Inn is a favorite among visitors from all parts of the globe (from $225).
For those travelling with children or on a budget, the Harbor Hotel, offers a free breakfast and fun amenities like board games, large pool and a pool table (from $102).
As an alternative, Airbnb.com offers apartment and home rentals by the night or week.
WHAT TO DO
The Pilgrims founded Provincetown in 1620 (they landed, stayed 5 weeks, then left for Plymouth) and the Pilgrim Monument commemorates this history. Climb to the top of the tower and visit the museum to learn of the town’s storied past as an arts colony, theater center and a safe haven for the gay and lesbian communities for almost a hundred years. http://www.pilgrim-monument.org/
Neighboring Wellfleet is known for its delicate and delicious oysters. The Oyster Fest, held on October 19 & 20th is a fun place to sample and celebrate these bivalves. This annual event features over 75 artisans, 16 food vendors, 12 raw bars and 13 community organizations plus live music. It also attracts hundreds of revelers, so buy your tickets in advance.
Whale watching is a favorite attraction in Provincetown, where the waters are teeming with wild life. Many cruises still run daily throughout the fall ($42 adults, $29 children).
Rent a bike and explore the paved bike paths through the Provincetown dunes.
Nestled in the thinnest part of Cape Cod between Wellfleet and Provincetown lies the Truro Vineyard, offering daily wine tastings and special events. With lovely grounds for strolling or picnicking and a gift shop, it’s a pleasant afternoon activity.
Take a yoga class in seaside town of Wellfleet at the Quiet Mind Studio—the center of the Outer Cape yoga community. Classes rival those found in New York City and Boston. While there, book a massage one with one their excellent practitioners.
WHERE TO EAT
Loved by locals and tourists alike, Black Fish is quickly building its reputation as the best restaurant on Cape Cod. Tucked into a long driveway in the neighboring town of Truro, this is local, seasonal cooking at its finest. Standouts include fried oysters bursting with the salty but succulent taste of Wellfleet waters, meaty Niman Ranch burgers and the incredible Tuna Bolognese, sophisticated, cream, lemony riff of your mom’s tuna casserole. 17 Truro Center Rd, Truro, MA 02666 – (508) 349-3399
Joe Coffee & Espresso
When I’m travelling I often want something light for breakfast—and I want it fast so I can get on with my day. Joe’s Coffee & Espresso in Provincetown with its fantastic cappuccino and pastries fits the bill. For lunch, they offer simple sandwiches made all the more enticing with the promise of their delicious brownies for dessert. 170 Commercial Street – (508) 487-6656
Fanizzi’s Restaurant By the Sea
Open year round, Fanizzi’s boasts a full bar, stunning views and a broad menu with seafood and Italian specialties. While not exceptional, the food is better than most, and the views and service make up for its lack of creativity. 539 Commercial St. Provincetown, MA 02657 (508) 487-1964
Right on Route 6 with lots of outdoor seating at large picnic tables, this is family dining at its finest. Think lobster rolls, fried chicken and clam chowder made honestly, with fresh ingredients and served up in an unpretentious manner. Finish off with homemade ice cream. 2616 U.S. 6 Wellfleet, MA 02667
Open all year round, the Lighthouse serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a full bar. Breakfast is the main attraction—the waffles are malted and topped with strawberries and whipped cream and their large omelettes are filled with ingredients linguica sausage, green pepper, cheese, just the thing to fill you up before a long day of beachcombing. 317 Main St. Wellfleet, MA. 02667 – (508) 349-3681