For our first biggish foray outside Canada, we choose Cape Cod, even though autumn can be rainy and perhaps not the best time to enjoy the famed beaches. On the plus side, no summer crowds. Even so, we had quite a time booking accommodation – the Cape is a popular destination year-round.
So, leaving Cambridge, MA behind, we drive our hired car over the Sagamore Bridge that spans the Cape Canal, and into Cape Cod country.
There are many little townships you can stay on in the cape, or across by ferry on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. But based on what we could find – NO accommodation at Martha’s Vineyard for the dates we were traveling, (or indeed at many other Cape towns) we make Chatham our base, and stay at The Wayside Inn, 512 Main Street.
I have to say, growing up on a diet of Famous Five and their assorted adventures, plus the murky associations of “fallen/being left by the wayside,” the name “Wayside Inn” did not immediately appeal to me. It sounded like a surly couple might run it, and dislike small noisy children running about their poky establishment that smelt like fish. Also, I had had my heart set on staying on Martha’s Vineyard and not the Cape. Most happily, I was completely and utterly wrong on both counts.
The Wayside Inn is simply charming, with bright, clean, large, comfy rooms and a terrific restaurant on the premises – the popular Wild Goose Tavern.
We poked our noses into quite a few other inns on our walks around town and found ours to be the best in terms of location – on one end of Main Street – and “feel” – by which I just mean my own instincts about a place upon first stepping into it.
Chatham itself, which is one of the older towns on the Cape, was really pretty too, probably the prettiest beach town of all we visited in the Cape – AND, surprisingly, prettier than what we saw of Martha’s Vineyard too.
It has good restaurants (including some terrific made-to-order, takeout sandwich places) and shops selling art, souvenirs, beach paraphernalia, clothes and books, dotting the main street. (They’re all one main street towns here.)
The vibe seemed just right in Chatham, a nice mix of old-fashioned gentility and modern comforts, and not kitschy at all. So, it was all good.
Of course, we couldn’t let a bit of rain prevent us from setting foot on a Cape Cod beach. So, on our last day in Chatham, togged out in raincoats, we walk along the beach. The kids, Sherman and Ari actually walk IN the freezing sea. Me, I’m happy collecting shells – shell fragments rather – until someone says there’s lightning in the sky, let’s clear off. But is IS magical, the beach on the Cape. Something unconcerned, unpretentious about it. No pictures I’m afraid, owing to the rain.