Autumn on Cape Cod

If there is anything more enjoyable than a summertime visit to Cape Cod, it’s a getaway in the fall when the weather is still glorious and the crowds have lessened.

“Autumn on Cape Cod is considered by many to be Cape Cod’s best season,” says William DeSousa-Mauk, publicist for the Greater Hyannis Chamber. “It is a time when locals and visitors alike can walk along the region’s exceptional beaches without crowds, when trees transform to a fall foliage of yellow, red and orange, traffic flows smoothly over the Sagamore and Bourne bridges, and fall seasonal activities beckon.”

Frugal travelers can enjoy “quiet season” or “shoulder season” reduced lodging rates, and less waiting time is required at restaurants. “September is my absolutely favorite month because shellfish is at a premium,” DeSousa-Mauk says. “All of the months that end in ‘r’ are known for being the best months for seafood.” 

The Cape’s restaurants are a constant source of seafood and shellfish offerings, including clams, oysters and steamers produced locally at fisheries such as Barnstable Sea Farms. The Naked Oyster, Captain Parker’s Pub, which boasts award-winning chowder, and Tap City Grille offer multiple choices of locally raised or caught seafood on their menus. New to the Hyannis restaurant scene is The West End, which opened earlier this summer and also serves a variety of sea-inspired dishes.

The bounty also is celebrated at two festivals – the Cape Cod Scallop Fest at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds in East Falmouth (Sept. 22-25; and the Wellfleet Oysterfest in the town center (Oct. 14-15,  

Special events during the autumn season cover a variety of interests. The Barnstable County Fairgrounds turns into a beer aficionado’s paradise at the Cape Cod Brew Fest (Oct. 14, More than 60 breweries sample 200 styles of beer with live music and food trucks rounding out the festivities. Cape Cod Cranberry Day (Sept. 30; celebrates the delicious history of the bright red berry with tastings and children’s activities at the Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen in East Sandwich. Also family-friendly is the Annual Cape Cod Wildlife Festival (Sept. 9; at the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable.  The day features two educational presentations starring live animals, music, food trucks and interactive activities for families.

Many of the Hyannis’s signature activities such as Duckmobile tours, kids’ fishing tours, Cape Cod Pirate Adventure and sightseeing courtesy of the Cape Cod Central Railroad continue through the fall season.  Hikes along “the town of Barnstable conservation land and Yarmouth conservation land trails are amazing in the autumn when the colors are truly spectacular,” DeSousa-Mauk says, “and the trails are free.”

Whale watch tours leaving from Barnstable harbor offer a different perspective on the landscape and maintain a schedule of tours into October.  Beach walks provide a chance to exercise yet relax to the sound of the lapping water. After Labor Day, parking at all of the Cape’s public beaches is free, which makes exploring even more inviting.

Throughout the year, the Cape satisfies the shop-a-holic in all of us. Hundreds of art galleries are open to the public, while Old Kings Highway (Route 6A) is packed with hundreds of antiques shops from Bourne to Orleans. Main Street in Hyannis is the go-to shopping district for arts and crafts, clothing, Cape Cod jewelry and more.

Hyannis Harbor is home to HyArt Shanties, where visitors can watch artists at work in their chosen field. Their works range from photography and painting in all sorts of media to mariner knot work, wood carving and tapestry. 

The Cape Cod Maritime Museum preserves the area’s seafaring traditions, while the JFK Hyannis Museum is devoted to the life of the Cape’s most famous resident.

Hyannis and the surrounding area, about a three-hour drive from Hartford, provide a unique getaway with activities, events, landmarks and beautiful scenery to suit adventurous travelers.

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