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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Escape to the Cape - A Day in Falmouth, MA

Beach Falmouth Cape Cod

The Cape in the summertime tends to get a bad reputation. You hear the words Summer and Cape Cod and before you can envision yourself beachside enjoying Wellfleet oysters, you are reminded of the insane traffic and high price tags on just about everything. Well, let me share a secret with you.

Head to the top of the Cape and you can avoid some of the traffic. Head to the top of the cape in early June when the kids are still in school and you can avoid all the traffic. Cheery on top? You can also get discounted lodging and a table for 8 at a restaurant on a perfect sunny day - things that are impossible on those July summer weekends.  Let me tell you from experience....the Cape in June is the only way I want to go to the Cape.

Shining Sea Bike Path Falmouth Cape Cod

O u r   D a y   i n   F a l m o u t h
Just 2.5 hours from Guilford, Connecticut and we were in Falmouth and Woods Hole (a tiny village in Falmouth) on the Cape in Massachusetts.   Falmouth proved to be the perfect launching point for a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard while giving us an entire day to explore the area itself.  Falmouth has a lot to offer as far as beaches, restaurants, shops, bike paths and you guessed it -New England charm.  You could easily spend a long weekend here eating, lounging and sunning your way through the elbow of the Cape.  But I am on a budget and had to be back at work Monday morning - so a day is what we had. Weekend Warrior, remember?

Muffins Mary Ellen’s Portuguese Bakery

B r e a k f a s t
After a day in Martha's Vineyard, we took advantage of sleeping in a little bit and kept breakfast casual.  Instead of some big heavy sit down breakfast, I woke up before the group and snuck down to Mary Ellen’s Portuguese Bakery.  Coastal Massachusetts has a large Portuguese population (born and raised myself) and you can find some authentic Portuguese and Azorean food in the Fall River area as well as areas of the Cape.  

People were sitting down for meals or getting some goods to go and I opted for the latter.  I got a variety of muffins (Corn, Blueberry, and Cinnamon Coffee Muffins) that all received high remarks as well as some classic Portuguese egg custard tarts "Pasteis de Nata".  We sat outside on picnic tables at our hotel, enjoying pastries and coffee, slowly planning the day ahead of us.  I highly recommend a stop at Mary Ellen's before you jump on your bike and head to the Shining Sea Bike Path for a sunny day in Falmouth.

Shining Sea Bike Path Falmouth Cape Cod

B i k i n g
Ashley and Jon had spent some time in Falmouth for their anniversary and had mentioned the Shining Sea Bike Path.  It's a paved sheltered bike path that connects the village of Woods Hole to the rest of Falmouth (with access to Main Street).  The bike path covers 10.7 miles from County Road in North Falmouth all the way to the Steamship Authority parking lot in Woods Hole.  

It was another perfect sunny day and some flat biking along the bike path seemed to be on everyone's minds that morning.  We parked at the main parking lot and in a bike gang of 8, made our way down the bike path past beaches and boardwalks to see another side of Falmouth.  We slowly cruised along, taking in the sites, stopping to dip our toes in the sand and enjoy the day.  Eventually, we turned around and headed back to Falmouth, ending the ride in downtown Falmouth where we ditched our bikes at the post office (perfect railing for locking up bikes) and walked around the town.  

The bike path is the perfect way to get between the two towns on a protected flat path with scenic views of the beach and wooded areas.  After the 7-mile hilly ride on the island on Saturday everyone was happy to be on this flat path.  

Pickle Jar Downtown Falmouth Main Street

E x p l o r e  d o w n t o w n  F a l m o u t h
After our morning of biking, we decided to spend some time in the downtown/main area of Falmouth.  It was a bigger town than I expected and it had all that New England charm.  We walked in and out of stores, stopped to read menus, and enjoyed the sunshine like the happy tourists that we were.  We found another Black Dog store as well as your variety of touristy shops and clothing stores lining Main Street.  It is basically one straight drag through Falmouth and everything you could possibly need (like lobster ice cream) can be found on Main Street. 

Turkey Tenders Pickle Jar Downtown Falmouth Main Street

L u n c h
While walking through the downtown area and looking at menus, one meal really caught my eye as we walked past.  We walked by a table outside of Pickle Jar adorned with adult chicken tenders (which were actually turkey tenders) and promptly decided on Pickle Jar for lunch.  We grabbed a table for 8 in the back and had amazing fried pickle chips, delicious salads, awesome sandwiches, and those crispy turkey tenders..... 

Outdoor seating, quaint decor inside, a good menu, fair prices and something for everyone in a Farm to Table style restaurant.  We did pass a few other places that looked awesome including a Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating but again, we all left the Pickle Jar quite content.  Pickle Jar... trust me. 

Lobster Ice cream Falmouth

Ben and Bill’s Ice Cream Emporium Falmouth Main Street

I c e  C r e a m
What is a summer day on the Cape without ice cream?  I had read about this infamous icecream shop towards the and of Main Street and was eager to try one of their famous flavors.  Ben and Bill’s Ice Cream Emporium is well known for their fun and wild flavors of homemade ice cream including Lobster Ice Cream.  Yes - real lobster....a butter based ice cream with large chunks of lobster mixed right in.  Obviously, I had to try it and while it was good for one bite-full (buttery, savory, real chunks of lobster) it just wasn't something I wanted a whole cone filled with.  

But the Kahula, Brownie Caramel?  Two scoops of that please and thank you. 

Treehouse Lodge Fire Ball Falmouth

L o d g i n g
Finding affordable lodging on the Cape can be challenging, but if you are willing to go in the shoulder season (early June before the kids are out of school) then you can find some great deals.  We did some research and found a quaint looking hotel in Woods Hole by the ferry for about $150 a night called Treehouse Lodge

The Treehouse Lodge is a former motor lodgey type of place that has been (mostly) updated and converted.  It has a woodsy modern theme and the rooms were clean, updated, had everything you needed, and comfortable.  The outdoor space was lovely, a little courtyard with a large fireball, picnic tables, and a cornhole set.  There were fruit and coffee in the office in the morning and the staff was friendly.  But the best part?  The hotel was located about a 1/2 mile from the ferry (which does not offer on-site parking).  This meant we did not have to worry about shuttling and could bike down to the ferry right from our hotel.  

My complaint?  Due to tight parking, we had to pay extra to park at our room at 9am before check-in at 3pm.  Annoying but understandable in a small touristy town.  My real complaint is all about that the bathrooms were atrocious.   I am not one to complain or require fancy lodging but the bathroom was not updated and the shower was comparable to an RV or Cruise shower (i.e. narrow and tiny and nearly impossible to actually get clean in here as you could not move your arms and had to deal with a shower curtain constantly touching you).  

All in all, great affordable stay in Woods Hole with an awesome location right next to the ferry. Location, Location, Location (and a good price!). 

Treehouse Lodge room

We only had a day to spend in Falmouth and hear me out, I am trying this thing.... This thing where I enjoy the day without trying to packing 900 activities into a 6-hour block.  So instead of a long must-see list, I have been focusing on a few items and leaving the rest for "Next Time".  So if you have some more time, or this is a second trip for you, be sure to add these Next Time Activities and Eats to your Falmouth list. 

N e x t  T i m e  (Activities) 
  • Nobska Lighthouse: Take the nature trails out to The Knob (1 mile each way)
  • Visit Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) Studying Marine Science, Woods Hole was always this elusive Marine Science mecca. My inner nerd wanted to go visit the science aquarium and Discovery Center but as my luck would have it, they were not open when we were there. WHOI Ocean Science Discovery Center (summer Monday - Friday, 10 am - 4:30 pm, Saturday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m).and Woods hole science aquarium (only open 11 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday)

N e x t  T i m e (Food)
  • Try the fish tacos at Quicks Hole Taqueria
  • The Falmouth Raw Bar – We go to the Raw Bar at least once a week. We usually go in between lunch and dinner to avoid waiting, but we love sitting outside and having lazy lobster
  • Eat at Waterstreet Kitchen
  • Shuckers – hot lobster roll
  • Landfall - basic seafood restaurant
  • Main Street Falmouth: Maison Villatte is a real deal French pastry shop. The croissants are incredible.
  • Smitty’s Ice Cream – blueberry is to die for. They don’t have it all the time, but when they do make sure to try it.
  • British Beer Company (BBC)
  • Silver Shores Shanty – Super cute and beachy. Has great fried seafood, but the best part is the teeny bar in the back.
Cape Cod, I loved your old school New England charm and I was so glad I got to spend some time on your beaches before the schools let out for the summer and a hotel will cost you your first born.  A day in Falmouth was the perfect way to end an island hopping weekend in Massachusetts.  

I'll be back in the next shoulder season.  See you in September. 

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