Posts Tagged ‘Cape Cod vacations’

Our Favorite Waterfront Restaurants on Cape Cod

Friday, May 31st, 2019

Cape Cod is all about the ocean. It was the miles of sandy beaches that first drew summer visitors to our shores in the 1800s, and they are what have made the Cape one of the top vacation destinations in the world. When you visit, you’ll want to spend as much time taking in the gorgeous oceans views as possible. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together information about our favorite waterfront restaurants. All are open seasonally and serve lunch and dinner.

Cap’t Cass Rock Harbor Seafood; 117 Rock Harbor Road, Orleans

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Don’t expect to find white linens and crystal at this weatherworn seafood shanty on Rock Harbor, located just a few miles from the inn. Do expect heaping plates of fresh, local seafood perfectly fried to a golden crisp, a hefty lobster roll at a reasonable price, and classic clam chowder. While the views of the water inside the humble dining room – think flip-flops and sandy floors – aren’t spectacular, the food is, and, with one of Orleans’ most picturesque harbors right outside the door, you can opt to take your food to-go and enjoy a beachside picnic.

Outer Bar & Grille; 2173 Route 28, Harwich

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Outer Bar

With a dazzling view of Pleasant Bay on one side, and the stunning waterfront pool on the other, there are no “bad seats” at Outer Bar at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, which is about seven miles west of Ship’s Knees Inn. Most of the seating is on a large, wrap-around veranda, which means you can savor the ocean breezes as you tuck into fried clams or one of their signature poke bowls – Asian-inspired dishes added to the menu this season. Outer Bar does serve lobster rolls, fish and chips, and chowder, so it’s kind of a clam shack, but done at an elevated level and with unexpected touches.

The Beach House; 297 Shore Road, Chatham

The name kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Continue west another four miles past Wequassett and you’ll arrive at Chatham Bars Inn, where The Beach House is located. Like Outer Bar, The Beach House has an upscale resort vibe, but while Outer Bar is perched above the water, The Beach House sits right in the sand. Ample amounts of outdoor seating, and retractable walls in the dining room, make this another great spot to feast the senses on the ocean view, sea breeze and salty air. Seafood, much of it locally sourced, is the main attraction on the menu.

Ocean Terrace; 2907 Main Street, Brewster

cape cod waterfront dining

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Located in Brewster, northwest of our inn, is Ocean Terrace, the rooftop bar at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club, which boasts views of beautiful Cape Cod Bay and the famed “flats” – the miles-long sandbar that emerges at low tide. An enormous horseshoe-shaped bar is a favorite place for tapas and signature cocktails; one of the fire pits surrounded by sofas is a great place to relax with friends…or make new friends. The crab cakes with charred pineapple alone are worth a visit. Open for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner.

Sesuit Harbor Café; 357 Sesuit Neck Road, Dennis

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West of Ocean Edge is Sesuit Harbor Café, another clam shack perched on yet another picturesque harbor. There are several choices for those who don’t enjoy seafood. Those who do enjoy seafood will be in heaven. The lobster roll is the go-to choice for many who visit this dockside eatery, but should you prefer fried local seafood, you’ll find a huge selection. Chowder, steamers, stuffed quahogs, and raw bar items round out the expansive menu. The food is served on paper plates; seating is at picnic tables: you get the idea. Fun. Casual. Fabulous. Please note: This restaurant does not accept credit cards; there is an ATM on-site.

Pearl; 250 Commercial Street, Wellfleet

cape cod restaurants

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While a couple of our choices are classic clam shacks, and others are at posh resorts, Pearl, which is east or “down Cape” of the inn – is right in the middle of the high-low restaurant spectrum. Flip-flops are certainly appropriate here, but so is getting a little dressed up for an evening out. The first-floor dining room has rustic appeal, but it’s the open-air, second-story deck with epic views of Wellfleet Harbor that gets our vote. Like the overall feel of the restaurant, the menu spans the space between shanty and swanky, with appetizers such as stuffed quahogs and stuffed brie, and entrees that include fried seafood and simply prepared grilled local fish.

The Beachcomber; 1120 Cahoon Hollow Road, Wellfleet

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By day, the Beachcomber, set on a dune overlooking Cahoon Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, is a family restaurant where people wander in from the beach – often in their bathing suits – for a casual meal on the outdoor terrace. By night, it’s a rocking good time. Well, that is with the exception of Sundays, when it’s a rocking good time from opening until closing. Open, and nearly unchanged, for 42 years, the ’Comber is the very embodiment of the let-your-hair-down vibe that vacationers crave. For that matter, locals love it too, which is why this place is packed all season long. The menu is extensive, and the food quite good, but it’s the atmosphere – it is just so Cape Cod – that makes a visit one of our “musts” every season.

A Brief History of Nauset Beach and Nauset Heights

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

As the Old Colony Railroad reached each town on Cape Cod, that town was ‘put on the map’ as a destination for summer visitors. The railroad’s first depot on Cape Cod was in Sandwich; it opened in 1848. Service extended from west to east – with spurs running south into Falmouth, Hyannis and Chatham – across Cape Cod until it reached Provincetown in 1873. Although rail service had reached Orleans by 1865, Nauset Heights in East Orleans – the area surrounding Ship’s Knees Inn and Nauset Beach – would remain nearly deserted for another fifty years.

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What is now the inn when it was a private home, circa 1900











An 1858 map of Nauset Heights shows the house of Freeman Snow, the home built in 1820 that is now the Ship’s Knees Inn, as the only structure in the area. The remainder of the area was undeveloped with the exception of the Doane farm, 90 acres purchased by Timothy Doane – a member of a prominent Eastham family – in 1762 and used as farmland. By 1873 there were a handful of fishing camps in Nauset Heights: small parcels on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, purchased from Doane for $25 apiece, where the owners pitched tents. These were combined into Camp Cummings in 1878.

In 1890, the Seaver brothers bought much of the Doane land. They sold a few lots immediately, but didn’t subdivide the land until 1915. The 200 lots were snapped up by city dwellers who built summer homes and brought about a relative population explosion in the desolate area. At roughly the same time, the Cummings family deeded several acres of land that ran behind the dunes of Nauset Beach to the Town of Orleans.

These ‘early settlers’ – the families who purchased lots from the Seavers – would have had a front-row seat when a German U-boat opened fire on the beach, and a caravan of boats being towed by a tugboat in nearby waters, in July of 1918. The tugboat was hit and sunk, but the shells directed at land fell harmlessly into the sand and surrounding marsh. It was the first and only time the United States received enemy fire in World War I.

It wasn’t until the 1950s, 30-plus years after the German U-boat attack and more than 50 years after many of Cape Cod’s beaches had become established as sought-after summer destinations for tourists, that the town purchased the six and a half acres of land that is now Nauset Beach.

Priscilla Landing in Nauset Heights

Since then, Nauset Beach, which is within walking distance of Ship’s Knees Inn, has become a regular on many ‘best beaches’ lists and is beloved by both residents and visitors, with more than a million people visiting each year to enjoy the cool water and rolling surf. With the demise of the decades-old Liam’s Clam Shack following a nor’easter in March of 2018, gourmet food trucks now line the parking lot in the summer months, much to the delight of beachgoers. Free concerts are offered each Monday evening in the summer months, with a gazebo set in the dunes (it was rescued and relocated after the same March 2018 storm) serving as the stage for bands.

A spring day at Nauset

If You Go: A daily parking fee of $20 is charged at Nauset Beach from mid-June through mid-September. The bathhouse, open seasonally, offers bathrooms, dressing rooms and outdoor showers. There is also a satellite office operated by the town which sells weekly parking passes and over-sand vehicle stickers for the southernmost portion of Nauset Beach. A 4-wheel-drive vehicle, safety equipment and inspection are required to obtain an over-sand sticker.

The Ship's Knees Inn is open year round