Our fall journey down the East Coast in 2019 was deliberately designed to highlight a slew of city adventures, including Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. We enjoy our city adventures—and we also need the respite of nature.
Following our visit to Boston and Salem, we took refuge for several days on Cape Cod.
Settling In For A Few Peaceful Days
In high season, the Cape is a wildly popular place, especially for New Yorkers and Bostonians longing for a seaside summer escape. But during the first week of November, we were virtually alone.
We settled into a spacious campsite at Atlantic Oaks RV Park on the Outer Cape, with only a handful of other late season campers scattered throughout the wooded campground. The weather had vastly improved from our rain-soaked visit to Boston. Crisp days, blue skies, and the golden light of autumn illuminated the quiet November beauty of the Cape.
The Cape Cod Rail Trail was steps from our back door, offering 25 miles of peaceful biking on an easy trail.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Cape Cod National Seashore protects a large portion of the Outer Cape, encompassing a mosaic of long stretches of white sand beaches, dunes of gold grasses, wildlife-rich marshlands, and historic sites.
The Salt Pond Visitor Center was just one-half mile from our campground. We browsed the excellent displays and walked the trails in the marsh, enjoying the solitude.
Iconic Cape Cod
We happily confined our explorations to the Outer Cape, which tends to be more secluded and nature oriented than the rest of the Cape. In visiting the Cape, Henry David Thoreau wrote: “The seashore is sort of a neutral ground, a most advantageous point from which to contemplate this world.” I agree.
There are miles of beaches:
And peaceful marshes:
There are historic lighthouses:
Classic Cape Cod-style homes:
And a historic fishing industry:
At Chatham Pier, we watched the commercial fishing fleet returning with their catches, while the gray seals hung around the docks, hoping for a handout.
The bohemian beach community of Provincetown is located on the extreme northern tip of the Cape. The town attracts artists, writers, and free spirits. My favorite poet, Mary Oliver, made her home here for many years.
Provincetown is known for its large LGBT community, although everyone is welcome. Here, not Plymouth Rock, is where the Mayflower first landed. I can only imagine the Puritanical Pilgrims visiting Provincetown now, LOL. In November, the town was quiet, with none of the street parties, parades, and revelers that make it a wild destination in summer.
What We Missed
The downside of a fall visit to Cape Cod is that everything is closed, and I mean everything. You might find a handful of restaurants that stay open for the locals, but even those tend to have very limited hours. There is none of the gridlock that Cape Cod is famous for in the summer, but there are also none of the festivities. I’ve been to Provincetown in the summer, and it’s festive and colorful. In November, it’s a ghost town.
We were in the mood for a quiet few days, so it suited us just fine to have a peaceful Cape experience. We did find one delightful café for breakfast: Hangar B, at the little local airport in Chatam. Their food is delicious, and they even roast their own coffee and serve homemade jams (strawberry thyme balsamic, yummy).
Where We Stayed
Atlantic Oaks RV Park is a wonderful park on the Outer Cape. It offers full hook-ups, laundry, and wifi. The location is excellent: it’s on the Cape Cod Rail Trail; the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor Center is right next door; and Provincetown is only 20 miles away.