Falmouth – Cape Cod, Massachusetts
“America the Beautiful.” So goes the famous anthem penned by Katherine Lee Bates, Falmouth’s most vaunted resident. Visitors to this attractive town in the southwest corner of Cape Cod would be forgiven for assuming that Ms. Bates was inspired to write by the sparkling beaches, the aromatic pinewoods, and the expansive farmland that existed in the late 1800s. It’s a little disappointing to find out that she was actually teaching in Colorado at the time and was inspired to write after seeing Pike’s Peak.
Falmouth is a big town with a small town feel. It comprises several villages—Falmouth, North Falmouth, West Falmouth, East Falmouth, Woods Hole, Waquoit, Hatchville, and the exquisitely named Teaticket. Its location on the lower west corner of the Cape makes it an ideal center for exploring both Cape Cod and the southeastern Massachusetts mainland. It is just 14 miles south of the Bourne Bridge and 70 miles south of the city of Boston. The islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket lie just south of Cape Cod.
The popularity of Cape Cod as a vacation destination means that the population triples in size in the summer months. Although the roads are generally good, the increased number of cars on the roads and the narrow aspect of the Cape work together to make driving an exercise in patience. This is particularly true for Falmouth where the main road, Route 28, loops down into the town center, turns east through the town, and then curves up to the northeast towards the rest of the Cape. There are minor roads above the town that serve to bypass the town traffic, to the relief of local residents.
A daily passenger and car ferry service operates all year round between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard. For day-trippers that don’t wish to take their cars, there is ample parking in the town and in spillover areas outside the town.
Falmouth has a private airpark for the visiting general aviation pilot; the nearest passenger airport with service to Boston and the offshore islands is in Hyannis.
Unlike some towns on the Cape, Falmouth has a robust year-round population. Many of the shops, restaurants, and galleries in the thriving town center remain open through the winter which gives the town shopping center a more substantial, less “touristy” feel. To be sure, gift shops, restaurants, antique stores and art galleries abound, but there is more relief here from shops selling t-shirts and lobster buoys than in most other Cape towns. Visitors in the early spring, late fall, and the winter are assured of plenty of interest in the main street.
Falmouth’s coastal location means that you find wonderful seafood almost anywhere you go. But your dining choices are not limited to seafood or the ever-present fast food; Falmouth’s restaurant selections are truly cosmopolitan. You can choose from Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Irish, and French. Several of the main street bistro-style restaurants have outside seating to top off the summer dining experience.
Breakfasts, lunches, and in-between ice-cream treats are all well served in the town and the surrounding area. Competition to be the best for service and quality is strong, which assures that you will rarely be disappointed with your choice.
Falmouth has boundless attractions to suit all tastes—the sporty, the adventurous, the curious, and the nature-lover.
- Beaches—Sixty-eight miles of beachfront lie within Falmouth’s borders, twelve miles of which are open to the public. There are daily parking fees at the beaches, although the longer-term visitor can purchase a weekly (or longer) beach sticker.
- Golf—Falmouth boasts six public courses, more than any other town in New England. Of course, drive a little further into the Cape and there’s lots of opportunity for crazy golf as well.
- Bike Paths—The Cape has several well-maintained bike paths. One of the best, the Shining Sea Bikeway, is in Falmouth. Almost 11 miles long, the path starts in North Falmouth, curves through woodlands and beside ponds and sandy beaches before ending in Woods Hole.
- Whale Watching—Several operators offer whale watching cruises leaving from Hyannis, about 45 minutes away.
- Fishing—Freshwater, beach casting, and charter-boat fishing are all available locally.
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution—The world famous marine research establishment has an exhibition center with videos and displays of the activities of the institution, including the story of the discovery of RMS Titanic.
- Plimoth Plantation—Just a 40-minute drive north from Falmouth into the mainland, Plimoth Plantation is a must-see gem. A re-creation of the village built by the first Massachusetts settlers, it is populated by costumed actors, with each one playing the role of an actual settler from the year 1627. They sow and harvest crops, tend farm animals, build wooden cottages, and are eager to share with visitors their experience of the hardscrabble existence of the time. The inquisitive visitor, ready to ask questions of the inhabitants, will have an enjoyable and enlightening day.
Falmouth has many other attractions for the visitor. There are water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, and windsurfing. The Cape Cod Winery is open for sales and wine tastings each weekend from May to October. There’s a wide range of museums, theatre productions, and gardens, including the renowned Heritage Gardens in Sandwich.
As you would expect, accommodations are available to suit all tastes and wallets. Local accommodations include boutique hotels, bed and breakfast inns, motels, and campsites for RVs and tent campers. There is a brisk business at the local real estate agencies for rental accommodations throughout the summer.
Falmouth is an ideal destination town that serves as a useful base from which to explore Cape Cod, the islands and eastern Massachusetts. However, it preserves a small town feel, complete with a pretty village green ringed with white church steeples and typical Cape Cod homes with gray weathered shingles. There is much to see and do in the area for all ages and activity levels.