It’s natural to view Martha’s Vineyard as a satellite of the Cape, slung into the ocean but culturally contiguous, but Nantucket could be mistaken for a suburb of Bermuda. Its main street, just steps from the ferry landing, is paved in brick, cobblestone, granite—and perhaps a shard of whalebone, as well. It takes a full morning to soak up the essence of Nantucket Town, but then you’re content to leave it behind in search of a quiet refuge.
The Wauwinet Inn, a true luxury outpost on a secluded stretch of coast, fits the bill. Guests can repose on designer linens and gaze out mullioned windows onto tranquil waters, or head out early for golf, surfcasting or a kayak tour. The sunset cocktail on Wauwinet’s porch comes earlier as autumn unfurls, but it’s still a proper prelude to dinner at Topper’s, the inn’s culinary jewel.
120 Wauwinet Road, Nantucket. Rooms: $380–$1,120. Suites: $710–$1,250.
Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
This property on Chatham’s Pleasant Bay recently completed the first phase of a $40 million renovation. The project included the creation of the new Signature line of guest rooms—a great success, as they’re a design-magazine layout sprung to life. These rooms have iPod docking stations and a single control to operate the lights, your audio system and the televisions. For a higher-tech hotel room, you might have to visit Tokyo.
The inn also makes its case as one of the Cape’s best dining destinations. Twenty-eight Atlantic, its luxurious flagship restaurant, ranks as the only four-star establishment within fifty miles.
Pleasant Bay, Chatham. Rooms: $305–$1,150. Suites: $975–$3,000.
Contact: 800-225-7125, wequassettinn.com.
Where to Eat
Hyannis’s familiar Main Street is now bookended by a pair of how’d-this-get-here tapas taverns, Hannah Fusion and EmBargo. The latter is large and sleek, with bar seating for thirty-plus in a grand horseshoe, as well as a line of half-moon banquettes with smooth leather seating on the far wall. The food is excellent, including light, tangy spring rolls and garlic shrimp that pop with flavor.
453 Main Street, Hyannis; 508-771-9700. $$$
Mattakeese Wharf (Steaks/seafood)
With its ships’ wheels, mounted game fish and sculpted bowsprit maidens, the Mattakeese is unabashed in its seafaring kitsch, but it fits in with the clanging halyards and idling outboards of Barnstable Harbor. The menu, backed by a wine list that just squeaks by, is basically steak and local seafood, served fresh—and always just what you wanted.
Millway Road, Barnstable; 508-362-4511. $$$
The Wicked Oyster (Seafood)
Golf trips like this sometimes require a brief descent into Tourism, and Wellfleet provides a fine one. Turn left onto Main Street, note the Wicked Oyster on your right, then cruise through town, making a left down Holbrook Avenue to the boat-filled harbor. Breathe in some bay air, watch a kid work a drop line for crabs off a pier, and finally swing back up Commercial Street to your table at the Oyster, which feels like a roadhouse retrofitted with some urban sophistication. Slurp a half-dozen raw ones and whatever else the doctor ordered.
50 Main Street, Wellfleet; 508-349-3455. $$$
Orientation: Getting There
If you’re coming from beyond driving distance, check out flights into Logan International in Boston, T. F. Green Airport near Providence and Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis. The ride to your first Cape destination from Boston or Providence will be ninety minutes or less. After Labor Day, traffic eases on the Cape’s roads and entry bridges and space opens up on the ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. That said, the fare to bring cars across is $150 to almost $450 round trip, depending on which island, the speed of the boat and the size of the vehicle. Without a car, you’ll pay $15 to $65 round trip. Taxis are available for those who arrive on foot.