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The Real Cape Cod

don't go home without:

• Having a truly over-the-top, amiably phantasmagoric miniature golf experience at Pirate's Cove in West Yarmouth. Afterward, stop in Harwich to ride one of Bud's Go-Karts.
• Spending a few hours in Plymouth, 12 miles north of the Cape Cod Canal, to show your family Plymouth Rock and a replica of the Mayflower.
• Renting bikes and pedaling along one of Cape Cod's bike paths.
• Stopping at one of those clinking, swaying touristy stores, the ones that sell fudge and saltwater taffy and penny candy. Your best bet?The Kandy Korner, in Hyannis (508/771-5313), or Chatham Candy Manor (508/945-0825).
• Taking a day or overnight trip to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard (ferries leave regularly from Hyannis to both islands; one goes from Woods Hole to Martha's Vineyard). Call the Steamship Authority (508/477-8600) for information. For holiday weekends, book far in advance.
• Braving the lunchtime crowds at Arnold's, on Route 6, and ordering an artery-clogging meal of fried clams, fried onion rings, fried shrimp, fried oysters, and fried lobster.

BEST BOOKSTORES
Cabbages and Kings, Chatham
In summer, frequent readings by children's book writers and illustrators.
Eight Cousins, Falmouth
The Cape's best for kids, located in the former phone company headquarters from the 1930's.
Parnassus, Yarmouthport
Used books in what looks like the musty, cluttered office of an absentminded book editor.
Compass Rose Book Shop, Orleans
Great selection of books by Cape authors— like Riptide, by Frances Ward Weller.

RENTING A HOUSE
Time is of the essence for summer rentals on Cape Cod: some reserve as early as January. The range of available properties is vast— from a six-bedroom house on the Orleans waterfront for $5,000 a week to a three-bedroom bungalow in Eastham for a more modest $1,550. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce (888/332-2732) is the best place to begin. Its Web site, http://www.capecodchamber.org, has a searchable accommodations database listing. Bay Village Realty (508/896-6200; http://www.bayvillagerealty.com) lists properties throughout the Cape that can be searched by price and location. On the All Seasons Vacation Rental Network (888/281-8660; also accessible from the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce site) you can specify the amenities you require (oceanfront, furnished kitchen, outside deck). CyberRentals.com (802/228-7158, fax 802/228-7716) is a nationwide vacation rentals site with interior and exterior shots of houses. If you're too late for a luxury or economy rental, mid-range properties may still be available; according to the chamber of commerce, they're the last to go.
— Emily Berquist

Peter Smith's most recent novel is A Good Family (Doubleday, 1997).

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