Outermost Cape

Cape Cod
The windswept dunes and sandy shores of the Outer Cape hold a special charm in winter. There’s no need to worry about traffic and crowds, and it’s a luxury to have the beaches to yourself. Our leisurely drive began in Yarmouth and bypassed the elbow of Chatham o head to Eastham and Wellfleet up along the Cape Cod National Seashore. In Truro, we visited Cape Cod Light (aka Highland Light-1857), which was moved back from the cliff’s edge in 1996 to prevent it from falling into the sea.The lighthouse is surrounded by a golf course. A couple of golfers were just heading out with their clubs to play a round, and they nodded a curious greeting, probably wondering who would choose a blustery January day for a tourist stop.
Cape Cod

The beaches on this part of the Cape, especially in winter, always make me want to reread The Outermost House, Henry Beston’s chronicle of his solitary year spent in a cottage in the dunes on Nauset Spit, part of Coast Guard Beach.

There are some great walking and bike paths near Provincelands heading out toward Race Point, and we took a walk through the marshland, which was being redeveloped. Provincetown itself was incorporated in 1727, but it’s history is much older. It was the site of the first landing of the Mayflower, and the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower compact in the harbor. Later, Provincetown became the Cape’s whaling and fishing center. MacMillan Wharf is still hopping with fishing boats. Commercial Street was deserted, and we only came across one or two shops that were open for business. Winter seems to highlight P’town’s split personalities: fishing village, artists’ colony, gay-friendly tourist destination. We walked out on the jetty at the west end of town to see the one of the other lighthouses across the bay. (Believe it or not, there was another car with Georgia plates parked right in front of us, though we never ran across its occupants.)

Cape Cod

In the bar at the Governor Bradford, no one was quite sure where might be open for dinner.The local fishermen were having a late afternoon brew, and couldn’t resist asking where we non-locals were from.One had a good time ribbing Donny for a bit, but he stood his ground, and they backed down when they learned I had grown up on the Cape. Dinner later at Michael Shay’s included an all you can eat salad bar, tasty fresh seafood, a professional waiter and a cozy wood-burning stove.

For some Insider Tips on things to do off-season on Cape Cod, check out our Pinterest Board, Off-Season Tranquility on Cape Cod.

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About the author

Tamara and Donny have wandered together since 2004, with no cure for their insatiable wanderlust. They write about discovering new destinations including beautiful photography, plus budget travel tips and how to give back through travel.