A River Town: Discovering Northfield, Massachusetts and The Pioneer Valley

Author: , May 31st, 2010
by Joan Stoia, Centennial House Inn, Northfield, Massachusetts
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Connecticut River - Northfield, Massachusetts

Northfield, Massachusetts lies at the intersection of Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire on both sides of the majestic Connecticut River. Across the wide flood plain, the land rises to frame the town on the east and west with miles and miles of rolling hills and state forest. In the 17th century, the area was one of the earliest places English settlers explored after arriving here from Europe. Later, in the 19th century, the grand homes built by a family of local artisans created one of the most dramatic and classic streetscapes to be found anywhere in New England.

Schell Rowers - Northfield, MassachusettsCentrally located literally in the heart of New England, Northfield, along with our neighboring towns of Bernardston and Gill, is an ideal base from which to experience the lively and scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. Like the Valley that surrounds it, Northfield’s assets are its history and architecture, agricultural heritage, outdoor recreational opportunities and a growing arts community.

Built largely between 1804 and 1830, the houses along Main Street prompt most people who drive through on Route 63 – a designated “Scenic Byway” – to remark “What a beautiful town!” Northfield’s position as a major railroad hub inspired popular 19th century evangelist Dwight L. Moody to build his school for young ladies here.

Northfield, MassachusettsMoody drew thousands of visitors to his summer revival meetings on the hillside overlooking the river. Many of the wealthy industrialists he attracted built summer cottages here that are still owned by their descendents. Clustered in the woodlands behind his original campus, they formed an early country club of sorts known as “the Rustic Ridge,” with a pool and a golf course which survive to this day, and a grand hotel that eventually succumbed to old age.

The monuments to battles between the English and early Native inhabitants are remarkably well-preserved along Main Street, giving visitors a clear sense of the layout and challenges of the early settlement. A restored trail takes visitors a short hike up King Philip’s hill, reputed to be one of the famous sachem’s camps during the war he waged, and nearly won, against the English.

With Northfield as a base, history buffs can complete the picture of what life was like for the yeoman farmers who participated in the struggle to determine which European super power would control the Connecticut River Valley. As the Boston Globe recently noted, “Northfield opens windows for travelers to some rich Connecticut River history within half an hour’s drive.”

When the Northfield settlement was attacked during King Philip’s War, the settlers fell back to Deerfield, now the carefully preserved the site of the dramatic capture of over one hundred English villagers by combined native and French forces during the winter of 1704. Historic Deerfield, as it is now called, lies about twenty minutes south of Northfield and features a collection of early houses and two museums available to tour at one admission price – the Flynt Museum of Early American Life and the Pocumtuc Valley Memorial Association.

Butterfly Conservatory - Northfield, MassachusettsBut, the Valley isn’t only about the past. While you’re in Deerfield, Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory will banish the winter ‘blahs,’ and the Yankee Candle flagship store, with its candles, gardens and furnishings, provides hours of shopping and inspiration. Chandler’s Restaurant on the property wins recognition as “Best in the Valley” year after year.

Speaking of food, the area all around Northfield boasts some of the best eating outside Boston and New York, with an eclectic and plentiful mix of restaurants and a growing emphasis on farm-to-table ingredients. Varied and fabulous styles and traditions can be found on any street in Northampton or Brattleboro, and at one-of-a-kind bistros tucked away in tiny villages dotting the Valley.

For example, the popular and exquisite Night Kitchen restaurant is a pleasant drive from Northfield and located in an old book mill in Montague, Mass. that taunts would-be explorers with the slogan: “Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find.”

Cyclists - Northfield, MassachusettsJust across the river from Northfield, and a couple of miles from Dwight Moody’s Northfield Mount Hermon School, is the Gill Tavern, which features a country contemporary style, an inventive menu and artisanal beers and ales.

Visitors can work up an appetite hiking the New England National Scenic Trail, the new name for the former Metacomet and Monadnock Trail that runs through Northfield and links Massachusetts to New Hampshire.

The Connecticut River and surrounding watershed offer fishing, boating, kayaking and birding accessible from several points including the Pauchaug Brook boat ramp on Route 63.

The privately run Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center features groomed trails for summer through winter sports, a riverfront picnic area and a narrated 90-minute boat cruise up and down the river through the dramatic French King gorge.

Crumpin Fox Golf Club is ranked among the top 100 small courses in the country. Gardeners can spend the better part of a day browsing Northfield’s three extensive garden centers and numerous farm stands. Northfield’s rich agricultural history is enhanced by a weekly farmers market, and the wonderful fall fairs that take place up and down the Valley and provide a yearly preamble to fall foliage season.

Green Trees Gallery - Northfield, MassachusettsSome of the best are: the Franklin County Fair; the Keene, New Hampshire “Pumpkin Festival,” and the grand-daddy of all country fairs, the Big-E (or Eastern States Exposition) about 45-minutes away in Springfield.

Northfield’s considerable natural and man-made beauty fosters a lively arts community that offers special events throughout the year. “ArtsFest” is an annual outdoor art festival that takes place each year in early September.

The event features fine art and crafts from well-known and up-and-coming local artists, old-fashioned “fair food” and great live music.

Five Colleges - Northfield, MassachusettsLocal merchants team up for special promotions throughout the year, offering tourists fine lodging at the Centennial House Bed and Breakfast, casual dining, open artist studios, locally-made gifts and recreational activities. Each December, they present “A Special Day in Northfield,” a holiday celebration featuring horse-drawn carriage and hayrides, strolling costumed carolers, shopping and craft-making, historical exhibits and seasonal foods.

Bucking the national trend, Northfield is a place on the way up. Small businesses are opening, the schools are top-rated and real estate prices are extremely attractive. In 2012, a new liberal arts college plans to open here.

Whether you begin your own ‘exploration’ of Northfield from points north, from Boston and Albany via Route 2, or up from Connecticut, New York and points south on Interstate 91, you will know immediately that you have entered a special place. The strikingly beautiful landscape, the range of recreational activities, and the area’s rich culture and history, coupled with a slower pace and country charm, are here to savor and enjoy again and again.

Centennial House - Northfield, MassachusettsCentennial House Bed & Breakfast is a 17-room former estate dating back to the early 1800’s. It offers both individual queen and king rooms and two-room suites. All have private baths and come with the inn’s signature gourmet breakfasts that the Boston Globe recently said “kept us from thinking about lunch until 2 p.m. each day.” Aside from the elegant but un-fussy décor, what makes this B&B so special is the amount of public space available to guests. The entire first floor of the house and a large gazebo on the two and one half acre grounds are available for reading, relaxing and hanging out comfortably alone or with friend.

In the afternoon, innkeepers Joan and Steve Stoia welcome new guests with fresh chocolate chip cookies to enjoy with tea or lemonade. Active in Valley affairs for over 30 years, the Stoia’s are happy to design custom itineraries for to match their guests’ interests. Professional event organizers for many years, small weddings are their particular specialty.

Postcards From An Italian Adventure – Assissi

Author: , May 31st, 2010

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Assissi, ItalyTuesday, May 12th:

Buon giorno, tutti,

I will try to write this letter quickly before the server goes down again…I have been kicked off several times today, just trying to read my email… oh well, if all else fails, I might have to go to an internet cafe… me with my 2 computers, that are very nice, but we are at the mercy of the server.

Wednesday, we went, by train, to Assisi. Carmella did a good job of buying the tickets again. She is willing to get right out there and do it.

Sharona, who is probably more fluent than any of us, still holds back, and will not speak up unless she has to save me from disaster. Now as for myself, I am the least fluent, but I am always trying to speak.

Assisi, ItalyThe biggest insult though, came yesterday, when I was trying to speak to a waitress to get another mezzo liter of wine, and the waitress went to Carmella, for her to decipher what I was saying… I mean, mezzo liter a vino bianca is not that difficutl, but the waitress was trying to tell me I already had some, and she thought I wanted another mezzo liter just for myself, not for the 6 of us at the table. So Carmella saved us, I got the mezzo liter and the check… I had better start studying more!!

Despite the rain, we did get to the Basilica of Saint Francis without much trouble at all. There were not a lot of visitors, because of the weather. We then walked a bit around the town, as the rain would let up, then come down in buckets. Finally, at 5:00 p.m.I had to give it up. I went back to the hotel, covered myself in every blanket in the room and took a 45 minute nap. I was very cold…

Assissi, ItalyFortunately, the hotel also has a family-run ristorante, so we ate there that night, had very good food, and very good house wine.

Thursday morning, the sun came out, we had breakfast at the hotel, packed our bags, and the hotelier let us leave them there until we were ready to leave. So we took off, doing the Rick Steves self-guided tour. We went up to the top of the city, where the old amphitheater used to be, then wound our way down to the main part of the city again. We went into San Rufino church, which was the home church for Saint Francis and Sister Claire.

Mainly, we just walked through the town, admiring the old stone houses, and the many windows with flower boxes. Eventually, the rain was threatening again, so we decided to get to a covered outdoor cafe and get some coffee. I ducked into a deli next to the caffe, and soon, Carmella and Sharona came to get me. “You will never guess who is here!” they said. Well, first thing that came to mind was Rick Steves, but they said No…come and see for yourself.

Assisi, Italy - Carmella, Sharona, Franca and BellaThere was Franca and Ron Lingren, with a tour group. Franca was our teacher for Italiano Tre [in Sacramento, CA]. What a surprise. I knew she did tours, but had no idea that she would be in Assisi when we were. I am sending a picture of us (at left – from the right, Carmella, Sharona, Franca and Dolly). I first saw Ron, her husband, and he was absolutlely amazed, also.

Later, as we were waiting for our bus back to the train station, we got rained on again. This is no ordinary rain… first lightning, then thunder, the torrential rain for about 15 or 20 minutes… and it is cold.

Assisi, ItalyWhen we got back to Firenze, there was no rain, then, and our other compagne had returned from Sorrento. We made a dinner of strangozzi pasta, that we had bought in Assisi, with a great sauce of marinara, carciofi (artichokes), sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms. We roasted some veggies (carrots, fennel, onion) and had a green salad and one of our 4.40 Euro bottles of wine.

Today is Sharona’s birthday, so Susan decorated the apartment appropriately, and after breakfast, everyone except Cherie and me went to Boboli Gardens and the Pitti Palace. Cherie is sick so she went back to bed, I went to San Ambrogio market, then I came home, and made an apple tart for Sharona’s birthday cake. Tonight we are going to take her out to dinner. I have made chicken soup for Cherie, as she does not feel well enough to go out.

I hope the rain will stop soon. We are going to Cinque Terre on Monday for three nights. The forecast says good weather for us up there, but who knows. We just have to go anyway.

Keep in touch, and my apologies to all of you who have been kicked out of my categories. I cannot understand why this happens. My good friend and co-director of this tour, has been kicked off my list no less than 4 times. Hopefully, she will get this email, as she is sitting close enough to whack me on the head if she gets kicked off again.

Our love to all…

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Amsterdam: Welcoming Gay/Lesbian Travelers

Author: , May 29th, 2010
by Ton & Hector, Prinx B&B, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Email Ton & Hector | Visit the Prinx B&B Website

Visit the Purple Roofs Netherlands Page

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The city of Amsterdam

The city of Amsterdam has one of the most important intact historical city centers in the world.

Amsterdam HouseThe historical city centre is dominated by the famous canal houses, crowned by ornamented gable tops, that have been built as residences for the wealthy merchants and citizens.

During the commercially successful Golden Age, late 1500 until late 1600, Amsterdam becomes the staple market of the world. The city gets the unique ring of canals and the characteristic appearance is established.

The historical and monumental character of Amsterdam’s city centre is specially determined by the 1600th and 1700th century houses. But also Amsterdam’s warehouses are worth being mentioned here.

Amsterdam ArchitectureIts architecture is unique in the world.
The city contains around 6,700 historical monuments, has about 100 kilometers of canals and 400 stone bridges.

Nowadays, Amsterdam is a colorful city with an intense cultural life which you can easily explore by foot, boat or bike.

Except for the historical centre and the canals, famous highlights are the Rijksmuseum (National Gallery) where you find works from Vermeer and Rembrandt – including his masterpiece, the Night Watch; the Van Gogh Museum where you can see the most of his paintings under one roof and the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam.

Amsterdam SailingWithin walking distance, also in the city centre, you will also find the Jewish Historical Museum and The Anne Frank House.

Museum Hermitage Amsterdam opened in 2009 and, in addition to its permanent collection, presents this year the exhibition “Matisse to Malevich, Pioneers of Modern Art” from the Hermitage in St.Petersburg, Russia.

Also this year, Sail 2010 will take place again. Sail 2010 is a nautical spectacle which program includes an impressive fleet of Tall Ships from all around the world and a unique collection of Dutch sailing heritage.

Amsterdam, a welcoming city for gay and lesbian travelers

Amsterdam PrideAmsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and has an inviting and tolerant atmosphere which has attracted many different people already since the Middle Ages. The multicultural character of the city attracts today also many gay women and men from all around the world.

The Netherlands is one of the most liberal democracies in Europe and specially Amsterdam is one of most liberal cities in Europe for gay and lesbian travelers.

Amsterdam is a trendy city and the gay ‘scene’ includes shopping, dining, many gay and lesbian bars and dance clubs. You’ll find there also plenty of lesbian and gay, and also gay friendly hotels, guesthouses and apartments.

Amsterdam WindmillIn Amsterdam everything is within walking distance. While not being a huge city Amsterdam is very cosmopolitan. With a population of about 800.000 inhabitants the city has a relatively large gay scene.

Except for the numerous bars, cafes and clubs in the city, many gay dance parties are organized weekly or monthly.

But you’ll find there also gay and lesbian bookshops and films and many other activities like choirs or sport. The 5th Gay Games in 1998, Friendship ’98, took place in Amsterdam, the first Gay Games to take place in Europe. About a quarter of a million of visitors from all over the world attended the sport and cultural program during August 1998. The City of Amsterdam also welcomed about 13.000 registered participants.

The Pink Film Days, Amsterdam’s gay and lesbian film festival takes place every year.

Most gay men bars and cafes are situated within two different areas in the city center. The most trendy and popular gay scene is located in the street Reguliersdwarsstraat and around the neighboring streets Amstel and Halvemaansteeg, also very popular by local gay men.

Within walking distance from this area, you’ll find the streets Warmoesstraat and Zeedijk where also the Amsterdam leather scene is situated for the most part.

Gay women can visit different bar/restaurants and cafes such as Saarein or Vivelavie. These are small and pleasant places when you can easily can come in contact with the local lesbian scene. Flirtation, Garbo for Women and Girlesque organize periodically very popular girl-girl parties.

Amsterdam - HomomonumentThere is also a souvenir and information centre for gay tourists in Amsterdam called Pink Point. The kiosk is to be found at the Westermarkt, by the church Westerkerk and the HomoMonument.

Since 1987 Amsterdam has a Homomonument (photo: Pink Point www.pinkpoint.org). The monument commemorates the gay victims of war and also the gay and lesbian victims of oppression all over the world. Specially on the 4th of May, the Netherlands’ National War Victims Remembrance Day, many people also come together at the Homomonument to remember the gay and lesbian victims.

Spectacular Gay highlights every year are the canal parade Amsterdam Gay Pride and Queen´s Day on the April 30th.

The Amsterdam Gay Pride week is organized around the first week of August. Its Canal Gay Parade on Saturday is undoubtedly the greatest and most colorful show of the Pride weekend.

On April 30th Dutch people celebrate Queen’s Day. Specially in Amsterdam this holiday became an unique carnival-like happening. Queen’s Day is a huge, but also relaxed and cheerful party all across the city with its origins in a special regulation which allowed anyone, once a year on Queen’s Day, to trade on the streets without the need of any permit. Nowadays this enormous street market is mainly about having fun but still it does offer the possibility to buy, but specially sell all kind of things that became unnecessary at home, mostly for a symbolic price.

As you can probably imagine, the name of this holiday made it become a big and most funny gay party. Especially during the evening, also the day before, gay bars and clubs are really crowed, inside and outside.

Prinx Studios is gay-owned and are situated in a canal house within the Amsterdam historical city centre. While during the day a lively Amsterdam’s historical and cultural neighborhood, the location is quiet. You will be surrounded by typical historical houses and the rest of the canals are just around the corner. The Museum Area is just 100 meter away from the house and most attractions are within walking distance. In the neighborhood you can also find many breakfast cafes and restaurants and most of the well-known gay hot spots.

The studios have been very recently renovated (2008) and face either a quiet street or the canal Lijnbaansgracht. Besides the bathroom, each studio has a living-dining area – with cooking facilities – and a bed area. On request we can prepare either a double bed or twins. In your fridge, you will find a bottle of Catalan sparkling wine cava and orange juice as a welcome drink.

The San Francisco of Fill in the Blank

Author: , May 29th, 2010

In 1898, in a book called “Skaguay, The Gateway to the Klondike,” promoting the golden promise of Alaska, a civic booster wrote: The future of Skaguay is assured: she is the San Francisco of Alaska – the Key City of the great golden Northwest and will be the capital and the metropolis of the coming North Star State.

It could not have been the first time that the name San Francisco has been the touchstone, the benchmark, the defining frame for someplace else. As in “Geneva is the San Francisco of Switzerland.” Or “Port au Prince is the San Francisco of the Caribbean.” Or “Brighton is the San Francisco of England.”

As demonstrated by the pages and pages of links that appear with a Google search of the phrase “is the San Francisco of,” the good booster of Skagway was not the last to look to this city for metaphoric help. The city obliges, since the facts of its life resonate at so many levels. It has spectacular landscapes (see Geneva, above.) It is prone to earthquakes (see Port au Prince.) It is a coastal town with a thriving gay culture (see Brighton.)

Full Story from the NY Times

Click here for gay travel resources in San Francisco.

DC Cowboys Traveling to Utah Pride

Author: , May 28th, 2010

The DC Cowboys dance company is an all-male performing arts troupe for gay men. It was founded in 1994 by the current Artistic Director Kevin Platte, and has in the last 16 years greatly evolved into a national and international sensation. Though the DC Cowboys website, dccowboys.org, contains a plethora of pertinent information and some fun facts about the dancers, Platte was kind enough to chat with QSaltLake about the conception of the Cowboys and his great pride for what the company has accomplished over the years, as well as its future endeavors.

“We started from very humble roots,” Platte said of the Cowboys’ first performance, which was meant only to be a “one-time shot.” But after their performance during the DC Gay Rodeo weekend, six of the 12 original dancers wanted to “continue the journey.” Since that time, when they once grabbled with their identity — who they wanted to be, what they stood for – the troupe has grown in number to 20 dancers, ranging in age from the 20s to 40s, and it has become an important and positive patron for HIV/AIDS organizations, providing no-cost entertainment for benefit events and foraging donations through the sales of the troupe’s annual calendar and DVDs. “At first we just took every opportunity to perform,” said Platte. “It was just for us … it was selfish in the beginning but then it became selfless.”

That philosophy seems to carry-over to today. Robert Neff, a sophomore Cowboy, said, “My favorite part about being a DC Cowboy is being able to take on a hobby that not only promotes physical fitness, travel and socializing, but also allows you to support LGBT awareness and give back to the community. It’s really a win-win.” And nine-year veteran Chad Townsend, nicknamed Chandy (according to the website), said, “Looking at my life as an amateur musical theater performer, I never imagined that someday I’d be a gay dancing cowboy.” “But it’s been amazing, he continued, “to perform at [events like] Wrigley Field for the closing ceremonies of the Gay Games and on a gay RSVP cruise through the Caribbean.”

Full Story from Q Salt Lake

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Postcards From An Italian Adventure – San Gimignano

Author: , May 28th, 2010

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. She’s using a new iPad, and had a bit of trouble getting us pictures at first, but as her story progresses, we’ll have some great pics to share with the Purple Roofs readers too. Enjoy!

San Gimignano

Tuesday, May 12th:

Buon giorno, everyone,

San GimignanoDespite the rain, almost every single day since our arrival, we have been able to stay pretty busy. Sunday, Mother’s Day, we did get a beautiful sunny day. We started our day with a lovely brunch here at the apartment then 4 of the ladies went to the Accademia to see David. It was such a beautiful day, that later we went for a walk, about 3 miles, I think, down to a main street, Via Mazzini, then followed it around until we got to the Arno, followed it for a while, ending in Santa Croce piazza. The food stalls were still there; I ventured away from traditional Tuscan food, and bought a Wurstel and beer from the Tirol booth. There was a puppeteer there putting on a show for children, and actually let the children play with some of the puppets.

San GimignanoLater, we came back to the apartment, made dinner of chicken marsala, mushroom risotto, green salad, zucchini with red bell peppers, and of course, vino. Now having 2 apartments, with 2 kitchens really came in handy. 4 of the ladies went upstairs and made the risotto, while Cherie and I stayed here and prepared the rest of the meal. It was quite tasty.

When it was time to wash dishes, we remembered that we did not have any hot water….that had gone down earlier in the day, so we washed dishes in 2 apartments, heated water on the stove for dishes down here…I felt like I was back on the farm in Idaho, but of course, the problem had been fixed now.

San Gimignano

Yesterday, we did go to San Gimignano, although the skies looked threatening. We were very fortunate, and never got rained on all day, and we spent a nice, long day there. We had lunch at the Ristorante Belsoggiorno where the dining room overlooks the Tuscan valley. We had such wonderful meals, that none of us ate much that evening, just snacked on leftovers.

Today, we finally got to do the historic Florence tour with Massimo. It was great. He took us first to Piazza Reppublica, where Florence actually started, showed us different types of architecture, showed us where the ancient walls were. One wall was right near us, on Via Guelfa and Via Alfani.

We went across the Arno toward the Pitti Palace, to San Spirito church, back across the river, stopped to have a nice little panini and cappucchino, then came back home. Massimo gave us a wonderful tour. He is a very good tour guide, and we enjoyed the tour very much. We thought it very nice of the weather man to hold off the rain until our tour was finished, then the rain came down in buckets.

San Gimignano

The rest of the day was pretty quiet…..since we are in an apartment, a certain amount of time has to be devoted to housekeeping chores, so we did laundry and cleaning. Now we have opened a San Gimignano white wine, will wander out for a sandwich and a gelato in a bit. We don’t want to cook tonight, as we leave very early in the morning for Assisi. We tried to finish all the leftovers at lunch…so our refrigerator is nearly bare.

I am sending a few pix this time. You will see Sharona and Carmella (Janice) at right, smiling after they successful purchased our autobus tickets for San Gimignano. Tomorrow, I am handing over the ticket money again, and they are to get us direct tickets to Assisi, with no changes of trains.

They are very good, and have been helping me when I stumble on the Italian language. We are trying to speak as much as we can.

Dolly "Bella" Goolsby

Ciao for now. Please write us and let us know how things are in the U.S. We are expecting a great ash cloud from the volcano to descend on us this coming week. I shall let you know what happens with that…we may look like the statues in Pompeii….I hope not….

Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Click here for gay travel resources in Florence & Tuscany.

Cape Cod: America’s Iconic Resort: Upper- & Mid-Cape

Author: , May 27th, 2010
by William DeSousa-Mauk
Email Mike

Visit the Purple Roofs Cape Cod page

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Nobska Lighthouse, Falmouth (Falmouth Chamber of Commerce)

Nobska Lighthouse, Falmouth (Falmouth Chamber of Commerce)

The words “Cape Cod” conjure myriad images.

Cape Harbor (Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce)

Cape Harbor (Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce)

Spectacular white beaches, unfurling like white ribbons as far as eyes can see; byways with shingled, shuttered wooden houses tumbling down to the sea; mammoth sand dunes redolent of rosa rugosa covered with beach grasses and footprints; foggy harbors; 14 lighthouses maintaining their watch over the sea; clam and lobster shacks serving steaming chowder and super-fresh seafood; more than 1,000 restaurants; four centuries of architecture; more than a dozen theaters and nearly 100 museums; art galleries, boutiques and thousands of places to shop; and enchanted visitors exploring almost 600 miles of seacoast and 400 square miles magnificent terrain.

From its outpost as the easternmost portion of Massachusetts, Cape Cod hearkens back to a gentler time. For many, merely crossing one of the two behemoth bridges connecting the 75-mile long peninsula to the mainland evokes a deep unwinding sigh. There is perhaps no other destination as iconic as Cape Cod and, for millions of annual visitors ‘the Cape’ remains a land of hidden treasures awaiting discovery. From its primacy as a warm weather destination to its growing appeal as a winter and spring destination, Cape Cod’s myriad delights enamor visitors in every season.

To Cape Cod’s millions of staunch perennial summer visitors, there once seemed no other time to visit. As these visitors increasingly delayed visits until autumn to avail themselves of lower lodging rates and numbers of visitors, they found the peninsula more magical during this, summer’s last breath before cooler weather. Gilded sunlight burnishes all with a soft, ethereal light. Morning mists linger long enough for even late risers to espy sunny tendrils piercing the morning mists. In the gloaming, the palette turns to blues and purples, these hues gently ushering in the clear nighttime sky, filled almost to overflowing with stars, comets and meteors. Nocturnal promenades along chilly and deserted moonlit beaches-precursors to fireside talks at country inns-make workaday cares evaporate.

Falmouth Road Race cr Falmouth Chamber (Amy Rader)

Falmouth Road Race cr Falmouth Chamber (Amy Rader)

It is a little known fact that the 102 Pilgrims landed in Provincetown on November 11, 1620, dropping anchor in Provincetown Harbor and drafting and signing the Mayflower Compact, an agreement whereby a free people would self-govern. It is from this historic document, signed during the Pilgrims’ five-week stay in Provincetown, that the fullness of America’s liberties would eventually emerge. Thus, Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod was the first landing place of the Pilgrims in the New World. After nearly six weeks the Pilgrims sailed Mayflower across Cape Cod Bay to what is now Plymouth and established a permanent settlement.

Geographically, Cape Cod is a peninsula. It is, however, really closer to being an island, as it is fully surrounded by water. Originally, the Cape was joined with the mainland until the US Army Corps of Engineers dug the 17½-mile long, 480-foot wide Cape Cod Canal from 1909 to 1914 (the world’s widest sea-level canal), giving “birth” to Cape Cod as an independent land mass and joining Buzzards and Cape Cod Bays. Today, reminders of those behemoth glaciers are found strewn across this land in the mid-Cape’s stone walls, the upper Cape’s boulders and hundreds of kettle ponds and glacial lakes from the Canal to Provincetown.

Climate

Because Cape Cod les off the New England land mass swaddled in cold and warm waters, its weather is unique. Winters, it is warmed by the ocean; summers, it is cooled by those same waters. Cooling ocean breezes predominate even on the most sultry summer days (at one time, there were more than 1,000 windmills lining the Cape’s shores, availing themselves of prevailing winds to grind grain and power salt works pumps). When mainland New England is painted white by snow, a true snowfall is rare on Cape Cod. Once again, the oceans work their magic in maintaining the Cape’s rather temperate climate.

Cranberry Harvest, Harwich (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Cranberry Harvest, Harwich (William DeSousa-Mauk)

As the Cape is, on average, only about six miles wide, no piece of Cape land is any further from the ocean’s intervening. January mean temperature is 28.4° F; July mean temperature is 70.4° F. Mean annual precipitation is 43.9 inches. The Cape’s most idyllic weather runs from May to November. Summer months, late June, July, august and early September are the most idyllic for being in or near the ocean. During the peninsula’s magnificent autumn, foliage luxuriates with reds, ochres, umbers, sienas and scarlets Cape-wide for about three months. The cranberry harvest is a sight to behold; the rich red of the berries being water-harvested is a true show-stopper.

Cape Cod has an enduring history. Originally inhabited by five tribes of Wampanoag indigenous people, Europeans started colonizing Cape Cod in the 17th century, setting up farms, villages and commercial pursuits. Four hundred years ago, Bartholomew Gosnold left Falmouth, England, to explore the New World. After journeying across the Atlantic, he and his crew sailed into an unknown bay. There, they encountered land they first named Shoal Hope. Later that day, some successful fishing prompted a name change.

As fellow voyager Gabriel Archer related: “Neere this Cape we came to Anchor in fifteene fadome, where wee tooke great store of Cod-fish, for which we altered the name and called it Cape Cod.”

The names bestowed by Gosnold on the land he found-Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands-are still in use today. The white man was not a newcomer here. Indigenous Native Americans gathered skins, pipes and other wares in anticipation of trading when they sighted Gosnold’s vessel (some even spoke some European words). In 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain made a stop at Barnstable, which he named Port aux Huistres (Oyster Harbor).

In 1614, John Smith, seeking whales and christening all he could with English names. He drew the first map of Cape Cod, which he called Cape James after the king of England, and re-named Cape Cod Bay (Stuart Bay) and Provincetown (Milford Haven). Smith’s names did not have much staying power. During the early years of colonization and exploration of the Cape, there were many conflicts with native people. There’s more, worthy of discovery since entire Cape is filled to overflowing with a fascinating and compelling history which can be explored at town historical societies and museums Cape-wide.

Four Ponds Conservation Area, Bourne (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Four Ponds Conservation Area, Bourne (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Recreation

The Cape is the perfect resort for singles, couples, families, retirees and all lifestyles are readily accepted in an atmosphere of openness and welcome. From the Cape’s hundreds of beaches, offering every manner of water sport, to kayaking its lakes, ponds and rivers, deep sea fishing or surfcasting, clamming, oyster-ing or lobster-ing or taking an organized fishing charter, boating, water-skiing, windsurfing and sunbathing, there are few more stunning places to be in the water.

Day cruises to nearby Martha’s Vineyard Nantucket and sails throughout Cape harbors, Cape Cod Canal, on Vineyard or Nantucket Sound, and private yacht charter excursions or a train ride through cranberry bogs, along Cape Cod Canal and dinner and lunch trains, provide heady and unforgettable experiences. There are also 27 public golf courses, more than 2,200 places to shop, more than one thousand restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, theatres, almost 100 museums, a symphony orchestra, chamber music ensembles, Cape Cod opera and theatre companies Cape-wide.

Cape Cod Pathways http://www.capecodcommission.org/pathways/endeavors to create a Cape-wide network of walking trails throughout all 15 Cape towns. In addition to all the foregoing, there is a lively events calendar spanning all twelve months, but events peak during the spring, summer and fall.

Shining Sea Bike Trail (Falmouth Chamber of Commerce)

Shining Sea Bike Trail (Falmouth Chamber of Commerce)

One can cycle more than 110 miles of dedicated rail trails, enjoy free summer baseball games Cape-wide with Cape Cod Baseball League’s www.capecodbaseball.org ten-team lineup, take whale watching excursions from two ports, Barnstable and Provincetown, dune tours in Provincetown, as well as walking tours throughout the Cape Cod National Seashore accompanied by Park Rangers as well as myriad explorative walks for birding, viewing wildlife, exploring the Cape’s diverse terrain or to view the region’s marine and wildlife.

No other destination offers such diversity of experiences – cultural, geographic, marine, culinary, historic, recreational, educational, ecological, and environmental or simply for fun. Whether exploring town historical societies and historic buildings, sites and lectures or enjoying performance of live theatre, chamber, opera, orchestral or contemporary music, indulging in spa treatments Cape-wide, chuckling away the evening at comedy clubs or dancing till the wee hours at nightclubs and dance bars, nearly every taste, lifestyle and interest can be readily pursued here. Every visit to Cape Cod is always too short and one can never partake of everything the region offers.

Bearings

Cape Cod’s 15 distinctive towns comprise its four regions and are home to about 221,000 residents . The “Upper Cape” includes the towns of Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth and Mashpee; the “Mid Cape’s composition is Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Dennis; the “Lower Cape” includes Harwich, Brewster, Chatham and Orleans; and the “Outer Cape’s” towns are Eastham, Wellfleet Truro and Provincetown.

Upper Cape: Bourne

Bourne contains the villages of Bourne, Buzzards Bay, Cataumet, Monument Beach, Pocasset, Sagamore and Sagamore Beach. It does not seriously cater to the tourist trade at all and residents luxuriate in their relative isolation, gardening and cycling the town’s winding rural roads.
Major sights and attractions in Bourne are:

Upper Cape: Sandwich

Sandwich, Cape Cod’s oldest town was named after Sandwich in East Kent, England. It started as a trading post in 1627, was settled in 1637 and incorporated in 1639 by a splinter group of Puritans. It is a town full of classic New England architecture, a bucolic pond and quaint mercantile establishments and restaurants.

Punctuated by rows of prim weathered clapboard homes, Greek Revival houses, including a pillared town hall, a Christopher Wren-inspired First Church of Christ and a town common encircled by ancient shade trees, Sandwich is an enchanting town, comprising 42 square miles and the villages of Sandwich, East Sandwich, South Sandwich, Scorton Neck, Wakeby and Forestdale.

Dunbar Tea Shop, Sandwich (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Dunbar Tea Shop, Sandwich (William DeSousa-Mauk)

For an excellent afternoon tea, lunch or midday repast, or indulgent homemade dessert, stop at Dunbar Tea Room www.dunbartea.com across from Shawme Pond.

For a serious dinner and lodging, book in at The Belfry Inn & Bistro www.belfryinn.com, a unique three-building inn (request the Tuesday or Friday Rooms in The Abbey) and bistro near Main Street. The cuisine and wine list are superb, as is the setting – in a former Catholic Church. Two other and equally distinctive buildings are contiguous.

Perhaps the most indulgent lodging in all of Sandwich is the celebrated Annabelle Bed & Breakfast www.annabellebedandbreakfast.com. Nowhere in town will guests receive more personalized service or pampering. Evening wine service, sumptuous décor, creature comforts galore and mouth-watering creative breakfast fare distinguish this bed and breakfast; small wonder it was acclaimed Best Bed & Breakfast by TripAdvisor® in its 2010 Travelers’ Choice® awards.

Gary Cooper's 1932 Deusenberg at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Gary Cooper's 1932 Deusenberg at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Major town sights and attractions include:

Upper Cape: Falmouth

Falmouth, the Cape’s second most populous town (after Barnstable) possesses one of the longest coastlines in the Commonwealth, 68 miles. The Town of Falmouth is a constellation of eight villages: East Falmouth, Falmouth, Hatchville, North Falmouth, Teaticket (or Davis Straits), Waquoit, West Falmouth and Woods Hole.

It is closest mainland point-and the Cape’s primary gateway-to Martha’s Vineyard, seven miles off shore. Falmouth boasts more public golf courses (six) than any other New England town. Its deep harbors, open waters and 12 miles of accessible shoreline offer excellent boating, sailing, windsurfing, and deep sea and sport fishing.

Its nature trails are a delight and Shining Sea Bike Path’s newly-expanded seven-mile route from Falmouth to Woods Hole takes cyclists past arresting shoreline vistas and serene woodlands. Visitors interested in the Cape’s fragile eco-system may explore inland waterways via guided nature canoe and kayak tours, or collect marine specimens for hands-on learning on oceanographic cruises.

Nobska Light, Woods Hole (Sarah Musumeci)

Nobska Light, Woods Hole (Sarah Musumeci)

Runners, sprinters and joggers will be pleased to know that Runner’s World magazine has christened Falmouth “the jewel of the coast.” Its charming and enigmatic Main Street, one of only a few true ‘main streets’ on Cape Cod, is a delight to stroll and shop, not to mention the incredible restaurants, such as Osteria la Civetta www.osterialacivetta.com (think homemade pasta) and La Cucina sul Mare www.lacucinasulmare.com are just two of a seemingly endless parade of fine dining establishments along Main Street. Fine lodging, too, can be found here. Elegant AAA 4-diamond Palmer House Inn www.palmerhouseinn.com and handsome waterfront Inn on the Sound www.innonthesound.com (45 feet up on a bluff, with panoramic ocean and Martha’s Vineyard views) are two of Falmouth’s most elite properties.

Try to stash some of the innkeepers’ homemade biscotti at Inn on the Sound; they are scrumptious. In lovely diminutive Woods Hole, intimate and stylish Woods Hole Passage Bed & Breakfast www.woodsholepassage.com provides a sumptuous retreat near the village, yet tucked away.

Island Queen (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Island Queen (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Major town sights and attractions are:

Upper Cape: Mashpee

Mashpee comprises approximately 24 square miles and three villages: Mashpee, New Seabury and Popponessett Beach. Descendants of Massipee (or Massapee) Indians, a sub-tribe of the larger Wampanoag nation, still gather cranberries in Mashpee – which they call “land near the great cove.”

In 1767, the Mashpee area had approximately 21 shingled homes, 52 wigwams and 291 people; a century later, the population was a mere 331, very small growth for 100 years. Today, only about 800 Wampanoags call Mashpee home. It is a fast-growing town and a wonderful place for shopping, has some nice beaches but otherwise, mainly residential. July’s Wampanoag Pow Wow is a colorful tribal reunion and celebration not to be missed.

Mashpee Commons www.mashpeecommons.com

Mid Cape: Barnstable

The towns of Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis comprise the Mid Cape.

Barnstable is the Cape’s largest town and the county seat, named after and twinned with Barnstaple, England. Barnstable is Cape Cod’s flagship town, and there exists a temptation to speak of it as the “capitol” of this peninsula. In 2007, Barnstable was a 2007 All-America City Award winner. The town cuts a swatch from Cape Cod Bay to Nantucket Sound and each of its pleasing towns has its own persona. Native American names are ubiquitous throughout Barnstable, evidence of their early presence, as were extensive ‘shell middens’ (refuse heaps) discovered in and around Hyannis Harbor.

Perhaps the best example is Hyannis’ name-a derivative of Iyannough (or Iyanno), the kindly Native American sachem who aided early settlers. His namesake village erected a bronze statue to his memory on the green. Hyannis is, by far, the most renowned (and most visited) of all Cape towns and the Cape’s tourism, commercial, transportation and shopping center. There are seven villages in the Town of Barnstable: Barnstable Village, Centerville, Cotuit, Hyannis, Marstons Mills, Osterville and West Barnstable.

Hyannis is an amalgam. From its off-beat Main Street with its attendant local color, its inspiring museum or windsurfing Mecca, Kalmus Beach, to its lively waterfront on Lewis Bay from which hordes of island visitors depart and return, it is the unofficial “heart” of the Cape. All visitors, it seems, are wont to pay homage here.

Main Street, just one block from the waterfront, is thronged with myriad boutiques, restaurants, off-price venues, antiques shops and restaurants is as urban as the Cape gets. Meander slightly from Main Street’s heart of and find an enduring harbor on Lewis Bay. From here, ferries and catamarans sail to the popular island playgrounds, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Travelers may also access the islands by air from Hyannis’ airport.

Visitors will invariably find themselves reading menus in Hyannis eatery windows; while there are fine dining choices Cape-wide; Hyannis seems to have the edge when it comes to diversity. Ethnic options include Italian, Brazilian, Thai and French; there’s plenty of fresh seafood-taken literally from boats in the harbor to your table-plus homemade ice creams, fudges and coffee bars offering gelato and cannoli.

Hyannis Harbor (Matt Seuss)

Hyannis Harbor (Matt Seuss)

Nearby the John F. Kennedy Memorial on Hyannis’ Ocean Street offers splendid vistas of the bay so loved by JFK. Kennedy buffs can also reminisce at an unassuming building on Main Street which houses the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum on Main Street. Though diminutive, the Museum features a stirring audiovisual exhibit. Heading south and west is Hyannisport or Hyannis Port (no matter how you spell it, this is Kennedy Country).

Landlubbers cannot see the Kennedy compound from their dry vantage point, but those bent upon espying the simple white clapboarded, sequestered Colonials on Irving Street should instead plan to take one of the Hyannis Harbor Cruises offered by Hy-Line Cruises. From this vantage point, the narrated tour evokes the nostalgic Kennedy Era. On a lighter note, Cape Cod Melody Tent’s schedule includes big name entertainers ‘in the round’ where every seat is a great one.

There are dozens and dozens of lodging establishments in greater Hyannis and, while it is tempting to include them all, here are a few favorites. Anchor In www.anchorin.com in Hyannis, located directly on Hyannis Harbor, is like a country inn on the water. Individual décor, spotless, charming rooms and a plenitude of amenities make this lovely property, located a few streets off bustling Main Street, a popular hotel.

In Barnstable Village Beechwood Inn www.beechwoodinn.com is a lovely Victorian edifice, true to its period inside and out. Warm, welcoming innkeepers, homemade breakfasts and proximity to Barnstable Harbor and mid-Cape Highway make this a favorite where guests return again and again.

Lamb and Lion Inn www.lambandlion.com located on Old King’s Highway, this lovely spot is perfect for a relaxing getaway.

For something really different, where every room has an ocean view, stay at Ocean View Motel in Centerville www.capecodoceanviewmotel.com across the street from popular Craigville Beach.

The High Pointe Inn www.thehighpointeinn.com is a uniquely original New England bed and breakfast inn located in historic West Barnstable, where it sits high on a hill overlooking Sandy Neck Beach and Cape Cod Bay in the distance. Each of three exquisite rooms offers a wealth of amenities.

Near several Hyannis beaches, Captain Gosnold Village www.captaingosnold.com offers accommodations ranging from motel rooms and efficiency/studio units, to one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages.

All units are one-level, with lawn area, picnic tables, gas grills, most with decks. Locals refer to the collection as “cottages”, units are more “house” than “cottage” in many respects.

There seems to be an endless array of dining options in Hyannis, but tried and true spots where great food can be found are Colombo’s Café www.colomboscafe.com on Main Street. Comfortable seating, great service and superb Italian fare (save room for a cannoli).

A reasonably priced but absolutely excellent spot is Ardeo on Main www.ardeocapecod.com which features Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and great service all at a reasonable price.

Another Main Street staple (and a personal favorite) is Fazio’s Trattoria www.faziostrattoria.com. For pizza, Main Street’s Palio Pizzeria www.paliopizzeria.com serves the best pizza on the strip.

For a special dinner, The Road House Café www.roadhousecafe.com is consistently rated one of Cape Cod’s best places to eat.

The Naked Oyster www.nakedoyster.com offers some of the best seafood (fresh from its own Sea Farm) on Cape Cod in a chic setting.

On Route 6A, the Barnstable Restaurant & Tavern www.barnstablerestaurant.com offers creative Cape Cod/American cuisine with a full menu of appetizers, salads, and seafood, meat and Italian specialties.

On the lighter side, they serve delicious crispy thin crust pizzas and an award-winning Grilled Tavern Burger.

For terrific breakfasts at low prices, walk down Main Street to Sunnyside Restaurant www.sunnysiderestaurant.net for pancakes lighter than air, smiling wait staff and down home ambience, replete with lots of local color.

And for some nightlife, located “halfway between Boston and Ptown,” check in to the slightly tacky Mallory Dock www.mallorydock.com gay bar, where patrons are gay, lesbian, bisexual, bi-curious and/or discreet. This is the only mid Cape LGBT meeting place before Provincetown.

Cape Cod Central Railroad (CC Central Railroad)

Cape Cod Central Railroad (CC Central Railroad)

Major sights and attractions include:

Mid Cape: Yarmouth

Boardwalk at Bass Hole at Gray's Beach, Yarmouth Port (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Boardwalk at Bass Hole at Gray's Beach, Yarmouth Port (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Yarmouth was settled in 1639 by farmers emigrating from Plymouth Bay Colony. The disparity which exists between the north side on Cape Cod Bay (Yarmouth Port) and the south side (West and South Yarmouth) which runs along Route 28 is significant.

Yarmouth Port (its official designation, versus Yarmouthport) is an enchanting village, with more than 50 sea captains’ houses (many now B&Bs), stone walls and bay and marsh glimpses along Route 6A, the Old King’s Highway (below right).

By contrast, West and South Yarmouth are commercial, with a surfeit of hotels and motels and every shopping and mercantile option and amenity visitors’ hearts could desire. From the south side, there is ready access to prized warm water beaches and to Hyannis, with its many entertainment and transportation options.

Old King's Highway, Cummaquid, Barnstable/Yarmouth line (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Old King's Highway, Cummaquid, Barnstable/Yarmouth line (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Many visitors enjoy ricocheting between these shores, taking in the best of both “worlds,” for one can relax in bucolic surroundings watching ospreys dive for victuals and, within ten minutes, be surrounded by humanity along Route 28. Along the two coasts-the northern, bay side and southern, ocean side-golden sunsets and golden arches both have their place in any Cape Cod holiday.

Along a two-mile stretch of Route 6A in Yarmouth Port, there exists an eclectic array of structures housing private residences, B&Bs, antiques shops, restaurants and galleries, not one of which was built in the 20th or 21st century.

Along Route 28, however, it is possible to lapse into nostalgia by heading down Old Main Street in the part of South Yarmouth the ‘old timers’ refer to as Bass River. This bucolic byway-which parallels Route 28 for much of its course towards West Yarmouth-contains a wonderful collection of period residences along its bowered side streets and River Road and diminutive and secret Sound beaches.

Yarmouth, 17 square miles in all, is both old and new-and both contribute mightily to its appeal, making it the study in contrasts which it is.

Yarmouth has a large inventory of lodging for such a small town. Perhaps the best place to stay is Captain Farris House www.captainfarris.com in Bass River (South Yarmouth).

This gorgeous bed & breakfast is stunningly decorated and offers some of the finest accommodations in the Mid Cape. Superb breakfasts served al fresco in summer on the sunny courtyard are worth waking up for. Décor, hospitality, great location and excellent value make this an inspired lodging choice.

The stately and elegant Inn at Cape Cod www.innatcapecod.com offers a 200 year tradition of fine hospitality – a perfect base for all that the Cape has to offer. Set in two and a half acres of lush landscaped grounds, and bordering 100 acres of nature preserve, this Cape Cod bed and breakfast is a gentle stroll from several world-class restaurants, a sandy freshwater beach and the shops and attractions of historic Yarmouth Port.

Beach House at Bass River www.beachhousecapecod.com offers ocean-front lodging on a private beach.

Old Yarmouth Inn www.oldyarmouthinn.com, on Route 6A, has been serving consistently excellent cuisine in a charming antique setting.

A new arrival, Lyric www.lyriccapecod.com is fast becoming a favorite. Its trendy interior, seamless service and creative cuisine are earning kudos from even discerning diners.

Yarmouth Port’s Inaho www.inahocapecod.com is one not to be missed and is the best Japanese restaurant on Cape Cod.

Major town sights and attractions are:

Mid Cape: Dennis

Dennis is the last of the Mid Cape towns. Some historians claim Leif Erickson sailed up Bass River – the longest tidal river in the east-during the first millennium and built a camp five miles upriver. Off Old Bass River Road, street names – Viking, Thorvald and Leif Erickson Drives-are enduring reminders of this oft-disputed claim. Erickson’s descriptions, unusual stones and markings found here seem to support such a claim.

Lucky Josiah Dennis, 17th century Congregational minister who preached to his flock for nearly four decades. He was honored by having five Cape villages bear his name: East, West and South Dennis, Dennisport and Dennis.

Cape Playhouse, Dennis (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Cape Playhouse, Dennis (William DeSousa-Mauk)

When visitors cross into Dennis, a more peaceful Cape emerges. Life, noticeably slower, seems a bit more subdued. Stately sea captains’ houses, rambling summer houses, artists’ studios and the renowned Cape Playhouse, where Bette Davis was once an usherette and which, since 1927, has launched many stage stars into renown, are mere appetizers of Dennis’ charm. Cape Cod Rail Trail, an eight-foot wide former Penn-Central track, begins its 25-mile trek towards Wellfleet in at Route 134 in South Dennis, traversing ponds, salt marshes, dunes and Nickerson State Park en route.

Each of Dennis’ villages presents a different facet of this marvelous town. Always refreshing, Dennis-in all of its incarnations, South, East, West, Port or just plain-retreats from commercialism and imbues its residents and visitors with a wonderful sense of history and a love of its quiet, undisturbed beauty.

There is a long list of wonderful lodging establishments town-wide. Ocean-front Corsair and Cross Rip Resorts in Dennisport www.corsaircrossrip.com are excellent choices for couples or families and feature their own private beach on Nantucket Sound.

On the north side, on Route 6A (Old King’s Highway), venerable Scargo Manor Bed & Breakfast www.scargomanor.com sits directly on Scargo Lake.

Another fine 1857 farmhouse inn, Isaiah Hall B & B Inn www.isaiahhallinn.com, open year round, is tucked away on a quiet historic side street near Cape Cod Bay.

If looking for a cottage, then Breezy Knoll Cottages www.breezyknollcottages.com, three cottages-each with kitchen and a host of amenities-along Route 28 in West Dennis, near beaches, restaurants, sights and attractions and shopping could be the ideal spot.

The Ocean House www.oceanhouserestaurant.com in Dennisport features sophisticated waterfront dining with food that “walks the line between cosmopolitan and comfy.”

For more than 30 years, the Red Pheasant www.redpheasantinn.com has been serving up creative and classic cuisine in the elegance of a Cape Cod barn and features organically grown greens and fresh herbs, local farm produce and seafood from local day boats.

The Ebb Tide Restaurant www.ebbtiderestaurant.com sits across from the ocean and consists of six intimate colonial dining rooms offering seafood and meat dishes featuring New England and Cape Cod specialties since 1959.

Clancy’s of Dennisport www.clancysrestaurant.com is year-round restaurant and local landmark great for couples and families.

Kream ‘n’ Kone www.kreamnkone.com, another Cape landmark for more than five decades, is synonymous with award-winning seafood where diners overlook the Swan River.

Those in the mood for a snack, baked goods or pastry should hunt for hard to find, but worthwhile, Underground Bakery www.theundergroundbakery.com on Route 6A in Dennis will make your mouth water with its meat pies, cupcakes, cakes, pasties, cookies and specialties.

Underground is well worth the drive from anywhere on the Cape. Perhaps one of the ultimate dining experiences is Gina’s by the Sea www.ginasbythesea.com, on the road to Chapin Beach, in Dennis. Gina’s claims (and rightfully) to offer “some of the best seafood and Italian cuisine you’ve ever tasted.” Few who have dined here would dispute that claim. Gina’s does not take reservations and, in season, patrons will wait, but the aromas and ambience are amazing.

Major sights and attractions in Dennis are:

Cape Cod Rail Trail (starting point) http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/southeast/ccrt.htm

Cape Cod Museum of Art www.ccmoa.org

Cape Playhouse www.capeplayhouse.com

Scargo Tower http://www.dennishistsoc.org/historical/scargotower.htm

Cape Cinema www.capecinema.com

Antiques Center of Cape Cod www.antiquecenterofcapecod.com

Cape Cod Beaches

Nowhere is perhaps better known in the northeast, and possibly in the country (with the exception of Hawaii) than Cape Cod for beaches. There are almost 600 miles of seacoast and about 115 named beaches, not to mention many landings, creeks and inlets which are unnamed, yet still as alluring as some of the Cape’s great beaches.

Naturally, the most renowned are the six Cape Cod National Seashore www.nps.gov/caco/index.htm beaches, namely six ocean beaches in the following towns: Eastham (Coast Guard and Nauset Light Beaches), Wellfleet (Marconi Beach), Truro (Head of the Meadow Beach) and Provincetown (Race Point and Herring Cove beaches).

Along Cape Cod Bay, each Bay-facing town has town beaches which, in season, require parking fees; some town beaches are restricted to residents-only. There is consensus that the following are the Cape’s finest beaches, aside from National Seashore beaches, which are all incomparable.

Old Silver Beach, North Falmouth (Dan Cutrona)

Old Silver Beach, North Falmouth (Dan Cutrona)

Old Silver Beach, Falmouth: Located on Buzzards Bay in North Falmouth, the pristine beauty of Old Silver Beach features fine white sand and gentle waves lapping the shore. Free of currents, these warm waters are an ideal spot for swimming, water sports, wind surfing and fun in the sun. It has long been recognized as one of Cape Cod’s most beautiful beaches.

When conditions are good, waves can be fun for jumping. From here you can sail out into Buzzards Bay and play in the rollers. Old Silver works best with winds from WSW – NNW. Make sure to keep an eye on the wind shadow caused by Falmouth Heights to the South. This is a popular wave sailing spot when there are strong onshore winds. Parking fee from July-September, bath house, limited parking

Sandy Neck Beach, Barnstable: At six miles long, this is Barnstable’s longest beach (straddles the Barnstable-Sandwich town lines). High sand dunes face Cape Cod Bay and cool clear water make this one of the most popular beaches on Cape Cod. A limited area near the parking lot was recently re-sanded using sand dredged from the nearby Cape Cod Canal. Aside from that spot, there are many rocks mixed in with the sand along the high-tide zone further down the beach and on the ORV areas.

Quissett Harbor, Woods Hole (Jonathan Latcham)

Quissett Harbor, Woods Hole (Jonathan Latcham)

Plan your day around low tide as the flats offer a sandier area to sit in your chair or toss a football. The long beach also has walking trails along a salt marsh that offer glimpses of endangered toads, turtles, and other wildlife. This beach offers swimming, fishing, camping and hiking. Facilities include lifeguards, restrooms, outdoor showers, snack bar, wheelchair-accessible ramp, and special beach chairs. Many people enjoy taking a four-wheel-drive vehicle onto Sandy Neck Beach.

This requires buying a permit through the Town of Barnstable. Four-wheel-drive vehicles must undergo an inspection at the gatehouse for proper emergency equipment such as a tow rope, shovel, and spare tire. Sticker prices vary depending on the length of the permit and whether you are a resident of Sandwich or Barnstable. For four-wheel drive permits call Sandy Neck Administration or Sandy Neck Gatehouse. From Route 6A (over the town line in East Sandwich) take Sandy Neck Road to the beach parking lot.

Dowses Beach, Osterville: A nice wide, sandy beach located on East Bay with warm quiet waters. In an area with beautiful homes, it is a ‘residents-only’ beach. Directly on Nantucket Sound, this beautiful and idyllic south-side beach features warm waters and a peaceful lagoon which are ideal for families with children.

Relatively shallow waters reach about 40 feet at their deepest spots and heat from the summer sun. In the height of the summer, average temperatures at Dowses Beach reach the high 60s and mid-70s. Off East Bay Road in the village of Osterville or take Wianno Avenue off Main Street from Route 28, Osterville; parking for residents-only; foot traffic permitted at no charge; rest rooms and lifeguards.

Mayflower Beach, Dennis: On Cape Cod Bay this beautiful beach is a favorite spot for families and perhaps most scenic of Dennis’ 16 beaches. It features a boardwalk stretching from the large parking lot over the dunes to the beach below. In addition to restrooms and concessions, Mayflower Beach is staffed with lifeguards. Daily parking fee for non-residents. Take Beach Street off Route 6A in Dennis.

Chapin Memorial Beach (Matt Seuss)

Chapin Memorial Beach (Matt Seuss)

Chapin Beach, Dennis: Chapin Beach-at Dennis’ northwest corner-is a favorite among four-wheel-drive vehicle owners (permit required). At the end of this beach peninsula, Barnstable Harbor is to the left and Sandy Neck Light is across the water. At low tide, those looking for shellfish will delight in being able to walk more than a mile out on the tidal flats of Cape Cod Bay.

At high tide, it is a great place to fish from shore. And at nightfall this is one of the most beautiful locations for sunsets. No lifeguards or restrooms (portable toilets available). Limited parking, daily fee. Route 6A through Dennis, then turn down New Boston Road (Dennis Public Market across the street) and immediately bear right onto Beach Street and follow about one mile. You will see the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company Store where the road forks; bear left here and continue to the end.

Cockle Cove Beach, Chatham: Calm surf and soft sand makes this a delight. Cockle Cove is situated between Ridgevale and Forest Street beach on the warm, calm waters of Nantucket Sound. Like its neighboring beaches, this is a favorite for families those with small children and makes a great launch for windsurfers and kayakers. The comfortably-sized beach parking lot lies at the end of Cockle Cove Road in South Chatham. This is a town-managed beach with a life guard on duty and bathroom facilities. A parking pass is required and available at the beach toll booth.

Chatham Light Beach, Chatham: This is a true Atlantic Ocean beach with cooler waters and sometimes tricky currents, located off Shore Road, a half mile from downtown. It’s the largest beach in Chatham and is also arguably one of the best on the Cape, second only to Eastham’s Coast Guard Beach, (which takes the top ten every year in the “Best Beaches of America” list). This amazingly expansive stretch of sandy beach is a place where you can enjoy a warm summer’s day watching the seals pass by during their daily migration or stroll down to South Beach towards Monomoy on an afternoon nature hike.

Wychmere Harbor, Harwich (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Wychmere Harbor, Harwich (William DeSousa-Mauk)

Walking from town, hopping on a shuttle bus there, or taking your bike is the only way to spend the day there however, as there is a 30-minute restriction for the parking lot on the beach bluff. Though this is an inconvenience, for one of the best beaches on the Cape, it is understandable given that the lighthouse above draws a constant crowd of international admirers. There are also no bathrooms, lifeguards or food service, so it is not family-oriented in the traditional sense. Still, every family should spend at least one day of their trip here; the views are like none other on the Cape.

Brewster

Going from west to east, Paine’s Creek is the first town beach on the bay. As its name implies, it is fed by a creek and is perfect for children. Parking, however, is limited. Off Lower Road, Robbins Hill Beach and Saint’s Landing Beach are both pretty and quiet, and, like all Brewster beaches, are incredible at low tide when the flats seem to go on forever.

Breakwater Beach is a popular spot for families. At the end of charming Breakwater Road off Mass. Rt. 6A by the Unitarian Church, the beach is bordered by grassy dunes, and there is plenty of parking. Point of Rocks Landing is nice and quiet, but has virtually no parking. Ellis Landing and Crosby Landing are both great beaches; Crosby is larger and has more parking and is walkable from Nickerson State Park across Mass. Rt. 6A. Within Nickerson State Park, you’ll find Flax Pond and Cliff Pond, both great for swimming and picnicking.

Nauset Beach, Orleans: The definitive Cape Cod beach-wide open sandy beach with rolling sand dunes and big (sometimes towering) ocean waves. Water may be a little chilly but it is worth it. This is the southernmost beach in the Cape Cod National Seashore and backs up to Orleans’ and Eastham’s Town Cove. Follow Beach Road and the signs in East Orleans.

Skaket Beach, Orleans: Very popular bay-side beach (the parking lot fills up fast). Great place to walk the flats at low tide. Stay until dusk and you will be rewarded with a spectacular sunset. Off Skaket Beach Road.

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham: Every visitor to Cape Cod must visit this landmark. Wide sands and glorious waters, not too cold, this beach is also the site of The Outermost House of Henry Beston’s novel of the same name. This strand has limited parking at the beach but you can take the shuttle (or walk the trails) from a large lot at the Doane Rock picnic area. Take Doane Road off of Nauset Road. This is the definitive and most renowned Cape Cod Beach regularly named to the “top ten” lists in major magazines and travel guides. Not to be missed! http://www.nps.gov/caco/places/coastguardbeach.html

Nauset Light Beach, Eastham: This spectacular beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Surf can be very strong-at times treacherous with strong undertows and rip tides-and swimming is sometimes prohibited. Make it a point to visit the beach’s namesake, Nauset Light. Take Cable Road to Nauset Light Beach Road to the parking lot. http://www.nps.gov/caco/places/nausetlightbeach.html

Indian Neck Beach, Wellfleet: This handsome beach offers a great view of Wellfleet Harbor, Great Island (which is part of the National Seashore, and a great place for hiking) and Cape Cod Bay. Off Indian Neck Road.

Cahoon Hollow Beach, Wellfleet: Popular with the younger set, this wide beach is the location of The Beachcomber www.thebeachcomber.com a renowned restaurant and bar which (inevitably) begins to fill up late in the day. Off Ocean View Drive.

Marconi Beach, Wellfleet: Within the Cape Cod National Seashore, this is arguably the most spectacular beach in Wellfleet, which is no small claim, to be sure. It is also the location where Guglielmo Marconi sent his first wireless message and the lumber foundation of this tower are there, although barely. Off Route 6 in South Wellfleet http://www.nps.gov/caco/places/marconistation.html

Long Nook Beach, Truro: Scenic and serene, this beach is surrounded by beautiful dune cliffs. Parking is limited so get there early for a space. On Long Nook Road.

Head of the Meadow Beach, Truro: Co-owned by the Town of Truro and the Cape Cod National Seashore, this is an idyllic beach for families with smaller children. On Head of the Meadow Road. http://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/head-of-the-meadow.htm

Race Point Beach, Provincetown: This big, beautiful beach is located at the very tip of Cape Cod and is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Sun worshippers should note that Race Point, (because it is a north facing beach) gets sun all day long. Don’t forget to bring your surf caster when the bluefish are running. Off Route 6 http://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/race-point-beach.htm

Herring Cove Beach, Provincetown: Like Provincetown itself, remote and not easily accessible, this rocky, glacially formed edge of a sandy ledge where the boys go to spend an afternoon requires a multi-faceted trek through dune grasses, stony impermanent micro-beaches, and deep tidal pools. It also requires a long walk back, which, after the tide has come in, may be more refreshing than your stay at the ocean. http://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/herring-cove-beach.htm

COMING SOON LOWER & OUTER CAPE; and PROVINCETOWN

Postcards From An Italian Adventure – The Uffizi Gallery

Author: , May 26th, 2010

Dolly "Bella" GoolsbyOur dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. She’s using a new iPad, and had a bit of trouble getting us pictures at first, but as her story progresses, we’ll have some great pics to share with the Purple Roofs readers too. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 8th:

We woke up to just slightly overcast day, and then the sun came out….Yeah!! First, we had breakfast, then went to the Ambrogio market. We bought some fruit, some sausages for tomorrow’s brunch, but did not have the time to spend dawdling, as we had appointments for the Uffizi at noon. We had a quick lunch at the apartment, then walked to the Uffizi together. Susan and I were not going into the gallery, but we wanted to make sure the ladies got there, and in the right line, at their appointed time.

Susan and I left the ladies, and had not even gotten off the portico of the Uffizi, when the skies opened up, the rain came down in buckets. Being the optimistic people we are, neither of us had on a rain coat or had an umbrella. Of course, if we wanted an umbrella, there were many people out there wanting to sell us one. Finally, we ducked into a caffe on via Calzioula, had a cappucchino while waiting for the rain to stop. Within 15 minutes, the sun was out again, and we made our way back to the apartment.

Two hours later, I walked back to Piazza Signoria, as I had told the ladies I would meet them at 2:00. Well, I could not get across the piazza, as there were orange barriers up, and what do you think??? They were racing sport cars through the piazza. I do not know the entire course, but I never know what to expect anymore. (As I do not know what to expect from this computer, as it sends my e-mails when it is ready, not when I am ready. My apologies to all of you for the uncompleted emails you are receiving.)

Anyway, the ladies had a gelato, I was very good, and stayed away from that today. But the gelato is so good here, it is hard to not have one.

Eventually, tonight, we enjoyed another lovely dinner together. I tried a new pasta recipe that was in the May issue of Bon Appetit, called Fettucine with peas, asparagus and pancetta. It was quick, easy and very good. So we sat here, enjoyed the lovely Chianti wine (I splurged today…paid 7.20 Euro for a 1.5 liter bottle of Chianti classico. Wonderful wine, at prices I can afford.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day…we will have a good brunch, then the ladies have an appointment at the Accademia, which is just around the corner from us. I am not going to the galleries this round of visitors…I am waiting until Frank gets here, and go with him…

We are having a good time, even with the rains. There is so much to see, and just enjoy this great city.

Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Click here for gay travel resources in Florence & Tuscany.

Out in Florida: Sawmill Campground

Author: , May 24th, 2010

Dade City, Fla.Trying to put a blanket description on Sawmill Campground isn’t an easy task. Some see the LGBT Pasco County camp- ground as rural getaway to enjoy nature; some see it as a destination to explore sexual fantasies; nudists see it as a chance to swim naked in a heated pool; and others see it as a chance to see A-list entertainment in a beautiful Florida setting. In short, Sawmill Campground caters to almost every demographic in the LGBT community.

“The Sawmill is the kind of place that is what you make it,” says Derek Sutherland, general manager. “We are a completely self-inclusive destination offering all the amenities of a full scale resort with the added benefit of enjoying the outdoors in a beautiful scenic location.”

The 100-plus-acre resort is in its 12th year and is owned, surprisingly, by two straight men – Phillip Godown and Michael Bubis.The two New York City natives are gay friendly, however, and saw the Sawmill as a business opportunity with a clearly defined niche market, according to Sutherland.

Full Story from SFGN

Click here for gay travel resources in Florida.

Postcards From an Italian Adventure – Firenze in the Rain

Author: , May 23rd, 2010

Dolly "Bella" GoolsbyOur dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. She’s using a new iPad, and had a bit of trouble getting us pictures at first, but as her story progresses, we’ll have some great pics to share with the Purple Roofs readers too. Enjoy!

Yesterday the rest of the group arrived, for our Florence and the Hill Towns tour.

Not without a bit of difficulty, I might say, because of the weather. Sharona and Carmella got here about 3 p.m., I think. We were expecting them sooner, but planes were not able to land in Florence, due to rain and wind, so they had to circle, and finally made one of the worst landings ever, according to Carmella, but it was either land or divert to Bologna and bus them down, which would have not been fun, either.

So we relaxed, heard about their trip, and awaited the other 4, that were due to arrive at 5:25 pm. About 6:30, I started worrying, checked the Lufthansa web site to find they had been delayed in Frankfurt, then when they did get to leave, again planes could not land in Florence.

Same story as above. Plane finally made a hop and skip type landing, slithering down the runway, but here they were, only 3 hours late, but amazing, no lost luggage.

Susan and I had soup, bread and wine waiting for them. Some tired people, but after some dinner, and showers, they were good to go.

Today, it was still raining off and on. We went to San Ambrogio market, and bought the food for our dinner tonight, then had a cappucchino at Robiglio pasticerria, right next to our apartment. We thought we might walk through town; however, the rain came down in buckets, so we had lunch and a 2 hour siesta time, then went to the Museo di Duomo.

By then the rain was either very light or stopped altogether, so we did get a good walk in, along the Arno, down to Santa Crocem where there were the little huts set up from all the different regions of Italy, where one could buy typical food products of the regions.

We bought some arancini (from Sicily), some bread from Sardinia, and had a small repast at the apartment before we made dinner. Dinner was pasta with fresh tomato sauce, burrata chees and basil.

Now if you haven’t had burrata cheese, other than tell you it is marvelous, I don’t know how to describe it. It is a soft cheese, similar to fresh mozzarella, but filled with cream inside, so all this lovely stuff goes into the cooked pasta and fresh tomato sauce, and fresh basil. It is quite heavenly, and simple.

Cherie had bought us a nice bottle of limoncello, and we had also bought a carmelized pear in some wonderful sauce at the market this morning, so we had a wonderful meal. OH, yes, I fell off the no sugar thing today. Had my first gelato of this stay, while we were walking, then 1/6 of that decadent pear, More water and walking tomorrow, I can tell you.

We are going to Lucca tomorrow, despite the 80% chance of rain. We have decided that life cannot stop because of rain, and who cares anyway? WE ARE IN ITALY!!!!

Wish all of you guys could be here with us. I am trying to speak Italian as much as I can, but it is slow, and much like Spanglish, but Italianish.
And I have to tell you, my Italiano classmates are not jumping in and rescuing me. I had to talk to them about that….

We are having a wonderful time. Will write more after Lucca.

Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Click here for gay travel resources in Campania, Italy.