The seaside delights of Hyannis make a Cape day trip memorable


When it comes to planning great adventures, like most Bay Staters I have a habit of overlooking the obvious

.Case in point: Hyannis.

Until now, I thought of it as a strip of stores, a gaggle of tourists and maybe, a spot to stop for ice cream on my way to or from somewhere.

I stand corrected. A recent day trip to this lovely town by the sea reminded me there’s a reason it’s world-recognized. From the arts and culture to the food and drink to history to the unique and seemingly endless shopping, Hyannis (  makes for a fabulous day trip or more, and we should take advantage.

I headed to Hyannis early on a midweek day, cruised over the Sagamore Bridge and then zipped down to Main Street in Hyannis where I parked my car (for free!) and set out on a day-long adventure.

Early was a good move: While most of the shops on Main Street don’t open until 10 a.m., the quieter vibe gave me a chance to savor a great breakfast and then take a quiet walk to take it all in.

For a hearty breakfast, The Daily Paper on Main ( is a great choice. Locally-sourced dishes like eggs benny with lobster or healthy choices like egg white burrito star on the menu; daily specials will also wow you. You can sit inside or in their lovely outdoor space.

For a lighter bite, try Chez Antoine Café ( also on Main Street, where you’ll find over-the-top excellent coffee choices and pastries to savor there, and take home.

Once fed, I walked down toward the ferry docks to check out the cool, vibrant artist shanties that dot the waterfront.

Organized by Arts Barnstable, the 12 shanties are home to a revolving cast of local artists, each there daily to display their skills and projects. The shanties themselves are adorable, amid a lush and green setting right next to the harbor. Should you meander among them before their daily opening, each shanty has photos and plaques with different stories of the history of the region.

Next up was history, of which there’s plenty in Hyannis. Just the buildings alone and the harbor tell a tale. You can walk the Kennedy Legacy Trail ( the self-guided tour I took that, over just 1.6 miles, taught and reminded me about so much of the Kennedy history.

The trail starts at the JFK Museum, a must visit should you do the trail or not, and then moves around town to spots dotted with QR-code scannable signs to tell the story. In summer months, there’s a free trolley to jump on should you tire out.

There’s the Air and Space Museum and the Cape Cod Maritime Museum that looks out over the harbor and sea.

That took me to lunch time, perfect since I wanted to spend a lot of the afternoon poking through the shops of Main Street.

Lunch choices are seemingly endless; last count more than 50 spots dotted the downtown area.

For an authentic seaside spot, you cannot go wrong with Spanky’s, right on the water next to the artist shanties. Scarf down a lobster roll and chowder while you watch the pleasure and business boats come and go.

For a grab and go, The Little Sandwich Shop on Main Street never disappoints. Try the BBC, Tap City Grille or the Naked Oyster. If you get lucky and can secure a spot, Baxter’s Boathouse is a quintessential experience. In other words: whatever food you crave, you’ll find a spot.

Main Street shopping is a blast. From tchotchkes to local arts and crafts to upscale clothing (Try Sea Breeze on Main Street for beautiful women’s wear and a super nice staff), to classic Cape Cod Prep attire at Puritan’s, you’ve got lots of options.

Ice cream shops are seemingly countless (imagine doing an ice cream crawl), and goodies are everywhere, like at Kandy Korner, where kids will demand a stop and the kid in you will load up on classic candy.

A stop at Little Miss Cupcape ( is a must. Not only do they make delightful creations, you lend a hand choosing your custom frosting and accoutrements. One for now, six for home is how it worked for me.

And that restaurant that almost won out for lunch? Join them for dinner to wrap up your day; be sure to try a Cape Cod brewed beer.

I drove home – back over that bridge with just a short delay – thinking of when and how I’d get back. A girl’s day seems on point; so does a full day with my grands there.

Hyannis: Forgive me for not seeing you as the beauty you are. You’ve won me over for good.


Spanky’s Clam Shack, located right on the waterfront by the ferry stations, is a great and classic Hyannis lunch choice. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)


The JFK Museum on Main Street in Hyannis is a must visit and the starting point for the free, self guided Kennedy history tour there. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
The JFK Museum on Main Street in Hyannis is a must visit and the starting point for the free, self guided Kennedy history tour there. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

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