Cape Cod Day Trip: Falmouth
Positioned nicely on the peninsula’s lower armpit, Falmouth is considered by some to be Cape Cod’s “third island”. As a result, the Cape’s second-largest town is an ideal destination for day-trippers, perhaps on the way to a real island like Martha’s Vineyard.
Falmouth is made up of several villages, each with its own special charms, hide-away beaches, and hole-in-the-wall eateries. Most visitors will want to concentrate their time in Falmouth’s downtown, centered around Main Street. Whether picking up snacks for a day on the boat or finishing a beach day with a nice table for two, you’ll find a wide array of tastes to please any palate. Take a stroll among the historic houses along the Village Green or West Falmouth, circle back along Surf Drive, and let your appetite lead the way.
Start the morning off with a light breakfast at Coffee Obsession, located at the north end of Main Street in a charming, historic plaza called Queen’s Buyway. With seven brews to choose from each day, many made from fair trade and organic beans, “Coffee O’s” high ceilings, vintage windows, hip music, and colorful characters are a great introduction to the town’s unique vibe. Choose from espresso drinks, a great selection of loose tea blends, and specialty iced drinks (try the Thai iced coffee). Croissants are delivered fresh each morning from Pain d’Avignon in Hyannis, the paleo muffins are from White Lion Baking Company in Mashpee, and the savory scones and quiches are made by an off-premises Falmouth baker.
If you’re looking for a great bagel selection head to Cape Cod Bagel. Located at the corner of Route 28N and Palmer Avenue, it’s the perfect place to grab a bite before hitting the beach (or hitting the road back home). These chewy, puffy breads ring in at twice the size of a classic New York bagel, and come in awesome flavors like honey granola and Asiago cheese, with almost as many cream cheese varieties to match. Breakfast sandwiches are made all day along with soups, wraps, and deli-style sandwiches.
If counter service is not really your thing, or you’re craving an interesting take on breakfast standards, look no further than The Pickle Jar. Located in the heart of Main Street, the sunny window seats and historic photos of the neighborhood are steeped in Falmouth lore, while the menu wouldn’t be out of place in Williamsburg. Settle in with a cocktail for brunch, a breakfast “sammie”, or an egg or tofu “scrambler” served in a sizzling frying pan. The Pickle Jar is also an excellent lunch spot. Diners rave about the pickle chips, and various pickled items (depending on the season) are served on the side or by the jar to take home.
Buyer beware: if you walk into Maison Villatte, you will not come out with just a loaf of bread for dinner. While you wait to place your order (long lines are part of the deal, year-round), you will not be able to resist the tantalizing pastries winking at you from the case. They look—almost—too good to eat, but how would you know until you try? From filled croissants, fruit tarts, and decadently frosted cakes, each buttery bite will transport you straight to the Left Bank. If you do manage to remember the bread you popped in for, try the canneberge aux noix (cranberry-walnut) or the pain au lard (bacon bread).
Village Café is another notable breakfast joint, located off the beaten path on Route 28A, across from the West Falmouth Market. Open seasonally, this cozy spot has a surprisingly extensive menu, served with a side of love. Due to conflicts with church parking, Village Café is not open on Sundays and closes at 2 PM on other days. But if you miss breakfast, you can console yourself with ice cream at Eulinda’s, which shares the building. An unofficial poll ranked this the best ice cream in town due to the amazing variety of flavors and treats, like banana splits.
Biking is the best way to enjoy all Falmouth has to offer. You can eat your way across town via the Shining Sea Bikeway, which runs nearly 12 miles from North Falmouth to Woods Hole. Of course, you can do the drive along Route 28A instead, but then you’d miss the interrupted views of forests, cranberry bogs, and the unforgettable Great Sippewissett Marsh.
If you didn’t come with a bike, you can rent one at Corner Cycle in downtown Falmouth, or Art’s Bike Shop in North Falmouth—both are very close to the bikepath. Be sure to fill your basket with a picnic lunch from Main Street sandwich shops Parkside Market (try The French Quarter) or Bean and Cod (sandwiches, soups, cheeses, crackers and dips). A Slice of Italy makes authentic Italian sandwiches, calzones, and pasta dishes to go—and just see if you can resist their imported cheese, salami, and Italian cookie selection!
With a number of waterfront restaurants and picnic spots, Woods Hole is a very popular lunch destination. If you’re feeling more adventurous, get off the beaten path and take the shore route to Falmouth Heights. Once you clear the infamous hill (and Falmouth Road Race finish line), stop by the British Beer Company or the Casino Wharf for a waterfront lunch or take a dip at Falmouth Heights Beach. Circle back by the Silver Shores Shanty (right next to Holiday Cycles, where you can rent a two-person bicycle surrey) and enjoy a lobster roll or lobster bisque while local musicians play. Or watch the boats go by on Falmouth Harbor at the aptly-named Clam Shack while tucking into the best fried seafood in town.
If you’d prefer to stay close to the bike path, head to West Falmouth Market, where you can grab a burrito or pizza to enjoy while taking in the views at nearby West Falmouth Harbor, or stop by Dana’s Kitchen for a light lunch or snack while taking in the idyllic scene at neighboring Peach Tree Circle Farm.
By now, you’ve biked all over town and jumped in every body of water you could find. It’s time for dinner! Falmouth’s restaurant scene has improved over the past few years, with decent options for almost every budget. But the tourist-trap mentality lives on. Here’s a rule of thumb: the closer to the water, the less your meal will be about the food. If you’re looking for an excellent meal, it’ll be well worth it at C Salt or The Glass Onion. These top-rated restaurants make everything from scratch; source local, in-season produce, seafood, and meats; and offer excellent service. Reservations are strongly recommended, year-round.
For a taste of authentic Northern Italian cuisine, Osteria La Civetta is your ticket to Bologna. Run by an Italian family, service is family-style, the pasta is made fresh daily, and the spaghetti Bolognese is exactly how the owner’s grandmothers prepared it. It’s not uncommon to find kitchen staff at the Falmouth Farmer’s Market on Thursdays in season picking up fresh tomatoes and basil.
If you want to go where the locals go for a beer and a stuffie (say, after a Cape Cod Baseball League game), the Quahog Republic Dive Bar is the place to be. Don’t be alarmed—you’ll find more scuba gear here than bathroom graffiti—but the casual vibe and prices reflect the other kind of dive. Try the stuffed quahog or quahog chowder (local tip: it’s a kind of clam and it’s pronounced “co-hog”) and enjoy one of many the delicious local beers (Mayflower, Cape Cod Beer) on tap.
Food never tastes as good as when it’s enjoyed in fresh air, perhaps watching the sunset. You can find all you need for a casual picnic at Falmouth Wine & Spirits—a great selection of cheeses, salamis, and dips, bread from Maison Villatte, and crackers, not to mention a very well-curated wine and beer selection. If you just so happen to time your visit to Friday evenings, you’ll happen upon a weekly wine tasting. Let the experts guide you to the perfect match for your picnic by the sea.
Ice cream is a must on a Cape Cod summer evening. While there’s no end of ice cream shops, every lick will be memorable at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium. Take a trip back in time (or to your own childhood) in this turn-of-the-century candy shop, lit by hanging Tiffany lamps. The glass cases are piled to the ceiling with house-made chocolates (if you get lucky, you can watch them being made) and the ice cream is delightful. Try the lobster flavor—it’s better than you’d think!
Art’s Bike Shop, 91 County Road
Bean and Cod, 140 Main Street
Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, 209 Main Street
British Beer Company, 263 Grand Avenue
C Salt, 75 Davis Straits, Route 28
Cape Cod Bagel Café, 419 Palmer Avenue, 508-548-8485
Casino Wharf, 286 Grand Avenue
Coffee Obsession, 110 Palmer Avenue
Corner Cycle, 115 Palmer Avenue
Dana’s Kitchen, 881 Palmer Avenue
Falmouth Wine & Spirits, 322 Palmer Avenue
Maison Villatte, 267 Main Street, 774-255-1855
Osteria la Civetta, 133 Main Street
Parkside Market, 281 Main Street
The Pickle Jar, 170 Main Street
Quahog Republic Dive Bar, 97 Spring Bars Road
Silver Shores Shanty, 465 Grand Avenue
Slice of Italy, 890 Main Street, 508-495-1106
The Clam Shack of Falmouth, 227 Clinton Avenue, 508-540-7758
The Glass Onion, 37 North Main Street
Village Café, 634 Route 28A, West Falmouth, 508-548-2486
West Falmouth Market, 623 Route 28A, West Falmouth