Cape Cod Day Trip: Hyannis
Although Hyannis is just one of the seven villages that comprise the town of Barnstable, it is without a doubt Cape Cod’s best known village, and thanks to its history, internationally renowned. Hyannis’ Main Street and bustling harbor are where all the action is—and an ideal place to pack in an entertaining day on Cape Cod.
There’s a lot to take in so, start with a soul-satisfying breakfast like lobster benedict or homemade sausage gravy over buttermilk biscuit at The Daily Paper. Chef owned and operated, The Daily Paper serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week and prides itself on serving only the freshest products possible.
Along Main Street you can find everything from vintage clothing, nautical knickknacks, and fine jewelry to Cape and Islands artwork and old vinyl records. All Cape Cook’s Supply in the east end is a great starting point. Catering to professionals and amateurs alike, this store is packed to the rafters with everything from hundreds of cookie cutters to commercial-size stockpots. From there you can stroll all the way to the west end, finishing up at Shift Eco-Boutique and the colorful Little Beach Gallery, both not to be missed. You can stop along the way, or there is a free shuttle if the walk seems like too much.
There are over 40 family-owned and operated restaurants on Main Street serving cuisines from around of the globe. Brazilian, British, Indian, Irish, Italian, Mexican Peruvian, and Thai are all represented, but it’s the New England classics that take center stage. Look for the F.O.O.D. (Fabulous Owner Operated Dining) logo signifying the owner’s commitment to being on site daily to ensure they offer the best and freshest dining in the area. A great way to sample a variety of the tastes the village has to offer is to take a Cape Cod Foodie Tour. Dress comfortably and wear sturdy shoes, as you will walk almost two miles in a 2.5-3 hour period sampling everything from clam chowder to something sweet and get a mini-history lesson in the process.
A great spot for lunch (or dinner) is The Naked Oyster in the middle of Main Street. Enjoy their famous chilled seafood tower at their bustling bar, Chatham moules frites and a la minute oyster stew in one of two intimate dining rooms, or snag a outside high-top and take in the sidewalk scene while enjoying a tasty Nantucket fish taco. The Naked Oyster has its own oyster grant in Barnstable Harbor, so if a plate of bivalves—whether chilled or barbecued, Bienville or Rockefeller—is on your checklist, you can’t get fresher.
The Black Cat Tavern, on Hyannis Harbor, offers a different vista from the downtown bustle. Not only is their dining room menu as varied as it is delicious, they have a wicked fun outdoor raw bar with live music, a patio with heaters for chilly days and a hot dog and ice cream parlor—one stop noshing for the decadent! Along the water’s edge are funky local artist shacks and a fun place to “get yer tartar on” called Spanky’s Clam Shack. Baxter’s, which is built entirely over the water, provides a great setting for observing the various activities of this busy working harbor. Whether enjoyed on their family-friendly deck or 21-and-older piano bar and restaurant, Baxter’s perfectly fried clams, seafood bisque and fries are too good to share with the seagulls.
OK, let’s put down the forks for a second and do something adventurous! Hyannis Harbor is undoubtedly the transportation hub of Cape Cod—shuttle and commuter buses, taxis, rental cars and an airport are some ways to get from here to there, but the most fun floats on the water. Landlubbers can easily kill an hour or two watching the commercial fishing boats unloading their catches and chatting with the fishermen about their favorite seafood preps. In the meantime, their seafaring fellow travelers can enjoy a glass of wine and a sail on the Bay Spirit catamaran (with amazing views of the Kennedy Compound), a kid-friendly pirate ship that actually pulls in real treasure and shoots water cannons, or a 90-minute catboat sail.
If you are the kind of traveler that needs to mix in a little culture with your shopping and eating, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum is conveniently located on the walk from Main Street to Hyannis Harbor and is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the Cape’s maritime past, present and future. At the always-popular Kennedy Museum, located in the center of Main Street, one can relive the days of Camelot and witness the family’s love for Cape Cod through rare family photos and memorabilia.
As the sun sets in Hyannis you are bound to get a little peckish, so finish your fun-filled day with a light bite before bed. Pizza Barbone makes Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas in a beautiful handcrafted oven, built from scratch in Naples, Italy. Interesting options include Forest Mushroom (with garlic cream, rosemary, smoked mozzarella and truffle oil), Pistachio Pesto (with mozzarella, baby arugula, lemon and shaved Parmesan) and Bianca Verde (roasted garlic, mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, baby arugula, basil and balsamic glaze). Many toppings come directly from the raised garden beds on the restaurant’s rooftop. Palio Pizzeria serves up a more traditional pie, as well as hearty pastas and panini in a casual environment popular with local students at the nearby Sturgis Charter School on their lunch break. Both pizzerias serve Cape Cod Beer, the perfect cleansing ale after an adventurous day.
If you are looking to get off Main Street for a fine dining experience, Pain D’Avignon near Barnstable Municipal Airport is a favorite destination of locals and tourists alike. Enjoy roasted free range chicken, steak frites or lobster risotto while watching the bakery staff go about their business making fabulous artisanal breads, bagels and croissants. Don’t forget to bring home a loaf of fresh-baked bread for breakfast. The chocolate hazelnut, available on weekends only, is swoon-worthy when toasted and eaten with a smear of European-style butter.
All Cape Cook’s Supply, 237 Main Street, 508-790-8908
Bay Spirit Tours, 180 Ocean Street
The Black Cat, 165 Ocean Street
The Little Beach Gallery, 539 South Street
The Daily Paper, 546 Main Street
Naked Oyster, 410 Main Street
Pain D’Avignon, 15 Hinckley Road
Palio Pizzeria, 435 Main Street
Pirate Adventures, 180 Ocean Street
Pizza Barbone, 390 Main Street
Shift eco-boutique, 535 South Street
Spank’s Clam Shack, 138 Ocean Street