Cape Cod Day Trip: Sandwich
Sandwich is the oldest town on the Cape, with plenty of history and working museums, including the Hoxie House, the oldest house on the Cape; the Sandwich Glass Museum that houses original pieces created during the 1800s; and the Heritage Museum and Gardens.
As you cross the Sagamore Bridge from the mainland to Cape Cod, your soul gets a little lighter and you breathe a little easier. Your first stop should be Cafe Chew (often referred to as “the chew” by those in the know) for some fresh-brewed coffee and one of their fresh and fabulous breakfast items. It’s truly the best way to start the day. As soon as you walk in the door, the energy is palpable, and you instinctively know it’s going to be just right. Torn between the brioche French toast and the French breakfast sandwich made with scrambled eggs, Brie, fresh spinach, and sliced tomato on a ciabatta roll, my partner-in-crime and I order both with cups of Tres Bold coffee. Everything is delicious and you don’t feel guilty about eating so much—it all tastes healthy. After all, their slogan is “Whole and Natural”. I could stay through lunch and order from the incredible variety of sandwiches, salads, and panini, but after grabbing a fresh-baked cookie for the road, we move on.
The perfect place to work off a big breakfast is Heritage Museum and Gardens. With plenty to do here, you could spend the entire day. If you have kids with you or you are the intrepid type, try the new Adventure Park. It has five separate trails with zip lines where you can challenge your inner survivor instincts. Or if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, visit the three galleries—American Folk Art, Automobile, and special exhibitions—or just walk through the extensive gardens with more than 100 acres of display gardens that feature flowers, trees, and shrubs native to Cape Cod.
Next stop is the center of Sandwich Village. A must-stop for anyone visiting this quaint old town is the Dan’l Webster Inn, which has been offering lodging for over 300 years. The inn not only hosts four dining rooms but also a tavern, which is an authentic replica of the taproom Daniel Webster frequented and served as the meeting place for local patriots during the American Revolution. Try the famous lobster bisque made in a classic New England-style with sherry, chunks of lobster, and a secret ingredient that will not be revealed.
A stroll through the center of town will lead you a few doors down from the inn to the The Brown Jug, a gourmet shop where you can buy hard-to-find specialty food items. Pick up a bottle of wine from their carefully curated selection to enjoy with a cheese plate or sandwich on their outdoor patio. Or order a pizza—either whole or by the slice—from their wood-fired oven.
The next destination on my culinary swing through Sandwich leads me down Route 6A to Crow Farm, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. It’s reminiscent of a roadside farm stand from long ago, simplicity at its best with the star attraction being the variety of homegrown vegetables and fruits, including apples, pears, and sweet corn, in season, from the 40-acres behind the stand.
Traveling further east on Route 6A you can just about smell the jam cooking as you turn down Discovery Hill Road to the Green Briar Nature Center. In the historic 1903 jam kitchen you can take a class and make your own batch or sample some of the jellies, marmalades, and sun-cooked fruits available for purchase. Green Briar also has nature trails and a wild flower garden that is just spectacular. Natural history programs for children and adults are offered year round and include classes, field trips, guided walks, and workshops.
As you continue to head east on Route 6A, Nonna Elena is a relatively new addition to the Sandwich food scene, but owner Lu Matrascia is not new to this business. She has been conducting tours of Italy and teaching Italian cooking classes on the Cape for years. When retail space became available on Route 6A, Lu and her partners jumped. Nonna Elena stocks a selection of Italian cheeses, olive oils, pastas and sauces from small farmers and producers. I grab some Taleggio La Baita DOP cheese and a loaf of crusty bread and head to Sandy Neck just up the road. Sandy Neck includes a public beach and trails through maritime dunes, forests, and marshes. Late afternoon is my favorite time of day on the beach since most of the crowd has thinned and it’s the perfect time to sit and enjoy the view.
A few hours later, it’s back to Sandwich center for dinner at The Belfry Inn and Bistro. Located in a converted 1901 church built by sailors, the setting is spectacular: stained glass windows, soaring oak ceiling, even a confessional converted to a wine cellar and bar. Menu options range from refined versions of Cape Cod fare (clam chowder, chilled seafood platter, fish & chips) to the unexpected (duck Bolognese, chicken-fried pork loin, extra virgin olive oil poached salmon). In warm weather the outside patio is a wonderful setting to have an afternoon glass of wine.