Locals know that fall on Cape Cod is the best times to explore the region — cranberry blogs aflame with color, summer crowds back at school, leaves turning over inky black kettle ponds, summer’s harvest in local farmers markets and on the plate at myriad farm-to-table restaurants. Fall is marked with fishing derbys and craft fairs, antique shops and deep end-of-season discounts. There is so much to do on fall Cape Cod, but here are our top five local secrets.
5. Find a Kettle Hole
Cape Cod was formed by the advance and retreat of the last continental ice sheet, creating our sandy hooked arm extending perilously, boldly out into the Atlantic. As the ice retreated, large chunks left behind melted into deep holes which became what we call “kettle ponds.” It’s estimated that there are over 1,000 ponds like this on the Cape, and in Falmouth we have quite a few with even great names — check out the “Punch Bowl” or “Ice House Pond” in Beebe Woods, for example.
LOCAL SECRET – The closest kettle pond from Treehouse Lodge is on the walk down to Stoney Beach where you will find the small Mill Pond (pictured above). Grab a hot popover from Pie in the Sky Bakery Cafe on your walk over. You found it! Now sit a spell.
4. Fall Sunsets
What makes sunsets sweeter in the fall? Perhaps the waning days, cool crisp in the air, smell of wood smoke as fires are lit to take the chill off a breeze in from the north, gulls crying in the distance, feet aching from a long walk on the beach. Cape Cod fall is not complete without a chance to sit and watch the sun set, each night delightfully different, preferably over the water.
LOCAL SECRET – We recommend Landfall Restaurant for the serene sunsets over the water. Watch the ferries to Martha’s Vineyard ply the harbor while you enjoy your Dark & Stormy with a side of freshly steamed lobster. Don’t forget your bib!
3. Great Eats
Speaking of lobster, fall is a good time for an authentic Cape Cod meal on the waterfront. The region is experiencing a foodie revolution with scores of new sea-to-table restaurants capitalizing on the proximity to the fishery.
2. Ride a Bike
After brunch, hop on one of the free bikes offed at Treehouse Lodge and explore the Shining Sea Bike path which was built on abandoned railroad tracks and named for Falmouth’s most famous daughter Katherine Lee Bates (who penned America the Beautiful). You will admire the same shining sea that inspired her song as you explore this eleven mile journey, especially charming in fall as the leaves start to turn. Expect to see migrating birds, fish hawks circling, epic vistas over the sea, vast marshlands dotted with egret and great blue heron … and many fewer people than in summer.
LOCAL SECRET – In West Falmouth, (six miles from where you started in Woods Hole) take a detour off the path to visit Chappy Beach where you will catch the kite surfers enjoying the strong onshore breeze. Swing by West Falmouth Market for a hot coffee and delicious snack before you pedal home.
1. Shop the Craft Fairs
Cape Cod has a rich history of local craftsmanship with artists choosing to live here perhaps inspired by the flinty self reliance of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who along with his good friend Thoreau frequently visited Cape Cod and remarking on it’s unusual beauty. The peninsula is packed with artisans who make all sorts of amazing handcrafted goods, and this is the perfect spot to find unique gifts and support this authentic movement with everything from handmade soaps to funky jewelry, from fine oil paintings to giclee watercolor, from incredible hand crafted pottery to tie-dye shibori and so much more.
LOCAL SECRET – In Woods Hole don’t miss the gift shop Inlet, an easy walk from Treehouse Lodge. Or drive three miles up the road to Falmouth, where you will enjoy a visit to Brick Kiln Farm for unique locally crafted house and garden gifts.