We found real value in one of the toniest spots in the United States.
I met my new friend Kelly, a former Cape Cod resident, at a cooking class in Prague. We bonded over a mutual appreciation of all things dumplings and goulash and she gave me invaluable advice for exploring Cape Cod. Thanks to her sage insider's perspective we had an unforgettable trip - plus a long list of activities to consider for next time.
In the spirit of travel friendships, I feel it's only appropriate to pass along our favourite (affordable) Cape Cod recommendations - and I can't wait to hear if you have any to add to the list!
Save: Exploring on foot for free.
The animals of Hyannis
The beaches of Cape Cod's north shore.
Sandwich Mini Golf
The cute, classic course occasionally distracted me with some sporadically placed religious symbols and messages - but they also won me over with the cleanest porta-potty I've ever seen. So it curiously all balanced out to be a good visit.
Splurge: Some indulgent cafes
Our solution was to indulge at some stunning cafes and imported food stores. It kept prices reasonable and allowed us to partake in some splurges without breaking the bank.
C'est La Vie, Hyannis
Even the most decadent of desserts was not over sweetened. We appreciated that the whipped cream in the strawberry shortcake was genuine, freshly whipped cream without added sugar and that the biscotti was properly balanced, with a sweetness that wasn't cloying. We stopped here every morning to load up on treats and coffee and we were never disappointed.
The Brown Jug, Sandwich
We declared the slim, chewy crust and it's perfectly balanced load of sauce and cheese to be delicious - though if I'm being completely honest, I'm not sure that it was exactly line up worthy. Regardless, it made for a very tasty snack before we moved on to more substantial fare.
Uncommon Cafe and Collections Gallery, Sandwich
Never fear, you'll get your 'splurge' moment at a shop just a few doors down from Uncommon Cafe. The Collections Gallery is a BEAUTIFUL shop, stocked with locally made craft and fine arts products from local artisans. The artists take turns staffing the shop, giving visitors a chance to talk about their work and interact with some locals. We had a lovely visit- and walked away with a gorgeous new pottery mug.
Steal: Hostelling International Hyannis
Like most HI properties, you are responsible for making up your own beds with the provided sheets and, upon check out, bringing your used linens to the laundry basket. These tiny chores are a throwback to the era of original hosteling, where guests would pitch in with chores in order to keep costs low. (Happily, the days of chopping wood for the fireplace and scrubbing toilets have passed!)
Outside, there was plenty of free parking, just for us hostel guests, plus a small herb garden, a clothes line, and a fire pit with seating. Can I just take a moment to say how much I adore free parking? Really! In downtown Hyannis, parking is at least $20 - and easily up to $30 - and that's not for a full day. It was great to never have to worry about squeezing our car into an overpriced, overfilled lot and the savings added up over the course of our visit.
We also got a bit confused by breakfast. The hostel offers a basic breakfast of toast and spreads, yogurt, and coffee and also has a full kitchen for preparing your own meals. But it wasn't immediately clear to us where the communal food ended and the personal supplies began. Was the strawberry yogurt that gentleman was eating HIS yogurt or the breakfast yogurt? When the coffee ran out, should we have been refilling it or just informing the staff? This was mostly our fault, as we were too shy to accost yogurt man or snoop around some more, but some small signs would have helped us along.
As a side note: the kitchen has a JUICER. For real! And we even saw someone using it! I'm not sure how a juicer found it's way to a hostel kitchen - what came first: the juicer or the juice obsessed hostel guests? But if you crave a tall, cool glass of neon green celery juice first thing in the morning and you don't mind tracking down your own ingredients, this is the hostel for you ;-)
Cape Cod is calling you.
- Thanks to my own tardiness in signing up, I missed out on a workshop at the Jam Kitchen. This activity comes highly recommended - please sign up early and then let me know all about your experience!
- Ryan's allergies kept me from fully exploring the Cape Cod lobster roll scene but I highly encourage everyone else to do so! Here's a great list to start with.
- Looking to stay at HI Hyannis? You can book a room here.
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Portland, Maine's, "Bitter" Sweet Food Scene
Our accommodations were provided by Hostelling International USA and we thank them for their support. As always, all research, writing, and opinions are our own.