Why I Love Visiting Cape Cod in the Off Season

Cape Cod is my happy place. It’s my favorite New England region. There can be no two ways about this.

I grew up spending summers there; I got engaged and married there; and I take my kids there on vacation almost every summer. My husband loved it as much as I did, right away. We really LOVE Cape Cod.

Many New Englanders would also declare their love for this man-made island jutting into the Atlantic Ocean from teeny Massachusetts. My response to them is, PROVE IT! Have you spent frigid New Year’s Evenings in Provincetown, or enjoyed a drafty motel weekend away from the kids in February? Have you convinced your 85-year-old grandmother to let your boyfriend camp in a tent in her backyard so you two could spend a weekend at the beach? Were any of your kids conceived there?! OK, none of mine were, but *I* was! (Gross that I know that).

Sure, we all love Cape Cod in July and August, but true love endures 12 months of the year. And it’s not something to suffer through: Visiting Cape Cod in the off Season will soothe whatever ails your tired, suburban soul.

Recently, I had a chance to make one such getaway to beautiful Eastham. My friend, Sarah, and her husband recently bought a Cape dream home just a hop, skip and a jump from Coastguard Beach, part of the 40-mile Cape Cod National Seashore. It has the weathered shingles and the white trim, and the construction is, literally, Cape Cod style. Surrounded by scrubby pines, it’s everything a Cape-o-phile dreams of.

Sarah’s House, Eastham, Mass.

Now, to be truthful, this November weekend on the Cape was not exactly your typical fall weekend on the Cape. It was, like, 70 degrees and sunny in the middle of the day. Still, it was well shut down compared to the summer scene of constant traffic, ice cream stands and clam shacks around every turn.

That was definitely OK, since we had a whole menu planned out and were going to hunker down, except for a beach visit. But first, let me go back to one of my favorite parts of the weekend: the drive down. It was a two-hour ride from my home in the middle of the state, which was time I needed to decompress from home life. (I left my house in a rush as two of my kids screamed and cried, and I forgot my shoes and had to stop and buy more en route). But by the time I caught sight of the Sagamore Bridge, I was in my happy place, listening to Tori Amos and shedding tears for reasons I can’t explain.

It was this one that I was crying to. Of course.

Eastham isn’t the part of the Cape I spent my summers in. To me, the Outer Cape towns of Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown have always seemed wild, unspoiled and understated in their architecture. The water is too cold for me, and there are lots of seals, so also, sharks. But I know the Upper Cape that I love is really child’s play compared to this remote peninsula.

Coastguard Beach, Eastham, Mass.

My friends and I did spend the majority of our time huddled around the kitchen table eating and drinking and talking. We also cried, laughed, complained about difficult family stuff and listened to Taylor Swift’s new album. But we finally pried ourselves away from the house as the weekend winded down so we could walk on Coastguard Beach.

It was so warm, there were many people sitting in beach chairs. We sat on driftwood and watched seals pop in and out of the water. We took a short walk, and I was instantly invigorated by the mild gusts of wind. We sat again and took selfies. Without beach towels, coolers, huge parking fees and little kids to slather in sunblock, we were at ease. And I was reminded, once again, why I love visiting Cape Cod in the office season.

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