Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA

The Cape Escape

Iyna Bort Caruso

Old King’s Highway is a historic corridor that parallels Cape Cod Bay. The four-century history of Cape Cod can be pegged along its route, from cemetery plots dating back to the 1600s and sea captain mansions from the 1800s to contemporary cafes and clam shacks. 

The highway, referred to locally as Route 6A, has been called one of America’s most scenic drives, but beauty pervades the Cape at every turn. 

The 70-mile long peninsula tapers to less than a mile in Provincetown and is generally divided into four regions: Upper Cape, Mid Cape, Outer Cape and Lower Cape. 

Upper Cape has the most year-round residents, some of whom commute to Boston some 60 miles away. Mid Cape includes Barnstable, the largest town comprised of seven villages. It includes Hyannis and the exclusive boating and country club communities of Cotuit and Osterville. Across the causeway from Osterville is Oyster Harbors, a gated community and one of Cape Cod’s most privileged addresses. The landscape of the Oyster Harbors Club golf course was designed by brothers John Charles and Frederick Law Olmstead, the visionaries behind New York’s Central Park. Lower Cape is home to an impressive selection of old sea captain’s homes. Chatham, located at the “elbow” of a peninsula that looks like a flexed arm, is a beautiful village of old-time Americana where in-town home prices are comparable to waterfront properties. The Outer Cape tends to be more rural with limited development and dirt roads until you hit the tip at artsy Provincetown, the well known and long established gay resort destination. 

New England shingle-style is the predominant seaside architecture with its wide porches and Palladian windows. Cape Cod is one of the few places in the country where it’s possible to own a 200-year-old home. In some areas, new construction is at a premium due to limited developable land and strict zoning regulations. 

Families have been coming to Cape Cod generation after generation, drawn to its hundred-plus public beaches, scores of museums and dozens of golf courses. Not everyone leaves come Labor Day. The Cape’s year-round population numbers around 215,000. In 2013, U.S. News & World Report named it a top ten choice for wealthy retirees. Some are buying properties as vacation homes with the plan of turning them into retirement homes down the road. 

Browse our list of unique Cape Cod homes for sale to learn more about the properties available in the area.