Located on Nantucket Sound within the town of Barnstable, Hyannis has earned a reputation as the “heart” of Cape Cod. Its mid-Cape location is ideal for day trips to Provincetown
(an hour’s drive away) and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket
, which are readily accessed by ferry from Hyannis Harbor. But historic, laid-back Hyannis is also a destination in itself — as the Kennedy family once made clear to the nation when they spent summers at their iconic coastal residences in Hyannis Port.
The Hyannis area beckons with sandy beaches, a hometown Main Street, seaside art shanties, museums, restaurants, and ample opportunities to get out on the water. It’s more than enough to keep you busy on a getaway weekend, as we show in our list of favorite places to eat, favorite places to stay, and favorite things to do in Hyannis, MA.
Things to Do in Hyannis, MA
Just down the coast from Hyannis is Centerville, whose marquee beach is one of the largest in the mid-Cape area. About a mile in length, Craigville Beach adjoins Long Beach, making it ideal for an extended shoreline stroll (roughly 3 miles round-trip). Off-season and early morning times are the most serene; however, ample public parking means you can find your spot even on busy days. Craigville Beach Road, Centerville.SEE MORE: Walks Worth Their Salt | New England Ocean Walks
A statue of a young JFK striding barefoot through beach grass welcomes visitors to this Main Street museum, which offers a more intimate take on the 35th president of the United States than does its much larger Boston counterpart, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. Here, the Kennedy family’s love of Cape Cod and the sea is celebrated in videos and photos spanning 1934 to 1963, oral histories, and themed exhibits that have focused on everything from the brothers’ bond between Jack and Bobby Kennedy to the so-called Kennedy Compound. The highlight of the 2017 season is the centennial celebration “JFK at 100: Life and Legacy.” 397 Main St., Hyannis.
Since its first season in 1951, when it drew sellout crowds to a performance of the musical Show Boat
, the Cape Cod Melody Tent has been putting audiences right into the heart of the action. One of only two continuously-operated tent theaters in the round in the U.S. (the other is its sister venue in Cohasset, the South Shore Music Circus), it has a layout that ensures every seat is within 50 feet of the rotating stage. The small size — approximately 2,300 capacity — further contributes to the up-close-and-personal feel. Headliners these days run the gamut from old-school rock and pop (Chicago, ZZ Top, the Temptations) to comedy, country, classical, and more. 21 W. Main St, Hyannis.
Opened in 2015 in an off-the-beaten-path location just north of Cape Cod Mall, this family-run casual breakfast and lunch eatery has quickly drawn local fans. The homey space is furnished with reclaimed and repurposed materials (Mason jars find second life as light fixtures, for example), and the menu follows a farm-to-table philosophy, with a big blackboard displaying local purveyors such as Cape Cod Organic Farms and Wellfleet’s Beanstock Coffee. Among the tasty offerings are BBQ 4 Breakfast, featuring house-smoked pulled pork with sesame barbecue sauce, and a chimichurri chicken sandwich on house-made focaccia. 12A Thornton Dr., Hyannis.
For chic dining in the heart of downtown Hyannis, the Naked Oyster is the name to know. Partnerships with local fishermen and farmers ensure the freshest ingredients go into the globally influenced dishes (grilled Thai shrimp, Mediterranean ahi tuna, Long Island duck leg confit with house-made cavatelli pasta). The exposed-brick interior creates a cozy dining backdrop, with splashes of color from original artwork and modern, jellyfish-like light fixtures, and the long, marble-topped bar features a glass case crammed with raw-bar goodies, including oysters delivered daily from the restaurant’s own farm in Barnstable Harbor. 410 Main St., Hyannis.
Hailed by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, the pies at this local landmark are definitely worth checking out. However, appreciating them to the fullest will require multiple visits, since “the Pie Ladies” (founders Laurie Bowen and Kristin Broadley) bake up everything from chicken pie to lobster pie, all kinds of fruit and cream pies, quiches, and more. Don’t miss the Cape Cod Crunch pie: chocolate pudding laced with butter toffee and topped with homemade whipped cream and toffee bits. Note:
Centerville Pie Company closed its onsite restaurant in 2018, but continues to sell fresh breakfast bakery items, salads, sandwiches, soup, and a daily offering of fresh cream pies, fruit pies, and frozen pies to go. 1671 Falmouth Road, Centerville.
Hyannis Hotels & Inns
Rick Garceau and Tom Nortz are your warm and welcoming hosts at this 1835 sea captain’s house — which earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 — in Centerville. With hardwood floors, Oriental rugs, and tasteful selection of antiques and historic wallpapers in its common areas and six rooms, the inn maintains a classy, not fussy, feel. But there’s a bit of room for fun, too: The gourmet breakfasts here typically feature Garceau and Nortz squaring off in hilarious “scone wars,” with each vying to win over guests with his particular recipe (think gingered lemon curd vs. summer berry). This inn also earns points for community spirit, as it hosts a fundraiser for its neighbor, the Centerville Historical Museum, each year. 539 Main St., Centerville.
Talk about a choice location: Situated on a small bluff overlooking Hyannis Harbor, this modern waterfront-resort hotel offers 42 clean, comfortable rooms with individual decks and views, plus a heated harbor-side pool and garden landscaping. Prices (which include a deluxe continental breakfast) will be on the steep side during the height of the summer, but expect good deals in the off-season. The hotel’s website includes handy interactive photo tours that allow you to see not only the interiors but also the views from rooms on different levels of the three-story building — so you know just what you’re getting. 1 South St., Hyannis.
Fans of cottage chic will adore the seven distinctive guest rooms here, all brightened with cheery fabrics and wall treatments and whimsical, one-of-a-kind bits of decor — a light fixture made from an old steel colander, for instance. The inn itself is an impeccably maintained 1849 sea captain’s home, and like its neighbor up the street, the Captain David Kelley House, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Additional enticements include a full gourmet breakfast, a large backyard patio with waterfall, and a 10-minute walk to Craigville Beach. 436 S. Main St., Centerville.
What are your favorite things to do in Hyannis, MA? Let us know in the comments!
This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.