My advice about visiting Sandwich is “go early and often.” And by “early” I don’t mean in the season, though that works, too. I mean early, like dawn. There’s no better way to begin your day than by watching the sunrise turning Cape Cod Bay a dusty rose.
The beach is best accessed by a 1,000-foot boardwalk across a winding tidal creek. It’s hard when strolling here to not look down at the names of families, dogs, businesses, and lovers engraved on the boardwalk planks — but save that for another trip. Raise your eyes instead to the vast salt marsh that stretches to the sea. This gentle view is punctuated by a single tower that holds a big platform for ospreys. Even with the naked eye you can watch a nesting couple feeding fish to their young.
From the Town Neck end of the beach you’ll catch a rare view of the entrance to Cape Cod Canal. On our last visit, we watched a chubby tugboat tow a big tanker from the North Atlantic into the mouth of the canal. We talked about trying to race the ship to watch it pass under Sagamore Bridge. But sand, lapping waves, pebbles, and shells made us linger at the water’s edge.
Later we returned to our room at The Dan’l Webster Inn to develop a game plan. Our advice is to check in on Friday night to guarantee that you’ll be local for the morning beach walk. Lodging has been offered on this site for more than 300 years; in its Revolutionary days, the tavern served as Patriot headquarters. A horse-drawn carriage filled with planters of pansies and geraniums sits out front. Rooms have four-poster beds and gas fireplaces. The modern amenities offered here — spa treatments, Jacuzzi, contemporary cuisine, and an award-winning wine list — don’t clash with the inn’s Colonial atmosphere.
If you’re looking for a great family vacation spot, choose the Cape Codder Resort and Spa in Hyannis (about 14 miles from Sandwich). Here children enjoy wave pools, waterslides, and a restaurant that offers a kid-friendly menu.
A Sandwich weekend getaway revolves around history, and with good reason: Sandwich is the oldest town on the Cape. Come here to amble, as in the days when the road was just a cart path traveled by settlers from Plymouth Colony.
Visit the Hoxie House, the oldest home on Cape Cod. To an astute visitor, the tiny windows, built in the days when glass was scarce, evoke a time when evenings were dark and quiet (no Internet and TV to disturb the peace).
At Dexter Grist Mill, with its restored 17th-century wooden paddlewheel, it’s easy to picture farmers bringing precious corn to be ground into meal. Around the corner, the Sandwich Glass Museum chronicles an Early American industry in thousands of sparkling, colorful glass pieces.
A Sandwich weekend shouldn’t simply be three centuries of architecture; a perfect walking village complete with duck pond, museums, and antiques shops; and, of course, dunes and beaches. It should be more — when you visit Sandwich, we suggest you suspend time. Float, as if on a gentle wave, in and out of the interesting stories of the people who once lived where you now linger.
Yankee‘s picks for Sandwich, MA. Click on any destination below for a map and more information.