We've got proof that it's not impossible to find healthy food and killer workout spots on a beach vacation
Ever since JFK brought national attention to the shores of Cape Cod (and Jackie O sunglasses became a thing), the southern tip of the Bay State has been a national hotspot for summer vacations. And while the almost 560 miles of unspoiled coastline that make up "the Cape" are oft considered its gems; come summer, road races, cycling events, and eateries that pride themselves on the freshest ingredients can also be found across the bridge.
So if you can peel yourself from the beach, consider this your guide.
The Cape's shape is often described as a flexed arm. Bear with us. Think about the area in different sections, from the shoulder to the clenched fist: upper cape (the towns closest to the mainland), mid cape (beaches blessed with the warm waters of the Nantucket Sound), lower cape (quieter spots and chilly, protected beaches), and outer cape (wild and scenic natural shores).
Upper Cape, stay at North Falmouth's Sea Crest Beach Hotel (pictured above, left), where the main attraction is the quiet Old Silver Beach. Take your cardio to the sand and you'll also take in views of the blue-green Buzzard's Bay (whose shoreline is dotted with seaside cottages); wake up with yoga overlooking the water; or try your hand at SUP. The hotel is also a stone's throw from the scenic Shining Sea Bikeway, which hugs the coast from Falmouth to Woods Hole (which is where the ferries to the islands depart, if you're digging a day trip). Eat on-site at one of multiple ocean-front restaurants serving up local seafood (fresh Maine lobster and East Coast mussels, anyone?). Come sunset, park it on a chase lounge for a awe-worthy sunset. Visit in late August and hit the pavement in the popular Falmouth Road Race (or just cheer runners on—it's quite the spectacle).
Down Cape, the Chatham Bars Inn (above, right)—a sprawling resort in one of the Cape's most charming towns—is not to be missed. It's packed with both New England charm (a pavilion dotted in white Adirondacks overlooks the Atlantic Ocean) and activities aplenty. Two pools, a private beach (ideal for kayaking or sailing), and new clay tennis courts mean something for everyone. (They've got a crazy-good kids program to boot). Pro tip: Take the hotel's shuttle (it leaves every 30 minutes from the beach) across the harbor to the Cape Cod National Seashore for some serious nature lovin'. You'll likely see seals bobbing their heads in the cold waters.
Stay In Shape
About the Cape Cod National Seashore: It's both a national park rich in wildlife and natural ecosystems and an athlete's dream gym. Besides its six beaches (did you know you can build serious strength on the sand?), the seashore is frequented by cyclists. You won't be bored biking one of three challenging (but paved) trails—terrain ranges from sandy spots and tree-covered passes to tunnels and sweeping ocean views. Interested in what you're seeing? Take part in a ranger-led activity. The park hosts everything from canoeing trips, where you'll paddle protected waters, to walking tours of nearby 19th-century lighthouses.
Fuel Your Trip
A trip to Cape Cod wouldn't be complete without top-notch seafood dinners (because we all need those omega-3s!). And thanks to their nearby eight-acre farm where the hotel sources ingredients, you'll always find fresh, locally-sourced food at the Chatham Bars Inn. The hotel's got four places to eat—everything from a fancy dining room called Stars to a beach house that hosts classic New England Clambakes. Menu staples include just-caught seafood (just look at that spread above, left).
If you don't mind a bit of a drive, the line at Sesuit Harbor Cafe (above, right) is worth the wait. Overlooking Northside Marina and Cape Cod Bay, the seafood shack is home to a raw bar that's tough to rival and laid-back outdoor seating.
Craving a good beach bar? No one does seaside entertainment better than the Beachcomber in Wellfleet. Its famous for all the best reasons: a sandy parking lot, an oceanfront locale (hello, views!), funky cocktails (like the Mudslide: vodka, Kahlua, and Irish cream liqueur blended with vanilla ice cream), and live music (dancing burns calories, right?).
On your way out of down, don't miss the quaint, no-frills ice cream parlor Four Seas in Centerville. Decorated with license plates from all over the country bearing its name, they have a serous following and have been serving homemade scoops since 1934.
The Chatham Bars Inn takes the spa life very seriously. In fact, the resort recently built "spa suites"—hotel rooms equipped with in-room spa staples like saunas (yes, seriously) and jacuzzis with faucets that drop water from the ceiling. The super luxurious spa—complete with its own pool for post-treatment relaxation and oversized rooms—also changes up its menu seasonally, focusing on what your body needs at different times of the year. Don't want to spend hours indoors? Book a 30-minute treatment like the Barefoot on the Beach, a foot massage and exfoliation that all tired tootsies need.
Photos courtesy of: Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Matt Suess, Ben Nugent, Instagram, Luke Simpson, William DeSousa-Mauk, and Chatham Bars Inn.