In My Footsteps
Trip 27: Hyannis, Mass.
February 28, 2010
Taking its name as a derivative of the Wampanoag sachem, or chief, Iyanough, Hyannis is the commercial center of Cape Cod. It is where most locals go to shop having several large shopping plazas, most notable the 800,000-plus square foot Cape Cod Mall. Despite the retail prowess of the Hyannis area it was as recently as twenty-five years ago that this most industrialized Cape town still retained some of the quaintness the Cape is known for. Historic Main Street can be walked and enjoyed at any time of year; there are still a few stores that have been there for more than fifty years including the Puritan clothing store. Although it is first thought of in terms of shopping and restaurants Hyannis does hold more than just that.
The first place to go to escape the bustle of Hyannis is to head for the water. As you head for the water on Ocean Street the first spot to check out is Hyannis Harbor where the Hy-Line Ferries make frequent trips to and from Nantucket. If you stay long enough you might get to see one of these impressive looking high-speed ferries up close. There is the Michael Aselton Memorial Park, dedicated to a fallen Barnstable police officer, and the Cape Cod Maritime Museum on the grounds as well that should be taken in.
Further down Ocean Street are two great swimming beaches, Veterans Beach and Kalmus Beach. Veterans Beach is made even more of an attraction thanks to the Korean War Memorial(left) and JFK Memorial located at the Veterans Memorial Park on the beach grounds. The JFK Memorial consists of a wall with a plaque depicting the late-President’s face and a beautiful fountain. The entire area is surrounded by sweet smelling flowers in the warmer months including several different colored roses. The memorial is on a hill which gives a tremendous panoramic view of Lewis Bay and the boats entering and leaving the harbor.
To the left of the JFK Memorial is the spectacular Korean War Memorial. The statue of the American Soldier stands high above looking out over the water. He is surrounded by flags including the American flag directly behind the statue. It is a great patriotic attraction that needs to be made appointment viewing on any trip through Hyannis. Veterans Beach itself is located next to the Hyannis Yacht Club and is sheltered somewhat from the harsh ocean. Located on the north side of the beach is a river(right) that leads to a pond across Ocean Street. This spot is a great place to see ducks, geese, seagulls, and even crows and hawks congregating.
At the end of Ocean Street is Kalmus Beach Park which straddles Lewis Bay and Nantucket Sound. This sandy spit is a perfect spot to watch the boat entering the harbor and comes complete with a close up view of the private Great Island in Yarmouth. It is relatively calm waters with a lot of open beach and a jetty on the Sound side that is commonly used for fishing. Also on Lewis Bay is Lewis Bay Light(right). Best seen from on the harbor or at nearby Bay View Beach the small lighthouse is a near replica of Nantucket’s Brant Point Light. It was built for private use and is not accessible by the public but it can still be appreciated from the beach.
Historic Main Street houses its own special places to visit. Located across from the Puritan Clothing Co. is the JFK Museum. This museum showcases Kennedy’s life and times on Cape Cod, it features more than eighty photos from 1934-63 and a video narrated by legendary journalist Walter Cronkite. Not to be missed in the JFK Museum is the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame. The Hall is located on the lower level of the JFK Museum also known as The Dugout and has a complete history of baseball on the Cape stretching back more than a hundred years. In front of the museum is a newly dedicated bronze statue of JFK sporting a Hyannisport Polo shirt and walking through the beach sand and grass(below). It is a great look into history while still being right in the middle of the busiest spot on the Cape.
Also on Main Street is the Hyannis Village Green which is great for a stroll and also is used for concerts and other various events during the warmer months. The Cape Cod Melody Tent which has been home to thousands of musical acts since 1950 sits just after the West End Rotary and is opened from June to August. The Cape Cod Potato Chips factory sits on the north side of Hyannis in the Independence Park and is open for tours year-round. Originally created by Steve and Lynn Bernard in 1980 Cape Cod Potato Chips rapidly grew in popularity and is now the most visited attraction in town seeing more than 250,000 people per year.
Most locals and visitors to Hyannis never take the time to see what else this place has to offer. From the beaches to the museums it is plain to see that Hyannis’s history and natural beauty is only matched by its commercial prowess. Whatever you choose to do, a trip to Hyannis will be one to remember. Have fun and happy traveling!
Directions: Veterans Beach Park & Kalmus Beach Park: from Rt. 28 heading east, take first exit at rotary for Barnstable Rd. Follow Barnstable Rd. across Main St. where it becomes Ocean Street. Hyannis Harbor is on the left at the lights. Follow Ocean Street 1 mile, Veterans Beach is on the left; Kalmus Beach is at the end of Ocean Street on the curve.
JFK Museum & Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame: from Rt. 28 heading east, take first exit at rotary for Barnstable Rd. Follow Barnstable Rd. to Main St. Turn right on Main Street, JFK Museum is only a few hundred feet up on the left.
Cape Cod Potato Chips Factory: from Rt. 28 heading east, take third exit for Rt. 132. Turn right onto Independence Drive, turn right onto Breed’s Hill Road.
References: Cape Cod Potato Chips