A Tank Away | Bourne

Summer serenity . . . on the Cape?

Oft-ignored town offers quiet getaway

The Lobster Trap, which has been serving the local catch for decades, overlooks the water. The Lobster Trap, which has been serving the local catch for decades, overlooks the water.
By Jenn Abelson
Globe Staff / July 14, 2010

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You want Cape Cod without the crowds and oppressive traffic. Impossible? Not in Bourne. Most people blow through this town on their way to some farther-flung sandy destination. Just over the Bourne Bridge, the town offers travelers a quiet getaway with all the Cape perks: beach, lobster, sunshine. There’s still plenty of ice cream and go-karting to go around. But an abundance of year-round residents helps keep prices and attitudes in check, even during summer.

Like all Cape towns, Bourne offers a glut of vacation rentals and some cheesy roadside motels. For a more quaint Cape Cod experience, check out Holly House by the Canal (20 Keene St.,, 508-759-2864), located on the banks of the Cape Cod Canal. This Victorian bed-and-breakfast, with rooms starting at $105, was built at the turn of the century by Civil War veteran Persia Harmon. The inn, run by Rita and Tom Mitchell, features wraparound porches where guests can read or watch the ships pass by. Nestled in the Pocasset village of Bourne, Cape Cod Country Gardens Inn, (877 Shore Road,, 508-564-5857), has a nautical water garden on its acre-plus setting. The Victorian farmhouse, run by innkeepers Bob and Judi Meisel, has rooms starting at $110 and a suite with private entrance and kitchenette for about $175. Only continental breakfasts are served at bed-and-breakfasts in Bourne because of local regulations, but for heartier meals there are many options around town.

Daily Brew (1370 Route 28A,, 508-564-4755, breakfast sandwiches starting at $2.50, burritos at $2.75), for example, offers the perfect spot to start your morning. This little shop has an outdoor deck with Adirondack chairs where you can sit back and enjoy a breakfast burrito with linguica while sipping their bold brews. Pick up a hearty sandwich to take to beach. You can’t go wrong with the Steamship, house-roasted beef with roasted red peppers, Bermuda onion, lettuce, and cream cheese, or the cranberry walnut chicken salad. For dinner, head to the Lobster Trap (290 Shore Road,, 508-759-7600, entrees $9.99-$19.99, lobster dinners start at $19.99), a funky open-air seafood restaurant overlooking Buzzards Bay. The casual shack has been serving the local catch for decades and offers lobster rolls, lump crab cakes with alpine slaw, and creamy New England clam chowder. Overlooking Red Brook Harbor, the Chart Room (1 Shipyard Lane,, 508-563-5350, entrees $15.95-$35.95) is the destination of choice for savoring sunset dinners. It has casual indoor seating and a covered porch for diners feasting on prime rib, baked stuffed shrimp, and lobster. There is nightly entertainment at the piano bar. Reservations are strongly encouraged, and don’t be shy about enjoying a beverage outside while waiting for your table.

The Cape Cod Canal is one of the coolest attractions around. This waterway ushers more than 20,000 vessels annually, and miles of service roads straddle the canal for biking, jogging, and walking. Several guided hike and bike tours by US Army Corps of Engineers Park rangers start or end in Bourne, including a Saturday morning bike tour. A visitors center in Sandwich (60 Ed Moffitt Drive,, 508-833-9678) features a retired patrol boat, DVD presentations on canal history, critters and wildflowers, and real-time radar and camera images of the waterways. You cannot go to the Cape and not get in the water. Cape Cod Kayak (1270 Route 28A,, 508-563-9377) meets every need — whether you are seeking a day of high seas adventure or a paddle through a tidal salt marsh. The company provides guided tours, kayak fishing trips, and private parties. If you want to strike out on your own, Cape Cod Kayak will deliver rentals to your location of choice on the upper Cape. Notable kayak trips around Bourne include Toby Island and Monks Cove. Walk back into the 17th century at the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum (24 Aptucxet Road,, 508-759-8167, adults $5, children $2). A trading post was built here in 1627 to promote commerce among the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Native Americans, and Dutch colonists. The structure standing today is a replica built on the original foundation, which was excavated in the 1920s. Surrounded by 12 acres of recreation land, the grounds include a windmill (which doubles as a gift store), a trail along the canal, and herb and wildflower gardens.

The Courtyard Restaurant & Pub (, 1337 County Road, 508-563-1818) offers one of the few restaurants in Bourne where you can drink outdoors in a sweet courtyard centered around a fountain. Owned and operated by former Boston Bruin Jay Miller, the Courtyard serves delectable margaritas and nightly entertainment, with frequent weekend appearances by DJ Milo. The inside dining room clears out to make room for a dance floor. For a quieter evening out, venture a few miles out of Bourne to Falmouth Cinema Pub (137 Teaticket Highway,, 508-495-0505). The movie theater, at Falmouth Mall Plaza, features private tables, plush chairs, huge screens, and sells wine and beer.

Jenn Abelson can be reached at