Falmouth Village is the heart of this classic New England town. In the 1600s, the first European residents settled on the neck of land between Siders and Salt Ponds, near the present-day Old Burying Ground. Falmouth is now the second largest town on Cape Cod, with over 33,000 year-round residents. Replete with historic charm, the Village Green – one of seven National Historic Districts in the town- is encircled by engaging and hospitable bed and breakfasts, Falmouth Museums on the Green and the birthplace of Katharine Lee Bates. Vibrant but charming Main Street, just steps away from the Village Green, hosts unique shops, a wide variety of restaurants and delightful boutique art galleries. Falmouth Village is also where you will find bustling Falmouth Harbor, tranquil Beebe Woods and popular Surf Drive Beach. On the east shore of Falmouth Harbor, Great Hill, the highest point of land on Vineyard Sound, offers spectacular ocean vistas and hosts several Carpenter Gothic (gingerbread) cottages built at the turn of the 19th century. This area, known as Falmouth Heights, was a summer resort originally developed by businessmen from Worcester, Mass. in the 1870s, and many of the original houses and pocket parks remain today.
Photo by Kathy Sharp-Frisbee
Situated between the Coonamessett and Childs Rivers, this thriving village, originally home to the fledgling but short lived mill industry, and a flourishing cranberry industry that still exists, has been the agricultural heartland of Falmouth. It was settled by a large influx of immigrants from Portugal, the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, who, by the 1920s, were the driving force behind making East Falmouth the largest producer of strawberries per acre in the nation. Although most of the farmland has been converted into residential and commercial properties, East Falmouth is still agriculturally focused. The Barnstable County Fairgrounds hosts several events throughout the season, including the County Fair and the Harvest Festival. Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary is well known for its 65 varieties of holly trees and bird-watching opportunities abound there and at Sea Farms Reservation on Green Pond. East Falmouth Village retains over a dozen working farms, five excellent golf courses and the attractions of Menauhant Beach, one of Falmouth’s 10 inviting public beaches.
Named for Jonathon Hatch, a descendant of Falmouth’s original settler, Hatchville, one of Falmouth’s more rural villages, was laid out in 1712 and centered around the old East End Meeting House on Sandwich Road. Once an important dairy center and large farming tract, by 1936 the village that surrounds Coonamessett Pond had become primarily a recreational area and is now largely comprised of residential housing interspersed with cranberry bogs, ponds, small farms, conservation land and woodlands. Coonamessett Farm, an active farm co-op on Hatchville Road, offers activities for the entire family. Many cranberry bogs off er public harvesting in the fall. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the 2,000 plus acre Francis Crane Wildlife Reservation.
Our northernmost village, accessible by the Shining Sea Bikeway, remains one of the most bucolic of Falmouth villages. Enjoy a drive along Old Main Road to see period architecture dating back to the 1730s or follow the footpath through 20 rolling acres of the Roskovics Conservation Area, where soldiers once bivouacked during World War II. A visit to North Falmouth would not be complete without a stop to Old Silver Beach, a Cape Cod best beach, where the sand is soft, the swimming is good and the sunset over Buzzards Bay is extraordinary.
Ta-Ta-ket, the name given this village by the Wampanoag Indians, translates to “at the main tidal stream.” Where once there was a confluence of freshwater streams flowing through pine groves and farm land, one of Falmouth’s most dynamic commercial districts now exists. Graced by its own village green, Teaticket is a thriving residential area and retail hub which includes antiques, handcrafted furniture, markets, eating establishments and a variety of retail shopping opportunities.
Waquoit, Falmouth’s smallest village, is also its least developed. Much of Waquoit, together with Washburn Island, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Native American artifacts, including hammer flakes and shell middens, dating back several thousand years, have been discovered on the island. The Waquoit Bay Estuarine Research Reserve, a living laboratory, is part of the Massachusetts State Parks system and its visitor center is open year round, offering educational opportunities to the public to learn about Cape Cod’s ecological resources. Within Waquoit you will fi nd open waters, salt and fresh marshes, barrier beaches, sand dunes, rivers, mixed pine and oak forests, and sand plain grasslands, making this an ideal place to connect with the nature of Cape Cod.
West Falmouth, where weathered saltbox cottages and shingle-style summer homes are nestled among groves of oak and pine, contains some of Falmouth’s oldest architecture. West Falmouth’s highlands, some of the highest ground on
Cape Cod, provide exceptional seaward vistas across Buzzards Bay. A drive along beautiful West Falmouth Highway or a bike ride on the Shining Sea Bikeway will bring you to Bourne Farm, built in 1775. Acquired by Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries, Inc. in 1980, Bourne Farm is located on over 49 acres of fields, trails, and woodlands that overlook lovely Crocker Pond, and is open to the public for hiking and picnicking. Don’t be fooled by West Falmouth’s serene atmosphere; some of the East Coast’s most electrifying windsurfing can be found off of beautiful Chapoquoit Beach.
photo by Beth Colt
At the southern end of the Shining Sea Bikeway, this salty village is bustling with scientists, residents, and visitors. Follow the sea to Woods Hole and take a moment to enjoy the lovely landscape of Spohr Gardens, and then travel on to Nobska Lighthouse, one of Falmouth’s most notable landmarks. As you round Little Harbor, stop and visit the Woods Hole Historical Museum where you’ll see a diorama that depicts an earlier time. In the village, you’ll cross over the Eel Pond drawbridge to find waterfront restaurants, art galleries and distinctive boutique shopping. Visit the oldest aquarium in the nation, where harbor seals are fed twice daily. Best known for its scientific community, Woods Hole is home to world renowned Marine Biological Laboratory, NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Sea Education Association and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (home to the discovery of the Titanic). Free tours of these institutions are offered seasonally and year round. Returning from Woods Hole to Falmouth, The Knob, a hidden gem on Quissett Harbor, offers a short hike to view a radiant sunset over Buzzards Bay.