19 miles E of Sandwich; 38 miles S of Provincetown
This cross section represents the Cape at its best -- and worst. Yarmouth Port, on Cape Cod Bay, is an enchanting town, clustered with interesting shops and architectural pearls, whereas the sound-side "villages" of West to South Yarmouth are an object lesson in unbridled development run amok.
Legend has it that Leif Eriksson found the region very attractive indeed and set up what was meant to be a permanent camp by the Bass River around A.D. 1000. No trace has yet been found -- other than the puzzling "Bournedale stone," with its vaguely runic inscriptions, now housed at the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum in Bourne. Why Eriksson left -- and whether, in fact, he came to Cape Cod at all, and not some similar spot -- are mysteries still unanswered. We do know that Yarmouth, most likely named for an English port, was the second Cape town to incorporate, following closely on the heels of Sandwich. At the height of the shipping boom, Yarmouth Port boasted a "Captain's Row" of 50 fine houses, most of which remain showpieces to this day.
So you've got the north shore for culture and refinement, and the south shore for kitsch. Take your pick, or enjoy the best of both worlds.