Hyannis is undoubtedly the commercial center of the Cape, and you'll find a number of unique shops on Main Street. In Osterville and along the Old King's Highway (Rte. 6A) to the north, you're also likely to find some real gems. On weekends from late May to mid-June, and daily from mid-June through September, art enthusiasts may want to visit Harbor Your Arts Artist Shanties, Ocean Street, along Hyannis Harbor (www.harboryourarts.com). In its seven artists' shacks, you can watch the artists at work and buy directly from them. Nearby on Pearl Street, the town of Barnstable has set up a small arts district. There are several art galleries and studios clustered together, including the Hyannis Harbor Arts Center at Guyer Art Barn (250 South St.; open noon-4pm weekends), giving a chance for the public to see artists at work. The first Thursday of the month in the summer is an Arts Stroll in Hyannis, in which galleries offer open houses and musicians serenade strollers on Main Street.
Arts & Crafts
The caliber of the shows at the Cape Cod Art Association, 3480 Rte. 6A (about 1/3 mile west of Hyannis Rd.), Barnstable Village (tel. 508/362-2909; www.capecodartassoc.org), may vary -- this is, after all, a nonprofit community venture -- but it's worth visiting just to see the skylit studios, designed by CCAA member Richard Sears Gallagher in 1972. Everyone raves about "Cape light," and here you'll see it used to optimal advantage. If the setting fires up artistic yearnings, inquire about classes and workshops, which are held year-round.
Ex-Nantucketer Bob Marks fashions the only authentic Nantucket lightship baskets crafted off-island; as aficionados know, they don't come cheap (a mere handbag typically runs in the thousands). The other handmade furnishings found at Oak and Ivory, 1112 Main St. (about 1 mile south of Rte. 28), Osterville (tel. 508/428-9425; www.oakandivory.com), from woven throw rugs to pared-down neo-Shaker furniture, fit the country-chic mode at more approachable prices.
At 374 Main St., in Hyannis, Red Fish, Blue Fish (tel. 508/775-8700; www.redfishbluefish.com) wins the funky gift shop award, hands down. Owner Jane Walsh makes jewelry in the front window, but inside this closetlike space, every inch is covered with something unusual.
Tao Water Art Gallery, 1989 Rte. 6A, West Barnstable (tel. 508/375-0428; www.taowatergallery.com), is a former garage converted into a very Zen-like space. It features paintings by Chinese artists as well as reproductions of Chinese antiques and jade.
Richard Kiusalas and Steven Whittlesey salvage antique lumber and turn it into cupboards, tables, and chairs, among other things; old windows are retrofitted as mirrors. Most of their stock at West Barnstable Tables, 2454 Meetinghouse Way (off Rte. 149, near the intersection of Rte. 6A), West Barnstable (tel. 508/362-2676; www.westbarnstabletables.com), looks freshly made, albeit with wood of unusually high quality. Pieces are priced accordingly: A dining-room set -- a pine trestle table with six bow-back chairs -- runs more than $4,000. When the wood still bears interesting traces of its former life, it's turned into folk-art furniture.
Books & Ephemera
Named for the Revolutionary printer who helped foment the War of Independence, Isaiah Thomas Books & Prints, 4632 Falmouth Rd./Rte. 28 (near Rte. 130), Cotuit (tel. 508/428-2752; www.isaiahthomasbooks.com), has a 60,000-volume collection, housed in an 1850 home. The shop is full of treasures, clustered by topic. Owner/expert James S. Visbeck is happy to show off his first editions, rare miniatures, and maps; you get the sense that sales are secondary to sheer bibliophilic pleasure.
You should be able to find just about any book you're looking for at the big chain bookstore: Barnes & Noble, 769 Iyannough Rd. (at the Cape Cod Mall, on Rte. 132), Hyannis (tel. 508/862-6310).
Catching the wave of the popularity of everything "green," there is Shift Boutique, called a "conscious" clothing company and offering wonderfully hip fashion statements made of organic cotton and other eco-friendly products. The store is located at 535 South St. (near the intersection of Main St.), Hyannis (tel. 508/775-2652; www.shiftboutique.com). Considered one of the top second-hand clothing stores on the Cape, Plush & Plunder, 605 Main St. (on the west end of Main St.), Hyannis (tel. 508/775-4467), is great fun for browsers, especially those who enjoy the search as much as the find.
Cape Cod Potato Chips, 100 Breed's Hill Rd. (at Independence Way, off Rte. 132), Hyannis (tel. 508/775-7253; www.capecodchips.com), really are the world's best. Long a local favorite -- they're chunkier than the norm -- they originate right here. Free 15-minute factory tours are offered Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm in July and August. Call for off-season hours. Cape Cod Beer (tel. 508/790-4200; www.capecodbeer.com), at 1336 Phinney's Lane, in Hyannis, gives free tours of its brewery on Saturdays at 1pm and Tuesdays at 11am.
As a Nantucket innkeeper whiling away the winter, Claire Murray took up hooking rugs and turned her knack into an international business. At Claire Murray, 770 Rte. 6A, in West Barnstable (tel. 508/375-0331), hobbyists can find all the fixings for various needle crafts, including kits, and advice as needed. Those of us with little time on our hands can just buy the finished goods, from sweaters and quilts to the signature folk-motif rugs.
Flowery pastels are the hallmark of Joan Peters, 885 Main St. (in the center of town), Osterville (tel. 508/428-3418; www.joanpeters.com), favored by the Town & Country set. She designs a wide array of compatible fabrics and ceramics -- right down to the bathroom sink, if need be -- so that it's easy to achieve a pervasive, light-splashed look that doesn't appear too overtly matched and mixed.
The best place to buy fresh seafood in the vicinity of Hyannis is Cape Fish & Lobster, at 406 W. Main St., in Centerville (tel. 508/771-1122). This is where the top restaurateurs in Hyannis get their seafood. The prices are reasonable, and the catch is the freshest in town.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.