19 miles E of Sandwich; 38 miles S of Provincetown
Yarmouth represents the Cape at its best—and its worst. Yarmouth Port, on Cape Cod Bay, is an enchanting village, whereas the sound-side villages of West and South Yarmouth are a lesson in unbridled development, a nightmarish gauntlet of most tacky accommodations and attractions strung along Route 28. The attractions listed below are a healthy mix of the two sides of Yarmouth, from tacky to culturally worthy.
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.