Yarmouth has 11 saltwater and 2 pond beaches open to the public. The body-per-square-yard ratio can be pretty intense along the sound, but so is the social scene, so no one seems to mind. The beachside parking lots charge $15 a day and sell weeklong stickers ($70).
- Bass River Beach, off South Shore Drive, in Bass River (South Yarmouth): Located at the mouth of the largest tidal river on the eastern seaboard, this sound beach offers restroom facilities and a snack bar, plus a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier. The beaches along the south shore (Nantucket Sound) tend to be clean and sandy with comfortable water temps (kids will want to stay in all day), but they can also be crowded during peak times. You'll need a beach sticker or a day pass to park here.
- Gray's Beach, off Center Street, in Yarmouth Port: This isn't much of a beach, but tame waters make this tiny spit of dark sand good for young children; it adjoins the Callery-Darling Conservation Area. The Bass Hole boardwalk offers one of the Mid Cape's most scenic walks. Parking is free here, and there's a picnic area with grills.
- Parker's River Beach, off South Shore Drive, in Bass River: The usual amenities are available, such as restrooms and a snack bar, plus a 20-foot gazebo for the sun-shy. A beach sticker or day pass is required.
- Seagull Beach, off South Sea Avenue, in West Yarmouth: Rolling dunes, a boardwalk, and all the necessary facilities -- such as restrooms and a snack bar -- attract a young crowd. Bring bug spray, though: Greenhead flies get the munchies in July. You'll need a beach sticker or day pass to park here.
The Cape Cod Rail Trail (tel. 508/896-3491; www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/southeast/ccrt.htm) is a few miles away, on Route 134 (near the entrance to Rte. 6), in South Dennis. Rent a bike at the trail head, and if you are feeling Olympian, bike all the way to Wellfleet (25 miles).
You can rent a canoe or kayak at Cape Cod Waterways, 16 Rte. 28, Dennisport (tel. 508/398-0080; www.capecodwaterways.com), and paddle along the Bass River, which flows between South Yarmouth and West Dennis on the south side of the Cape. Canoe or kayak rental for 1 1/2 hours costs $20 to $32.
Of the five fishing ponds in the Yarmouth area, Long Pond near South Yarmouth is known for its largemouth bass and pickerel; for details and a license (shellfishing is another option), visit Town Hall, at 1146 Rte. 28, in South Yarmouth (tel. 508/398-2231); or Riverview Bait and Tackle, at 1273 Rte. 28, in South Yarmouth (tel. 508/394-1036). Full-season licenses for Massachusetts residents cost $29; for out-of-staters, $39. You can cast for striped bass and bluefish off the pier at Bass River Beach with a saltwater fishing license ($10).
The township maintains two 18-hole courses: the seasonal Bayberry Hills, off West Yarmouth Road, in West Yarmouth (tel. 508/394-5597; www.golfyarmouthcapecod.com/Bayberry.htm), and the Bass River Golf Course, off High Bank Road, in South Yarmouth (tel. 508/398-9079). The Bass River course is one of the Cape's most famous courses. It was founded in 1900 and redesigned by Donald Ross. It is open year-round. A round at Bayberry costs $85; at Bass River, it costs $45 to $58 to walk and an additional $19 with a cart. Prices are reduced in the afternoon. Another 18-holer open to the public is the par-54 Blue Rock Golf Course, off High Bank Road, in South Yarmouth (tel. 508/398-9295); it's open year-round, and a round costs $30 to $50.
Nature & Wildlife Areas
For a pleasant stroll, follow the 2 miles of trails maintained by the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth on 50 acres surrounding Miller's Pond. Park behind the post office and check in at the gatehouse, whose herb garden displays a "Wheel of Thyme." The in-season trail fee (50¢ adults, 25¢ children) includes a keyed trail guide: Look for -- but do not pick -- the endangered pink lady-slipper, a local orchid. Your path will cross the transplanted 1873 Kelley Chapel, said to have been built by a Quaker grandfather to comfort his daughter after the death of her child.
In Yarmouth Port, follow Centre Street about a mile north and bear northeast on Homers Dock Road; from here a 2.5-mile trail through the Callery-Darling Conservation Area leads to Gray's Beach, where you can continue across the Bass Hole boardwalk for a lovely view of the marsh.
Four public courts are located at Flax Pond, off North Main Street, in South Yarmouth; four more are at Sandy Pond, on Buck Island Road, off Higgins Crowell Road; plus 10 at Dennis-Yarmouth High School, at Station Avenue, in South Yarmouth. For details contact the Yarmouth Recreation Department (tel. 508/398-2231). The Mid-Cape Racquet Club, 193 Whites Path, South Yarmouth (tel. 508/394-3511; www.midcaperacquet.com), has nine indoor courts ($22 per person per hr.), racquetball and squash courts, and health-club facilities ($15 per day).