Dreaming of Summer on Cape Cod

A visit to the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth, MA

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Just hearing the words “Cape Cod” brings thoughts of long lazy summer days, days of sand castles, sun, and cool salt water. Now, in the middle of the winter we need a little reminder of a relaxing vacation on the beach. We’re anxious to exchange our shovels of snow for a shovel of sand, trading road salt for salt water, and switching out a blizzard or two for next summer’s sea breezes. Our winter is a bit warmer remembering our visit to Cape Cod and stay at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel.

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Over the years, we’ve explored many corners of New England, and know Cape Cod from Borne to Provincetown. Different parts of the Cape have different flavors – the quiet villages on Cape Cod Bay like Sandwich and Barnstable are perfect for B&B’s and antique stores, Wellfleet and Truro feel just as outdoorsy as the Cape Cod National Seashore that runs through those towns, and Hyannis has grown beyond the village into the closest thing the Cape has to an urban hub. The Sea Crest Beach Hotel sits on Buzzard Bay in a quiet corner of North Falmouth.

A chain of small islands extending off the southwest end of the Cape shelters Buzzard Bay, making the water gentler and a little warmer than we’ve found in the more exposed portions of the Cape. The hotel’s Old Silver Beach is lapped by gentle waves and is warmed by the afternoon and evening summer sun. And being in North Falmouth, well away from the bustle of Hyannis and without even a Main Street, the hotel sits in an oasis of peace and quiet, where the only traffic seems to be the distant boats gliding through the harbor to and from the Cape Cod Canal.

The hotel’s roots date to the 1930’s as a summer playhouse. After a fire, hurricanes, and years of evolution, the property morphed into a hotel until in 1971 it became a year-round family resort. After the sitewide rennovations in 2010, the resort boasts 30,000 square feet of event space, 263 rooms and suites, an excellent restaurant, two saltwater swimming pools, a three-bedroom cottage, game room, exercise facilities, and 700 feet of private beach.

The resort is very popular with weddings and business retreats. On the weekend we visited, we peeked in on a wedding in one of the courtyards that later moved into the ballroom for the reception. Their business retreats can handle up to 1000 people in theater seating and have catering from coffee and Danish up to a seaside clambake.

For our visit, we had a room directly overlooking the beach. We had cooling westerly breezes blowing in from the bay that we enjoyed on a private balcony, making the spectacular sunsets a special treat. Not every room has such a great view, but they all come with the comforts that make a prolonged stay much easier, like a mini-fridge, writing desk, and pillow-top mattresses. Some of the rooms even come with fireplaces.

The resort’s restaurant, Red’s, is a special treat. Named after famed Celtics coach “Red” Auerbach who had once been a part owner of the hotel, it has a sports bar décor. But while you can eat pizzas and burgers, we were thrilled to find that the food breaks out of the sports bar mold. A Grilled NY Sirloin isn’t just a steak, since Sea Crest’s chef has a flair for fine dining – it’s topped with La Quercia prosciutto and accompanied with crispy fingerling potatoes, buttery asparagus, and garnished with truffle peppercorn aioli. The entrees include thyme rubbed whole roasted free range chicken, cocoa dusted lamb chops, and shallot thyme marinated filet mignon. The Block Island swordfish came atop summer-dug parsnips and drizzled with a saffron rouille. If you started with one of the appetizers like chili seared yellowfin tuna “sashimi” and finished with a dessert like the passion fruit crème broule, you’ll have a meal to make the summer memorable.

Of course there’s more to eating well than simply fine dining for dinner. The resort creates a bountiful breakfast buffet, complete with custom-made omelets. Fruit, pastries, French toast, pancakes, sausage, oatmeal… there is more than enough to ensure that visitors are well fueled for a day of activity, or perhaps a day of rest and relaxation.

Reading a book on the beach isn’t for everyone. In the summer the fun focuses on the water – whether it’s building sand castles to riding jet skis. Right on the edge of the resort’s private beach is Cape Cod Windsurfing, renting out paddle boats, kayaks, jet skis, standup paddleboards, and of course windsurfing boards. They also rent bicycles, making it easy to explore the Shining Sea Bikeway.

The bikeway runs from the Cape Cod canal to Woods Hole. A morning trip from the beach to the end of the line is only 10 miles, giving a chance to explore the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s exhibits or go shopping in the classic downtown of Falmouth. Or, if you don’t wander away from the beach, the resort has its own well-stocked gift shop and coffee shop.

In fact, staying put at the resort may be fairly simple. And who would want to leave the white sand beaches, the poolside bar, and the cool breezes? And even more important is the one activity at the resort that isn’t listed on the official calendar, a spectacular sunset across the waters of Buzzard Bay.

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Well, winter won’t last forever and it’s already time to start planning the summer’s fun, so here are a few links to get your planning going.

Sea Crest Beach Hotel www.seacrestbeachhotel.com

Cape Cod Windsurfing www.capecodwindsurfing.com

Woods Hole Exhibit Center www.whoi.edu/main/ocean-science-exhibit-center

Falmouth Tourism www.falmouthvisitor.com

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