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A Tank Away: Sandwich

An old town for all ages

Camp, walk, see its history, ride a carousel

The Sandwich boardwalk extends across the marshlands of Mill Creek to the dunes at Town Neck Beach. The Sandwich boardwalk extends across the marshlands of Mill Creek to the dunes at Town Neck Beach. (Ellen Albanese for The Boston Globe)
By Ellen Albanese
Globe Correspondent / July 13, 2011

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This seaside town, the oldest on Cape Cod, has something for everyone: beaches for swimmers, marshes for kayakers, gardens for walkers, museums and galleries for browsers, and restaurants for every type of diner. It’s a great family destination, with activities for children from tots to teens, including rainy-day escapes.

STAY

Sandwich is known for its upscale inns and bed-and-breakfasts; two of the most luxurious are Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa (149 Main St., 508-888-3622, www.danlwebsterinn.com, $139-$379) and Belfry Inne & Bistro (8 Jarves St., 508-888-8550, www.belfryinn.com, $145-$295). But there are plenty of family accommodations. Rooms at the Earl of Sandwich Motel (378 Route 6A, 508-888-1415, www.earlofsandwich.com, $95-$139) have either one queen or two double beds, air conditioning, and refrigerators. There’s a pool and a duck pond, and resident chickens thoughtfully provide eggs for breakfast. Set in a shady woods, Pine Grove Cottages (358 Route 6A, 508-888-8179, www.pinegrovecottages.com, daily $50-$135, weekly $310-$775) are fully equipped for housekeeping and sleep up to four. Shawme-Crowell State Forest (42 Main St., 508-888-0351, reservations: 877-422-6762, www.reserveamerica.com, $12-$40) offers tent sites, RV sites, and yurts (soft-sided round structures somewhere between a tent and a cabin). All 285 sites have picnic tables and fire pits.

DINE

You expect great seafood, but you can also find gourmet sandwiches and salads, killer baked goods, and even afternoon tea here. Local favorite Marshland Restaurant (100 Route 6A, 508-888-9824, and 315 Cotuit Road, 508-888-9747, www.marshlandrestaurant.com, breakfast $4.29-$10, lunch $4-$12, dinner $9-$18) is known as much for its bakery as its budget-priced meals. Creative sandwiches and salads are the hallmark of Cafe Chew (4 Merchants Road, 508-888-7717, www.cafechew.com, breakfast $4-$8, lunch $7-$10). We enjoyed a huge salad of spring greens, strawberries, candied walnuts, and goat cheese at a pleasant outdoor seating area surrounded by gardens. Have a “yeoman’s lunch’’ or afternoon tea at the Dunbar Tea Room (1 Water St., 508-833-2485, www.dunbartea.com, $8-$13). The display of homemade cakes and pastries is positively seductive. For a taste of the sea, check out Captain Scott’s Seafood Restaurant (71 Tupper Road, 508-888-1675, www.captainscotts.com, $5-$22, children’s menu $4-$9.45), which covers the basics, then surprises with creative entrees such as salmon over sautéed spinach and eggplant. When we visited, several families were dining outdoors on the flower-filled patio.

DURING THE DAY

If it’s sunny, head for the Sandwich boardwalk, which crosses the marshlands of Mill Creek and ends at the dunes at Town Neck Beach. Take Jarves Street toward the bay, turn left on Factory Street, right on Harbor Street, and follow to the end. Rent a kayak from Ecotourz (18 Jarves St., 508-888-1627, www.ecotourz.net, $25/hour); kayaking the marshes is relatively easy, and sometimes Ecotourz sets up right at the boardwalk. Paved bike paths run along both sides of the Cape Cod Canal. Park at the Cape Cod Canal Visitors Center (60 Ed Moffitt Drive, 508-833-9678, www.capecodcanal.us, free), where you can climb aboard the Renier, a retired US Army Corps of Engineers patrol boat, and watch real-time radar and camera images of the waterway. On Friday mornings, families with children 2 1/2 and older can drop in for a visit with a naturalist and one of the resident animals at the Green Briar Nature Center (6 Discovery Hill Road, 508-888- 6870, www.thorntonburgess.org), operated by the Thornton Burgess Society. If it’s rainy, investigate Sandwich’s glass history. Start with the Glass Museum (129 Main St., 508-888-0251, www.sandwichglassmuseum.org, $5 adults, $1.25 children ages 6-14), then visit the studios of some modern-day glassblowers, such as the McDermott Glass Studio & Gallery (272 Cotuit Road, 508-477-0705, www.mcdermottglass.com) or the Glass Studio on Cape Cod (470 Route 6A, 508-888-6681, www.glassstudiooncapecod.com), home of Cape Cod “seabubble glass.’’ If the weather is unpredictable, head for Heritage Museums and Gardens (67 Grove St., 508-888-3300, www.heritagemuseumsandgardens.org, adults $15, children 4-16 $7). Here you’ll find walking paths, an outdoor discovery center for children and a carousel, and museums devoted to antique cars, US history, and art.

AFTER DARK

Catch a movie at the eight-screen Heritage Theaters (280 Route 130, 508-833-7777, www.heritagetheaters.com) or test your eye-hand coordination at Heritage Family Amusements (280 Route 130, 508-833-1441, www.heritageamusements.com), a 12,000-square-foot facility with activities ranging from kiddie rides to arcade games and bowling. The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod sponsors free outdoor concerts on Friday evenings at the Wing School (33 Water St., 508-362-0066, www.artsfoundation.org/summer-concerts-sandwich) through Aug. 12. This Friday Funktapuss will perform funk, soul, jazz, and hip-hop.

Ellen Albanese can be reached at ellen.albanese@gmail.com.