From Poughkeepsie: 4 hours, 15 minsWhile many people harbor fond memories of Cape Cod from summers past, the secret is out: The best time to go is early-to-mid fall, when all the attractions are still open for business; the weather is a bit more comfortable; and crowds and traffic are all but a bad memory. Start by plopping down a chair, reading a book and taking in the ocean air and surf (and peace and quiet) at the Cape Cod National Seashore. Thanks to legislation promoted and signed by JFK, most of the Cape’s beaches are preserved and maintained by the National Park Service for the public to enjoy — uncommercialized.Two visitors’ centers, one in Eastham and the other in Provincetown, serve as great starting points to get oriented via films, exhibits, maps, and trail guides. Birdwatchers and those who just love a good nature walk will want to check out the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, with trails meandering through nearly a thousand acres overlooking Wellfleet Harbor. If you prefer to enjoy nature from the water, take a Dolphin Fleet Whale Watching cruise. Departing from Provincetown Harbor, each cruise lasts four hours and includes a live presentation about whales and their behavior and other marine life that may be observed.History buffs take note: Contrary to popular belief, the Pilgrims first landed at Cape Cod. In fact, they spent nearly a month exploring the Cape in 1620 before deciding to sail across the bay to Plymouth Rock. You can visit the Pilgrim Monument and adjacent Provincetown Museum to learn more about their time spent on the Cape and even retrace their steps in nearby beaches and parks. STAY: Ocean Edge Resort & Golf ClubInitially a Victorian-style estate for a local tycoon and his family, Ocean Edge is now a sprawling resort campus, comprising the original mansion with additional wings and several villas just steps from the resort’s private beach. The mansion offers 680 sq ft signature rooms and even larger suites decorated in traditional Cape colors, with contemporary styling, separate sitting and dressing areas, and private terraces. In addition to the private beach, guests can enjoy three outdoor pools, two indoor pools, nine tennis courts, saunas, hot tubs, a full-service spa, and Cape Cod’s only 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Design championship golf course. After working up an appetite from all those activities, guests certainly won’t go hungry: Ocean Terrace, the resort’s signature restaurant, delights diners both indoors and alfresco, at the mansion, with a new a raw bar and cozy firepits. From $195/night; www.oceanedge.com.
Photo by peter whitlock