What’s the difference between the last week in August and the first week in September in Falmouth? In August it’s hard to spread out a beach towel without draping someone else’s cooler; in September your closest beach buddies will probably be seagulls. In August you’ll pay top dollar at high-end lodgings, ranging from in-town bed-and-breakfasts to waterfront resorts (that is, if you can find a room); in September rates drop, and you may have the places all to yourself. In August you’ll join a line spilling onto the sidewalk for fresh-baked pastries at Maison Villatte, an authentic French bakery on Main Street; in September — OK, you’ll still have to stand in line at the French bakery, but you’ll breeze right into the other popular downtown restaurants. With a bustling town center and an off-season population of 32,000, Falmouth is one of Cape Cod’s few truly year-round destinations.
Falmouth has an extraordinary number and range of accommodations. Guests are pampered at the Captain’s Manor Inn (27 W. Main St., 508-388-7336, www.captainsmanorinn.com, $150-$335), a stately mansion dating from 1849 that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. How pampered? Innkeepers Kevin and Trish Robinson provide customized home-baked goodies tailored to each guest’s tastes and dietary needs and held under glass domes in the inn’s “bistro.” The Inn on the Sound (313 Grand Ave., 508-457-9666, www.innonthesound.com, $145-$395) offers glorious views of Vineyard Sound and Martha’s Vineyard from an 1872 Victorian mansion along the shore road. The full breakfast might include red pepper-scallion corn waffle with poached eggs and peach mango salsa — “our version of huevos,” said innkeeper Howard Grosser.
Woods Hole Passage (186 Woods Hole Road, 508-548-9575, www.woodsholepassage.com, $149-$215), is a family-friendly B&B, with a two-room suite for families with an infant or toddler and a children’s play area. The brick-red former carriage house sits on two acres on the road to Woods Hole, one of Falmouth’s eight villages. Families will also find comfortable accommodations at the Beach Breeze Inn (321 Shore St., 508-548-1765, www.beachbreeze
inn.com, $99-$299), where guests can choose to swim in the outdoor pool or walk to Surf Drive Beach, 100 yards away. The Sea Crest Beach Hotel (350 Quaker Road, 508-540-9400, www.seacrestbeachhotel.com, $99-$825) on Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth has just completed a $15 million renovation that includes a new restaurant and lounge, Red’s — named for former Sea Crest owner and Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach — and the conversion of the indoor and outdoor pools to salt water.
Follow the aroma of baking bread to Maison Villatte (267 Main St., 774-255-1855), where you can buy breads, pastries, and fruit tarts, as well as sandwiches and quiche to eat in or take to the beach. Main Street newcomer Bear in Boots Gastropub (285 Main St., 508-444-8511, www.bearinboots.com, $12-$38) makes everything in-house, including bread, pasta, ice cream, and smoked meats. We liked the buttermilk fried chicken and salmon with asparagus risotto and were duly impressed by the beer list. The signature appetizer at Quicks Hole Tavern (29 Railroad Ave., 508-495-0048, www.quicksholewickedfresh.com, lunch $10-$25, dinner $13-$40), which opened this spring in Woods Hole across from the Martha’s Vineyard ferry terminal, is “pig candy” — house-smoked pork shoulder braised in maple syrup and spices, served on guava puree. The menu also includes seafood, cheese and charcuterie boards, burgers, and gourmet grilled cheese. The food is worth the wait at The Glass Onion (37 North Main St., 508-540-3730, www.theglassoniondining.com, dinner $19-$36), which features local seafood and produce, and doesn’t take reservations. Try the lobster strudel appetizer. For a more casual meal, Crabapples (553 Palmer Ave., 508-548-3355, www.crabapplesrestaurant.com, breakfast $4-$10, lunch and dinner $8-$20), is known for great breakfasts, comfort food, and homemade pies.
DURING THE DAY
The waters around Falmouth’s beaches stay warm well into September, and you won’t need a sticker as of the second week in September. Old Silver (off Quaker Road in North Falmouth) is one of the most popular strands on the Cape, favored for its soft white sand and gradual drop-off. Wood Neck (Wood Neck Road, off Sippewissett Road) has great tide pools on one side and open ocean on the other. The Shining Sea Bikeway (www.falmouthmass.us/depart.php?depkey=bike),
named for a line in “America the Beautiful,” written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates, welcomes cyclists, skaters, walkers, and even cross-country skiers. The 10.7-mile paved path runs from North Falmouth to Woods Hole, past wooded uplands, salt marshes, and barrier beaches. Indoor attractions include Highfield Hall (56 Highfield Drive, 508-495-1878, www.highfieldhall.org, suggested admission $5) and the Museums on the Green (65 Palmer Ave., 508-548-4857, www.museumsonthegreen.org, guided tours $5). A restored stick-style Victorian mansion built by the Beebe family of Boston, Highfield offers changing art and history exhibitions, estate and garden tours, and walking trails through the 383-acre Beebe Woods. At Museums on the Green, you can stroll through Colonial gardens, tour two 18th-century houses with period furnishings, and view exhibits on whaling and maritime history. For a glimpse into the work being done by the world-renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, you can visit the Ocean Science Exhibit Center (15 School St., 508-289-2663, www.whoi.edu
/visitus, suggested donation $3). There’s more to learn about this maritime village at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium
(166 Water St., 508-495-2001, aquarium.nefsc.noaa.gov, free), with touch tanks and seal feedings.
The Falmouth Theatre Guild (58 Highfield Drive, 508-548-0400, www.falmouththeatre
guild.org) performs at the Highfield Theater from September to May. This season’s productions include “The Wizard of Oz,” “Striking Out,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and “How to Succeed in Business.” Traditional Irish music is usually on tap at Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub & Restaurant (237 Main St., 508-548-0285, www.liammaguiresirishpub.com), where the entertainer is sometimes none other than “Liam himself.” Other live music venues in this rockin’ town include the British Beer Co. (263 Grand Ave., 508-540-9600, www.britishbeer.com/falmouth) , Grumpy’s Pub (29 Locust St., 508-540-3930), and Casino Wharf FX (286 Grand Ave., 508-540-6160, www.casinowharffx.com). Check websites for schedules.