Cape Cod: 1-800-227-3263 or 1-508-760-9220 ♦ North Conway, NH: 1-800-752-2538 or 1-508-760-9240

(Originally published in The Boston Herald)

Planning a Cape Cod escape that covers all the great things the peerless peninsula has to offer? Skip the stress: Just find Yarmouth on the map and put a pin in it.

In the heart of the Cape, Yarmouth offers a seemingly endless variety of awesome summer experiences. From great places to stay, artwork to explore, lots of entertainment on tap, plenty of beach time and shopping time, you’ll find it all in one amazing town.

Located on the “elbow” of Cape Cod, Yarmouth is one of the few towns to have shores on both the north and south sides of the Cape. And while its central location means a jaunt to any spot on the Cape is easily doable, there’s so much in Yarmouth, why wander?

Summer is centered around the Sand Sculpture Tra il, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. From Memorial Day to Columbus Day, the trail features 33 sand sculptures dotting the Yarmouth area. Start your Sand Sculpture Trail trek by picking up a map at the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (424 Route 28, West Yarmouth), as well as at participating businesses. You can also view the map online at Y.armouthcapecod.com/sand-sculpture-trail-2018/.

It’s much like a treasure hunt. Each sculpture has its own theme and is located in a spot worth visiting. There’s a chance for you to be creative, too, with  photo contest you can learn about in that link. The Sand Sculpture Trail can serve as a base map for your experience in Yarmouth. Getting one at the visitor center will also give you a chance to chat with hosts, who can help you plan out all you want to do while in town.

There’s always something going on in Yarmouth, from the farmers market to a road race, and to·an arts and crafts festival and theater. Music is very much alive, with free concerts all summer long.

One of Yarmouth’s most popular events, now in its third year, is Agway of Cape Cod’s Paw Palooza, the Cape’s largest dog festival, this year from July 14-15. This extravaganza benefits the Cape’s two largest animal shelters, the MSPCA in Centerville and the Animal Rescue League’s Brewster shelter. The focus is on helping animals – and having fun – as in a radar run to see how fast your dog is (bragging strongly encouraged), puppy facials for dogs that love to be pampered and the extremely popular Dock Dogs jumping competition, a great event to enter your dog or to just cheer on the jumpers. While some of the dock dogs are master jumpers, novice dogs are welcome to compete.

The massive festival also includes a puppy pool pavilion; a “Doggie University” tent; a caricature artist; a lure course; an interactive agility course; a puppy spa zone with doggie massages; a raffle; a vendor fair with nearly 100 local and national companies; a doggie kissing booth; “Pupcasso” art-making for pups; face painting; a Kids Zone; food trucks; and tons of unique activities for dogs and their families. Admission is $7 (no charge for kids 12 and under). Oh, howl yeah.

It all takes place at Dennis Yarmouth High School (210 Station Ave., South Yarmouth) on July 14 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and July 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is totally family friendly. Learn more at pawpaloozacapecod.com. Golfers love Yarmouth as well. The Bass River Golf Course (62 Highbank Road, South Yarmouth) and Bayberry Hills Golf Course (635 W Yarmouth Road, West Yarmouth; golfyarmouthcapecod.com) are available for you to play a few rounds in beautiful spots for decent prices.

It goes without saying that the beach will be a centerpiece of your stay. At Seagull Beach (125 Seagull Road) in West Yarmouth, the town’s largest beach, you’ll find a bathhouse and showers, food concession stands, a large parking lot and excellent handicapped accessibility. Bass River Beach (South Shore Drive) in South Yarmouth offers mobile food concession stands, boat trailer parking, a boat ramp, a fishing deck for those who love to find fresh fish and a beautiful shoreline. There are many other beaches to fit your mood, whether you’re looking for a quiet spot or a busy, fun-filled swath of sand.

To experience the outdoors at its finest, go to Yarmouth nature preserves, such as the Bud Carter Conservation Area (Great Western Road between Joel Road and Weir Road), which features a trail with the highest point in Yarmouth.

There’s plenty of culture, including the Cape Cod Maritime Museum (135 South St., Hyannis), the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History (869 Main St./Route 6A, Brewster) and others:

At the center of it all is the Cultural Center of Cape Cod (307 Old Main St., South Yarmouth), a series of sprawling 18th century brick buildings that were former banks. The center offers instruction, entertainment and exhibitions in the visual, literary and performing arts. Its motto: All the arts for all of us. Its new education wing features a recording studio, pottery studio and more.

You’ll find book readings, concerts, art shows and a regular schedule of fascinating events. Learn more at cultural-center.org.

Where to stay is as simple as what to do when in Yarmouth. Everybody loves to visit – from families to couples to singles, from the young, to the young-at heart – and the town is in tune with this. There are places to stay that match every visitor.

And many great choices fall under the umbrella of Red Jacket Resorts, with five resorts spread throughout Yarmouth. Like the town itself, Red Jacket Resorts are great for all ages, with many multigenerational families choosing them year after year. And since four of the five Red Jacket Resorts in Yarmouth (Blue Water Resort, Green Harbor Resort, Red Jacket Beach Resort and Riviera Beach Resort) are directly on the ocean with private beaches, guests can walk on the beach, fish from the jetty, build sand castles and participate in dozens of planned activities.

The fifth of the Yarmouth’s Red Jacket Resorts (Blue Rock Resort) is located just a few miles from the ocean on the award-winning, 18-hole, par 3 Blue Rock Golf Course. But the secret is whenever you stay at any one of the five Yarmouth resorts, you have access to the amenities and activities of all five. Family favorites include beach parties with live bands, fishing derbies, magic shows, kite building and flying, a video gaming bus, live animal shows, photography workshops, circus workshops and scavenger hunts. Or take it down a notch with beach yoga, poolside bingo or a photography workshop.

You’ll also find a fully supervised Kids Club children’s program, which is included for resort guests whose children are ages 5 to 12. It runs from late June through August, which means a great chance for the kids to have fun and make new summer friends while the grown-ups visit the full-service spa or spend a  few peaceful hours relaxing on the beach (chairs, umbrellas and towels all provided, cocktail service also available). Learn more at redjacketresorts.com.

A summer trip to the Cape is a must, and there are so many “summer bucket list” experiences to be had while there. Yarmouth makes checking them off so simple. Learn more at yarmouthcapecod.com.

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