Everyone loves a day at the beach, but, very few people enjoy sitting in traffic for hours to get there. Summer weekends in Boston find many families waiting in traffic on their way to the sunny beaches of Cape Cod or the North Shore – a fun day can quickly turn into an ordeal. Families on vacation or college tours in Boston often miss out on seeing the Cape because of worries about how long the trip will take.
For many years, the only public transportation options from Boston to the Cape have been buses (which also get stuck in traffic) or boats. This year, however, families that want to visit Cape Cod without a car have a new choice: the Cape Cod Flyer train service from Boston to Hyannis, the gateway to Cape Cod. After a 25 year absence, it is great to have train service available to the Cape from downtown Boston.
The Cape Cod Flyer runs from Boston’s South Station to Hyannis on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings with return trips available Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings between Memorial Day and September 2nd. Trains to Hyannis will also run the evening of Wednesday July 3. The roundtrip fare is $35. Kids age 5 and under and pets travel for free. Free Wi-Fi is available on board. Bikes can also come along for no charge. The schedule allows for weekend getaways or day trips. Intermediate stops are also made at Braintree, Middleborough and Buzzard’s Bay.
The ride lasts about two hours and 15 minutes, which is probably less time that it would take to drive on a Friday night or in Saturday morning beach traffic. Upon arrival at Hyannis, free shuttles will make connections to the HyLine Cruises dock for ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, as well as fishing boats and Harbor Cruises. Connections to other ferries can also be made from the Buzzard’s Bay stop. Bus service to most of the rest of the Cape originates at the Hyannis Transportation Center where the train arrives.
If you are making a daytrip or a quick weekend getaway, plan to stay in Hyannis where there is lots to do with kids, teens and tweens. We recommend bringing bikes or taking advantage of the free Main Street Shuttle . It is less than a 2 mile bike ride from the Transportation Center to the Hyannis Veterans Beach or the Kalmus Park Beach. The Shuttle makes connections to hotels and shopping easy. Daily and weekly bike rentals are available at the Bike Zone. And of course, taxi cabs are always available.
Besides the beach, Hyannis is a hub for all sorts of activities and family fun. Whale watches depart from Barnstable with Hyannis Whale Watch Cruises. For pirate fans, the Sea Gypsy takes kids ages 3-10 on a swashbuckling treasure hunting voyage around Hyannis Harbor. Helen H Deep Sea Tours in Hyannis caters to families with a range of custom charter fishing operations as well as its Kids Sea-Fari tour led by marine naturalists. Cape Code Duckmobile tours leave from Hyannis as well.
Afterwards, walk and shop in the Hyannis Main Street area which boasts more than a half dozen ice cream and candy shops. The Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory tour is another must do! The teens love those chips. There are plenty of family friendly hotels in and around downtown Hyannis so it makes a great base camp for exploring the Cape for a day or weekend without a car. If you take the Cape Cod Flyer, let us know what you think!
Photos courtesy Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism