Mike Cohen travels to Cape Cod: Hyannis

Hyannis is a town made famous by the Kennedy family. The Kennedy Compound can be seen from afar and is always under tight security.

There are 100 miles of splendid public beaches in Barnstable County. On the quiet north side is Sandy Neck, an eight-mile-long barrier beach with dunes, beach grasses and marshlands alongside Cape Cod Bay; to the south are the warm waters of Nantucket Sound and popular Craigville Beach; Kalmus Beach, where windsurfing is available; Orrin Keyes or Sea Street Beach and sheltered Veterans Beach, which I personally would not recommend. A major summer highlight is the Barnstable County Fair (wwwbarnstablecountyfair.org), which takes place annually at the end of July. This is an extraordinary experience, featuring a variety of shows, exhibits, concerts, food, animals and carnival rides. The petting zoo and livestock displays are an experience, especially for the younger ones. They’ll also enjoy the 40-minute circus show. The large fairgrounds where this event takes place are in East Falmouth, a mere 11 miles from Hyannis. However, given the fact you must take one-lane Routes 28 and 151 to get there, the drive there will be very long unless you depart early.

Cape Cod (www.capecodchamber.org) is located in the midst of a major migration pattern for saltwater fish, which provides for a plenitude of fishing from early spring until late fall. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce really does a marvelous job promoting this area. Get a copy of their official guide before you start planning your trip. They also produce an excellent restaurant book (www.capecoddiningguide.com) and offer gift certificates for travel, dining and shopping.

In addition to the beaches, fishing, golf and kite flying, the Hyannis area has playgrounds, miniature golf courses, bike paths, tennis and racquetball clubs, windsurfing beaches and a bowling facility. There are amusement centers located on Main Street and Route 132. Be sure to allow some time to sample some of the area’s fine retail shops and art galleries and the very large Cape Cod Mall. In addition to the historic Hyannis Main Street Waterfront District, investigate the 100-plus stores in the climate-controlled Cape Cod Mall on Route 132. There is also Cape Town Plaza, Southwind Plaza, and Festival at Hyannis along the same route as well as the wonderfully imaginative Christmas Tree Promenade. The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is a multimedia exhibit designed to open a window into the days JFK spent on Cape Cod. The exhibit features over 80 photographs spanning the years 1934 to 1963 and is arranged in thematic groupings to reflect John F. Kennedy, his family, his friends and the Cape Cod he so dearly loved. In addition to photography, a video narrated by Walter Cronkite depicts the president’s experiences on the Cape. Several themed areas include charged oral histories of JFK’s friends.

Before you go, log on to www.kidsonthecape.com and check out the best guide for parents and grandparents available in the region. You can order a hard copy by mail, which I strongly recommend, allowing you to plan your trip accordingly. Copies are free once you arrive. Inside you will find a wide array of activities and attractions, such as the Cape Cod Children’s Museum (www.capecodchildrensmuseum.pair.org).