Barnstable and Hyannis

Sandy Neck and Sandy Neck Lighthouse as seen from a whale watch cruise out of Barnstable Harbor. Photo by Maggie Kulbokas.Sandy Neck and Sandy Neck Lighthouse as seen from a whale watch cruise out of Barnstable Harbor. Photo by Maggie Kulbokas.

About Barnstable and Hyannis

The Mid Cape town of Barnstable is comprised of several villages: Hyannis, Hyannis Port, Osterville, Centerville, Craigville, Cotuit, Marstons Mills, Barnstable and West Barnstable, Hyannis being the largest. Hyannis is also the largest town and economic center of Cape Cod.

Hyannis Harbor is bustling with activity--ferries to the islands, fishing and sailing charters as well as visitors to the JFK Monument and the HyArts Shanties. Main Street is home to shops, galleries, restaurants and night clubs. Hyannis Port, home to the Kennedy Compound, is a quiet & residential part of Hyannis.Craigville Beach on the Nantucket Sound, popular with younger people, is in neighboring Centerville.

Hyannis is a good choice for those who want to be centrally located and enjoy a bit of everything the Cape has to offer in an upbeat, popular location.

Barnstable is bucolic in comparison to Hyannis. Historic inns and antique shops line Route 6A in this north side town, which is also home to Sandy Neck Beach and Barnstable Harbor on the Cape Cod Bay.

History

Incorporated on March 5, 1638, Barnstable (pop. 45,193), named for Barnstaple in in England, was first settled as an agricultural community by the Reverends Hull and Lothrop from the North Shore. For several generations it remained this way until seafaring citizens settled in and industry turned to the sea.

The limelight shone on Hyannis Port during John F. Kennedy's presidency and the Kennendy Compound, although not open to the public, is still a popular sight to see from Hyannis Harbor aboard a ferry or other vessel.

The JFK Hyannis Museum on Main Street in Hyannis. Photo by Jane Booth.
A statue of President John F. Kennedy greets you outsite the JFK Hyannis Museum on Main Street in Hyannis. Photo by Jane Booth.

Beaches

Hiking & Biking

Barnstable has some wonderful conservation land set aside for your hiking enjoyment including Sandy Neck Great Salt Marsh Conservation Area and the West Barnstable Conservation Area.  

Mass. Audubon's Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Cummaquid is a popular location for nature lovers and bird watchers.

Armstrong-Kelley Park in Osterville is Cape Cod's oldest and largest privately-owned park, open to the public at no charge. The park is operated by the Cape Cod Horticultural Society.

For a true biking experience, head up to the Cape Cod Rail Trail which begins in Dennis and extends 22-miles into Wellfleet.  There are plans to expand the Cape Cod Rail Trail through Yarmouth into Barnstable.

Golf

Get your clubs out, golfers! Barnstable is home to several courses including two championship 18-hole public courses--the Hyannis Golf Course in Hyannis and the Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course in Barnstable.

Culture

Those who like history and the arts will love the villages of Barnstable. For history buffs, there are four historical societies, three of which have museums: Barnstable Historical Society, Centerville Historical Museum, Historical Society of Santuit and Cotuit and Osterville Historical Museum.  All offer walking tours, lectures and other special events throughout the year. 

Tales of Cape Cod hosts a fascinating lecture series in West Barnstable and the JFK Hyannis Museum in Hyannis, the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit and the Coast Guard Heritage Museum in West Barnstable are not to be missed.

If you are into entertainment and the arts, you are in the right place.  Hyannis's Main Street features clubs and restaurants with live entertainment and the Cape Cod Melody Tent draws big singers, bands and comedians each summer.  The Cotuit Center for the Arts in Cotuit and the Barnstable Comedy Club in Barnstable Village stage live shows throughout the year.

In Hyannis, you'll also find plenty to do as a family, from dining out to miniature golf, bowling, outdoor concerts and much more. And don't forget whale watching--Barnstable Harbor is one of only two harbors on the Cape where you can embark on a whale watch cruise (the other is Provincetown). And as with most Cape Cod towns, fishing charters leave most harbors daily.

Like several of the Cape's other towns, Hyannis is home to a Cape Cod Baseball League team--the Hyannis Harbor Hawks and Cotuit is home to the Kettleers.

Most of Barnstable's villages host their own festivals and everybody gets into the act come July 4th when there are parades and typically fireworks over Hyannis Harbor.

Hyannis, Barnstable and all the other villages also gets into the holiday spirit each year as inns, stores and restaurants open their doors to holiday visitors and of course, Santa who arrives at Hyannis Harbor every December.

Town Information