My mother always counseled us not to have a nervous breakdown in August. “That’s when all the psychiatrists go on vacation,” she explained. If you needed medical guidance in the month before Labor Day, she added, your best shot was to hang out on the beaches of Cape Cod and the Islands, because that’s where they all went.
When it comes to mental health, the windswept, sandy stretches along Cape Cod’s National Seashore and its charming seaside villages like Sandwich, Wellfleet and Dennis are not a bad idea — M.D.s or no M.D.s. The Cape’s shady lanes and shimmering ponds may resemble the Hamptons, but the Cape is very much a New England escape: relaxed and casual, a place where you can wear your sport fishing T-shirt to a chamber music concert or a weekend minyan.
August is crowded, of course, but for good reason. That’s when the ocean finally warms up to a pleasant bathing temperature, the downtowns bustle with festive activity, and a full calendar of events keeps even the most restless vacationer occupied with concerts and fireworks.
The Cape is large and diverse enough to offer seclusion for those who seek it out — retiring villages like Cotuit, Sandwich and Wellfleet are ideal for this — as well as action for shoppers and socialites in towns like Hyannis and Provincetown. Do some research before choosing a home base: Do you prefer wild, crashing waves of the exposed Lower Cape or calm, warm bayside waters? Staying further out offers greater access to the National Seashore parks and beaches, but less convenience to the Upper Cape’s myriad villages and island ferries.
The Cape is particularly ideal for family vacations. You can pack up the car and go, without the ferry reservations required for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, though these islands are a short passenger ferry away for day-tripping (the 45-minute ride is just $15 for adults and $8 for kids roundtrip; stunning water views are free). Beaches, harbors and more than 100 hiking and biking trails around the Cape allow for plenty of low-impact outdoor recreation like fishing, bird watching and sailing.
And the Cape’s size means a range of affordable lodging options, many priced specially for families with children. This year has proven particularly tough for the tourism industry; check the website of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, listed below, for last-minute specials and package deals.
For instance, among the value packages offered this summer by the Corsair and Cross Rip Oceanfront Resorts in Dennisport is a “Family & Beach” vacation. Less than $1,700 for a family of four includes weeklong accommodations, beach toys, a movie night with pizza, a half-day bike rental, a harbor cruise, whale watching or a daytrip to Martha’s Vineyard.
Jewish visitors will be flocking to Truro in next month, where the Second Annual Yiddish Theatre and Klezmer Music Festival will take place from Aug. 14-18 at the Payomet Performing Arts Center.
The busy schedule features nightly concerts, lectures, films, plays — and of course, opportunities to schmooze over bagels and coffee. Highlights include Klezmer concerts by the acclaimed Andy Statman Trio and violinist Alicia Svigals, as well as a talk with Nahma Sandrow, a leading translator of Yiddish theater; a screening of “Yiddish Theatre – A Love Story”; a performance by the a cappella quartet “Western Wind”; and Isaiah Sheffer, of NPR and Symphony Space fame, with Eleanor Reissa in concerts of Yiddish music.
The Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival fills the month of August with the sublime sounds of Beethoven, Faure, Franck and other favorites. Beginning on Aug. 2, the festival holds three weeks of concerts in Provincetown, Cotuit, Wellfleet and Dennis, with various instrumental combinations and first-rate players from around the world.
This year’s lineup is headlined by the Israeli violinist Carmit Zori; other performers include Israeli cellist Amit Peled, a champion of Jewish music, and the Tokyo String Quartet, as well as a performance of original music by young composer Lowell Liebermann, played by Liebermann himself on piano.
Around the Cape and the Islands, weekly outdoor concerts and movies are a summer tradition on a humbler scale, inviting locals to sprawl on blankets and bring a family picnic. Concerts are held on Thursday evenings in Buzzards Bay Park in Bourne, and on Sunday evenings, alternating between Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, on Martha’s Vineyard, where the Vineyard Haven Band carries on a tradition begun by Civil War veterans in 1868. On Wednesday evenings at dusk, movies are shown at Peg Noonan Park in Falmouth.
Yiddish Theater and Klezmer Music Festival:
Cape Cod travel resources/information:
Last minute accommodation deals:
Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival:
Bourne summer concerts: (508) 759-6000
Vineyard Haven Band park concerts:
(508) 645-3458 or www.vineyardhavenband.org