How to Avoid Traffic on Cape Cod

As Memorial Day approaches, we offer some tips for avoiding traffic snarls on Cape Cod, here on Route 6 in Wellfleet. Photo by Maggie Kulbokas.

Cape Cod is a wonderful place to visit and live. As we move into summertime, it’s worthwhile to consider how to negotiate the warmer months on the road, avoiding heavy traffic and using public transportation, including MA DOT, CCRTA and our new, exciting Cape Flyer rail service. These services prioritize “green” transportation, ride-sharing, and making your visit to the Cape less challenging and more fun!

The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) is one of 15 transit companies within Massachusetts, providing public transportation since 1976 for all 15 Cape Cod communities. It owns and operates the Hyannis Transportation Center and the CCRTA Operations and Maintenance Facility in South Dennis. CCRTA oversees fixed routes, demand response routes, and seasonal routes which employ buses, trolleys, shuttle services and door-to-door rides.

DART (Dial-A-Ride Transportation) is a daily general public demand response service. DART (formerly the 'b-bus') is door-to-door, ride by appointment transportation service and available to all Cape Cod residents and visitors for any purpose.

Folks with disabilities can use the ADA Paratransit Service

Cape Flyer Rail Service

The exciting fuel, time and traffic saving rail service from the Cape to Boston and back has arrived! Provided by MBTA and MassDOT, this summer weekend passenger train runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and you can even bring your bike with you!

Affordable, with free Wi-Fi, restrooms and concession stand. Tickets available via special app (please see website) prior to boarding, or on the train. The CapeFLYER also connects to ferries to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard via Hy-Line Cruises and The Steamship Authority. CapeFLYER is handicap accessible - learn more on the CapeFLYER website.

Hyannis Area Trolley

Beginning May 24, the Hyannis Area Trolley will be available free of charge from the Hyannis Transportation Center through the center of Hyannis to the Hyannis Harbor docks. Visitors are encouraged to take advantage of this free service.  Riders may catch the trolley at any scheduled stop or flag the driver down along the way.  See the trolley's schedule and route map here.

Traffic Tips

Pick up a FAST LANE pass to avoid traffic at the tolls – this can save lots of time and fuel.

Use back roads. Know any back roads that avoid rush-hour traffic? Go ahead and take them. Idling in traffic wastes time and gas. Ask a local for their top-secret shortcut!

In multi-lane traffic, choose the "lane of least resistance" – the lane with more consistent speed and less weaving in and out. This avoids unnecessary braking and changes in speed.

Don’t block intersections and avoid left turns wherever possible. Use a right turn and circle the block and save lots of time! In hot weather, use a beaded seat cover. By letting air flow behind and underneath you, the cover works amazingly well to keep you cool and non-sticky from your seat and clothes.

Get updates on traffic and road conditions that impact travel on Massachusetts roads via the MassDOT website.

Use MassDOT traffic resources available to assist motorists.  Before you travel, check the interactive, live traffic cam.

Real time traffic conditions are available here.

We hope these resources make your trip to beautiful Cape Cod even more memorable.

12,000 Years of Wampanoag History

Photo credit: Courtney Wittenstein

Cape Cod is one of the most important regions of Native American life in the United States. Centered in the town of Mashpee, the Wampanoag Tribe is the only registered Native American tribe on the Cape. Ramona Peters, a member of the Chief’s Circle, says, “Our ancestors are quite literally part of the soil of this land, therefore we are part of the soil of this land.”

With a history stretching back centuries, the Wampanoag are a vital part of the Cape’s cultural landscape. Trish Keliinui, the PR & Communications Manager, adds, “The Wampanoag Nation once included sixty-nine tribes. Presently, there are three remaining of the sixty-nine including the Mashpee, the Aquinnah (Gay Head) and Herring Pond.”

Despite this decline in numbers, Mashpee’s Wampanoag Tribe is thriving, thanks in large part to the Tribal Council’s extensive efforts to preserve their values and way of life. Jessie “Little Doe” Baird, the Vice Chairwoman of the Tribal Council, explains, “Our philosophy includes being mindful that the actions we take and the work we do now will have a direct effect on the seventh generation to come after us.”

Visitors interested in learning more about their enduring culture should check out the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum, the only museum in the country exclusively devoted to Wampanoag history. “Often times we are underestimated, however, we have existed for 12,000 years,” says Keliinui. From the Stone Age to present day, the museum highlights the rich indigenous culture and historical significance of the tribe. Baskets, tools, heirlooms, and weapons are all on display, as well as a large diorama depicting an early Wampanoag settlement, all of which allow visitors an in-depth look at the history of the tribe.

The Wampanoag are also an active member of the larger Cape community, organizing festivals and events throughout the year, including artisan festivals, Columbus Day lectures, and the annual Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow. “We keep our culture and traditions alive by simply continuing to practice them,” Peters says. At these events, visitors can enjoy traditional music and dances, hear stories and history, and purchase pieces from skilled Native American artists.

A particularly special event at the Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow is the naming of the Powwow Princess. One smart, driven, and qualified young lady is chosen to help represent the tribe for the next year. Keliinui explains, “A panel of Tribal members, including Tribal Elders and Clan Mothers, and on occasion past Princesses, conduct an interview including questions regarding Traditional leadership, present-day leadership, the importance of maintaining cultural values and future aspirations of the princess candidate, among other relevant discussion items.”

The town of Mashpee offers a variety of resources for visitors interested in learning more. “We do have a strong relationship with our local chamber of commerce where visitors often ask how to learn more about the Mashpee Wampanoag,” Peters explains. “They are able to provide points of interest and contacts to our offices.”

For Baird and her colleagues, the work of protecting and preserving Wampanoag culture will have a profound impact on the entire Cape community for generations to come. “We understand that Creation has given to us many privileges as well as responsibilities,” she says. “The earth, the sun, the moon, the wind, our waters, and all living beings, our language and understanding of the world are all privileges. We also recognize our responsibility to be stewards of these gifts and to take care of our sisters and brothers.”

The Cape's Most Decorated Chowder

Overlooking the picturesque Parker River in West Yarmouth, Captain Parker’s Pub has been serving up their famous, award-winning clam chowder since 1981. With walls decked out in local fire and police department patches and nostalgic sports memorabilia, Captain Parker’s is the epitome of a local New England Pub. Unlike many of its neighbors, Captain Parker’s is open year-round, and except for one blizzardy day in 2005, has been open every day since its opening.

The restaurant was even open during its expansion in 1985 when owner Gerry Manning decided it was time for Captain Parker’s Pub to graduate from a small bar to a full-scale restaurant. “Over thirty-seven years, we have evolved,” he explains. “It used to be a small local spot—a tavern with a tiny kitchen.”

A former Boston school teacher, Manning had originally envisioned that the restaurant would be seasonal. “I figured we would open in April and close in October and I would stay with teaching,” he remembers. “But back in 1981, there was a fiscal crisis leading to a huge layoff of almost 50% of Boston teachers.” Manning was among those laid off, and being young and single at the time, he decided to take a chance on opening a restaurant.

“I went down to the town hall, got a year-round license,” he reminisces. “The building didn’t even have heat. Friends of mine were masons, so we built a hearth and heated it with coal.” According to Manning, Captain Parker’s was able to “squeak by” the first winter with the help of a great kitchen crew and the support of regulars. Popularity increased, and by 1985, the small pub had expanded into a 130-seat restaurant.

That surge in popularity was due to the pub’s famous clam chowder. In quintessential New England style, this chowder has a thick and creamy consistency and is rich in flavor. “After the first spoonful, people are puzzled and wondering what that flavor is. After the second spoonful, it hits the taste buds again… and soon enough they’re scraping the bottom of the bowl,” Manning says. “It’s the chemistry and the process we have developed.” Surprisingly, Manning explains that there is no “secret ingredient” in this decadent chowder. “We don’t fly in a special herb from the South Pacific,” he quips. “We make it large quantities, but in small batches. And we only use good, fresh New England ingredients.”

Captain Parker’s chowder has won eighteen first place awards, including at Cape Cod Chowder Fest, Boston Chowder Fest, and Newport’s Great Chowder Cook-Off. The chowder has also been featured on Rachael Ray and was touted as the “best chowder in America” by Food Network. Captain Parker’s chowder a was also an answer on Jeopardy, which for Manning, might be the greatest honor of all. 

A Cabinet of Wonders: Inside the Edward Gorey House

Illustration from The Gashlycrumb Tinies | Courtesy of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust

One of Yarmouth Port's best-kept secrets, the quirky and unassuming Edward Gorey House, located just off Route 6A, is a house museum that celebrates and preserves the legacy of the famous illustrator Edward Gorey. Best known for his animated introductions to PBS Mystery! and self-authored and illustrated books like The Doubtful Guest and The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Gorey pioneered a distinctive style of pen and ink drawings that is simultaneously comical and unsettling.

Fun for kids and adults alike, the House offers docent-led tours, family activities and events, and unique exhibits. “The Edward Gorey House is a very unique museum about a very unique artist,” explains curator Gregory Hischak. “Edward was a gifted writer and artist who tackled very dark subject matter in a very light and amusing way—which is exactly how we strive to make the museum feel.”

Edward St. John Gorey was born in Chicago in 1925. A child prodigy, Gorey began drawing at the age of two. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he contributed illustrations to school publications, art shows, and Chicago newspapers. After graduating from Harvard in 1952, he accepted a position with Doubleday Anchor in New York City and quickly became recognized as a major commercial illustrator.

Gorey’s first book, The Unstrung Harp, was published in 1953 and is considered a major precursor to today’s graphic novel. Over the course of his long career, Gorey wrote more than one hundred books, the last of which was published in 1999, only one year before his death.

In 1979, Gorey purchased a two-hundred-year-old sea captain’s home in Yarmouth Port, where he began to live year-round in 1983. The house became a museum after his death. “The museum, which was formerly Edward’s house, reinvents itself yearly, each time to show another aspect of Edward's body of work,” Hischak says.

The 2017 exhibition, Edward Gorey's Cabinet of Curiosities, explores Gorey’s massive personal collection of objects, ranging from potato mashers and graters to toys, antiques, and other oddities. “This year, we have turned the House into a Wunderkammer of Edward’s collections,” Hischak says. “Edward collected a lot of stuff.” A sixteenth-century forerunner to the modern-day museum, a Wunderkammer (“cabinet of wonders” or “cabinet of curiosities”) consists of a highly unorganized collection of oddities, antiques, natural objects, and more.

The House’s Wunderkammer explores the objects that Gorey amassed during his years on the Cape—objects he found interesting, that stimulated his imagination, and that brought him joy.

Plan to spend an hour exploring the House and its grounds. “The most surprising thing about the House, for those who perceive Edward as a dark, gothic recluse is how bright and airy the House is, and how fun it is,” Hischak explains. “Not just in the changing exhibit but in the docent-led tours and such delights as The Gashlycrumb Tinies Scavenger Hunt—murderous fun for all ages!”

Sharks: Cape Cod's Other Summer Visitors

Pyjama Catshark | Photo by Andy Murch | Courtesy of the New England Aquarium

During the summer, tourists are not the only ones flocking to Cape Cod's shores. The waters off of many of Cape Cod's most popular beaches are feeding grounds for white sharks, who arrive each year in search of seals. While the region's shark population has historically inspired fear and suspicion--most notably immortalized in the iconic film Jaws--it also provides visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about these fascinating creatures.

As one of the ocean's top predators, sharks play a vital role in the marine ecosystem. But despite their fearsome reputation, most of Cape Cod's sharks are not a threat to humans. "There are more than five hundred species of sharks around the world, but 80% are four feet or shorter," explains Tony LaCasse, Media Relations Manager at Boston's New England Aquarium. "There hasn't been a shark death in Massachusetts in over eighty years. That was in 1936 when a boy from Dorchester was bitten while swimming off the coast of Mattapoisett. But he probably would have survived if he'd been bitten today, given medical advances since then."

For curious visitors, the Cape is the perfect place to explore the surprising science of sharks. Institutions like Chatham's Atlantic White Shark Conservatory, Brewster's Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, and Wellfleet's Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary offer educational programs throughout the summer for kids and families aimed at dispelling myths about sharks and raising awareness of both their importance and the danger they face.

"Sharks are in great peril," LaCasse says. "This is in part a function of vilification and commercial exploitation. Unlike other fish species, which lay from thousands to millions of eggs at a time, it is difficult for sharks to reestablish their populations because they only give birth to a handful of offspring at a time."

These efforts at widespread education are paying off. "There has been a huge change in public attitudes. A couple of years ago, there was a white shark stranded near Chatham, and over one hundred people dug a trench in an effort to pull the animal back into the water. It was remarkable," LaCasse says. "The Outer Cape is home to the National Seashore. Now that people are realizing that we're not on the menu, the wildlife in the region has almost become an attraction in and of itself."

For the safety of both beachgoers and sharks, visitors should always follow a few basic guidelines. Stay at least one hundred and fifty feet away from seals at all times, swim close to shore, and avoid swimming alone, particularly at dawn or dusk. Thanks to a joint effort by the National Seashore, municipal and state governments, and the Atlantic White Shark Conservatory, shark advisory signs are conspicuously posted at beaches throughout the region and online, outlining basic facts and safety tips. 

Tech-savvy visitors can also consider downloading the Conservatory's new Sharktivity App, a free resource that tracks shark sightings in real time.

With education, awareness, and a bit of common sense, humans and sharks can co-exist peacefully and enjoy Cape Cod's beaches together.

Gods & Goddesses at the Provincetown Carnival

Photo by Dan McKeon

The Provincetown Carnival is one of the largest outdoor celebrations in Massachusetts. From August 12-18, visitors and locals alike can celebrate LGBTQ life with a town-wide festival. An annual tradition in its 39th year, this weeklong event is serious business for the town, especially when it comes to the theme. “The selection of the theme is a very hot topic in town,” says Robin Lapidus, Executive Director of the Provincetown Business Guild.

This year’s theme is Gods & Goddesses, and Lapidus says it’s a great way to see how creative people can get. People are encouraged to dress up as their own interpretations of deities, not just from the Greek pantheon, but from religions all over the world. “We should see a pretty wide berth of costumes and building decorations,” she says. Vikings, Hindu gods, and more than a few depictions of Jesus will be there, ready to celebrate. “We know that we will see some really interesting views on gods and goddesses.”

A huge LGBTQ event, the Carnival is a place where locals and visitors alike can party and feel welcome. “It’s everybody. It’s not just the people in the parade, it’s people in their businesses and along the street,” says Lapidus. “People say that it’s their favorite day.”

From floats to buildings, the whole town decorates for the event. The parade is always a major production; beyond just the people in costumes, there are elaborate floats cruising down the street, drag queens giving performances, and plenty of houses and businesses get in on the action. “I think over time the décor has changed from a float in the parade to a façade on a building,” she explains. “And we’re not talking about a few twinkle-lights.” Banners, inflatable decorations, and so much more can be found adorning the town’s local buildings.

But the Provincetown Carnival is more than just the parade. “The parade is the thing that most people make sure they’re in town to see, but really the festival starts before that,” says Lapidus. There are events going on all over town, from boat cruises to Broadway shows to 21+ pool parties, and everything will follow the Gods & Goddesses theme. “We are having a toga party, which we’re hoping will be the biggest toga party ever.”

Next year’s theme is still tightly under wraps, but it’s sure to be spectacular. “We announce the theme with the final float in the parade.” She says, “For our 40th anniversary, we’ve been thinking of bringing back all the themes.”

Cape Cod’s Hydrangeas

Photo courtesy of Heritage Museum & Gardens

Cape Cod summers come alive in a kaleidoscope of violet, pink and white when hydrangeas are in full bloom. From coastal resorts, to town squares, to local cottages, these gorgeous balls of soft color remind visitors how magical Cape Cod truly is.

Festivals in towns across the Cape celebrate these blooms, but few places take hydrangeas as seriously as Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich, who even have their own Display Garden and Test Garden.

The Test Garden not only appeals to visitors, but is scientifically designed for prime growing conditions. Water features bubble merrily while guests stroll down stone steps and shell walkways, surrounded by an unprecedented variety of hydrangeas and other perennial flowers.

“We’ve really done well here at Heritage,” says Mal Condon, Curator of Hydrangeas at Heritage Museums & Gardens. As President of the Cape Cod Hydrangea Society and a hydrangea grower for over forty years, he’s one of the many experts happy to dispense wisdom on the plants biology and care. “What we’re doing in the Test Garden is making stronger, reblooming hydrangeas.” 

There are certain breeds that flower later in the season, and they’ve been trying to hybrid them. “This way if a frost or something knocks them out early, they’ll come back,” he says.

For the recreational gardener who is lucky enough to live in a climate that supports hydrangeas, there’s also Hydrangea University, where students learn about the best way to care for these plants at home. According to Condon, “Hydrangeas are fairly easy to grow and do not need much fertilizer.”

Condon recommends that home gardeners should first know the kind of hydrangea they are growing. “The key thing people need to identify is that there are six major species, and 95% of the time people only ask about hydrangea macrophylla. It doesn’t like it hot, it doesn’t like it cold. That’s why they do so well on the Cape. Not that the others don’t grow well here, but these really seem to dominate.”

“They are by far the most significant commercial species, with their great blooms forms, color, character, and likeability,” says Condon. “And, they are especially popular here on Cape Cod, with our typically moderate maritime coastal climate.”

Another common question is how to influence hydrangea blooms from shades of pinks to shades of blue, which relates directly to soil acidity. Condon says, “It only occurs in two species; macrophylla and serrata. Adding aluminum in the soil generates blue blooms. If the soil is sweet, it’d be very easy to get pinks, because it’s harder for the plants to drink up the aluminum in the soil.”

The Ultimate Guide to Cape Cod Summer Theater

Kiss Me Kate | The Monomoy Theatre

Cape Cod is perhaps as synonymous with the arts as it is with beaches and mini golf. Home to a thriving community of writers, painters, actors, and other artists, the Cape boasts plenty of outlets for visitors looking for a creative excursion. Theater is among the most accessible and family-friendly options for summer travelers.

Over two dozen professional and community theaters are scattered throughout the Cape's towns and villages. Together, they offer a busy summer schedule of productions that range from Broadway-caliber musicals and children's shows to original works and cutting-edge drama, all characterized by diversity, professionalism, passion, and ingenuity - and without the Broadway price tag. Whether a lifelong theater lover or simply a curious traveler looking for an artistic afternoon, visitors of any background or level of interest will find something to enjoy.

Cotuit Center for the Arts - Cotuit

With offerings that range from classes and galleries to concerts and theater, the Cotuit Center for the Arts celebrates the full scope of artistic practice. Theater at the Center is varied and combines an intimate setting with some of the finest local and national performers to produce a unique experience. "You can't see stars of this caliber for these prices on Broadway as up close and personal as you'll see them here," explains Marketing Manager Daniel Fontneau.

Visitors have two live theater options to choose from: the main stage and the Black Box Theater. On the main stage this summer, the Center is presenting the Sondheim classic, Sunday in the Park with George (July 6 – 30) as well as the Broadway at Cotuit Series, which will feature performances from Broadway stars Chita Rivera (July 17), Megan Hilty (July 31), and Sutton Foster (August 16). The Black Box Theater, on the other hand, presents edgier and innovative material in a newly-renovated theater with seating for only about two dozen. 

Monomoy Theatre - Chatham

Given the high-quality performances and professional mindset of the performers, visitors unfamiliar with Chatham’s Monomoy Theatre may be surprised to learn that the cast consists primarily of students. The Theatre serves as a training ground for young theater artists who, along with professional directors and seasoned actors working alongside them, bring an exceptional level of passion and enthusiasm to the Theatre’s performances.

The Monomoy Theatre produces eight shows every summer, ranging from musicals to Shakespeare to contemporary hits. “I think the most unique aspect of the Monomoy Theatre is the repertoire of plays we represent,” says Artistic Director Alan Rust. “We’re fortunate to be in a community that appreciates and encourages us to present a wide selection of dramatic literature ranging from popular and classic musicals to contemporary comedies to classical works.” This summer, highlights include the hilarious A Flea in Her Ear (July 18 – 22), the musical 110 in the Shade (July 27 – 29 and July 31 – August 5), and George Bernard Shaw’s classic comedy, Candida (August 8 – 12).

Cape Rep Theatre - Brewster

Located on the grounds of the beautiful Nickerson State Park in Brewster, the Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster presents creative, engaging, and family-friendly productions from both the traditional repertoire and from the original work of local playwrights. The Theatre has occupied the grounds of the former Camp Monomoy since 1992 and after decades of community fundraising, has restored four historic buildings, offering visitors a chance to experience excellent theatre in a highly unique setting.

This summer, the Indoor Theatre will present the new comedy, Men on Boats (June 22 – July 22) and the Tony Award-winning Elton John musical, Billy Elliot: The Musical (August 2 – 27). The Cape Rep Theatre also maintains the only outdoor theater on Cape Cod and produces daily children’s shows throughout the summer and frequently hosts concerts and other special events.

Cape Playhouse - Dennis

The Cape Playhouse in Dennis is the oldest professional theater on the Cape and is synonymous with Broadway in the region. Throughout its ninety-one seasons, many famous Broadway and Hollywood stars have performed on the Playhouse’s stage, including Bette Davis, Gertrude Lawrence, Humphrey Bogart, Julie Harris, and both Henry and Jane Fonda.

Perfect for visitors seeking a traditional theater experience without the expense or hassle of Broadway, the Playhouse produces productions of equal caliber to their New York City counterparts. Highlights from the 2017 season include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (July 11 – 22), Red (July 25 – August 5), and Gypsy (August 8 – 19).

Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater - Wellfleet

At the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, visitors will find a unique program of innovative modern works. One of a handful of professional theaters in the area, WHAT specializes in thought-provoking and cutting-edge productions, frequently premiering new works by up-and-coming playwrights that draw on the local Cape Cod setting.

WHAT is a great destination for visitors seeking a fresh perspective on theater, while the WHAT for Kids productions are perfect for families. On the main Julie Harris Stage, this season features Painting Churches (June 15 – July 9) and the highly-anticipated world premiere of The Empaths (July 20 – August 19), while What for Kids’ clever interpretation of the Cinderella story, Colony of the Cats (July 12 – August 24), is a fun and cost-effective way to introduce kids to live theater.

A Festival for the Dogs on Cape Cod

Any dog can register to try DockDogs

For the chance to celebrate dogs and have a blast, head over to Yarmouth on July 15th and 16th for Paw Palooza. The largest dog festival on the Cape, families can bring their dogs for a day of fun like none other. “Think of it as the Barnstable County Fair for your dog,” says Jessica Thomas, co-owner of Agway of Cape Cod and one of the primary organizers. “It’s a great event for families and kids to bring their dog and give them a big blast of a time.”

The festival’s main event is the DockDogs Competition, which is open for any dog to try. “DockDogs is a sanctioned canine sport that travels all over,” Thomas explains. Consisting of a 45-foot dock and 45-foot pool, dogs compete to see who can jump the furthest, highest, and longest.

The dogs have a blast doing it, as win or lose, there’s nothing more fun than getting to jump after a toy and land in a pool on a hot day. “It’s so amazing to see these dogs,” she recalls. “They are so happy and in the zone. I tried it out to see what my dog would do, and he ended up winning second in the whole competition!”

While only its second year, Paw Palooza is quickly becoming a tradition for dog lovers across the Cape. “Last year we had several hundred dogs and 6,000 people,” she says. An open event for dogs and humans alike, entertainment includes show rings where K9 dogs put on demonstrations of their various training, as well as frisbee dogs showing off amazing tricks.

The festival offers everything from handmade collars to gourmet dog food from the wide range of vendors, or dogs can indulge in facials, massages, ice cream, play areas, and even PupCasso art making. Humans, on the other hand, can enjoy crafts, food trucks, inflatable zones for kids, and tons of shopping. “Anyone can come,” Thomas says. “We just ask that your dog be socialized, on a leash, and vaccinated.”

Perhaps the best part of giving the dogs a grand day out is the chance to also help dogs in need. All the net proceeds from the event goes to the MSPCA in Centerville and Animal Rescue League in Brewster. “The biggest piece of Paw Palooza is actually that we wanted a way to raise funds for our local animal shelters,” says Thomas. “It’s just a big win all around.”

Spend a Day at the Ballgame

Photograph by Sportspix

A warm summer afternoon spent at a baseball game is a beloved tradition for many American families. But in the age of crowded mega stadiums and sky-high ticket prices, it can be rare to find a chance to experience the fun and charm of a family baseball outing. But on the Cape, visitors will find a unique combination of small-town fun and world-class baseball unlike any other. "It really is a Norman Rockwell setting," says Cape Cod Baseball League Commissioner Paul Galop.

The Cape Cod Baseball League was founded in 1885. During the first half of the twentieth century, the League was dominated by local and regional players, as well as by GIs returning from World Wars I and II. Today, the CCBL is the top collegiate summer league in the United States, attracting players and scouts from across the country. Over 1,000 CCBL alumni have gone on to play for the MLB, including Nomar Garciaparra, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Pena, and Mark Texeira.

With ten teams playing at fields across the Cape and a busy schedule of games throughout the summer, the League is easily accessible for locals and visitors in any region. It is the high quality of the games, however, that attracts such a loyal following. "These teams are minor league quality. Some of these kids could step right into a major-league lineup," Galop says. "The fans keep coming back. We get calls all winter asking about when the all-star game is. People are making their vacations around our schedule."

For those unfamiliar with the League, it may come as a surprise to learn that all CCBL games are free and open to the public, which makes the League a rarity among major and amateur leagues alike. "Most of the other leagues charge some sort of admission, but we never have," Galop says. "It's just what we believe in. It's important to us that it's a wholesome family environment. People can bring some pizza and come and go as they please."

The League relies heavily on a devoted cadre of volunteers, which Galop credits as one of the League's greatest strengths. The volunteers make the League," he says. "We have so many volunteers who give up their time to work concessions stands and serve as announcers. Many even serve as house parents and open their homes to our players for the season."

For Galop, the human connections that the League fosters between players, volunteers, coaches, and the community make the CCBL particularly special. "One of my favorite things about the League is the loyalty of the players," he says. "It's an incredible feeling when one of our former players calls his house parents and lets them know that there are tickets waiting for them at Fenway Park. We get invitations to baptisms and weddings--these things that most people don't know about really set the League apart."

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