Barnstable tends to confuse many people, particularly those new to Cape Cod. Why? Because there’s a Barnstable County, a Town of Barnstable and a Barnstable Village.
Here’s the rundown on that: Barnstable County is composed of all fifteen Cape Cod towns – it is, in fact, the Cape – and one of these is the Town of Barnstable, which is also the county seat. The town has seven villages, one of which is Barnstable Village. And there you have it!
In this post, my focus is the Town of Barnstable, the largest community in Cape Cod, both in terms of physical size as well as population.
A Bit of History
Incorporated in 1639, Barnstable is among the country’s most historic towns. By the late 1800s, it had become a world-famous tourist destination – and it remains so to this day. Some of the most prominent personalities to have spent their summers here include former Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port is one of the most visible and enduring legacies of the late president and the Kennedy family.
Barnstable is a truly unique community that anyone would be proud to call home – or second home. As with most other Cape Cod towns, Barnstable is bursting with upscale vacation properties and real estate here is amongst the most sought-after in the area.
The seven villages that make up Barnstable offer their own unique charm and attractions, and each one is quintessentially Cape Cod. Here’s a quick look at each of them:
Barnstable Village is located along Route 6A, on the north side of Barnstable town. Walking along Main Street will take you back to the days of colonial Cape Cod, thanks to the many historic structures that still proudly stand here. Two of the oldest are the Olde Colonial Courthouse and the Sturgis Library, which were built in 1774 and 1644, respectively. There are also charming relics from other eras, such as the Barnstable Comedy Club, a community theater that has been running since 1922. This theater presents four main shows every season, including musicals, plays, and events.
Sitting on the southern side of Barnstable town, Centerville is the very picture of a classic Cape Cod village. This predominantly residential area is packed with beaches, including Craigville Beach, Covell Beach, and Long Beach, where locals and tourists flock to swim, sunbathe, and marvel at the sunsets. It’s the kind o town where people walk around in comfortable clothes and enjoy hot pizzas and ice cream sundaes from long-time neighborhood staples.
Cotuit is primarily residential and has a thriving art scene. It’s home to quite a few art institutions, such as The Cotuit Center for the Arts, which regularly holds performances, lectures, workshops, and exhibitions. The Cahoon Museum of American Art displays the artworks of Ralph and Martha Cahoon, Cape Cod’s most popular folk artists. Looking for a good read? Head to Isaiah Thomas Books & Prints, which sells a variety of used and rare books.
Hyannis is the economic center of Barnstable and is well known for its affiliation with the Kennedy family. In addition to the six-acre Kennedy Compound, you will also find the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum on Main Street, which was founded to celebrate the life of the late president. The village also boasts beautiful beaches – Kalmus Beach, Sea Street Beach, and Veterans Beach. Kalmus Beach is a renowned wind surfing spot, while Veterans Beach features memorials for John F. Kennedy and the veterans and heroes of the Korean War.
Located on Route 28, Marstons Mills is a quiet and secluded residential area. Its main attractions are its less crowded waterfronts, found along Mystic Lake, Middle Pond, and Hamblin Pond. Mystic Lake and Middle Pond are two large ponds connected to each other, while Hamblin Pond is a small beach area off Route 149. If you’re into something more exciting, you can try the free-falling activities offered by Cape Cod Airfield and Skydive Barnstable.
Osterville is a residential village that’s popular for its outdoor activities, particularly boating, fishing, and swimming. Residents and guests flock to Dowses Beach to chill and to Armstrong-Kelley Park for their daily exercise. The village has its own library and museum, the Osterville Village Library and the Osterville Historical Society Museum.
On the north side of Barnstable town is West Barnstable. This historic village is home to the Congregational Meetinghouse, a New England meetinghouse established in 1717. You can also find The Old Village Store, a 19th century grocery store that now sells food, drinks, and supplies. Sandy Neck Beach is a popular destination as well. This conservation area is defined by low sand dunes and salt marshes and is home to several endangered species, including the piping plover.
Barnstable is a great choice for a home in Cape Cod. I can help you find the home and the community that will best suit your needs and preferences. Call me at 508 429-9115 or email me at jack(at)jackcotton(dotted)com anytime.