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Cape Cod And The Islands. Tourism And Vacations. Some History Of Cape Cod, Nantucket, And Marthas Vineyard.

Updated on April 9, 2013

Cape Cod And The Islands

Cape Cod and the Islands is the most visited vacation destination in the United States during the summer months. With beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery Cape Cod offers one of the most relaxing and inspiring vacation destinations in the country.

Besides the wonderful scenery Cape Cod has working windmills and cranberry bogs, culture, festivals and events, kayaking, canoeing, golfing, biking trails, hiking trails, museums, and wonderful theatre productions.

Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are affectionately known as the Islands in New England. With an intriguing history as well as gorgeous landscapes The Islands are sure to provide you and your family a relaxing and exciting vacation.

History Of Cape Cod

America's history started on the shores of New England. The Pilgrims landed in America on the lower tip of Cape Cod. This is where they found water and food. It is also the first time the pilgrims engaged the natives that were already living there. It did not take long for the pilgrims to realize that the land was very sandy and they would have a tough time sustaining themselves. This was when they set out across the bay to land and establish Plymouth.

Through the following twenty years settlers emigrated North and South of Plymouth founding the towns of Sandwich, Barnstable, and Yarmouth all which were founded in 1639. The colonists hunted, farmed, and fished; they used the hay from the local marshes to feed their livestock and even used it too thatch their roofs.

Cape Cod's existence has always depended on the sea. Many years has gone by with all sorts of fishermen looking to earn a living have been drawn to the waters off Cape Cod. Even today many people flock to the beaches for a variety of reasons from water sports to fishing.

The pioneers soon cleared the forests to make room for farmland and grazing pastures. The Wampanoag Indians befriended the pilgrims and showed them how to live off the land. The Indians also taught them how to strip the blubber from whales that found themselves stranded on the beaches.

Cape Cod Tourism

By the middle of the 18th century, there was a shortage of whales close to shore which hit the local economy hard. By the turn of the century Cape Cod had started creating interest in tourism. In 1848 the first rail service made its way to Cape Cod, by 1873 the rail reached all the way to Provincetown.

In 1914 the Cape Cod Canal was built with private funds linking the Bay to the Sound. In 1928 with money from the Federal Government and labor from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the canal was rebuilt. In the 1930's three bridges were erected, two for traffic and one for the railroad that created an explosion of tourism on Cape Cod.

President John F. Kennedy, spent his summers in Hyannis Port, which added an extra incentive for tourists. It was in 1961 that President Kennedy signed legislation that created the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Even though tourism is the foundation of Cape Cod's economy there are still 100 farms as well as a thriving fishing industry.

There are still many residents who are involved in lobstering, scalloping, and oyster aquaculture. Provincetown and Chathambring in over $2 million a month through their fishing fleets.

Martha's Vineyard History

Martha's Vineyard is an island just southeast of the coast of Massachusetts, it is twenty five miles long with a width of about seven miles. It has a year round population of about fifteen thousand. Once a primary port in the whaling industry the Island is now used primarily as a vacation destination.

Before being settled by Europeans, the island was inhabited by the Wampanoag Indian tribe. There are still many native Wampanoags living in Aquinnah. The name Martha's Vineyard came from an Englishman who landed on the shores in 1602. He named the Island after his daughter as well as the wild grapes he found growing on the Island.

The Island was settled in 1642, there were still around three thousand Indians still living on the Island at the time. Many of these natives succumbed to disease brought over by the settlers.

In the 1800's sailors from the Islands conducted whaling expeditions on a global basis. Nantucket was known for shipbuilding while Martha's Vineyard was known for providing the crews and shore service to support the ships. great mansions was built on the Island with profits from the whaling ships.

The competition from kerosene versus whale oil led to the decline of the industry all together. Fortunately, the Island was entering a new phase. In 1858 a religious revival was held on the Island drawing many people from the mainland. It did not take long for the word to spread about what a beautiful and serene Island was lying off the coast. It did not take long for people to visit the Island for other reasons beyond theological.

In 1969, Senator Edward Kennedy was involved in an accident at Chappaquiddick that created a resistance to his political ambition. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis purchased some land on the island in 1978, and her son John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash off Aquinnah in 1999.

There is an old firehouse in Oak Bluffs which is now home to the Martha's Vineyard Center for the Visual Arts. The Flying Horses Carousel is the country's oldest operating platform carousel and a National Historic Landmark.

The Old Whaling Church, built in Edgartown in 1843, is considered as one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in New England. The Martha's Island Historical Society has possession of three lighthouses, Gay Head, Edgartown, and East Chop, all of which are kept completely functional.

Martha's Vineyard Tourism

Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful island with its rural towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury, and the more populous towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.

Whether you are looking for natural pristine beaches and clay cliffs or you enjoy bird watching you will enjoy the island. You will also find many historical and cultural attractions.

There are several places to find fine dining and some of the world's best accommodations. You can enjoy diverse outdoor activities or browse the galleries of local artists, handcrafts and one-of-a-kind boutiques, Martha's Vineyard will satisfy your urges and much more.

Martha’s Vineyard is a premium location for a lovely wedding and honeymoon, as well as a welcome retreat from the everyday grind of daily life.

The Vineyard can also accommodate corporate meetings and executive retreats, providing state of the art technology to cover anything you might need.

Whether you visit Martha’s Vineyard for a day or longer, if you find yourself there for business or pleasure, or even if you are planning on spending the summer or move here permanently you will find this Island very enjoyable and you are sure to enjoy your stay.

Nantucket History

The name, Nantucket Island comes from the Indians which means “The Faraway Land”. The Island is located thirty miles off the coast of Cape Cod. The area of the island is fourteen miles long and three and one half miles wide. Forty percent of the Island has been set aside for conservation with pristine beaches open to the public to enjoy.

Nantucket has an interesting history. In 1602, Bartholomew Gosnold from England was the first person who noticed the Island. In 1659 it was settled and between the years 1750 through 1840, Nantucket was one of the largest whaling ports in North America.

The whaling industry slowed down in the 1880's turning Nantucket into a favorite vacation destination. People were drawn to the natural beauty of the island as well as the finest attractions, accommodations and restaurants.

Nantucket is the only place in North America that uses the same name for the island, town, and county. It has a year round population of ten thousand which increases to close to sixty thousand during the summer months

Nantucket Tourism

The Island has a grand celebration on the Fourth of July with all kinds of events held on the beautiful cobble-stoned Main street. The evening draws the crowd to Jetties Beach to watch the incredible fireworks display.

You will find the Island much quieter and laid back in the off season. Tourists still find their way to the Island to enjoy the fine dining, charming lodging and historical sites which are open to the public.

There are several ways to get yourself onto Nantucket Island year round whether it be by ferry boat or plane service. There is a seasonal shuttle system set up for visitors so the need to bring personal vehicles over is not necessary.

You will enjoy miles of well maintained bike paths. You will also find many town owned beaches and gorgeous harbours for moorings which will enrich your Island experience.

Enjoy the beautiful sunsets of Madaketor or visit the charming small village of Siasconset. There are some beautiful landscapes, historic homes and sprawling beaches to heighten your enjoyment of your vacation time spent on Nantucket Island.


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    • attemptedhumour profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Having not made it to the us as yet Cape Cod sounds like the ideal place to start, i love history and enjoyed reading your hub. cheers

    • Honeysuckle Hill profile image

      Honeysuckle Hill 

      8 years ago from West Barnstable, MA USA

      Thank you for an excellent write up on visiting the Cape.

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      New England is one of my favorite places to visit... but I still haven't been to Cape Cod or the islands. Someday, I hope.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 

      8 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Wow, that is a good hub! So well researched and written. I'm wondering how do you embed your photos in there like that? Is there a hub on the procedure that I could read? If you come across some instructions or a hub with instructions on that, please let me know. Thanks.

    • salt profile image


      8 years ago from australia

      Thankyou. Interesting and informative.


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