Barnstable, Massachusetts. It's a name that causes a bit of confusion every now and then. "Why?", you might ask.
Because Barnstable (pronounced: BARN-stuh-bul) is the name of a county, a town, and a village on Cape Cod.
Confused, yet? Don't worry. It'll all become clear as you read on ...
Cape Cod has 15 towns, all within one county: Barnstable County.
The largest town in the county is the Town of Barnstable. It has 7 villages.
On the south (Rt. 28) side of town are the villages of:
On the north (Rt. 6A) side of town are:
Got it? Great! Now let's move on to a little overview of each village.
During the summer months, the population of Centerville booms with vacationers coming to enjoy the village's most popular attraction: Craigville Beach.
After a day of sun and swimming, a stop at Four Seas Ice Cream (360 South Main Street) followed by a visit to 1856 Country Store (555 Main Street) never go amiss!
This quiet, primarily residential village is bordered on 3 sides by water.
Not surprisingly, water sports like boating, kayaking, and fishing are top attractions to Cotuit.
For art lovers, the Cahoon Museum of American Art (4676 Falmouth Road) is well worth a visit.
And don't miss the hometown team, the Cape Cod Baseball League's Cotuit Kettleers, who play their home games at Lowell Park (10 Lowell Avenue) from mid-June to early August.
For lodging in Cotuit, consider Skyfield by the Sea Bed & Breakfast, a bed and breakfast inn on a miniature horse farm. (Never seen a miniature horse? They're totally adorable!)
You'll find a nice selection of vacation rentals in Cotuit, too!
The small village of Marstons Mills holds the distinction of being the only village in the town of Barnstable that has no coastline.
Despite the village's lack of beaches, Marstons Mills does have one attraction that draws lots of adventurous visitors: Cape Cod Airfield (1000 Race Lane).
Take a scenic flight in the big red bi-plane, or just stop by to watch the RC airplane flyers in the field next door.
(If you're really, really, really up for an adventure ... SkyDive the Mills!)
Where to stay in Marstons Mills? You won't find any hotels in the village. But there are plenty of lovely vacation rentals to choose from.
For example, check out this beautiful, historic farmhouse! New to the vacation rental market in 2019.
Want to see more vacation rental options in Marstons Mills? Click here.
One of the more affluent villages in all of Cape Cod, Osterville is picture-postcard pretty.
Visitors to Osterville are treated to a walkable Main Street, unique shops and boutiques, antiques and art galleries, a great selection of restaurants, and beautiful beaches to walk, drive or boat to.
No hotels in the village, no problem! You want your own "home away from home" in Osterville, right? (Yes, you do!)
Maybe a cute cottage like this ...
Whatever your pleasure, you'll find a wide range of rental homes and cottages to choose from!
The village of West Barnstable is home to Sandy Neck Beach (425 Sandy Neck Road) -
a huge swath of wildlands, dunes, and beachfrontshared by the towns
of Sandwich and Barnstable.
Are you a history buff? Old West Barnstable Cemetery (corner Rts. 149 and 6A) is the final resting place of hometown hero, Captain John "Mad Jack" Percival, who captained the USS Constitution (a/k/a "Old Ironsides" on her around-the-world journey from 1844-1846.
West Barnstable Railway Station & Museum (2469 Meetinghouse Way) is a must-see, too! The Station looks a bit different now that it did back in the early 1900s. But while you're inside perusing all the artifacts, you can easily envision yourself there, ready to board the train, over a century ago!
Strolling along this village's Main Street, you're surrounded by reminders of the early days on Cape Cod.
History is well preserved in the Olde Colonial Courthouse where the King's Court held session in the 1600s. It now houses Tales of Cape Cod (3046 Main Street) - a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the building and sharing the unique history of Cape Cod.
And one of my personal faves: The Old Gaol (3365 Main Street). This is the oldest wooden jail in the United States, dating back to the late 1600s. Some say a few former inmates still haunt the building today.
These historic sites and many others line Olde Kings Highway (Rt.6A/Main Street) in Barnstable Village ... along with boutique shops, art and antiques galleries, restaurants and taverns.
Just off Main Street, at the end of Millway, you'll find Barnstable Harbor and Millway Beach, Osterville Too Fish Market, Mattakeese Wharf Restaurant, and one of the most popular attractions in the entire town of Barnstable: Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises.
And last but certainly not least, we come to the village of Hyannis.
Although Hyannis is often thought of as the largest town on Cape Cod, in reality it's simply one of Barnstable's 7 villages. (Albeit, Hyannis is a BIG village. But it's a village none the less.)
Because it's such a popular Cape Cod vacation spot, I've dedicated a full page to Hyannis. Click here to go my "About Hyannis MA" page now.
Barnstable is in the "Mid-Cape" region, about 1/3 of the way along the Cape Cod peninsula.
Driving distances from major northeast cities to Barnstable are approximately:
Once you're over the bridge and onto Cape Cod, you'll only have about 15 miles to go to reach Barnstable Village, or 20 miles if you're going to Hyannis.
Enjoy your visit to Barnstable, Massachusetts!
Photo Credit: Bi-plane ride over Cape Cod by Darlene F via TripAdvisor