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Question: Hi. We are visitors from the UK. After getting married in New York City on 1st July, we leave NYC for a 10 day honeymoon on 5th July to make our way up to Boston before flying home.
We wanted to avoid hiring a car. So we thought we would get the train from NYC to Providence, stay
a few nights (we'd like to do the Cliff Walk in Newport), and then make our way further into the Cape. Perhaps staying in Hyannis as it's central to everywhere and for getting the ferry across to Nantucket and MV. Then we'll travel up to Boston for a few days before flying out.
Firstly, is it realistic to travel without a car? And can you suggest something other than above? Are there any nicer towns to stay? Should we head up to the top of the Cape?
I'd hate to miss something amazing after being so close, and no matter how many guide books we look at, we're just not sure what is the best itinerary.
Dee's Reply: Hi, Emma - My best wishes to you and your beloved on your upcoming nuptials!
I think your honeymoon plans are excellent ... right up to the point where you said that you don't want to hire a car. ;-)
NYC to Providence and Newport RI
I whole-heartedly agree with your choice of taking a train from New York City to Providence. A train ride is much easier, and often quicker, than driving. So no need for a car on that leg of your journey.
And visiting Newport is a terrific idea! It's a beautiful, historic little city - one of my favorite places in all of New England (aside from Cape Cod, of course!) I'm quite sure you'll adore Newport, as well.
Exploring the Cliff Walk trail, touring several of the grand mansions, wandering around the quaint town - those are all a "must do" on a visit to Newport. Just those few things can easily occupy two full days.
I'm wondering if a single day in Newport will be enough for you. If it were me, I'd plan for an overnight in Newport, rather than two nights in Providence.
Don't get me wrong. Providence is a lovely city. But it can't hold a candlestick to Newport, in my opinion.
If you're not planning to hire a car for your visit to Providence and Newport, then I'd say it's certainly reasonable to rely on the bus services between those two cities.
Providence to Cape Cod
The bus is also a good option for your travels from Providence to Cape Cod. It's about a 2-hour ride from Providence to Hyannis.
So, now the question becomes ...
Cape Cod: Car or No Car?
Should you hire a car on Cape Cod? Absolutely!
Will you need a car for your entire time on the Cape? Maybe not. It all depends on how much exploring you want to do while you're here.
As far as public transportation is concerned, it is possible to travel from one end of the Cape to the other entirely by bus. The bus is a perfectly fine option if you're simply interested in transportation from one town to another.
Generally speaking our local buses travel along our primary roadways. However, lots of our area's top attractions - and our glorious beaches - are off of side streets rather than along the main roads. Generally speaking, not within easy walking distance from the regular bus stops.
A quick story:
Last summer, a gentleman from the UK wrote to me shortly after he and his family had returned home
from their first visit to the USA. In his note, he mentioned that he and his wife were surprised to discover that Cape Cod is so spread out.
Especially, he said, they found it curious that so many of our towns have no "defined town centre". Instead of a downtown area where you can walk to everything, most of the shops, restaurants, lodgings, attractions, etc. are scattered throughout the town.
He told me he was glad that his wife had convinced him to hire a car for the family's time on Cape Cod. Otherwise, they would have missed so much. I'm pretty sure you'll feel the same way!
Where to Stay
Is Hyannis a good, central location? Yes.
Is there a better place for you to choose? Again, that all depends on what you're hoping to see and do while you're here.
For visitors who hope to see a lot of Cape Cod in a relatively short span of time, I usually suggest staying in one of the more centrally located towns. That would include: Barnstable (Hyannis is a village in the town of Barnstable), Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, or Brewster.
From any of these towns, you can drive to the farthest points on the Cape in about an hour or less, depending on the traffic conditions, of course.
Since you'll be visiting in-season, our roads will be busier than they are in the off-season. But not to worry! It might be a bit of a slower drive to your destination. But our roads are very easy to drive on, even for folks from across the pond who aren't accustomed to driving on the "right side" of the road. ;-)
So really, any of the towns I've mentioned above could be a great place for you to stay.
If you'd like to get back to me and let me know what kinds of things you hope to see and do while you're here, I'll be able to give you a better idea of which towns might be the best for you.
You can reply by clicking the "post comments" link below, or feel free to email me privately via my contact me form!