Harboring the Arts

Tucked into Lewis Bay on the Nantucket Sound side of Cape Cod, Hyannis Harbor serves as the hub between the mainland and the islands, with Hy-Line and Steamship Authority ferrying passengers to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Besides being the largest recreational boating and second largest commercial fishing port on Cape Cod, Hyannis Harbor is home to history, culture and activities.

Created by the Town of Barnstable to “nurture and celebrate the creativity and talent of established and emerging Cape Cod artists,” the HyArts Cultural District has a major presence in the harbor. Most notably, seven colorful art shanties line the Ocean Street docks, with strands of twinkling bulbs strewn through the trees inviting visitors to find out more. Each shanty provides a unique, affordable location for local artists who create and sell their work throughout the summer from 11am – 8pm daily. On summer Saturdays from 7-8pm, you’ll find one of our LoveListenLocal Spotlight Singers performing on the lawn between the shanties.  On Tuesdays and Fridays during the season, HyArts sponsors a series of performances at Aselton Park – a tranquil spot with panoramic harbor views.  A true gem anchoring the harbor, Cape Cod Maritime Museum preserves and shares our unique history through fascinating exhibits, boat building and restoration, and classes.

To experience the harbor from the water, take one of the Bay Spirit’s sunset or lighthouse tours. A sail on the catboats Eventide or Sarah is a more intimate option. Children love the hour-long pirate ship and family fishing adventures, and Hy-Line offers an ice-cream float harbor cruise on Sundays!  Slightly older kids and adults will have a blast on the amphibious Duckmobile tours.

Contributing to the quintessentially Cape atmosphere, quite a few commercial fishing vessels can be seen offloading fish, crabs, surf clams and more throughout the day. The fishermen are usually happy to answer questions and share a colorful story or two.  You can even fish from the pier (just avoid the docks and make way for working boats).

We love to grab a bite at one of the (mostly) seasonal harbor spots. Try the Black Cat or Ocean 235 for dinner; for a lobster roll, fried seafood or steamers on the water, check out the Black Cat’s Harbor Shack, Spanky’s or Baxter’s; and for tropical drinks with a view of sailboats and yachts, head to Trader Ed’s or Tugboats. After the sun goes down, warm up by the fire pit at the Hyannis Harbor Hotel.

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