Barnstable MA is both the largest community on Cape Cod Island and the county seat of Barnstable County. Barnstable County consists of Cape Cod and the smaller islands found just off its shores. The city of Barnstable, on the other hand, is comprised of seven different villages, and they include the transportation and commercial hub that is Hyannis.
Settled in 1639, Barnstable MA has been around for quite some time. It has also been a popular tourist destination for many years now. The local tourism industry got its start in the late 1800s, as many Boston-area residents came to find Cape Cod in general to be a wonderful place to escape to. Visits from past Presidents such as Ulysses S. Grant and Grover Cleveland only helped to bolster the city's popularity as a vacation destination, and the area in general was really put on the tourism map when the Kennedys moved in. The famous Kennedy Compound, which was used primarily for summer season family vacations, calls the Barnstable residential enclave of Hyannis Port home.
The Town of Barnstable offers plenty for the resident and visitor alike. The Kennedy Compound might not be open to the public, but the JFK Hyannis Museum is, and it provides wonderful insight into the family's time on the island. While in Hyannis, it is also possible to check out the JFK Memorial that can be found adjacent to Veterans Beach. The museum is situated in Hyannis at 397 Main Street.
Veterans Beach is just one of many great beaches that call Barnstable home, and when it comes down to it, the area strips of sand are what many visitors have in mind. Craigville Beach, which is easily one of the best Cape Cod public beaches, is also found within the Barnstable borders. Many of the city's residents actually live within close proximity of this long beach and the other south coast beaches, some of which are private.
In the central part of Barnstable, Wequaquet Lake dominates the scene. It provides good fishing opportunities, and the vacation rental properties found near the water can be great alternatives to the Barnstable hotels. To the north, Barnstable Harbor is the main attraction. This harbor is quite picturesque, and visitors might make note of the fact that it is where many whale watching cruises depart from. May to October is the prime season for whale watching tours.
The Town of Barnstable is a destination that has many different facets. Relatively busy Hyannis is home to the main Cape Cod airport, as well as the island's shopping mall and a variety of quaint shops, while villages such as Osterville are more residential in nature and can be charming to drive, bike, or stroll through. Many historic homes can be found around the city, and some are used for things such as law offices and local libraries. It's a truly delightful city, and those with ample time to explore are sure to find plenty of wonderful things to do.
Between the Barnstable hotels and the city's vacation rentals, visitors have some excellent lodging options to consider. Delightful inns and B&Bs figure among the hotels, as do chain brand establishments such as the Days Inn Hyannis. As for the inns and B&Bs, the Ashley Manor is among the best, and if it is full, others such as the Lamb and Lion Inn and the Beechwood Inn can make fine replacements. Just remember to book well in advance when planning a summer visit, as any and all Barnstable accommodations can be very hard to come by at the last minute.