Travel to the lovely town of Brewster, and you’re in for a great getaway! Brewster is situated on the north side of Cape Cod, facing Cape Cod Bay. Named after Mayflower passenger Elder William Brewster, it was originally part of Harwich and became a separate town in 1803. Wealthy sea captains built beautiful homes here, and you can still see many of them today, as they are now quaint inns and bed-and-breakfasts.
Many of Brewster’s highlights are found on Route 6A, a picturesque road that winds along the northern shore of the Cape and makes an extremely pleasant drive, lined with art galleries, nature walks, and history. Route 6A, also known by its historic name, Old King’s Highway, was recently named a National Scenic Byway by the Federal Highway Administration. The program recognizes roadways with notable scenic, historic, cultural, natural, recreational, and archaeological qualities. Route 6A through Brewster certainly captures all of those qualities!
Visit Artists and Their Art Along the Winding Road
The perfect day trip begins at the east end of Brewster with a series of art galleries. Handcraft House Gallery features handmade art and fine gifts from over 200 American artisans, including decorative and functional crafts made here on Cape Cod.
Struna Gallery is home to Copley artist Timothy Struna, painting and printmaking. He works with watercolor, oil, acrylic, and copper plate engraving, and the ever-changing Cape Cod landscape is his preferred subject matter.
Stringe Gallery combines two of a culture-lover’s favorite things: art and antiques! The gallery presents the original watercolors of award-winning local artist Tom Stringe and fine antique furniture and accessories.
Live Theater Flourishes in Brewster
Brewster’s Cape Rep Theatre is putting on a show this summer! What better way to come back to live theater than with a play about…live theater! It’s “Noises Off,” everyone’s favorite comedy. The second evening production is “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” adapted by Dwayne Hartford from the award-winning book by Kate DiCamillo.
The daytime children’s theater program includes a brand new play by local playwright Holly Erin McCarthy featuring her new character, Maya Mouse. Popular puppeteer Mary Wilson and singer/songwriter Paul Kehoe are back in person this summer with “Puppets, Paul and Mary.”
In the Mood for Penny Candy and Butterflies?
Stop off at the historic Brewster Store, which began life as a Baptist church in 1852 and has been operated as a general store since just after the Civil War. Today, the Brewster Store remains a classic general store with penny candy, gifts, books, puzzles and games, t-shirts and sweatshirts. Coffee, donuts, and pastries are on offer, or you can get an ice cream cone from the Brewster Scoop next door.
On to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, where you can explore the Cape’s natural environment in the walk-through aquarium, conduct science experiments, and enjoy walks through the marsh leading to Cape Cod Bay. Every Sunday, from May 30 through September, join a naturalist for a guided family field walk, exploring the various plants, animals, habitats, and other ecological features along the John Wing Trail.
The Museum’s Butterfly House gives visitors the chance to see and experience butterflies up close; you can even feed the butterflies!
See World-Class Glass Art and Grist for a Historic Mill
Less than a mile down Route 6A from the Museum of Natural History you’ll find a bright and spacious gallery celebrating the work of a famed glass artist. Bill Sydenstricker created a new glass-making technique in the 1960s and went on to make extraordinary designs in his Brewster workshop. A piece of Sydenstricker glass is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among other world-renowned museums. His apprentices, all talented glass artists in their own right, are still at work today, creating new designs based on Bill’s standards. Every piece is handmade on site in the workshop, where you can see the artists at work. You can eat off a Sydenstricker glass dish, but don’t put it in the dishwasher! The stunning glassware is safe to use, but you may prefer to display it, particularly in a window.
Departing from Route 6A, over on Stony Brook Road you’ll find the Stony Brook Grist Mill and Museum. The brook is fed by several ponds and drops 26 feet on its way to Cape Cod Bay, the rushing water making it the perfect location for the grist mill, which has been here since 1663. Two hundred years ago, this area of Brewster was known as Factory Village, a thriving industrial area with a woolen mill, carding and cotton mills, a tannery, and a cobbler. Everything from overalls to mittens, paper and ice cream were made in Factory Village. The Grist Mill is all that remains, and now includes a museum. You can see the Stony Brook Grist Mill at work and even purchase freshly ground cornmeal!
More Fun in Brewster
A great option for lunch or dinner in Brewster is Cobies Seafood, an iconic Cape Cod clam shack established in 1948. Cobies is located at the meeting place of Route 6A and the Cape Cod Rail Trail, making it a perfect spot for motorists, cyclists, and walkers. The Cape Cod Rail Trail follows a former railroad track for over 20 miles through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet, and is enjoyed by those on bikes, horses, or their own two feet!
Nearby Nickerson State Park offers 2,000 acres of nature, including an eight-mile bike path that connects with the Rail Trail, as well as hiking trails, stocked fishing ponds, and places to swim and canoe, plus hundreds of campsites.
June 26th marks the 48th Annual Drummer Boy Open Air Antiques Fair, held at beautiful Drummer Boy Park on Cape Cod Bay. Nearby is the Captain Elijah Cobb House Museum, home of one of Brewster’s most famous sea captains who led a colorful life involving the French Revolution and rum-running off the coast of Ireland.
Make Brewster part of your vacation or day trip and enjoy art, culture, and nature.
For places to stay on the Lower Cape, click here. For dining options on the Lower Cape, click this link. And for additional things to do during your visit to the Lower Cape, click here.