Vacations are a treasured time to make memories, bond as a family and experience some new scenery. But where to go? There’s a long list of tropical beaches awaiting us sun-starved Canadians, but don’t limit yourself. Sometimes, a resort in a different setting offers unique opportunities for discovery.
Ocean Edge Resort, Brewster, MA: A seaside resort invites lazy days in low tide
Massachusetts extends into the Atlantic Ocean like a crooked finger, inviting you to come closer. This part of the state is known as Cape Cod, and evokes images of windswept beaches, clam bakes and L.L. Bean catalogues.
It does not disappoint. The two-lane highways are dotted with, you guessed it, Cape Cod style homes (characterized by their sloping half-storey and cedar shake siding) and antique shops. Watch for cyclists, as the highway is criss-crossed by the 42-km Cape Cod Bike & Rail Trail and it is well used. As we drove along Highway 6A, we craned our heads forward, anxious to set our eyes on the Ocean Edge Resort. At last the wooded lots gave way to a massive stretch of lawn. A beautifully preserved mansion loomed beyond the grass, waiting to introduce us to the ocean beyond.
Just like the state, Ocean Edge has a history. The property dates back to the 1880s, when a wealthy banker built his extravagant home. It was destroyed by fire in 1906 and rebuilt to the same opulent standards. In 1945 it became a Catholic seminary, then in 1980 it was purchased by Corcoron Jennison Hospitality, who opened it as a luxury resort in 1986.
Today Ocean Edge retains that family charm (Suzanne Corcoran is the company’s VP) and it welcomes families to 90 guest rooms and villas spread across 429 acres. It just underwent a $40 million renovation in 2013 with the addition of 30 new villas by the private beach. Some of the villas are located down the road adjacent to its Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. Guests have access to the amenities at both sites, including pools, tennis courts, restaurants and bars. It’s walkable, but families loaded down with gear might prefer to take the shuttle, which runs regularly.
One of the best features of Cape Cod is the beach. During the day, low tide makes it a vast playground for shell collecting and sandcastle building. Children participate in the rite of passage of burying their dads up to their necks. Frisbees whiz by. Chill out on a beach chair. By early evening, the high tide has washed away any evidence of the day.
Ocean Edge is located centrally in the town of Brewster. While there is plenty to do on site, it’s ideal to explore. Rent bikes, or see a play at the nearby summer stock Cape Rep Theatre (tickets sell out so plan ahead). A children’s series performs outdoors, and the “big kid” indoor series of five shows last year included two Broadway-calibre musicals.
For something more active, try your hand at shellfishing. Cape Cod is famous for oysters, but they’re not ready to harvest in the summer. (Easy rule: don’t fish for oysters in months without an ‘r’.) Instead, try your hand at quahogs (clams) and stick to oysters in restaurants. Take a drive to the far end of the Cape to visit Provincetown – or P’town as it’s known – and stop and check out the beach at Wellfleet on the way. Dunes soar high above the white sand beach where families set up for the day. Take in some delicious fish and chips or a lobster roll at the legendary Beachcomber grill. The resort challenges bike enthusiasts to ride all the way there with the promise of a shuttle pick up to come home. This hardly seems worth it, as the ride there – mostly uphill – is the hardest part.
Travel Tip: Ocean Edge is located less than two hours by car from Boston if rush hour traffic is avoided. Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines all offer regular service to Boston. Bookend your trip to Cape Cod with a stay in this historic and entertaining city. For more, go to cityofboston.gov.
Visit OceanEdge.com for more information.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May 2015.