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Falmouth, MA and Woods Hole: Yummy Cape Cod

Tuna Tartare, Woods Hole, MA, Water Street Kitchen

Where can you find this Tuna Tartare? Woods Hole!

A Cape Cod Vacation About EATING…

Our recent New England adventure all started with me mistakenly booking a non-refundable hotel in the WRONG STATE! But, hey — it ended up so well, maybe I’ll consider messing up travel plans more often.

What follows are delicious tips on eating and playing (but mostly eating) in Falmouth, MA and its village of Woods Hole on the southwestern point of Cape Cod that are just 1.5 hours by car from Boston.

This section of the Cape is sometimes discounted as merely a jumping-off point for the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, but it is actually fabulous in itself for both family trips and romantic New England getaways! But first… what mistake led me to frolic in Falmouth in the first place?

Falmouth, MA: Nobska Lighthouse

Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth lights up Cape Cod.

How Did I End Up in Falmouth and Woods Hole?

Well, this story is embarrassing, but I can’t be the first person who made this mistake, right? RIGHT? Well, maybe I am. Anyhoo…

The seeds of this switch were planted last year, when my husband and I had one of the best meals of our lives during a trip to Portland, Maine: dinner at Bolster, Snow, and Co. with Chef Nick Verdisco.

Pastries at Maison Villatte in Falmouth, MA.

Pastries at Maison Villatte in Falmouth, MA. Drool…

Falmouth, MA is NOT Falmouth, Maine…

Now, I have never before made life plans based on chef stalking, but that Portland meal was so exceptional that when I saw on Chef Verdisco’s Instagram account that the restaurant had closed (nooo!), and Nick had moved over to Falmouth Country Club, I promptly booked a hotel in Falmouth, Massachusetts so my husband and I could eat with Verdisco once again.

Only… it turned out the country club in question was actually in Falmouth, MAINE! Further, my Massachusetts hotel room was non-refundable. Ooof. Let’s blame this foolish error on trying to make travel plans while chasing around a 3 and 5 year old and simultaneously grade 140 seventh grade essays, shall we?

Rowing through Woods Hole, MA.

Rowing through the town of Woods Hole.

Restaurants in Falmouth, MA and Woods Hole

All’s well that ends well, though. I messaged Chef Verdisco that, “Er, my childcare plans fell thr– ok actually I booked a non-refundable hotel in the wrong state.” Nick was mighty understanding (after laughing a little bit). I shall eat with him again someday! But until then, let’s focus on the great trip we did have to Falmouth and Woods Hole.

In honor of what the getaway was supposed to be centered around — food — Colin and I dedicated our 24-hour trip to eating voraciously. The fact that it rained the entire weekend was perfect because there were more than enough eateries to keep us dry and entertained. Let’s explore the highlights of our culinary cavorting.

Maison Villatte French Bakery in Falmouth

Sunny Maison Villatte French Bakery in Falmouth

Maison Villatte: Cape Cod’s Best Bakery?

Not one but five friends exclaimed upon hearing that we were headed to Falmouth, MA: “You’ve GOT to go to Maison Villatte. It’s the best bakery outside of Paris that I’ve ever encountered!”

Our friends’ recommendations did not disappoint. What’s so convenient about Maison Villatte is that it has a wide range of both sweet and savory goods, which means you can get both your lunch (or dinner) and dessert there for far less money and time than a standard sit-down restaurant… and OOH, the flavor packed in each buttery, flaky chomp!

The famous Pain au Chocolat croissant at Maison Villatte in Falmouth.

Pain au Chocolat croissant at Maison Villatte in Falmouth.

Famous Pain au Chocolat Croissants

If someone gushes to you, “Have you tried that bakery on the Cape with the insane chocolate croissants? I forget the name, but we went back three times, and they were INCREDIBLE,” bet money that this person is talking about Maison Villatte.

Colin and I ended up going back to the bakery twice, and devoured their mini quiches (ham and cheese, and veggie) for a light lunch, plus the heavenly pain au chocolat. I didn’t know what a croissant could be until I wrapped my mouth on that one! Highly recommended. The artful French pastries make good eye candy, too…

Maison Villatte bakery, Falmouth, MA Cape Cod

Love those bright red cakes and bird’s nest pastries.

Flying Bridge Restaurant in Falmouth

On the recommendation of local friends, Colin and I checked out Flying Bridge restaurant for waterfront lunch the next day. It’s big, has a nice view of the ocean’s inlet (which I have no photos of since it was pouring rain), and boasts a crowd-pleasing menu filled with fish. Here’s my colorful salmon…

Salmon at Flying Bridge restaurant in Falmouth.

Salmon at Flying Bridge restaurant in Falmouth.

Woods Hole: Ocean Research and Ferries!

On to the seaside village of southwest Falmouth: sweet Woods Hole! Now, Woods Hole is known for two things above all: First, the world famous Oceanographic Institution. Second, the ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Do not ignore the culinary joys that sit within this small town beyond those two features, however. Colin and I experienced some excellent food in Woods Hole, as well as a pleasant oceanside stroll.

Pointing at Woods Hole beach in a red dress

Dramatically pointing at the Woods Hole beach!

Water Street Kitchen: Delicious Dining

The day after I mistakenly booked the hotel in Falmouth, MA instead of Maine, I randomly struck up a conversation with a stranger at an event in Boston. It turned out… he was an ocean scientist in Woods Hole! At that moment I knew our trip was meant to be, and that my booking error had been fortuitous.

This man said his #1 recommendation for a romantic dinner in Woods Hole was Water Street Kitchen, and that I’d better make reservations quickly, because it fills like crazy. He also said that parking can get scarce in the town, so plan accordingly. Little did he know that I eat my dinners at 5pm like a centenarian, so plenty of parking spots remained…

Smoked bluefish pate, mustard, pickles, and toast at Water Street.

Smoked bluefish pate, mustard, pickles, and toast at Water Street.

Woods Hole Restaurants Don’t Disappoint

Our meal at Water Street Kitchen was awesome. The window-lined building juts out into the ocean, so you can watch waves and boats in Vineyard Sound the whole evening. (Before I go further, let me clarify that this whole trip was self-funded, so do not attribute any positive reviews to being bribed or comped! Hehe.)

The feel of the restaurant is casually classy, and every dish had a locally-sourced, artisanal zest to it. The first photo of this article is an apt illustration of Water Street Kitchen’s dish style: “Yellowfin tuna tartare with fava bean escabeche, kalamata olive, radish, cilantro, basil, and scallion.” Mmm! (Love tuna? See the lead photo in my Cava, Portsmouth review!)

A hibiscus drink with black pepper at Water Street Kitchen.

A hibiscus drink with black pepper at Water Street Kitchen.

Fresh Fish with Parmesan Broth?!

Our entree, which Colin and I shared (due to our ample appetizers ordered), was another illustration of the creativity and care put into each dish at Water Street Kitchen. Behold, below: Haddock with oyster mushrooms, cannellini beans, spinach, pancetta (!), and Parmesan broth.”

Let us add “Parmesan broth” to the list of things we didn’t know we needed in our lives until it appeared — but BOY am I glad it exists. Slurp!

Woods Hole’s Waterfront Walkway

After dinner, Colin and I took a stroll along the oceanfront path and piers of the town. The Oceanographic Institution’s buildings gave a college campus feel to the area, and everything felt relaxingly intellectual.

The purple sky that night reminded me of my time in Folly Beach, South Carolina… though the jolly squid decorating the fences reminded us we were squarely in the land of ocean research: Woods Hole! (You know you want a squid decorating YOUR fence at home…)

The Woods Hole waterfront walkway.

The Woods Hole waterfront walkway.

The Joy of Walkable New England Towns

One of the main things I look for in a quality weekend getaway is a walkable town. There’s something so relaxing about not having to climb in and out of cars — but rather being able to stroll from dinner, to dessert, to the ocean!

Woods Hole delivered on these counts. We moseyed from the waterfront piers right over to the ferry launching point to get our sweet fix

An emerald green-headed duck in Woods Hole.

An emerald green-headed duck in Woods Hole.

Dessert and Baked Goods in Woods Hole

We walked past all sorts of alluring restaurants and shops on our meander through town, but were drawn in at last to the crowds and welcoming openness of Pie in the Sky Bakery.

Suddenly a memory flooded back: This is where I had grabbed sandwiches for our family before boarding the adjacent ferry to Martha’s Vineyard with our traveling toddler in 2014! Funny how you can come full circle to locations without planning it.

Savory and sweet baked goods (pie!) at Pie in the Sky Bakery in Woods Hole.

Savory and sweet baked goods at Pie in the Sky Bakery in Woods Hole.

I Would Live at Pie in the Sky Bakery

Gaze at that baked goods case, above… then learn that it is only a small fraction of what Pie in the Sky offers. Now, I opted for a massive chocolate chip cookie that evening, but if I lived near Woods Hole, I’d make a different move.

If you look closely, you’ll see that there are savory pie options as well as sweet. Thanks to my baker friend Kelli (whose delicious new website is linked from the words above), I’ve discovered the glories of savory savory pie dinner. Were I ever to live near Pie in the Sky, that Potato, Chive, Sour Cream, Cheddar pie would be on our family’s table weekly! (Insert joke about making dinner “easy as pie” here…)

Fresh fish at the Flying Bridge restaurant in Falmouth.

Fresh fish at the Flying Bridge restaurant in Falmouth.

Woods Hole and Falmouth, MA Hotels

Where to stay in this part of Cape Cod? We picked the Coonamessett (click the affiliate link for pricing and details) in Falmouth, which was sweet for a romantic getaway, but which one should note is removed from the center of town. That location is a trade-off: Being removed from the bustle is better for tranquility, but does mean needing to use a car or ride share more often.

To find your best fit accommodations, I’d recommend using the map search tool on TripAdvisor for additional hotel options, or if you’d rather rent an entire home or condo (ideal for family travel) check out the offerings at this easy affiliate link to Vrbo properties for Falmouth and Woods Hole.

Honestly, this part of Cape Cod is so close to Boston that you probably could make a day trip of it, but a getaway of at least one night somehow makes the travel more cleansing.

Our Falmouth hotel had books nailed to the walls as decoration!

Our Falmouth hotel had books nailed to the walls as decoration!

Books Hanging from the Wall as Decoration

Now, can we take a moment to note (in the photo above) that our hotel decorated the walls by nailing up books?! As an English teacher for the past 15 years, I feel many things about this.

On one hand, I was happy to be near comforting pages of prose, and to be able to peek and the highly random text selection while lounging on the leather couch. On the other hand, the concept of screwing tomes into a wall for decorative purposes also felt… whoa!

Chocolate raspberry cake, Falmouth, MA

Chocolate raspberry cake! (Yes, all the rest of the photos in this article will be from Maison Villatte.)

Falmouth Lighthouse and Hikes

Though I love to hike, we didn’t get outside much because of the rain (um, and non-stop eating), but there are some quality outdoor attractions near Falmouth and Woods Hole. The most recommended hike is called The Knob, and ends with ocean views in all directions.

What we did get a peek at was Nobska Lighthouse, pictured in the second photo of this article. We sat on the bench overlooking the ocean as the sun set… admiring the colors of the evening: gray, blue, gray, and also some more gray. Hehe — it wasn’t the most amazing sunset of my life, but it was luscious to relax by the sea at dusk all the same.

A chocolate chip cookie close-up at Maison Villatte.

A chocolate chip cookie close-up at Maison Villatte.

Other Cape Cod Attractions

Interested in exploring more of the Cape? I highly recommend Provincetown, MA and the surprising P-Town food scene — replete with dumplings! That said, bear in mind that just because something is on the Cape, it doesn’t mean it’s near another part of Cape Cod.

Because Falmouth and Woods Hole are tucked into the far southwestern nook of the “arm,” it’s actually at least a 1.5 hour drive to get to Provincetown from there, so be realistic with timing and plans. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of not making mistakes like miscalculating driving times or mixing up names, another one to watch out for is Portland, ME vs. Portsmouth, NH.

Top things to do on a Cape Cod vacation: Eat at Restaurants in Falmouth, MA and Woods Hole! Tips on a New England weekend getaway of good food, hotels, & walks.

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Martha’s Vineyard: Just a Ferry from Woods Hole

Tempted to cross the sound to see the beloved vacation island of Massachusetts? Do not miss the colorful (but somewhat hard to find) “Gingerbread Cottages” in Oak Bluffs. You can even rent some of them to stay in, if you don’t mind excited tourists taking photos of the exterior while you laze inside!

Want something fluffier than ornate, candy-colored architecture? Get psyched to learn there is an alpaca farm in the center of Martha’s Vineyard! Visiting this spot was the launch of my still-enduring alpaca adoration.

Bakery in Falmouth, Massachusetts

That crispy, wholesome, freshly baked bread…

My Only Regret in Falmouth…

Though I don’t at all regret booking a hotel in the wrong Falmouth, and thus exploring this new-to-me corner of the Cape, I did make one mistake on this trip that perhaps you can help me remedy.

While sitting in Maison Villatte at the window seat, I saw through the glass the most superb outfit I’ve ever seen a man sport. My regret: I didn’t race out into the road to beg for a photograph. Perhaps, with a description, you might help me track him down.

A buttery, flaky blueberry tart.

A buttery, flaky blueberry tart.

Can You Help Identify This Wonderful Man?

The description: On his head, this man wore a wide-brimmed straw hat covered in horse figurines. (I strongly assume he was headed to a Kentucky Derby party.)  He had a white beard, a pink button-down shirt, and bright plaid pants.

Any idea, Falmouth locals, who this fashion icon was, or if he’d agree to share a photo of his outfit with me so I could embrace it with my eyes once again? He made my whole day, and I only wish I’d been able to tell him so!

A jolly jelly bean basket at Maison Villatte.

A jolly jelly bean basket.

This is Obviously No “Definitive Guide,” But…

One of my pet peeves as a travel writer is seeing articles that claim to be the “Ultimate, Definitive” piece about a place. Clearly, friends, this post claims no such thing. Colin visited a corner of my state for one day, ate in a few places, and had a grand time, but naturally, we barely scratched the surface, and look forward to returning to learn more.

That said, even in this short-as-heck visit, I can definitively declare one thing: Falmouth and its village of Woods Hole are far more that just places near the Martha’s Vineyard ferry!

Baked goods on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Which baked good would YOU choose?

What do YOU think about Woods Hole and Falmouth, MA food and attractions? Do share!

 

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Sue

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

Thanks for the memories you brought back for me. My Mom retired in Falmouth & I spent many happy weeks there.

Lillie Marshall

Thursday 5th of March 2020

Sue, thank you for taking the time to leave this comment and for sharing your happy memories. So glad that this article can help remind people of Falmouth's delights -- many of them delicious!

Johanes

Tuesday 4th of June 2019

Travel is really not complete without trying out foods! I really enjoyed reading this article especially looking at the pictures and imagining me eating those. I just wanna taste everything out. And now my mouth is watering. Thanks for sharing.

Jacilyn

Thursday 19th of September 2019

Thank you! You are a wonderful writer. Great information on the area. Good to have all the details you provided.

Lillie Marshall

Wednesday 5th of June 2019

Amen that travel is not complete without FOOD!

Jen Brommer

Sunday 26th of May 2019

Very thorough post! Beautiful photos!

Lillie Marshall

Sunday 26th of May 2019

Thanks, Jen! Easy to take pretty photos when the food is so delectable...

Lauren (Where the Wild Kids Wander)

Sunday 26th of May 2019

One of our favorites in Woods Hole is the Landfall. We get a cup of "chowda" there before we head over to MV! I'll have to patronize some of the others on your list on our next visit.

Lillie Marshall

Sunday 26th of May 2019

We've got to go back and try that spot. Sounds awesome!

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