Massachusetts in the New England region of the north-eastern United States is bordered by New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and the Atlantic Ocean. Most of its 6.4 million population lives in the Boston metropolitan area. The eastern half of the relatively small state is urban and suburban, while the west is primarily rural.
The first Europeans to come to New England landed in what is now Massachusetts. They were primarily separatist non-conformists, later known as Pilgrims and Puritans from England, looking for religious freedom.
Cape Cod or the Cape is an arm-shaped peninsula forming the easternmost portion of Massachusetts. It has a charming small town character and attracts heavy tourism during summer.
Much of the east-facing Atlantic seacoast of Cape Cod consists of wide, sandy beaches. In 1961, a significant portion of this coastline, which was slated for housing subdivisions, was made part of the Cape Cod National Seashore by President John F Kennedy, protecting it from development.
Hyannis Port is an affluent residential village on Hyannis Harbour to the southwest of Hyannis. For four generations it has been a favourite place of the Kennedy family. In 1926, Joseph and Rose Kennedy rented a summer cottage there and two years later purchased the 1904 home. It was enlarged and remodelled to suit the needs of their nine children. Long summer holidays gave them a lifelong interest in sailing.
In later life, John and Robert Kennedy purchased properties not far from their childhood summer house, all in the white frame clapboard style typical of vacation residences on the Cape. None are accessible to the public, but all have well-tended lawns and gardens and sweeping views of the Atlantic from long porches. There are other properties purchased by members of the clan, all immaculately presented.
On Main Street, the JFK Hyannis Museum focuses on the time John Kennedy spent in the town. It has many photographs, a video narrated by Walter Cronkite and several themed areas. There is also a memorial on the Lewis Bay waterfront.
Provincetown, an historic fishing port at the tip of Cape Cod, is a place of spectacular natural beauty, surrounded by miles of dunes and beaches. It has a diverse history the Pilgrims landed here in 1620 and signed the Mayflower Compact, a declaration of self-determination and radical thought that characterises the history and people even today. It has been home to sailors, pirates, fisherman, painters and authors for centuries.
In the early 20th century, Provincetown Players was an important experimental theatre company with an international reputation. Provincetown has been a gay and lesbian mecca for over 50 years.
To get a good look at some of the Cape's fine homes from the water, Cat Boat Tours will take you sailing from Hyannis Port. Captain Marcus Sherman is a native Cape Codder who has been sailing in the harbour since 1960. Captain Marcus will steer you through the Hyannis Channel, past Dunbar Point and Great Island, the 245 hectare estate of the Chase family. You then head to Hyannis Port Harbour to see the impressive homes of the Kennedys and others, as well as magnificent yachts anchored off the Hyannis Port Yacht Club.