Lunch dates await, now that the kids are back in school

Let’s hear it for autumn. The summer swelter has headed south, traffic is easing up, and the kids are back at school. This can only mean one thing – it’s time to relax.

Suddenly you have an open schedule to take care of your own pursuits – visiting places you meant to see during the summer or catching up with friends you haven’t talked to in weeks (maybe months).

We’ve compiled a list of five fall day trips – excursions that are short enough to squeeze into that window of opportunity, after the bus picks up the kids and before it returns to drop them off. Best of all, the destinations are all right here in Yarmouth, so you don’t have far to drive.

Call a friend and head out for a bike ride, a power walk, or a museum visit. Work up a healthy appetite, then follow the fun with a relaxing lunch. You’ll turn an ordinary weekday into an extraordinary memory – and you’ll finish with plenty of time to beat the school bus home.

Bike Path and Brew Pub

Get some fresh air and exercise with a ride along the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Then grab lunch at the Sea Dog Brew Pub, and cap the afternoon with dessert at Bashful Tarte Bakery.

bicycle in the forest

The rail trail now starts in Station Avenue in South Yarmouth, so you can begin your adventure there and pedal for as far as abilities and ambitions will carry you. Just remember that you have to pedal back, so Wellfleet might be too far. The rail trail is also a great place for rollerblading, jogging, or walking the dog (although short leashes are a must if you don’t want to cause an accident with fast-moving cyclists).

After the biking, sip on a craft brew or cider at Sea Dog Brew Pub. The menu has a terrific list of choices from burgers and seafood to salads and fish tacos. If you’re into fall flavors, try the Pumpkinhead pale wheat ale. Check out the menu at the Sea Dog Brew Pub website for more choices.

Sea Dog Brew Pub does serve dessert, but if you want to keep moving, try the Bashful Tarte Bakery in the same complex at 23 White’s Path. There are too many choices of pies, cakes, bars and cookies to list, so we suggest checking out the menu at the Bashful Tarte Bakery’s website.

Pirate Treasure and Pub Food

exterior of the whydah gally at the whydah pirate museum

If you haven’t yet explored the Whydah Pirate Museum, make it a point to visit this fall. The museum holds priceless artifacts recovered from the sinking of Cape Cod’s legendary shipwreck, the Whydah Galley. Among the artifacts still being excavated from the wreckage today include weapons, coins, and other historical treasures from the ship that was commanded by pirate Captain Sam Bellamy. Undersea explorer Barry Clifford discovered the Whydah in 1984, some 267 years after it sank in a storm off Wellfleet in 1717, killing all but two of its 146 crew members. The Whydah contained loot from more than 50 plundered ships when it sank, providing a cross-cultural sampling of treasures, along with a unique look into the lives of real pirates, according to the Whydah’s Pirate Museum website, where you’ll find info on tickets and hours.

After the Whydah exploration, walk across the parking lot for lunch at Captain Parker’s Pub. It’s located right in front of the museum at 668 Route 28.

The lunch menu includes salads, sandwiches seafood and more. There’s even a Cape Cod Ruben (fried fish fillet instead of corned beef on grilled marble rye bread). Check out the other lunchtime menu offerings at Captain Parker’s Pub website.

Edward Gorey and More-y

Explore the Edward Gorey House in historic Yarmouth Port, then head for lunch at the Optimist Café. Really, what could be more intriguing and uplifting?

Author, animator, playwright, gothic artist, and Tony Award-winning costume designer, Gorey was also an eccentric collector of books and other items he found at Cape Cod shops. And the antique captain’s house at 8 Strawberry Lane, where Gorey made his home for the last14 years of his life, offers a glimpse into his unique world. After Gorey’s death in 2000, the house was turned into a museum, complete with its cluttered kitchen. The current exhibit is Hippity Wippity: Edward Gorey and the Language of Nonsense. Check out the museum’s website to learn more about Gorey before you visit.Cyclists are required to obey all local and state traffic laws and regulations

Continue the “old house” theme with breakfast or lunch at the Optimist Café, a quaint restaurant set in an 1849 landmark house at 134 Main Street (Route 6-A) in Yarmouth Port. All-day breakfast is an option with such specialty items as Lobster Avocado Eggs Benedict (breakfast) or Lobster Grilled Cheese (lunch). See the Optimist Café website for more.

Bowling, Arcade and Deli Delights

Amuse yourself with candlepin or ten-pin bowling at Ryan Amusements, before grabbing a leisurely lunch at Piccadilly Café.

Ryan’s Amusements operates bowling alleys and arcades around Cape Cod and Eastern Massachusetts, and the South Yarmouth location at 1067 Route 28, offers both candlepin and ten-pin bowling, along with video games. So if you can’t stay out of the gutters, maybe you can at least defeat the alien warships. The special for October is three bowling games for $24.95. Check out the Ryan Amusements website for more.

Afterward, visit the Piccadilly Café at 1105 Route 28 for breakfast or lunch. Offerings include a variety of deli sandwiches, hamburgers, seafood, salads, soups and desserts. See the Piccadilly Café website for breakfast and lunch menus.

Vintage Motorcycles and Italian Delights

Get a taste of the past at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, where the main attraction this fall is Art on Two Wheels – an exhibit of vintage motorcycles from the collection of David McGraw, who has spent much of his life acquiring and restoring iconic Harley-Davidsons, especially racing bikes. The exhibit, which also features motorcycle-related artwork, runs through Nov. 24. Find more information about the exhibit, along with ticket information at the Art on Two Wheels website.

The Cultural Center of Cape Cod, 307 Old Main Street in South Yarmouth, also has classes, workshops, a gift shop, a recording studio and more. Visit the Cultural Center of Cape Cod’s website for more information.

After the exhibit, stop for lunch at Carluccio’s Italian Specialties, located just a block away from the Cultural Center, across Route 28 at 16 North Main Street, South Yarmouth. Fresh-baked pizzas are a favorite here, but the menu includes sandwiches, salads, entrees and pastries. Check out the lunchtime options at Carluccio’s website.

Finally, we’d like to hear your ideas for daytime adventures in Yarmouth. Let us know some of your favorite spots for an activity or two, along with a bite to eat.

Andy Tomolonis is a nonfiction author, travel writer and multimedia journalist.