Question: When is a sandwich not a sandwich?

Answer: When you’re in a town called Sandwich (Massachusetts) as the Discover Small Town America Tour was earlier in the Summer. More on this later…


We set off to explore the Upper Cape towns of Bourne, Falmouth and – of course – Sandwich. Our tour guide for the day was our wonderful friend Alice, a native “Cape Codder” living in North Falmouth (pronounced “Fal-muth”). The town (population approximately 30,000) is a picturesque place that combines bucolic countryside views and vistas with a vibrant and very walkable village center.

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The weather was spectacular and Alice took us on a walk near her beautiful home to a local marina called Fiddler’s Cove. This place is a classic New England boating venue.

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Having worked up a good appetite, we decided it was time for lunch. Alice had a special place in mind and drove us on some gorgeous backroads (only a local would know) to a seafood lover’s nirvana – The Lobster Trap. Located in the Town of Bourne (population 19,754), The Lobster Trap is a fish market and fried seafood joint located on the Pocasset River in Monument Beach.

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From a healthy choice standpoint, some of us chose our meals wisely. Others (Rorie, Rorie, Rorie), not so much. “Anybody here order the fried clam roll with a massive side of fries?” She insisted it was just the perfect balance of protein and vegetables.

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The Lobster Trap has plenty of indoor searing but limited, and prized, outside tables. We scored one with a direct view of the water.

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After a great visit with our buddy Alice, and a scrumptious lunch, we headed off to another iconic Cape Cod town: Sandwich (population 20,675).

Sandwich is the oldest town on the Cape. It was first settled by Europeans in 1637 and named for the seaport of Sandwich, Kent, England. It is home to a historic grist mill, and boasts an amazing collection of architecturally significant homes.

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Even its town hall is stunning.

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The Hoxie House – a classic saltbox style – is one of the oldest houses on the Cape (Circa 1637)

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Dexter’s Mill is located on the historic town square of Sandwich. It’s one of the oldest water mill sites existing in the US and has Plymouth Colony Records dating back to 1640.

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The architecture that can be seen in the area around the mill is just beautiful.

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We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these charming, Upper Cape towns. It was truly a “secret sauce” kind of day: visiting a great friend, eating great food and seeing great sights! As we were leaving the Cape we drove by a “show stopper” view. Bart slammed on his brakes and Rorie took this spectacular shot of a massive cumulous cloud floating over a lake. Looked like a Dali-style painting. An amazing end to a wonderful day.

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Stay tuned for the Tour’s next road report from the Lower Cape towns of Brewster, Chatham and Orleans.

Shhh. Can you keep a secret?

We can’t. Well, maybe we can just whisper it in YOUR ear…

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The small town of Los Alamos, NM (population 12,019) was the ultimate travel secret for many years.  If you worked and lived there, it was a “zip your lips” place.

“Imagine you work in a city that isn’t on any map, in a house that has no postal address. You go to work each day not really knowing the purpose of what you are doing or how it fits into the jobs of the thousands of other people going to work each day around you. You don’t talk about where you live or what you do with anyone on the outside—and even on the inside the work conversations are kept within your own department. You always erase the blackboard after a meeting.” That was the Secret City of Los Alamos during the early 1940s. (http://bit.ly/2vabtRx)

Small town America is home to lots of “secret” places

The Tour has traveled tens of thousands of off-the-beaten-path road miles. Our favorite experiences are discovering secret little “hideaway” places that most people have never been to or seen…like Secret City. Here’s a quick roundup of several. Can you name them? We’ll give you a few hints.

This is the scene inside Russell’s Travel Center (NO, we don’t own it)

Actually, this is NOT a tiny town…

All we’ll tell you is that this gentleman owns an establishment named in honor of his mother. His restaurant is located in an area known for citrus farming.

Mermaids, apparently, need suds to quench their thirst in Longbeach Village.

Sgt. Pepper is featured at this iconic gallery.

Wine and classic cars featured in the bucolic Northwest Connecticut town.

And when those cotton balls get rotten…Located in the small town that hosts The Big Pig Jig (think BBQ).

Sam’s tree house has a connection to President Jimmy Carter.

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The Tour found harmony in Harmony…and some wonderful wine.

Bart made a new friend in a place called Old Town. Frank Lloyd Wright would have approved.

Rorie was always fascinated with super hero movies. Can you say rusty “Transformer”? Only a short drive from Music City to this small town. 

Shy pie? No. Shy server? Yes. Wonderful establishment just outside the city limits of Ft. Smith, AR.

Chile capital of the world.

The abbreviation for this small town is HdG. This is a water’s edge view of the Chesapeake Bay.

Bart, meet Bert, Bert, meet Bart. Iconic local waterside grill.

Sidewalk art from the grounds of the Gibtown Showmen’s Club.

Discovering small towns makes you work up an appetite – or makes you vulnerable to snack attacks. Salty, crunchy goodness found here, down the road apiece just over the railroad tracks.

Stay tuned for road reports about lots more “secret towns” in small town America.

We discovered a small town gem of a place…right in our own backyard

Editor’s notes: Rorie and Bart love #smalltowns. That’s obvious. But they especially love discovering awesome places when they’re only a stone’s throw (well maybe a 1 or 2 hour drive) from their home. They’ve reported on “Backyard Gems” before, spotlighting places like Micanopy, FL (http://bit.ly/2tCji5o) and Collinsville, CT (http://bit.ly/2tF06DO).

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We recently navigated our way to the town of Dunedin (pronounced DONE-EE-DIN) in the Tampa Bay region of Florida. Bart’s father “Buddy” often mentioned the place when reminiscing about his time in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He trained near Dunedin as a rear tail gunner on a night fighter before being deployed to the Philippines.

Today the town is said to offer some of the best dining in the Tampa Bay area, hosts the minor league Dunedin Blue Jays baseball team, and has art, culture and – according to some locals – the #1 Beach in America!  Your DSTA Tour guides focused on Dunedin’s quaint downtown village. What fun!

A patriotic archway “announces” the town’s retail district – The Shops on Broadway.  

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Colorful signs and sidewalk “ornaments” put a smile on our faces.

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The sweet tooth among us made a beeline for this charming sugar mecca. Check out some of its old school confections.

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To Rorie’s defense, she did take a pass on Sweet Treats’ Sky Bars, Charleston Chews, ice cream and other goodies that were calling her. But, that’s only because she knew what was waiting for her just a few blocks down the street…lunch.

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View from our counter seat

The Olde Bay Cafe is attached to the Dunedin Fish Market. Their seafood is fresh and just plain good. The views from our bar stools were spectacular. It was a hot day so we ate inside. In cooler weather the outside deck is where you want to be.

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Our Dunedin explorations – and chow down lunch – were terrific. But the day wasn’t over….Here’s where things got even more fun.

Normally we start our #smalltown “tours” with a specific destination in mind. But, invariably, we discover random, really cool places that weren’t on our radar. And that’s what happened in nearby Largo, Florida.

Thanks to some good road signage, we noticed a sign that caught our attention.

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The screeching sound you may have heard was Bart making a sudden U-turn to get back to the entrance of The Florida Botanical Gardens. Oh my, what  wonderful discovery.

After parking (the place was deserted because of the heat), we headed out to explore the park. The first thing we noticed was this rather amusing sign.

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Needless to say, we had no intention of either feeding or molesting a gator. Whaaaat?

The Gardens are a maze of beautiful walkways.

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It’s also an extraordinary venue for weddings.

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There are plantings of every kind imaginable around the grounds. They’re stunning.

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Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but our ability to capture the amazing beauty of the Gardens was extremely limited. All we can say is, if you’re ever in this area, put The Florida Botanical Gardens on your bucket list!

And while you’re there you MUST take in Heritage Village. It’s literally right next door to The Gardens. This 21-acre living history museum features 31 structures, some from the mid-to-late 19th century. It averages 4 1/2 stars on #TripAdvisor for a good reason.

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This wonderful recreation of a #smalltown village includes a school, church, railroad depot, sponge warehouse and general store as well as a variety of historic homes.

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We will be back to spend more time exploring the sights and smells of the village of Dunedin, The Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village. Maybe we’ll see you there!