U.S. 6 through Massachusetts

road trip cape cod
Route 6's Sagamore Bridge connects the Cape with the mainland
  • Trip length: 90 miles from New Bedford to Provincetown

The city of New Bedford is a great place to pick up U.S. Route 6. Once the world's largest whaling port, the city of 100,000 still boasts a large fleet of fishing trawlers and scallop dredgers. Its seafood catch is the largest in the nation by dollar volume. The whaling industry left it with a rich legacy of 19th-century mansions and commercial buildings.

From New Bedford, the road wends east through charming towns of old clapboarded colonials, churches, and clam shacks. Progress is slow as Route 6 becomes Main Street for many towns and villages.

After it jumps across the Cape Cod Canal, Route 6 becomes Mid-Cape Highway, a four-lane road running down the spine of the lower Cape. It speeds the trip to summer homes on the ocean beaches.

Near the elbow of the Cape, 6 turns north and drops back down to two lanes. It passes through classic summer vacation spots like Truro and Wellfleet before arriving in Provincetown at the end of the drive. At times both ocean dunes and Cape Cod Bay are visible from the road.

Related: Best places for vacation home deals

"P'town" is the Cape's largest and liveliest town, a center for the arts and a draw for tourists, especially from the gay and lesbian community.

Route 6 is an especially fine drive after Labor Day, when heavy summer traffic drops down.

First published May 19, 2015: 11:41 AM ET

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