Woods Hole is a village on Cape Cod with a deep-water harbor, the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, and major science institutions such as the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). Woods Hole is known for the best collection of waterfront restaurants on the Upper Cape, as well as a charming drawbridge and marina that delights visitors. Woods Hole is the start of the Shining Sea bike path, an eleven-mile journey past beaches and stunning vistas overlooking Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay.
It's Summertime, and the Living is Easy
In the summer, Woods Hole bustles with visitors, shoppers, and scientists. Many are waiting for the next ferry to the island of Martha's Vineyard. The Steamship Authority provides regular, year-round connections to the Vineyard from Woods Hole to either Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven.
Martha's Vineyard Bound
When visiting the Vineyard, the clever traveler knows to budget a little extra time to grab a delicious treat in the bakeries and restaurants of Woods Hole, shop Water Street, visit the Aquarium, and check-out the old-time candy store before hopping on the ferry.
A Center for Science
There is so much serious science going on in Woods Hole, you may feel like you walked into the set of a science reality TV show as you wander the streets of this small village:
- The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is the largest privately-funded lab in the country.
- The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) is the nation's pre-eminent ocean sciences research facility, exploring what they call "planet ocean."
- Renowned for finding the Titanic with the deep diving research submarine, ALVIN, don't miss the WHOI Exhibit Center on School Street which offers a great history lesson on that discovery.
- The Woods Hole Research Center is also located here, on the cutting edge of global warming research.
- The Sea Education Association uses Woods Hole as it's home port, and their three-masted schooner can be seen tied up on the waterfront many summer days as it readies for excursions with high school and college students.
Woods Hole is home to a small aquarium, run by the National Marine Fisheries. A very child-friendly place, kids especially enjoy watching the seals do tricks as part of their daily exercise and feeding (at 11 am and 4 pm all year round).
Falmouth Road Race
Woods Hole is the start of the famous Falmouth Road Race, with 10,000+ runners crowding it's winding lanes and back roads. The start line of the race is right in front of the drawbridge on Water Street, continuing for 7+ miles along the water, past Nobska Light and ending in Falmouth Heights.
A Light House to Remember
Nobska Lighthouse is in Woods Hole, on a prominent hill overlooking Vineyard Sound and Nobska Beach. A short walk up Church Street from the center of Woods Hole, this unique landscape with sweeping views out to the islands has inspired centuries of artists, photographers and poets. Edward Hopper painted this lighthouse bathed in Cape light, and you too can capture a moment before this iconic structure, one of the most famous on Cape Cod.
World Class Fishing Hole
Nobska Light warns sailors and fisherman of the entrance to the Woods Hole passage, a challenging body of water littered with rocks and a strong current that is the primary passage between Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay. Sport fisherman flock from all over the Atlantic seaboard for a chance to fish this churning passage, an amazing place to catch a Striped Bass, Bluefish or Tautog. The US Coast Guard maintains a base in Woods Hole, on Little Harbor, which you can see from Woods Hole Road and Church Street. Tours of the base are offered by pre-arrangement.
Center for the Arts
The Woods Hole Film Festival, now in it's 21st season, has been named one of the top-25 coolest festivals in the US by FilmMaker Magazine. Quirky and fiercely independent, the festival welcomes film makers and cineophiles the starting the last Saturday in July for eight days of screenings and panels. The Woods Hole Theatre Company puts on plays year round, plus there is an active music scene in the village with folk, jazz and blues spilling into the streets all summer long. Locals gather in the Community Hall for summer sings, contra-dancing, and great visiting bands. Artists display their work at the annual art show, and in shops like "Handworks" and on village market days (in the Old Firehouse). A Walking Village. Woods Hole boasts many nearby walks and destinations, including serene Quissett Harbor's "Knob," a little chunk of land overlooking Buzzards Bay, perfect for viewing spectacular sunsets. The secluded secret held by Spohr's Garden on Fells Road is hard to find, but the spring sea of daffodils in this waterfront garden is spectacular. And just three miles up the road in Falmouth is the Peterson Farm/Beebe Woods conservation, with 300+ acres to explore. Don't miss the stunning "Punch Bowl" a deep woods pond with a killer rope swing.
Room for Learning
The Woods Hole Library sits atop the hill overlooking the ferry terminal is a perfect cool respite on a hot summer's day, with an extensive collection of summer reading, plus free computers and wifi. A visit to the Bradley House Museum next door to explore the history of whaling and the Woods Hole Historical Collection is a must for history buffs. Don't miss their excellent walking tour, available in paperback or downloaded to your smart phone as an audioguide.
Many celebrities and notables have passed through Woods Hole over the years. Katherine Lee Bates (who penned "America the Beautiful") was born here in Falmouth, and the bike path is named in her honor. Buckminster Fuller built his first geodesic dome here in the 1920's, and it awaits restoration at the top of Church Street. Robert Ballard lead a team of scientists and engineers to build the submersible that first explored the "Titanic" here, and James Cameron (director of "Titanic" and "Avatar") frequently visits for research. Wes Anderson developed parts of "The Life Aquatic" here; Steve Carell, Holly Hunter and other notables often stop in on their way over to Martha's Vineyard.
The Red Nobel Carpet
Scientist Osamu Shimamura of Woods Hole won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for his pioneering work on the phosphorescence of jellyfish, a discovery that has had many applications in modern medicine. The MBL boasts that 54 Nobel laureates have passed through its doors in the last century, many of whom have had lasting impact on our society including Rachel Carson, Jared Diamond, Mark Roth and many others.