No one knows exactly where he came from—perhaps a sailor taking shore leave, or maybe a wayfarer exploring the colonies—but locals think they know what he's waiting for. In the 1720s, two travelers checked into The White Horse Tavern—still functioning today since 1673. One murdered the other, fleeing into the night, never to be heard from again. Ever since, visitors have seen the ghost of the slain traveler, saying that he appears to be waiting the day for his companion returns and he may take his revenge.
This is just one of the tales shared by the guides of Ghost Tours of Newport. Cloaked in flowing black dresses, billowy capes, and top hats, they lead each tour by lantern light through Newport's historic colonial district, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the United States with buildings dating back to the late 1600s. Leading guests down easily overlooked alleyways still defaced by H.P. Lovecraft's tagging phase, the guides arrive at haunted locations, such as a wrought-iron-gated colonial cemetery neighboring a church constructed in 1726. The stories behind some sightings and locations even intersect with historical figures, such as George Washington and Lizzy Borden. Guides encourage picture taking and receive submissions each week of possible spectral figures caught during a tour, which they post to Ghost Tours of Newport's Facebook albums. These images range from the impression of faces in windows to orbs, believed to represent a spirit with a fondness for bowling.
The line to the men's room at Nimrod Restaurant is peculiar because it usually contains both men and women. Near the restroom's doorway, gatherers careen and crane their necks to see a 200-year-old hole and the projectile that created it: a cannonball from the War of 1812. This hands-on history lesson is one of many elucidated by the guides at Phat Tire Bike Tours. They backdrop their classroom against the scenic sights of crashing waves, lush gardens, and bustling downtown shops. Seated on personal bikes or rental bikes that correctly answer the question, "What's my favorite color?", groups can set out on tours of places such as Falmouth, Plymouth, Martha's Vineyard, or Nantucket.
EcoTourz’s cache of bikes and kayaks furnish unique perspectives of the Upper Cape’s natural splendor and Sandwich’s historical charms. Guides usher small groups of kayakers down Historic Mill Creek, where herons and osprey soar above the tall grass while conspiring to overthrow the neighborhood mockingbirds. On dry land, EcoTourz staff rents out bicycles and divulges prime pedaling spots, such as the marsh-lined Sandwich Boardwalk or some of the Cape’s oldest buildings.
At the age of 16, Matthew "Matty" Hughes became the youngest-ever licensed captain in the port of Boston. Funneling his passion into a career, he founded Boston Harbor Cruises in 1926 to lead tours up the Charles River. What began as a two-man, one-boat operation has grown tremendously throughout its more than 90-year history, now encompassing a 21-boat fleet and more than 250 employees who transport more than 2 million passengers.
The Boston Harbor Cruises's staff handles all things nautical, from whale watching and speedboat tours to wedding receptions and celebrations for special occasions. Because dolphins are hard to saddle and refuse to obey verbal commands, Boston Harbor Cruises also navigates the waters with ferries and harbor cruises that explore the historic and romantic sights of Boston.
Though the leadership has changed, Matty's grandchildren Rick and Chris Nolan still perpetuate the traditions of Boston Harbor Cruises, furthering one man's obsession with the harbor and inspiring future generations to create their own memories on its calm waters.
Such scenes, part of Cape Cod’s natural magic, are not lost on Bob Wilds. A retired whale watcher, Bob resides in the Cape year-round. He founded Great Marsh Kayak Tours in hopes of sharing the beauty that surrounds him daily. Bob leads family-friendly adventures, such as the Naturalist’s Dream tour, which immerses groups in the majestic salt marshes and explores how early Cape Cod settlers used this environment to survive. All tours employ the services of the Esperanto, a comfy, easy-to-paddle kayak with ample storage capacity for personal belongings and the native kettle chips found floating in the water.
Cape Cod Fishing Charters cast its first line in Provincetown more than 30 years ago. Back then, though, it was known as Top Rod Charters amongst a group of friends and fellow anglers. After a night of fishing, the group would meet at a local diner and compare their catches. The winner, of course, sat at the head of the table and ate for free.
But fishing in those days was a very different scene than the ones afforded by the current version of Cape Cod Charters. Today, the company features a fleet of safe, professionally operated boats. Aboard the vessels, groups receive as much or as little instruction as they want, all while using high-quality rods to reel in fish from the water or poke slumbering pirates that float by on inner tubes. Charters chase striped bass, tuna, cod, and more, and sometimes, appearances from seals and breaching whales make the experience all the more exciting.