The Old King’s Highway : Route 6A Cape Cod

The final nine nights of our September New England holiday were spent on Cape Cod at one of our very favourite places : The Lamb and Lion Inn at Barnstable. This year was our fourth visit but this shrank in insignificance when we met two couples who had been visiting for their 18th and 23rd times respectively.

The Lamb and Lion Inn right on the 6A

So, I was pretty familiar with the Old King’s Highway but have only on more recent visits realised the full historical significance of this road. When you cross the Sagamore Bridge you join Highway 6 the main dual carriageway that links the Sagamore with Provincetown 72 miles away. However, to reach the Lamb and Lion and follow a slower pace and drop down a gear or two you need to take the Route 6A to the north.

The 6A leaves the 6 at Sagamore and rejoins it just west of the town of Orleans and in total the OKH is 34 miles long and traverses seven towns and is just yards from the beach in some places. In fact it is hard to realise that you are so near the seaside as you drive along but turn left (north) down almost any lane as you drive from Sagamore to Orleans and you’ll find  sandy beaches hugging Cape Cod Bay or, nearest to us at the L&L, the lovely sheltered Barnstable Harbour.

Sunset at Barnstable Harbor Beach

When we stay on Cape Cod we have a very limited “comfort zone” so the part of The Old King’s Highway that I’m going to tell you about is just that between Barnstable and Dennis. I just checked on Mapquest and it’s a distance of about 11 miles.

I have tried to find out exactly which “Old King” the highway is named for but it’s not mentioned in the bits of literature that I have collected and no sign on “Google” either. I assumed King George III but it’s much older than that – a late 17th century extension of the King’s Highway from Plimouth. The whole of it is designated a Regional Historic District and is the largest such district in America. It is also one of America’s most scenic highways.

This 34 mile roadway winds through 7 cape towns, past hundreds of historic sites and landscapes, including farmsteads, cranberry bogs, salt marshes, sea captain’s homes, and village greens.”

In addition there’s America’s oldest library (The Sturgis Library), a famous artist’s home (Edward Gorey), a Coastguard Museum, a unique secondhand bookshop (Parnassus Books), an Historic New England property (The Winslow Crocker House), great eateries and interesting, one-of-a-kind shops and galleries, roadside fruit and veg. stalls (we recommend the heritage tomatoes), shipyards and churches and cemeteries and all of those just within our 11 mile zone.

Historic House plaque – one of very many along the 6A

Deacon John Hinckley House (one of many historic properties along 6A)

Thomas Hinckley Lived Near Here – such signs abound on the 6A!

Inside The Sturgis Library, Barnstable

The Trayser Coastguard Museum, Barnstable

Hallet’s Soda Fountain

My ice cream soda is ready!

Parnassus Books (so much more inside!)

The Winslow Crocker House

(Sea) Captain Bang’s Hallet House

Edward Gorey House

Sesuit Harbor Cafe

Sesuit Harbor


9 comments on “The Old King’s Highway : Route 6A Cape Cod

  1. Fran says:

    Your photos have reminded me how much I love the E Coast clapboard style.

  2. lisa says:

    Your blog is awesome. My family has stayed at the Lamb and Lion, and it is truly the most wonderful place!!! I am glad you enjoyed your trip!

  3. visitinghousesandgardens says:

    Hi Barbara, as you know, I’m planning my New England trip for this Fall and so I’ve been reading your posts about your trips with real interest. I’ve found the historic New England website and land trust USA (which looks like properties to stay at rather than visit), but did you come across any other organisations? We’re going to Portland and Meredith so not cape cod. Do you have any suggestions? I will of course post my itinerary when we’ve been so will share my finds too! Very many thanks.

    • Hi VHG, I discovered Historic New England on a visit to Maine. I talked about the properties visited in one of my very early posts in autumn 2011. We were in Portland before I ever started blogging. I can only think it might be useful to look at The National Historic Landmarks site ( ). Otherwise I tend to search out author homes in my several guide books on the subject. I look forward to reading about your trip and seeing which properties you manage to visit. I think I mentioned before – opening times are very hit and miss. If I think of anything else I will let you know.

      • visitinghousesandgardens says:

        Thank you. Will definitely check the site. Yes, I’ve planned exactly where to be around places that open the second Saturday of the month etc.! Some are better with Friday to Sunday opening but based on your advice my tour operator got an email from me today with v.specific times to work around. Thanks again Robin

  4. […] this area before. In fact, we’ve stayed in Barnstable a few times and I wrote about it here in […]

  5. […] In the past I’ve visited Historic New England properties in the Ogunquit, Maine region and its single Cape Cod property : The Winslow Crocker House. […]

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