Yarmouth has all kinds of hidden places for locals to spend their time, including some off-the-beaten-path beaches that most visitors would never find.
One such location in South Yarmouth is Windmill Beach, a small section of sand on the Bass River that provides a private and quiet place to escape the crowds.
Windmill Beach isn't known for its liveliness or amenities. Still, if you're into learning more about Cape Cod's long and storied history or you appreciate the serenity of a beach that isn't overrun with people, it's worth a visit.
About the Windmill
You probably think that with a name like Windmill Beach, this location must have a windmill. And you'd be right with that assumption, as the historic Judah Baker Windmill overlooks the water, providing an ambiance that not many other beaches can match.
The windmill dates back to 1791 when Judah Baker built it overlooking his property on Grand Cove in North Dennis. Captain Freeman Crowell later bought the windmill and moved it to Winkle Point in East Dennis, continuing to operate it.
In 1866, Captain Braddock Matthews purchased the windmill, moving it to South Yarmouth before selling it to Seth Baker in 1875. The windmill changed hands a few more times over the years, with the town of Yarmouth eventually taking control in 1953.
It's all hearsay, but rumors persist that after arriving in South Yarmouth, the windmill became part of a massive 27-room home used by rumrunners. The building was eventually split into a 13-room house and a 14-room home, and the windmill ended up down the street at this beach.
You can visit the windmill for tours at certain times, although it is closed on most days. If you've like to see the inside, you'll have to check with the Yarmouth Historical Commission.
Visiting the Beach
Beyond the windmill's history, the other reason to visit this location is the sandy beach overlooking the Bass River.
Truth be told, this beach is tiny and isn't the best place to go with a large group. However, if you're looking for a relaxing spot in your neighborhood to head with friends or family, Windmill Beach is absolutely perfect.
There are stairs leading down to the beach, making the sandy area more private than at other beaches, and you can wade a fair distance into the water without worry. Lots of boats will pass by on their way into Nantucket Sound, as well, creating a beautiful backdrop as you relax.
If you'd like to get a boat into the water, be advised that you'll have to carry it down the stairs. Still, a kayak or SUP is entirely possible, with many visitors choosing the paddle out to Stage Island to explore.
This beach isn't the most exciting, but it can't be beaten if you want a quiet place on the water.
Getting There and Parking
One of the best things about Windmill Beach is that's it's so easy to reach from various locations in South Yarmouth because it's only a couple of blocks from Route 28.
Officially, the beach is on River Street, which you can reach via Willow Street or directly from Old Main Street. The beach is also easily accessible from Pleasant Street and South Street.
Perhaps the most significant issue with visiting Windmill Beach is the lack of parking, as the lot only has room for four cars. There is a bit of parking on the street, but be careful not to block any driveways or traffic from getting through, as the roads in this area are very narrow. You'll want to grab a Yarmouth Resident Beach Parking Sticker, which costs $30, to avoid getting a ticket.
Nearby Dining Options
You might be inclined to have a meal before or after your time at the beach, and, luckily, Windmill Beach's proximity to the heart of South Yarmouth will ensure that you're covered.
Some of the more popular options include Seafood Sam's South Yarmouth, Papa Gino's, and Toly's Pizza for lunch and Gerardi's Cafe and Four Seasons Trattoria for dinner. If you're just looking for a quick treat, there's also the always popular Caffè Gelato Bertini.
All of these locations are walkable, although most people choose to drive into town for a meal. At the same time, if you've secured a parking spot and plan to return to the beach, you might consider making the ten-minute walk to Route 28.
A Quiet Afternoon in South Yarmouth
Just because you live on Cape Cod doesn't mean you have to live with excitement every day because there are quiet areas like Windmill Beach where you can escape the crowds.
When the Cape's beaches fill up in the summer, you'll be glad that you have access to Windmill Beach, and with any luck, it'll be close enough that you can walk or ride your bike from your new home in South Yarmouth.