Hyannis, Massachusetts, is the unofficial capital of Cape Cod and one of the most bustling locations for tourists and locals.
The village of Hyannis is actually a neighborhood in the town of Barnstable.
It’s just because of the largest population center of the Cape while also offering a fishing port and ferry service to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
Hyannis has so much charm, class, and quaintness that even the famous Kennedy family has a series of homes on the water.
Main Street is the literal main street of Hyannis, with 120 shops and restaurants tucked into a one-mile stretch of road.
That’s not all there is to this village.
Beaches, boat tours, scenic driving tours, historic districts, and museums round out a Hyannis adventure.
Hyannis and Hyannis Port are not the same places but are just two miles apart.
Hyannis Port is a small, affluent neighborhood and also home to the Kennedy Compound of homes.
While Hyannis is packed with people in the summer, this community doesn’t shut down during the off-season.
To help you plan a winter trip, you should know that Provincetown, Falmouth, and Chatham are also popular winter destinations.
Warnings & Dangers in Hyannis
OVERALL RISK : LOW
While there’s a low risk across Cape Cod, the highest risks would be in Hyannis. No concerns here are at the level of big cities like Chicago but pay attention to the specific details as we go through this article. You’ll find there’s so much to do here that you might not even notice any element of crime, especially if you’re using good safety practices.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority extends from Falmouth and Bourne on the west end to Provincetown at the northern tip. Taxis and rideshares are readily available across the Cape and are especially prominent in Hyannis. Trolley service is available in Hyannis from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Water ferry service is available from Hyannis to Nantucket or Martha Vineyard.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The risk isn’t as high as the potential, with just three pickpockets or purse snatchings reported in 2021. Summer visitors should be prepared for crowded streets and restaurants and use extra care with purses and wallets.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The weather can be nasty in Hyannis any time of year, but all risks come with plenty of warning. Winter and summer storms can cause flooding or storm surges. The hurricane season runs from June through November, and an approaching storm will likely lead to evacuations. Heavy snow and ice storms can cause driving challenges in the winter.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
10 robberies were reported in 2021, and just 20% of those were person-to-person among strangers. The risk is low, but some increasing crime rates could elevate the risk in the future.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The risk here is low, but you’ll see extra security around the Kennedy Compound. The port could be a potential target, but there is just a lot of security and law enforcement presence in this vital area.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Getting a subscription to the Cape Cod Times is a great way to check for new scams. The biggest risks here are skimming devices on gas pumps or ATMs and rental scams. You won’t find a great bargain in Hyannis, especially in the summer, so any bargain-basement deal is likely a scam. Use a local agency to help you with a rental to get a verified listing.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women have an overall low risk, but there’s one warning I want to give you. During the summer of 2022, a few bars had patrons report the effects of the date rape drug. While no assaults were connected to the complaints, it’s worth reminding you never to take a drink from a stranger. Always keep your drink covered when you aren’t taking a sip, and don’t leave a drink unattended to hit the dance floor.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report for Barnstable shows no violations and full compliance. If you have concerns about PFAS (the “forever” chemical), you should review the water quality report to learn about those levels and the safety steps you can take.
Safest Places to Visit in Hyannis
Hyannis.com is a local Chamber of Commerce website that focuses on Hyannis-based activities, restaurants, and hotels.
It does include the other villages in Barnstable.
You can also read our article “How Safe is Barnstable for Travel?” to learn more about all the villages in this town.
VisitCapeCod.com include Hyannis locations but also offers details for more than a dozen other cities on the Cape.
Both sites offer newsletters and visitor guides by request.
Main Street from Yarmouth Road to Stevens Street is the busiest part of the village.
HyannisMainStreet.com is the best resource to take a deep dive into the businesses here.
They also have an Instagram @hyannismainstreet.
It’s important to review the restaurants ahead of time on Main Street because most of them will require reservations up to two weeks in advance, or else you could find yourself waiting in a very long line.
Hyannis also has several museums worth exploring:
- John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
- Cape Cod Maritime Museum
- Toad Hall Classic Sports Car Collection
- Massachusetts Air & Space Museum
Not all beaches in Cape Cod are open to the public, but residents or guests of residents will have more options.
The public beaches in Hyannis are Kalmus Park Beach, Orrin Keyes Beach, and Veterans Park Beach.
If you need a parking permit sticker, you’ll have to get that in Hyannis at the Community Youth Center, 141 Bassett Lane.
While you’re at the JFK museum, grab a walking tour map known as the Kennedy Legacy Trail.
Each location offers video and audio links to learn more in addition to informative kiosks.
The trail is 1.6 miles long.
Ocean Street runs parallel to the east side of the port, and you’ll see the Hyannis Harbor Lighthouse in the distance.
It is not open for tours, but Keyes Beach offers the best scenic views of it.
The dock is where fishing charters, ferry services, and tours launch.
BaySpiritTours.com offers various types of tours, from sunrise to sunset.
Whale-watching tours launch from Barnstable Village on the north side of the peninsula.
Just 10 minutes to the east in West Yarmouth, the Whydah Pirate Museum is a literal treasure trove from the 1717 shipwreck.
The Whydah first set sail in 1715, but pirates took over in early 1717, just months before the wicked storm buried the ship at the bottom of the ocean.
It would be 267 years before the ship’s remains and accompanying treasure were found.
Places to Avoid in Hyannis
We do have a few safety notes in Hyannis that are more for your benefit than reasons to avoid the area.
Homeless people can be found along Main Street and nearby areas to the port or the beach begging for money.
A rash of panhandlers and aggressive jewelry sellers were reported in 2022 across Cape Cod.
Kalmus Beach has seen an increase in drug deals and drug use, and international tourists need to be aware of the opioid crisis facing America.
Any drug that is sold illegally, even if it looks like a prescription drug such as Xanax, should be assumed to contain potentially lethal doses of Fentanyl.
Do not buy or take drugs that aren’t prescribed to you.
You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the Kennedy Compound, which is a private piece of land containing three homes.
You cannot tour any part of the property, and security will quickly approach you if you try.
The best viewpoints of the Kennedy homes can be found on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and with a robust walk along Eugenia Fortes Beach.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hyannis
- Barnstable Police do release a list of daily police activity but keep in mind that Barnstable covers all the villages, not just Hyannis. You can also follow them on Facebook @barnstablepolice to get easier-to-read information about crimes in the region.
- HyannisNews.com is a private website that is free to read with updated criminal activity in the region. The site is run by a local journalist who also sells his content to larger news outlets.
- Sign up for CodeRED notifications to get emergency alerts throughout Cape Cod. The alerts cover approaching weather, weather watches/warnings, and safety issues after a storm. Civil disruptions, traffic accidents, and road closures are included.
- During heavy traffic times of the year, locals prefer to use Highway 6A to get around instead of sitting in traffic on the larger Highway 6. While 6A will have lower speed limits and slow you down as you go through cities, it also is a free tourist attraction itself of the wonderful scenic views along the way. Going a lower speed limit is better than not moving in traffic on a wider road.
- Bridge jumping is a popular sport throughout Cape Cod, but it’s also illegal. The Sandwich bridge and “Jaws Bridge” on Martha’s Vineyard are popular spots where you might see others doing this. Report any bridge jumping to the police. While some do it for sports, others use the bridges as a way to end their lives, and some might start as fun but end up drowning or injured. Phone numbers for mental health support are at each bridge.
- For those using RTA to get around the Cape, opt for the one-day or 31-day pass, depending on how long you are staying. One-way rides will cost you $2, but you can pay $6 to ride as much as you like on a given day. Those over 60 or who are disabled pay 50% less than the standard fares.
- Parking is almost an art form in Hyannis. If you do find a spot on the street, it will have a time limit of 20 minutes or two hours. Parking lots are available near various parts of Main Street. Ocean Street parking is metered. Look for spots at Town Hall, Red Cross, and North Street lots, as you get a full six hours of free parking. You cannot park overnight. For those taking the ferry, use designated lots that allow overnight parking (for a fee).
- Barnstable’s beaches, including the village of Hyannis, will have lifeguards from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm WHEN AVAILABLE. The 2022 season saw a shortage of lifeguards, yet the beaches remained open. Beach safety flags and water quality signs will still be updated daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Internet rumors about sharks in the swimming areas of Cape Cod need to be addressed. You can check the status of shark sightings by downloading the Sharktivity app. To learn more about the agency that provides the information, visit atlanticwhiteshark.org. Never swim alone and despite how cute they are, avoid seals as that’s the main target of sharks. Follow warning signs on beaches about sharks or other dangerous marine life.
- The Greenhead Horse Fly is a saltwater marsh bug that feeds on blood. Even bug spray with DEET won’t stop them from biting, as it does with mosquitos. Long-sleeved clothing helps since the flies can’t bite through clothing. Use unscented lotions and deodorant to lower your risk. The Greenhead Horse Fly is most active in the summer.
So… How Safe Is Hyannis Really?
Tourism here brings in more than a billion dollars a year, so you can be sure that every effort is being made to keep the community safe.
On top of that, the community of year-round and seasonal residents is very involved in policing and reporting issues.
A lack of community policing is what causes some cities to spiral out of control with crime.
Hyannis is safe for tourists, but there are the homeless people, aggressive vendors, and petty theft risks you’ll find in any resort community.
In 2017, Hyannis was widely reported as one of the 100 dangerous places in America because of a data reporting error, not a real risk.
The majority of violent crimes that happen in Hyannis are at private homes.
This could include vacation rentals, so you should still use extensive security measures like locking doors and windows at night.
If your rental has a security system, ensure it is being used.
With the abundance of law enforcement, you will find some safety standards that could be annoying – parking tickets, speeding tickets, enforcement of private vs. public beaches, and citations for breaking beach rules about smoking and alcohol.
You’ll still find that Hyannis and surrounding Barnstable are one of the safest vacation destinations in America.
Enjoying this unique region is worth every overpriced hotel night and meal.
How Does Hyannis Compare?
- Visas – You’ll need a visa issued by the U.S. State Department to get through Customs at the port of entry or airport. This process can take several months, so don’t delay. For international travelers taking ferry rides to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard, those are part of the state, so you won’t need additional screening.
- Currency – You’ll only be able to use the U.S. Dollar here and try to pay for as much as you can in advance. Credit cards are widely accepted, so let your bank know irregular spending could occur during your trip. For budgeting, the standard tip anywhere in Cape Cod is 20-25%.
- Weather – Dress appropriately for all four seasons, but don’t use the forecast from Boston to check temperatures. Cape Cod can be anywhere from 10 degrees warmer or colder. Winter will be blustery, with temperatures below freezing at times and winds fueling wind chills much lower. Some people are surprised by how windy Hyannis can be. Bring waterproof outer layers any time of year, and you must bring comfortable walking shoes, or else you’ll regret it since there’s a lot of ground to cover.
- Airports – Cape Cod Gateway Airport is in Hyannis, with commercial service to Boston and New York. You can also get to the major airports in Boston or Providence, Rhode Island, within 90 minutes by car, and shuttles are also available.
- Travel Insurance – We always recommend travel insurance to high-demand tourist destinations, especially with a location like Hyannis that is so prone to weather delays.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance
Hyannis Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Jan -2° C
Feb -1° C
Mar 3° C
Apr 8° C
May 13° C
Jun 18° C
Jul 22° C
Aug 22° C
Sep 18° C
Oct 12° C
Nov 8° C
Dec 3° C
Average High/Low Temperature
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