Welcome to the Cape LM. Whatever you choose I'm sure that you'll enjoy your time on the Cape and will want to return in future.
These towns couldn't be more different. In Yarmouth are you locating on or near the beaches of Nantucket Sound? I love Sandwich. Much character and history, quaint and beautiful. My only concern is that the beaches are not very pretty. Then going to the vast stretches of Sandy Neck at the eastern edge of Sandwich, while beautiful, gives you acres of pebbles for a beach. If you can look past that then Sandwich is perfectly wonderful.
Yarmouth has lovely beaches all along Nantucket Sound and not much else, is lacking in the charm factor, is great for lots of family friendly commercial activities to entertain the kids and casual (and mediocre) dining. However there is a wealth and variety of dining next door in Hyannis and, if you get a cottage rental, you may be more interested in popping out to a fish market (there is a good one on Rt. 28) or a grocery store for a simple and delicious meal from your own grill.
If you'd like to reply with an overview of what you are hoping your Cape Cod vacation will be then we can provide some alternate ideas and I will throw out one thing now and that is to consider Falmouth. Like Sandwich it has an historic, quaint New England atmosphere yet more shoreline than any other town on the Cape. Beaches vary but are not pebbles. The warmest beaches are west facing like Old Silver beach but there is nothing wrong with locating near a Nantucket Sound beach either. If you want to find out what is available in Falmouth you can do so with one telephone call to Donohue Realty in Falmouth. Here is the website but calling would be quicker and more satisfying. http://www.falmouthhomes.com/rentalSearch.asp
Thank you for your very detailed response - we will be traveling with 2 young kids and need to make our final decision with respect to the rental property: one property is located in Sandwich (Town Neck) walking distance to the beach, another somewhere in Yarmouth - allegedly 3 minute drive to Seagull Beach and a short walk down to the water's edge at Englewood Beach. Kids activities are important. Another question I have is how hot does it usually get on the Cape in August and whether an A/C is a must?
lots of houses don't have ac and that can be an issue. are there fans? It really depends on your tolerances. Most of our rentals have not had ac and having a w/d were more important.
If you choose Sandwich, you aren't too far from more sandy beaches and you will be coming back to one of the most quaint areas on the Cape. That may count for something to you.
Hi LW -
If you stay in Yarmouth, you'll have easy access to all the family oriented things the kids will love. Plus, you'll be in a great location to enjoy lots of Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay beaches.
Just FYI: If you're within truly "short" walking distance to Englewood Beach, then you'll be a little more than 3 minutes drive from Seagull Beach. Probably more like 5-10 minutes. (5 minutes if you know the back roads to get there - 10 minutes if you use Rt. 28.) Don't know if that matters to you, but just wanted to mention it in case it's critical to your decision on a Yarmouth rental property.
I love Sandwich! Sandy Neck Beach is wonderful, the water is a bit cooler then the south side but kids never seem to notice (mine didn't at any rate). Sandwich has a very quaint mini golf course, not with skulls and crashed airplanes but old fashion. The have Heritage Plantation which has something for everyone, including a fabulous historic carousel the kids can ride on. I love love love Twin Acres for ice cream. The canal area you can walk to from town neck, it has a museum about the canal with a tugboat in it for the kids to walk thru. You can rent bikes in Sandwich and ride the bike path at the canal (if the kids are not great bike riders go in the morning on a week day, far less crowded). Seafood Sams by the canal is cheap and good. There are a few beaches. Town beach is right at Town Neck, Sandy Neck which I mentioned and the Boardwalk beach is beautiful. The town puts on band concerts once a week, there are farmers markets, antique shows.. all sorts of fun things.
Just a bit down 6A is a whale watch at Barnstable Harbor, fun! And after that stop in to my favorite place, Cape Cod Airfield... you can take a biplane ride there or just stop in the office and ask if you can look at the old planes... the biplane, a Seabee, and coming soon an old DC-3. There are picnic tables and hiking in the conservation area adjacent to the airfield. There is also a radio control field next to the airport (park in airport parking lot) where people fly tons of tiny model airplanes on weekends.
I hope you enjoy!