Many of us are biased and think that our region is the most beautiful place in the world. When it comes to this infamous hook-shaped peninsula though, it’s hard to argue. Sixty-five miles of oceanfront views with numerous unique towns make this a truly stunning place to live or visit. It’s no surprise that numerous celebrities both past and present have called Cape Cod home.
In our guide, we go over the things you need to know for your Cape Cod vacation, and the best places to stay and visit while you enjoy your trip!
Explore our guide to learn more about
- Essential Tips for Your Cape Cod Vacation
- The Best Places to Stay in Cape Cod
- Things To Do in Cape Cod
- Best Eats in Cape Cod
- Cape Cod Vacation Gallery
- Frequently Asked Questions about Cape Cod
Essential Tips for Your Cape Cod Vacation
Planning is the key to having a stress-free vacation—and that applies here, too. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re considering when to visit and how you’ll get there.
Travel by planes, trains, or automobiles…ferries, too!
Fortunately for vacationers who don’t like the stress of bumper-to-bumper traffic, there are numerous ways to get to Cape Cod. Two airports at Hyannis and Provincetown make it an easy and short commute from Boston or Providence while the CapeFlyer runs seasonally from Boston into Hyannis.
For those who believe the journey should be memorable as well, the Bay State Cruise Company and Boston Harbor Cruises both offer scenic ferry trips, allowing passengers to enjoy the views, relax, and sip a cold drink. Taking one of these alternative ways into Cape Cod is a great option if you’re planning on staying in one or two locations and want to utilize public transportation provided by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority.
If the railway, a flight, or a ferry isn’t convenient, driving is still an option. We recommend leaving on a weekday, especially during the busy summer months, to avoid particularly heavy traffic.
Whether it’s dad running around to catch up with the kids, or the kids tearing up the playground like there’s no tomorrow, it’s important to make sure that your Cape Cod vacation remains chafe-free.
Plan your visit for the spring and fall
The best time to visit Cape Cod to enjoy its many beaches and water activities is in May and June, then again in September and October just before it gets cold. Year-round, temperatures vary from the mid-20s to the high-70s—however, depending on where you live, a Cape Cod vacation any day of the year might be preferable.
Keep unpredictable temperatures in mind
Sea breezes have a big impact on the temperature. The ocean tends to stay somewhat cool, which allows for wind gusts to keep the mainland at a more agreeable temperature year-round. When exploring Cape Cod, it’s a good idea to keep a light jacket or sweater with you regardless of the forecast. But, don’t let that stop you from packing all of your beach and vacation gear!
Rent a car to explore the Cape
While it might be preferable to fly, boat, or ride the rail into the Cape, it’s a good idea to rent a car for your Cape Cod vacation. Many vacationers tend to think of Cape Cod as smaller, but in reality, it is spread out with 16 different communities—including islands like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Unless you plan to stay in a relatively small area or know for sure that everything you want to see is on public transit, it’s a good idea to rent a car while you’re there.
One thing people tend to forget when on vacation is sun protection. In addition to sunscreen, you can also use sunshirts to help keep sunburns away! Browse our selection now for both dad and the kids.
The Best Places to Stay in Cape Cod
As we mentioned, Cape Cod is bigger than you think. Each small town on the Cape has its own unique personality. Picking the right town as your home base is important! Here are our top three recommendations for where to vacation in Cape Cod.
Sandwich: Best for Nature Lovers
One could say that the whole peninsula is for nature lovers, but Cape Cod’s westernmost town doesn’t just have breathtaking beaches, it also has the Shawme-Crowell State Forest and Heritage Museums & Gardens to keep active families busy. Add in the the infamous Brewster tidal flats and gorgeous Town Neck Beach and Sandwich Boardwalk, it’s hard not to imagine spending your entire vacation right here.
Our Recommendation: The Sandwich Inn & Suites
This inn sits right in the middle of the historic district and has all the charm and amenities a family could ask for. It’s a few miles away from the beach, but close enough to everything for families to enjoy themselves. For time spent in the room, it has coffee, tea, and television—not that we think the kids will want to spend much time in front of it in such a beautiful place!
Image provided courtesy of The Sandwich Inn & Suites.
Chatham: Best for Classic Style
Like other Cape Cod communities, visitors to Chatham can enjoy scenic beaches and mild weather, but one thing that sets this town apart is its style. Homes and businesses boast the classic Victorian design that’s popular in Massachusetts, but it’s also infused with distinct New England architecture, creating a unique, traditional style that is modern yet historical all at once.
Visit the Chatham Lighthouse for a scenic view and a bit of history as well. Once known as the Twin Lights, the lighthouse used to have two wooden towers before one was moved to become the Nauset Light. Over the years, this iconic building and beacon of light for sailors has undergone upgrades—the tower is now 40-foot tall and brick, automated, and features aerobeacons to better guide ships to shore.
Our Recommendation: The Chatham Seafarer
A beautiful choice for a relaxing Cape Cod vacation, the Chatham Seafarer is close to the city center of Chatham, some of the most beautiful beaches Cape Cod has to offer, and is close to plenty of bike paths. Additionally, the hotel has a heated pool for crisper than expected New England days where the ocean may be too cool to play in.
Image provided courtesy of The Chatham Seafarer.
Harwich: Best for Festivals and Arts
Wine, festivals, and lavender are some of the biggest and best attractions that Harwich has to offer. Located directly southwest of Chatham, Harwich often celebrates its artisans with events like Art in the Park and even the Town Band, which performs in Harwich Center.
One of the biggest, most notable events happens in September. The Harwich Cranberry Arts and Music Festival is a weekend-long celebration with music, vendors, and local offerings that Cape Cod vacationers won’t find anywhere else.
Our Recommendation: The Handkerchief Shoals Inn
As a small business ourselves, we believe in supporting other small businesses and we love this family-run inn. Hospitality, comfortable accommodations, and affordability make this a great choice for a family-friendly Cape Cod vacation. It’s conveniently located between Harwich Port and Chatham, and attractions like the Red River Beach make it a great choice for lodging that you want to walk to and from.
Image provided courtesy of The Handkerchief Shoals Inn.
Things To Do in Cape Cod
There’s no shortage of things to do on a Cape Cod vacation. An area that’s fully embraced its popularity, Cape Cod offers family-friendly activities as well as things couples might like to enjoy when they leave the kids with relatives or utilize different babysitting options designed to give parents a break. Anytime of the year families can find something to do, but we’ve listed eight great options for families, friends, and even couples that’ll make your vacation great!
Love kayaking? You’re in luck because there are numerous locations in Cape Cod where you can put your kayak in the water (or rent one) and enjoy the great outdoors while you workout! One such opportunity is with Rideaway Adventures, which has locations around Sandwich and one in Mashpee. (Psst: Don’t forget the right kayaking attire!)
Cape Cod Inflatable Park
Located in West Yarmouth, this park has water rides, inflatables, and even obstacle courses designed to entertain the kids and keep you laughing at their antics all day. They even have something for toddlers, ensuring that family members of all shapes and sizes will find something to do.
Whydah Pirate Museum
Also in West Yarmouth, this pirate museum features a replica of the infamous Whydah—a ship we suspect inspired popular pirate movies that talk about rum. Kids will love the tour, touching the treasure, and being immersed in the kid-friendly world of pirates.
Cape Cod Rail Trail
Families that prefer being outside rather than indoors will love this one. The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a 25+ mile paved bike path that connects numerous Cape Cod towns. It’s called the Rail Trail because it was originally a railroad line. Today, bikers can enjoy a leisurely—or more intense—scenic bike ride through Cape Cod.
Shawme-Crowell State Forest
The Shawme-Crowell State Forest has 15 miles of trails and over 285 camping sites throughout its 700-acre pine and oak forest, making it ideal for outdoorsy families regardless if you just want a picnic in the great outdoors, or if your idea of a vacation includes campfires and tents. (Psst: Bring your kayak!)
Heritage Museums & Gardens
Also located in Sandwich, this museum has something for everyone. Kids love the Hidden Hollow—essentially a 2-acre playground—while nature lovers enjoy the 100+ acres of gardens and car enthusiasts can get figuratively lost in the Antique Automobile Collection. A beautiful place and a must for Cape Cod vacationers, this particular attraction is educational and fun.
Hyannis Harbor Cruise
Why just enjoy Cape Cod from the beach? The Hyannis Harbor Cruise lets anyone and everyone enjoy a cruise of the harbor while learning about the notable landmarks that contribute to Cape Cod’s history. They offer free morning cruise trips for kids, and overall, it’s such a laid-back experience that parents tend to enjoy the downtime.
Sandwich Glass Museum
Perhaps best reserved for visits without the kids, Sandwich’s Glass Museum exhibits Sandwich’s history with glass in an amazing, artistic way. Aside from seeing beautiful artistic expressions, visitors can also see the glass making in action with glass pours and a forge.
Image provided courtesy of the Sandwich Glass Museum.
Chatham Oysters - Oyster Farm Tours
This one too is best reserved for leaving the kids with a babysitter or a couple’s Cape Cod vacation. With this tour, you can see how oysters are grown, farmed, and distributed right from the source. For those that love this delicacy, it’s educational and informative to see the process and then enjoy the oysters you harvest yourself at the oyster bar.
Best Eats in Cape Cod
With that last must-see attraction, it’s no surprise that we’re thinking about food! Here are some of the best restaurants to visit on your next Cape Cod vacation.
The Oyster Raw Bar & Grille: Best Choice for Couples
Perfect if you want something unique, The Oyster Raw Bar & Grille is truly farm to table as the chef is also the oyster farmer and owner. Greg Burns provides amazing customer service and some of the best oysters west of Harwich. We love that it’s comfortable, tastes great, and the portions are big enough to satisfy anyone.(Even DryGuy Andy).
Google Rating: 4.4
The Skipper Restaurant and Chowder House: Best Choice for Families
Located in Yarmouth, this restaurant has seafood, amazing desserts, and a menu for kids that automatically put it at the top of our list. Plus, it’s a family-friendly restaurant that shows genuine Cape Cod hospitality and helpfulness to its patrons. What’s not to love?Google Rating: 4.6 Stars
Keltic Kitchen: Best Choice for Breakfast & Lunch
It may be tempting to overlook this place, but that’d be a mistake. The Keltic Kitchen is quaint and small, but within the walls there’s some of the best breakfast food in Cape Cod. Very reasonably priced, their menu includes all the typical breakfast offerings with pancakes and eggs, but also something called Pit Ham Benny. It’s eggs, ham steak, potatoes, a muffin, and hollandaise sauce.Google Rating: 4.8 Stars
We call the south home and we love it, but Cape Cod is a great place to vacation. From warm hospitality to endless things to see and do, it’s the perfect spot to make memories with family and de-stress any time of the year! Browse our gallery below for some beautiful Cape Cod favorites, or see if we’ve addressed any lingering thoughts you might have in our frequently asked questions!
Cape Cod Vacation Gallery
Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions? Hopefully we have some answers. Browse our most frequently asked questions.
Is vacationing in Cape Cod expensive?
It really depends on your needs, priorities, and duration. Some Cape Cod hotels are under $100 a night while others may be several hundred. All in all, most families typically spend at least a few thousand dollars for a week-long family vacation in Cape Cod.
Is Cape Cod Bay the ocean?
Yes! Cape Cod Bay is part of the Atlantic. Unlike the Gulf of Mexico, which is considered a sea, the Cape Cod Bay is a part, albeit a larger part than some other bays, of the Atlantic Ocean.
Is Cape Cod worth a day trip?
Absolutely. But, it’s difficult to get everything done in a single day. We recommend planning at least a weekend trip when you vacation in Cape Cod.
What food is Cape Cod known for?
Cape Cod is mainly known for seafood. From fish to clams and lobsters, it’s nearly impossible to visit Cape Cod without seeing seafood on the menu. Lobster roll anyone?
What is Cape Cod, Massachusetts known for?
Famous for picturesque beaches, buildings, and lighthouses, Cape Cod is also known for its seafood as well as locally crafted beers and chocolates.