No trip to New England would be complete without a visit to Cape Cod, the hook-shaped peninsula dotted with quaint towns locals affectionately call villages. Visit all 15 communities to take in spectacular views of Cape Cod’s miles of dune-swept beaches, dine on fresh-caught seafood, and tour the birthplace of American history.
We’ve scoured the internet for some of the best ways to spend your Cape Cod family vacation, whether it’s your first visit to the northeast, or your family’s long-time favorite destination. From Sandwich, to Falmouth, to Provincetown and the islands, here’s our A to Z for can’t-miss vacation experiences meant to create lasting family memories of time well spent!
You’ll get a bird’s eye view of Cape Cod’s nooks and crannies with a sunset biplane ride in a replica of a 1930’s biplane! The pilots at Cape Cod Airfield will take you soaring high above the beaches, bridges, and canals on a sunset ride lasting 15, 25, or 35 minutes long. Breathtaking.
B | Beaches
With its 559 miles of coastline, the Cape is one of the best vacation spots to find your perfect sand dune, set up a chair or two, and enjoy a picnic along an unspoiled shore. In fact, there are so many beaches, you’ll find lots of them claiming to be in the top 10. Take your pick. You can’t miss!
C | Cape Cod
Why is it called Cape Cod? The peninsula is named after the species of fish England’s Bartholomew Gosnold found teaming in the waters along the Atlantic coast. That discovery happened in 1602, but like the scent of the region’s most popular fish, the name has affectionately stuck.
D | Dinner Train
Sit back, relax, and take in the sites on dinner trains designed for comfort. All aboard for departures from Hyannis, Buzzards Bay, or Falmouth, and you can choose from weekday lunch, Sunday brunch or more formal evening dinners by candlelight. Delicious five-course meals are served on three-hour train rides through quaint towns along the coast.
E | Eastham
As part of the Outer Cape, Eastham calls itself a rural village community offering broad marshlands, forests, and a rich history that includes the first meeting place between the Pilgrims and the American Indians. Bike, boat, or hike this area well known as the gateway to the National Seashore Park.
F | Falmouth
The town of Falmouth makes for a great base camp for day trips to Martha’s Vineyard, Boston, and Newport, Rhode Island. Located on the southwestern part of the Cape, it includes the villages of Falmouth and Woods Hole, famous for oceanographic studies as well as ferries access to the islands.
G | Golf Courses
Did you know that you can golf on Cape Cod nearly year round? Twenty-seven public and 15 private courses provide a challenge for any skill level. Some of the 9-hole courses date back to the 1890s! You’ll find golf greens from West Yarmouth to Nantucket in the area that has produced some of the best golfers in the world.
Visit Plimoth Plantation and experience what it was like to live in colonial New England at the time of the Pilgrim’s landing on Plymouth Rock. Step aboard a full-scale reproduction of the Mayflower for a tour of the 3-masted tall ship that brought the pilgrims to America in 1620.
I | Ice Cream
Ice Cream shops dot the coastline all along Cape Cod, where you’ll find some of the creamiest concoctions on the planet. From old fashioned flavors like Frozen Pudding to the latest in dairy trends such as Bass River Mud, a coffee ice cream blended with roasted almonds and chocolate chips. Why not go for an Ice Cream Crawl and try them all?
J | Jazz Festival
Every August, Cape Cod celebrates all things jazz with a lineup of some of the most popular performers in the region. This festival is held on a garden terrace overlooking the bay. Enjoy cocktails and a light menu as you relax and enjoy a concert under the stars.
K | Kayak Tours
Paddle the marshlands in search of harbor or grey seals, terns, sandpipers and ospreys. For a real treat, schedule a Sunset Spectacular Tour, featuring wide open views of marshes and dunes painted in orange and yellow glows.
L | League
Baseball has been a Cape Cod pastime since 1885, when the Cape Cod Baseball League was founded. Games are held throughout the peninsula, played by teams such as the Bourne Braves, Chatham Anglers, and Cotuit Kettleers. Lots of major league players have gotten a start right here including top names in Boston Red Sox baseball.
M | Maps
Navigating routes in the northeast has always been a challenge, ever since the times of horse and buggy. The streets wind, curve, change names, and sometimes end unexpectedly. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with these handy tips for safe travels all along The Cape.
N | Nobska Point Lighthouse
Since 1828 this lighthouse has served as the beacon to ships sailing along the Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay. Nobska Point sits on the edge of Woods Hole’s harbor, at the southwestern tip of Cape Cod. Visit the station’s four buildings, including the keeper’s house and, of course, the tower, which rises to 40 feet.
O | Oysters!
The variety of oysters available at boutique oyster farms all over Cape Cod include the Pleasant Bay, Wellfleet, Ichabod Flat and Nauti Pilgrim. And that’s just for starters. Connoisseurs will want to try each of the bivalve delicacies created in one of the premiere meroirs in the world.
P | Potato Chips
Called “ridiculously good,” Cape Cod potato chips are made one batch at a time and fried to a crisp delicacy with big flavor. Take a factory tour in this Hyannis tourist destination that sees over 250,000 visitors per year. From farm to kettle, you’ll follow the trail of these delicious snacks as they make their way into America’s hearts and mouths.
Q | Quahog Challenge
In New England, no part of a shellfish is left behind, not even the shells. Stuffed quahogs (very large clams) are a must-try, and the Quahog Challenge is one of the best places to get a taste of the best in the area. What are they stuffed with? Bread stuffing mixed with Portuguese sausage, onions, spices, and hot crushed red pepper. Bake and serve. Tasty!
R | Ride
How about a horseback ride on miles of open beach where you can make your way along cranberry bogs, dunes, and finally, out to the water’s edge at sunrise or sunset? Full day rides are offered in Sandwich’s Sandy Neck Beach. The pace and length of the ride is up to you. Design your perfect beach ride.
The only ferry service for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket that’ll carry both you and your vehicle. Operating since 1960, mainland terminals for the Steamship Authority include Woods Hole and Hyannis. Reservations can be made daily and the ferries operate year round.
T | Things To Do
We’ve compiled a list of some of the top things to do on the Cape. From whale watching to touring wine vineyards, you’ll find a fun vacation activity in each town along the peninsula, sure to please every member of the family.
While the rest of the country picks strawberries or blueberries, get a head start on your holiday fixings on cranberry bog tours where you can jump in and pick your own. Bring galoshes!
V | Vineyards
Top off your stay with a tour of the Cape Cod Winery in Falmouth, a vineyard bursting with 8,000 grape vines. Fancy a glass of Cabernet Franc or Pinot Grigio? Stop by for a wine tasting offering six wines for just $10, which includes a wine glass to take home.
W | Whale Watching
Head to Hyannis and board the Whale Watcher for a tour of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary for a 99% chance of sighting a Humpback, Finback or Minke whale. You may just spot a few dolphins too. Don’t forget a light jacket and a good pair of sunglasses!
A popular sport at tropical beaches around the world, kitesurfing has become increasingly popular along the Cape. Try First Encounter Beach in Easttham, or head out for extreme funseeking in Wellfleet.
Y | Yoga Studios
From Buzzard’s Bay to Provincetown, Bikram to Pranashanti, you’ll find yoga studios offering every type of movement art you dare to try. Do sun salutations with Yoga on the Beach in Mashpee, or relax into the dog pose at Quiet Mind Studio on Wellfleet.
Z | Ziplining
Everybody’s doing it on vacations from coast to coast, and Cape Cod is no exception. Offering five separate trails of varying levels of difficulty, Cape Cod Adventure Park provides family fun for kids of all ages. Zip it!
Pin this on Pinterest!
Cape Cod 4748 by ilcaimano CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge by Kate Hannon CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
Ice Cream Stand by Susanne Nilsson CC-BY-SA 2.0
Nobska Point Lighthouse by Bill Ilott CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
Fast Ferry by vincebusam CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cape Cod Winery by markgranitz CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0