Cape Cod, the crescent-shaped peninsula on Massachusetts’ coastline (about 1.5 hours southeast of Boston), is composed of 15 towns, which all have their own charms, from maritime history to stunning beaches. Many people pick one town to visit, but that’s a shame, since there are so many things to do in Cape Cod. Historic lighthouses, stunning national parks, extensive bike trails, unusual museums and much more make the entire region worth exploring.
10 things to do in Cape Cod
Swim, sunbathe and relax at one of the six stunning beaches along the Cape Cod National Seashore, stretching 40 miles between Chatham and Provincetown. There’s history on these beaches. Coast Guard Beach is where the pilgrims first landed in the New World (before Plymouth). And Marconi Beach – named for Guglielmo Marconi – is where the radio pioneer made the first transatlantic wireless communication all the away to England in 1903.
Follow in the footsteps of the Kennedys on the 1.6-mile self-guided Legacy Trail in Hyannis, which features 10 sites significant to the powerful political family, starting at the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. Other stops include where JFK gave his acceptance speech when he was elected president, and Hyannis Port, where the Kennedy’s kept their sailboats.
Indoor and outdoor attractions await visitors at the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, which has 100 acres of gardens, an adventure park and a museum with folk art. At the adventure park there are five trails which offer safe and challenging climbing courses and zip lines.
Take a deep breath and inhale the fragrant scent of lavender at the Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich. Lavender fields, formal gardens and wooded walking trails beckon visitors to explore. The lavender farm is typically in bloom late June-early July. Be sure to go for a walk in the Enchanted Garden, where you’ll find fairy houses and doorways, and even a miniature medieval castle.
Bike the 22-mile paved Cape Cod Rail Trail, which passes through Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet. The trailhead is a half-mile from the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham and provides many opportunities to stop at a beach. If you don’t have your own bike, bike rentals are also available at designated bike concessions throughout the trail.
Take a peek into the world of quirky author and illustrator Edward Gorey at his home-turned-museum in Yarmouth Port, where exhibits showcase his many talents. A treasure of Cape Cod, Mass., the museum is open from mid-April through the end of December.
Enjoy wines or liquors at Truro Vineyards and South Hollow Spirits, a joint family-owned business, where you can kick back on the lawn with a chardonnay or a gin cocktail. $10 tastings are available, which buys a souvenir glass and a sample of several wines or spirits.
The Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre is a throwback to a simpler time, but no worries – the theater shows first-run double features on a 100-by-44-foot screen with a Dolby Digital sound system. Open from late May through mid-September, there is also a vintage mini golf course, ice cream, snack bar and playground on the property for a full night of good times with the family. On select days they also host the Wellfleet Flea Market.
Stop for a scoop at Four Seas, an iconic and award-winning ice cream parlor in Centerville, which has been serving up delicious flavors, like fresh peach and chip chocolate, since 1934. In the mood for an authentic Cape Cod, Mass., lobster roll? The AAA Diamond Rated Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar in Eastham is always busy, and for good reason. The classic establishment is known for both hot and cold lobster rolls, made with fresh native lobster that is caught fresh daily. They also offer lobsters steamed or in a clam bake, served informally in the old Cape Cod tradition with paper plates and plastic utensils.
Browse the many galleries, studios and shops in Provincetown, home to one of the oldest art colonies in the U.S. The sea, the dunes and the gorgeous light have inspired artists for decades. The Pilgrim Monument is a tower that commemorates the historic landing of the Mayflower in Provincetown in 1620; climb to the top for sweeping views of Cape Cod and the ocean.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Cape Cod? Tell us in the comments.