Cape Cod is one of our favorite places! One of the things we love about it is the quieter, more laid back vibe. It also stays on the cooler side which is refreshing in the height of summer. Just be prepared for the ocean to be colder as well. You won’t find big boardwalks or amusements here, but we have found some things to do if you want a break from the beautiful beaches (or the weather doesn’t cooperate).
Nickerson State Park
We camped in Nickerson State Park in Brewster, MA. (You can read more about that here: https://campingwiththekennedys.com/2020/10/27/nickerson-state-park-cape-cod/ ) Even if you don’t camp, I would recommend it for a day trip. There are a few lakes to swim in, some beautiful hiking trails, and its a great place to rent kayaks or stand up paddleboards. For rentals, visit the Flax Pond Beach area within the park. The Cape Cod rail trail (a 25 mile paved bike path) also runs right through it, and bicycle rentals are available at The Rail Trail bike shop outside the park. Day use is $8 for MA residents, and $30 for out of state.
Our favorite beach area on the ocean (and conveniently located 15 minutes from Nickerson State Park) was Nauset Beach in Orleans, MA. Its a large, 10 mile beach but I suggest arriving early as the parking lot does fill. Like most beaches on the Cape, it costs $20 to park. The water is beautiful here, but sharks sometimes visit.
Rock Harbor Beach
Rock Harbor Beach is located on the bay side of Cape Cod in Eastham, MA but we have found it to be the best sunset spot! You can also watch the fishing boats come in for the day while waiting for the sunset. At low tide its fun to walk out over the marshes and see what sealife you can find. No two sunsets are ever the same! A tip we learned from a resident was to always stay 15 minutes after the sunset for the best colors.
Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail
This is a 1.2 mile loop trail in Wellfleet, MA, with a boardwalk through trees. It ends at the beach, where you can visit the Marconi Wireless Station, once used to transmit wireless signals across the Atlantic.
John Wing Trail
The John Wing Trail is a 2.2 mile loop that starts from the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster, MA. It takes you through a marsh to the beach. Its a beautiful trail and there is an offshoot that will take you to a sundial.
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster, MA is a great activity for a bad weather day. Although its a smaller museum, it had a lot of hands on exhibits and crafts for the kids, as well as a butterfly garden and a small aquarium section. They also have some live cams on osprey nests around the museum which is really cool to watch.
Chatham is one of our favorite towns in Cape Cod to visit. There is a main street with shops, restaurants, and icecream within walking distance of the beach area. One of our favorite things to do is take a seal cruise! You can get up close with the seals on the boatride. We have done this twice with Beachcomber Boat Tours.
Sandwich is another of our favorite towns in Cape Cod. Located at the beginning of Cape Cod, its a great place to stop on the way in or the way home. The rocks make it unique, as well as a small boardwalk leading to the beach area.
Three Sisters of Nauset
Three Sisters are a group of older lighthouses, but they are fun to check out.
Ok so not a lighthouse, but its fun to climb! Located in Dennis, MA
Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory
Located in Hyannis, MA this is a great rainy day activity. You get to go on a short tour of the factory, sample some potato chips, and there is a great store at the end to pick up chips and other goodies.
Cape Cod Beer
This is by no means a comprehensive list. What are your favorite things to do in Cape Cod? Drop a note in the comments!
On a rainy day, we did go to Regal Cape Cod and watch a movie. Wellfleet drive in looks like it would be fun as well. On our list of things to do next time is make it up North to Provincetown and do a Whale Watch cruise!
On our first trip to Cape Cod pre-kids, we took the ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket and rented bikes which was a great way to see the island! The high speed ferry is only 1 hour, while the more traditional ferry is just over 2 hours. There was a lot of cool shops, bars, and restaurants near the ferry port on the Nantucket side.
We did visit Cape Escape Adventure Golf for mini-golf, which is fun because the kids get to feed the fish at the end!
We also attended a beachfront concert which was free and fun! Check out a local guide for days and times through Cape Cod muic in the park, they seemed to run mostly mid week.
Cape Cod has a lot of great eating choices, this is just a small list of our favorites!
Eat Cake 4 Breakfast
This is a great little bakery in Brewster, MA and everything we tried there was amazing!
A great icecream shop located in Dennis, MA! The sundaes are amazing.
Orleans Waterfront Restaurant
There are not too many restaurants on the water in Cape Cod, so this was a great find!
Located in Brewster, this is a casual order at the counter, seat yourself seafood restaurant.
Another great low key Seafood option in Brewster. Try the Lobster Roll!
Cape Cod is a great place to take a family vacation and actually relax. You could spend the entire day at the beach, or floating around a lake. If you do decide to do a few more activities, I hope this list is helpful in your planning!