Cape Cod is a beautiful vacation destination located in Massachusetts. Known for its picturesque beaches, charming towns, and rich history, Cape Cod offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply relaxing by the water, Cape Cod has something for everyone.
If you’re looking for things to do on Cape Cod, here’s a list of our favorites plus a few recommendations from our readers.
Cape Cod Attractions
Hit the beach
Cape Cod is world famous for our beautiful beaches. On a nice day, this is the thing to do. Plan a road trip and head out early, or find a local beach near where you’re staying and throw down a towel for the day.
The Cape Cod National Seashore Beaches are a must-see. With 40 miles of pristine coastline, there are tons of opportunities for hiking, biking, and birdwatching. Take a cool road trip and visit a few during your vacation. You can get a season pass pretty cheap that lets you into them all.
As a general rule, the outer cape beaches facing the open Atlantic Ocean offer large waves colder water. Sound-side beaches have warmer water and smaller waves. Bay-side beaches are great for sunsets, the warmest water, gentle waves, and many have wide tidal flats.
The character of the beaches is different depending on which town you visit, so branch out and try some different options around the Cape to find the vibe you’re looking for. Want to learn more? Check out these articles to find the best beach for your family or a dog-friendly beach.
If you’re looking for a lively day of shopping and dining, Cape Cod has many options. Provincetown is a vibrant cultural hub located on the tip of Cape Cod. Visit commercial street for lots of easy food options and tons of shopping. For a more upscale shopping experience, hit Chatham. And keep an eye out for the many craft fairs that pop up all summer long. Shopping is one of the most popular attractions in Cape Cod on rainy days, so be prepared for crowds during the summer season.
No shopping trip on Cape Cod would be complete without dumping some money into the stores of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Both of these picturesque islands just off the coast are an easy day-trip on the ferry. They offer stunning views, historic lighthouses, and boatloads of New England charm. Consider visiting in the offseason for a more peaceful experience.
Eat good food and enjoy some cocktails
Seafood is a specialty on Cape Cod. You’ll find plenty of seafood shacks and restaurants serving up fresh lobster, clam chowder, and other delicious dishes. Pretty much every restaurant on the Cape seems to offer some forms of fried seafood. But dig a little deeper and you can find food options of all types.
Have your pet with you? View a list of restaurants that allow dogs.
Remember, you’re on vacation. Possibly with your family. So day drinking is always a good option. There are several breweries and a winery that offer tastings and tours. Have your dog? Learn more about cape cod breweries that allow dogs.
Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of Cape Cod’s many farmers’ markets and craft fairs, where you can sample locally grown produce and handmade goods.
Bicycling on the Cape Cod Rail Trail is a great option for outdoor enthusiasts, providing many scenic routes for cyclists and walkers to explore the Cape’s natural beauty. Options range from short, family-friendly bicycle trails to all-day trips across the Cape.
For a scenic biking path, check out the National Seashore trails in Provincetown. Hardcore enthusiasts can ever bike the length of the Cape as part of the the Pan-Mass Challenge fundraiser.
Cape Cod is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. From the deep sea to the shoreline, there are countless opportunities for anglers of all skill levels to cast a line and catch a variety of species. If you’re planning a vacation to Cape Cod and love fishing, here are some options to consider.
- Deep Sea Fishing For those who are looking for a bigger challenge and a chance to catch bigger fish, deep sea fishing is a popular option. There are many fishing charters available that will take you out to the deeper waters off the coast of Cape Cod, where you can catch species like tuna, cod, striped bass, and bluefish. Most charters provide all the necessary equipment and will clean and fillet your catch for you to take home. Or find a cheaper but more crowded party boat for some day-trip fishing.
- Shore Fishing is a popular option for those who prefer to stay on land or fish while enjoying the beach. There are many beaches and piers throughout Cape Cod that offer great opportunities for shore fishing. Surfcasting at beaches is a great option for those who are new to fishing, as it requires minimal equipment and can be done without a guide or charter. Shore fishing options run the entire length of Cape Cod, from the canal to the remote beaches of the National Seashore in Provincetown.
- Fly Fishing is a popular technique for catching fish in Cape Cod’s freshwater rivers and streams. The Cape has streams and ponds that are stocked with trout and other species, including the Mashpee River, Herring River, Swan Pond River, and Cliff Pond. Fly fishing guides are available that will take you to the best locations and provide instruction on technique and equipment.
- Kayak Fishing is a great way to explore Cape Cod’s waterways to catch fish. Kayaks allow you to access shallow areas that are inaccessible to larger boats or deeper spots in lakes, which can give you an advantage in finding fish. Kayak rentals are available throughout Cape Cod.
- Family-Friendly Fishing If you’re traveling with kids or just looking for a more relaxed fishing experience, ponds are a great family-friendly fishing option on Cape Cod. Young kids will have a blast pulling in bluegills and pumpkinseeds. Older kids will enjoy catching smallmouth and largemouth bass, or view the list of stocked trout ponds in Massachusetts if you’re looking to catch a tasty dinner.
Every town on Cape Cod offers some cool hiking trails. Choose from wooded paths, remote beach walks, or easy walks wide enough for strollers.
Our favorite day-trip hike is a visit to Woods End light in Provincetown that is accessible on a dike at low tide off of Commercial Street. You’ll be rewarded with unbelievable views on a secluded beach towards the end of Cape Cod. For a longer trip you can walk much further to find Long Point Lighthouse.
One of our favorite things to do on Cape Cod is to take our dog on hiking trips. View a list of dog-friendly hiking trails.
Whale watch boats are a fun day trip on Cape Cod that’s a great activity for families. Whale watch boats leave from many towns across the Cape, from Woods Hole to Hyannis, Harwich, and Provincetown. They often head to Stellwagen Bank, a popular whale feeding spot.
You can also see whales from the shores of some beaches in the summer such as Race Point Beach in p-town, a little further away but for free.
Boating and Kayaking
Cape Cod offers fun boating for crafts of all sizes. Protected bays and harbors offer great scenery for beach hopping or a slow booze cruise. Head offshore for a day trip to the Islands or to chase down some fish for dinner.
Boat rental options exist across Cape Cod. Our favorite boat rental day trip recommendation is to rent a small boat in Provincetown and head across Provincetown Harbor to Long Point Lighthouse and beach. It’s a quick ride in a protected harbor, great for novice boaters. Plus you can cruise around the harbor and anchor up off several beaches on Commercial Street to grab food and do some shopping.
Kayaks and standup paddle boards are also available to rent across the towns of cape cod. Take it easy in a local pond, or challenge yourself on an all-day trip across Pleasant Bay to the back of Nauset beach. Paddling around rivers or harbors in the early morning provides a peaceful reprieve from the summer tourist crowds.
Cape Cod has tons of cool campgrounds, from the canal to the tip of Provincetown. It’s an affordable alternative to expensive rentals or cookie-cutter hotel rooms. Waking up to chirping birds and distant ocean waves crashing is a great way to start the day. Many campgrounds offer easy access to fishing in kettle ponds or even the canal, perfect for outdoorsy-types.
View a list of our favorite campgrounds that allow dogs.
Cape Cod Baseball League
Sports fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to catch a game of the Cape Cod Baseball League, which showcases some of the best amateur players in the country. Watch future major league stars up close all summer long.
Cape League Baseball games have been one of the best free things to do on Cape Cod for generations. Great for families with kids. Many teams have playgrounds or other activities around so you accommodate kids with different ages and interests.
Historical and Cultural Sites
Cape Cod has a rich history, and there are several museums and cultural sites that offer a glimpse into the region’s past.
- One of the most iconic landmarks is the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, which commemorates the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620. The wide steps require decent endurance to climb, not recommended for families with really small kids. Nice view.
- Another great option is the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, which offers beautiful gardens, a vintage carousel, and exhibits on Cape Cod’s maritime history.
- For those interested in the Cape’s seafaring heritage, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis is a must-visit destination.
- To learn more about nature on Cape Cod, check out the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster. Nice trail to hike.
- Lighthouses are another favorite. Chatham Light is easy to reach by car, with a nice view of the beach below. Woods End Light and Long Point Light in Provincetown are accessible by a long walk on a deserted stretch of beach. Highland Lighthouse in North Truro is close enough to the golf course that you may end up hitting it with a golf ball.
Cape Cod is a great destination for families, with plenty of activities that will keep kids of all ages entertained. In addition to family-friendly beaches, our first pick, there are lots of other things to do in cape cod for kids:
- The Cape Cod Children’s Museum in Mashpee is a great option for younger children, offering interactive exhibits on science and nature.
- The Great White Shark conservatory is fun for families to learn more about why they shouldn’t swim out too far on Cape Cod beaches
- The Whydah Pirate Museum is interesting as well for those who love pirates.
- Mini Golf options are everywhere, and usually not far from ice cream stands. A classic way to kill a few hours.
- The Cape Cod Inflatable Park in Yarmouth is another popular option, featuring inflatable obstacle courses, slides, and more.
While Cape Cod is a popular summer destination, there are plenty of activities to enjoy during the off-season as well.
Warm spring days offer opportunities for solitary nature walks, visits to gardens or wildlife refuges, bicycle trips, or fishing outings before the summer crowds set in. In the fall, beaches and tourist spots become less crowded and many restaurants stay open. Winter is much quieter but there are festive holiday events and decorations.
In recent years the offseason has remained busier than in the past, making it hard to find solitude. But the lack of traffic and crowds provides a much more pleasant experience then fighting your way down route 6 during weekends in the tourist season. Much easier to find the “cape cod charm” that has attracted people to the cape for generations.
Hope you found this list of things to do in Cape Cod helpful!
Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or simply looking for a relaxing vacation, Cape Cod has fun things to do for everyone. With its picturesque beaches, charming towns, and rich cultural heritage, this New England gem is a must-visit destination. Plan your trip today and experience all that Cape Cod has to offer.