Things To Do On Cape Cod: Ultimate Guide To The Top Spots | Stanton House Inn
The best beaches here are some of the major attractions and things to do on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Southeast of Boston, the charm of Cape Cod unfolds with its sandy beaches and an ambiance that whispers relaxation. It’s a most famous for its summer delights:

  • Awe-inspiring whale watching

  • Winding bike trails

  • Cute coastal towns

  • And classic New England beaches

All come to mind.

Anglers find their haven in serene fishing spots, and thrill-seekers tousle their hair on dune buggy rides. For the observant bird-watcher, rare species await discovery. And history comes alive within the walls of elegant gardens, stately homes, and insightful museums.

  • The lighthouses

  • Windmills

  • And sea captains’ homes alongside quaint shingle cottages

Craft a story of the land where the bucolic meets the maritime to create something uniquely Cape Cod.

The 40-mile stretch of national seashore is what makes Cape Cod a premier beach destination. Other summer draws include:

  • Summer theater

  • Extensive bike trails

  • And a well-protected natural habitat

While peak season on Cape Cod is July and August, you can still find a quiet spot even then along the north shore or the expansive Cape Cod Bay beaches.

The Cape epitomizes New England’s seaside allure, with towns that boast:

  • Shingled homes

  • Vibrant gardens

  • And a local baseball league that captures the heart of Americana

The islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are just a ferry ride away, offering even more coastal New England enchantment.

Quick hits

  • Cape Cod is the quintessential destination for summer getaways in New England. Bask in the natural splendor of the National Seashore and stand in awe of the Nauset Lighthouse. For a dose of culture, the Cape Cod Museum of Art and the Sandwich Glass Museum are as delightful as a serene sunset.

  • Ready to stretch your legs? Cape Cod is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Embark on an awe-inspiring whale watching trip, hike local trails, or make waves with kayaking or paddleboarding.

  • As night falls, Cape Cod’s nightlife sparkles with options. Catch a play at the historic Cape Playhouse or watch a movie under the stars at the drive-in cinema. A ton of annual events and festivals await, each a feast for the senses with local music, arts, and culinary masterworks.

A Brief History of Cape Cod

1923 image of workers harvesting cranberries in Cape Cod

Cape Cod is a sandy gem that emerged during the ice age. And its unique geological features and dynamic shoreline continue to captivate. The Wampanoag people, its original inhabitants, thrived on the land’s abundance for millennia. The Pilgrims also stepped ashore here, only to find the sandy soil too daunting. They left to settle Plymouth instead.

Settlers branched out from Plymouth over the next two decades, establishing communities in the bay-side towns of:

  • Sandwich

  • Barnstable

  • And Yarmouth

The sea shaped Cape Cod’s destiny, drawing fishermen, explorers, and pilgrims in search of new beginnings.

Early English settlers constructed homes modeled after the Wampanoag wigwams. They used local materials like twigs, bark, and grasses. These settlers learned from the Wampanoag how to harvest the land’s riches and process whale blubber, a valuable resource at the time.

Postcard from circa 1930-1945 of a "Typical Cape Cod Scene"

Tourism began to flourish in the 19th century, especially after the first train from Boston reached Sandwich by 1873. The Cape Cod Canal, envisioned since the 17th century, finally came to fruition in 1914. It linked the waters of Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay. The construction of the Mid Cape Highway in the 1950s, along with the allure of the Kennedy presidency, further enhanced the Cape’s appeal.

Despite the influx of tourists and development, traditional industries like:

  • Farming

  • And fishing

Have endured on the Cape. There are still over 100 farms and a thriving fishing trade that generates significant revenue monthly.

Cape Cod’s unspoiled natural landscape remains its most enduring draw. It’s long been a beloved vacation destination in the northeastern United States.

Best Things to do on Cape Cod

Friends enjoying each other on a trip to Cape Cod in the summer months

Cape Cod promises an unforgettable vacation experience. Its sprawling beaches, fascinating museums, and historic lighthouses are just a few of the most unique spots here.

Discover the Cape Cod National Seashore

Pristine beach at Cape Cod National Seashore

Walk along 40 miles of pristine sandy beaches, feel the salty sea breeze in your hair and listen to the sound of waves crashing against the shore. That is what awaits you at the Cape Cod National Seashore on the Outer Cape. Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, this national treasure boasts a wealth of attractions and ecosystems:

  • Marconi Beach

  • Woodlands, bird nesting grounds

  • Hiking trails

  • The historic Marconi Wireless Station

  • And the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp—an unusual environment within the park.

The Cape Cod National Seashore is the spot to be, whether you’re hiking, bird-watching, or sunbathing.

Cape Cod Rail Trail

Scenic view along the Cape Cod Rail Trail

If cycling is your passion, don’t miss the Cape Cod Rail Trail. This 25-mile path stretches from Yarmouth to Wellfleet. It passes through picturesque towns, with glimpses of breathtaking ocean and bay views. Once a railway for the Old Colony Railroad Company, it’s now a retreat for cyclists, runners, and walkers. You’ll find convenient amenities such as bike rentals, restrooms, and scenic spots along the trail. Its gentle terrain makes it accessible for cyclists of all skill levels.

Cape Cod Museum of Art

Local art

Art enthusiasts, take note! The Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis is a hub for regional artwork. It showcases an array of prints, paintings, sculptures, and multimedia exhibits. Beyond admiring the art, visitors can enjoy outdoor concerts, take part in paint nights, or attend film screenings.

The museum is also known for its annual ‘Mangia al Museo’ event. Indulge in chef-prepared pasta sauces and cast your vote for your favorite while exploring the exhibits.

Sandwich Glass Museum

Step into a world of shimmering glass art at the Sandwich Glass Museum. The museum, located in the town of Sandwich, houses an extensive collection of glasswork dating back to the 19th century. Touring the museum is an opportunity to witness the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating each piece.

The museum also offers hourly glassmaking presentations. See artisans in action and learn about the region’s glassmaking history.

Nauset Lighthouse

Iconic Nauset Lighthouse

The iconic Nauset Lighthouse is a must-visit for history buffs. It’s also ideal for the perfect Cape Cod photo.

Once located in Chatham, it now winks at mariners from its current location. It’s a celebrated landmark, proudly on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a moment at the base of Nauset Lighthouse to let the ocean breeze play with your hair and soak in the grandeur of the view.

Other Cape Cod lighthouses to see include:

  • Chatham Light

  • Highland Light

  • Race Point Light Station

A visit to Nauset Light Beach, Race Point Beach, or Lighthouse Beach provides stunning views and a touch of maritime heritage.

Heritage Museums & Gardens

Hydrangeas blooming in the summer season

For a dose of nature and culture, make your way to the Heritage Museums & Gardens. This 100-acre oasis offers stunning floral displays and antique car collection. The museum also features an outdoor adventure park and special exhibits.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Dive into the fascinating world of oceanographic research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Renowned for interactive exhibits and submarine exploration opportunities, this institution is quite unique. Gain insights into the diverse marine life and the institution’s research endeavors as you explore the exhibits.

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, Massachusetts. Walk for miles and enjoy the tranquil beauty of this unique Cape Cod location.

If wildlife watching is your idea of fun, a visit to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge should be on your itinerary. This protected habitat is home to a variety of wildlife, including migratory birds, horseshoe crabs, and gray seals. Its diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife make this refuge unforgettable for nature lovers.

Grab your binoculars and prepare for an exciting wildlife spotting adventure.

Cape Cod Wineries

Cape Cod got its name for the fish that used to be abundant around its shores. Now cod served here comes from Iceland. But at least it’s name isn’t as misleading as Martha’s Vineyard.

Cape Cod hosts a few solid wineries, which is way more than the big, fat, zero that are on Martha’s Vineyard.

Thanks a lot, Martha.

Sip on a glass of full-bodied wine at Truro Vineyards. Feast your eyes on the pastoral views of Truro, where daily winter tastings and a distillery offer warmth and cheer. Here, maritime grapes transform into rich flavors that dance on your palate. For a mere $15, enjoy a flight of five wines, or take a tour to see the winemaking magic firsthand.

When it’s time to eat, hit up the on-site food truck, Blackfish Restaurant’s Crushpad.

For added variety,

Cheers to finding your sip of joy!

Whale Watching

Whale watching on a boat trip from Provincetown

Hop on a sturdy boat, and keep eyes peeled for the splash or spout of a whale. It’s an exciting game of hide and seek with the ocean’s gentle giants. The prime whale-spotting season runs from April to October, when these majestic creatures frequent the Cape Cod waters.

As summer peaks from June to September, the Cape Cod peninsula becomes a whale hotspot. Humpbacks are the Beatles of the sea, and Cape Cod becomes their concert stage!

Cape Cod may be famous for its sharks, but it’s also a favorite spot for whales to socialize and feed. Join the Whale Watch Dolphin Fleet for a front-row seat to this marine dance, setting sail from Provincetown during the best months.

Don’t worry if you’re not embarking from Provincetown—there are plenty of other departure points. Boats also leave from MacMillan Wharf in Provincetown, as well as from Hyannis and Barnstable harbors. More cruises leave from Chatham, Harwich Port, Orleans, and Woods Hole. They offer narrated tours, family-friendly excursions, and even science cruises to thrill any marine biology enthusiast.

If you’ve ever dreamt of meeting these ocean giants up close, now’s your chance. The whales are inviting you to their dance—make sure you’re on board!

The Largest Cranberry Bog on Cape Cod

Cranberries floating en masse in Cape Cod cranberry bogs

Venture off the beaten path and explore the largest organic cranberry bog on Cape Cod. Operated by the Cakounes family, the bog offers daily tours that take you through the cranberry growing process. It’s a fascinating way to learn about one of the region’s most significant agricultural products.

Pick up fresh cranberries and cranberry products from their farm stand, while you’re there.

The Captains Golf Course

The 36 holes and picturesque views of The Captains Golf Course thrills golfers. This par-72 public golf course, named ‘Port’ and ‘Starboard’, is an inviting challenge for golfers of all levels. Geoffrey S. Cornish and Brian M. Silva designed the course. They put a lot of thought into its structure and content. You’ll enjoy over 6,000 yards of golf from the longest tees.

Grab your clubs and prepare to tee off at one of Cape Cod’s top golfing destinations.

Whydah Pirate Museum

Embrace your inner buccaneer and explore the world of pirates at the Whydah Pirate Museum. A blend of artifacts, historical exhibits, and authentic recreations bring history to life. From treasure chests to pirate weapons, the museum offers a glimpse into the thrilling world of pirates.

John F Kennedy Museum

Step back in time at the John F Kennedy Museum in Hyannis. The museum offers a unique insight into the Kennedy family’s connection to Cape Cod. Exhibits highlight their time spent on the peninsula. As you explore the museum, you’ll learn about the Kennedy family’s experiences and their impact on the region.

A visit here is essential if you’re interested in American history and the Kennedy legacy.

Triple H Farm


Experience the simple joys of farm life at Triple H Farm. This family-friendly attraction has a 90-minute meet-and-greet with a variety of farm animals. It’s a unique and exciting experience for kids and adults alike.

Race Point Beach

Boardwalk at Race Point Beach

Beach lovers, don’t miss out on a visit to Race Point Beach. This destination is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, after all. This beach particular on Cape Cod Bay offers:

  • Stunning ocean views

  • Ample sunshine

  • Opportunities to soak up the sun

  • Swimming in the ocean

  • A beachside atmosphere

Race Point Beach is the perfect spot for all your beach activities. Plus, the beach is home to the historic Race Point Lighthouse, adding a touch of nautical history to your beach day.

Things to do on Cape Cod at night

Gray's Beach boardwalk at sunset in Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

Having sifted through the above list, you might have the impression that Cape Cod’s dead at night. And it can be, if that’s what you’re looking for. No shame in that!

But there’s plenty to do after hours, too, especially around peak season. From drag comedy shows in Provincetown to something a bit more conventional, the choice is yours!

The Cape Playhouse

Experience the thriving arts scene of Cape Cod at The Cape Playhouse. The country’s longest-running professional summer theater, this Dennis landmark has been captivating audiences for over 90 years. Its diverse roster includes Broadway-caliber plays, musicals, and performances by acclaimed artists. A trip here is a cultural feast for theater enthusiasts and an unforgettable night out.

Wellfleet Drive-In

Step back in time and enjoy a movie under the stars at the Wellfleet Drive-In, the only surviving drive-in theater in the area. Offering first-run double features on a 100-foot screen, the drive-in is a fun and nostalgic way to spend an evening. The Wellfleet Drive-In is an ideal way to cap off a day on Cape Cod.

Cape Cod Baseball League game

A thrilling baseball game

For sports fans, the Cape Cod Baseball League is a gem, showcasing America’s top collegiate players, many of whom advance to Major League Baseball. Enjoying a game under the stars in this premier amateur baseball league is not to be missed by any sports enthusiast.

Grab some popcorn, settle in, and enjoy the thrill of the game.

Visit Charming Cape Cod Towns

Commercial Street, the main drag of the lovely town of Provincetown, with the Pilgrim Monument in the background

The Cape Cod peninsula is a collection of charming towns, each with its own unique character and attractions. No matter where you settle on your visit, it would be a shame to not poke around in a few others, depending on the vibe you’re looking for.


Another shot of Commercial Street, with the Pilgrim Monument overlooking the town

A dynamic arts scene and lively ambience makes Provincetown stands out as a destination. The town draws a diverse crowd since its early days as an artists’ colony. That’s particularly so during the annual Provincetown Carnival. It’s a highlight for the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you’re:

  • Immersing yourself in the art at the Provincetown Art Association and the Provincetown Museum

  • Hanging out at a cafe on Commercial Street to absorb the town’s lively vibe

Provincetown is this innkeeper’s happy place.


Meeting House Pond in Orleans, MA

Orleans, a small town located at the elbow of Cape Cod, offers a variety of attractions completely different from the above. From beach views of the Atlantic and Cape Cod Bay to the Greek-Revival-style Meeting House and Museum, there’s plenty to explore.

For history enthusiasts, the French Cable Station Museum is a treasure trove. It houses original equipment used for transatlantic cable laying, a unique glimpse into the town’s past. And of course, don’t forget to explore the town’s dining scene, the seafood especially.


Marshes in Sandwich, MA, in the summer months

Sandwich, the oldest town on Cape Cod, is a journey back in time. Stroll along its historic streets to discover:

  • Stunning 17th-century homes

  • Charming churches

  • And a rich colonial history

Don’t forget to visit the Sandwich Glass Museum, where you’ll learn about the town’s historic glass-making industry.

And yes, everyone here has their own take on the town’s namesake dish, if you’re curious and hungry.


Colonial home along the streets of Chatham, MA

When people imagining a quintessential Cape Cod town, they’re likely thinking of Chatham. Chatham is home to a picturesque white-sand beach and historic lighthouse, after all. Beach concerts and the charming sea captains’ mansions add to the town’s appeal, as does the historic Chatham Railroad Museum. This is also home to the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center.

The town’s Main Street is a delight to explore, with its unique shops, galleries, and restaurants. It’s what makes this one of the best winter getaways in New England. And don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a live performance at the Monomoy Theatre, a beloved local institution.


Nobska Light, along the coast of Falmouth, Massachusetts

Falmouth, on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod, is celebrated for its picturesque beaches and charming downtown area. It also boasts another lively creative scene. It’s also home to the internationally recognized Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The town has a honing beacon for science enthusiasts. Among its renowned beaches is Old Silver Beach, where visitors can enjoy breathtaking sunsets. Whether you’re a beach lover, a science buff, or a foodie, Falmouth has something to offer for everyone.

Cape Cod Restaurants & Cuisine

Quinoa burger

After a day of frolicking around Cape Cod, there’s no greater joy than feasting on the local fare. Seafood enthusiasts will revel in the abundance of fresh lobster, clams, and fish (except cod). The iconic lobster rolls are a culinary delight not to be missed.

Just don’t make people feel bad for not being able to serve you local-caught cod. It’s not their fault they were so depleted, it was their ancestors’.

For a delightful midday meal, make a beeline to Seafood Sam’s on a Tuesday for their irresistible lobster rolls. In the evening, Landfall Restaurant awaits with its bountiful fisherman’s platter.

Meanwhile, Beachcomber, hosts a unique meal set in a historical 19th-century lifesaving station. Since 1953, it has served raw bar items, fish tacos, and lobster rolls, alongside hearty surf and turf platters.

Cape Cod’s dining scene caters to all tastes, from casual seafood shacks to upscale eateries. Here, you can enjoy everything from the simple pleasure of a Cape Codder cocktail to a sophisticated seafood dinner.

Annual Events & Festivals on Cape Cod

Fishing buoys, lined-up, is such a classic coastal New England thing to see

A visit to Cape Cod is not complete without experiencing one of its vibrant events or festivals. Here are some of the events you can enjoy:

  • Hydrangea Festival in July, showcasing over 70 private gardens

  • Harwich Cranberry Arts and Music Festival in September

  • Provincetown Jazz Festival

  • Cape Cod Jazz Festival

  • PumpkinFest

  • Glassblowers’ Christmas

These events provide a unique insight into the local culture and are a must-see for music lovers and arts and crafts enthusiasts.

No matter when you visit, there’s always something exciting happening on Cape Cod.

Directions to Cape Cod from Greenwich, CT

Maps, pictures, camera, and your phone: all you need for your next trip to the Cape. Aside from money.

Setting off from Greenwich, Connecticut, (or NYC) to the Cape? Get ready for a delightful journey with a few hurdles along the way. If you’re planning a road trip from NYC, expect a slow dance at the Sagamore Bridge during those peak summer days. But that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it? To avoid a game of “spot the license plate” in traffic, you might want to consider flying to Hyannis or Provincetown.

For a touch of ocean air on a summer road trip from NYC, the Boston to Provincetown ferry is a savvy choice. It’ll allow you to savor the views and explore P-Town without a car. Prefer to keep your feet on solid ground? The Cape Cod Regional Transport Authority, Peter Pan Bus Lines, and CapeBus are at your service, ready to shield you from the sun’s glare. Beware though, the bridge to Cape Cod Canal could become a temporary parking space on busy weekends and holidays.

Whichever mode you choose, the trip to Cape Cod is all part of the excitement—so embark on your adventure and head for an enchanting getaway!

Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay in Cape Cod

A memorable corner of Provincetown, near the Provincetown Museum

Looking for the ideal spot to unwind after a Cape Cod adventure? You’re in luck. This slice of paradise offers a vast array of cozy accommodations, from opulent hotels to charming B&Bs, catering to every traveler’s needs.

  • The Chatham Bars Inn is a historic gem where you can indulge in Gatsby-like fantasies amidst 25 acres of landscaped splendor. All complemented by breathtaking sea views.

  • For a touch of nobility, the Mansion at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club awaits. It boasts a private beach, a luxurious spa, and a golf course designed by the renowned Jack Nicklaus.

  • Seeking an unconventional stay? The Sea Street Inn in Hyannis boasts a minimalist vibe and an impressive collection of fine-art photography. It’s famed for its delectable seafood rolls and a breakfast so divine, it’ll have you humming with delight all day.

  • In Brewster, the Candleberry Inn on Cape Cod offers a warm, home-like atmosphere. Multi-course gourmet breakfasts and beach gear lend to a perfect day by the sea.

  • Feeling a touch of the divine? The Belfry Inn & Bistro in Sandwich, a converted church, will have you uttering ‘hallelujah’ as you marvel at its oak paneling and heavenly stained-glass windows. A stone’s throw from the Sandwich Glass Museum, it’s an architectural slice of heaven.

  • For lofty views, the Lands End Inn reigns from atop a hill, offering ocean vistas that will sweep you off your feet. Its rooms have distinct features such as cedar beams, spiral staircases, and stained-glass windows. And the sunsets provide a nightly spectacle akin to a quiet firework display.

  • A short distance from the commotion, the Crowne Pointe Historic Inn & Spa is a serene retreat. Its inviting pool and private decks are the perfect complements to a stay as sweet as the region’s cranberries.

  • The Brass Key Guesthouse is a hidden gem in Provincetown. This ensemble of historic buildings encircles a courtyard with a heated infinity pool that merges seamlessly with the horizon. It’s akin to stumbling upon a secret garden. And one of the best gay-friendly getaways you’ll find.

More Nearby Cities and Towns to Explore Near Cape Cod

Summercamp Hotel, in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard

With a Cape Cod itinerary in hand, keep exploring some of the other most famous summer spots along the East Coast.

Read on for some great nearby destinations to explore.

Martha’s Vineyard

A lovely cottage house on Martha's Vineyard, with green and pink exterior details and a brick path leading up to it.

Just a short ferry ride away from Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is an island with a ton of attractions. From:

  • The historic Gay Head Light

  • The Flying Horses Carousel

  • To the Martha’s Vineyard Museum

There’s plenty of things to do on Martha’s Vineyard. The island is also home to a number of beautiful beaches, making it a great place to relax and unwind. And don’t miss the chance to try some local seafood at one of the island’s many restaurants.


Lighthouse overlooking Nantucket harbor

Another island worth visiting is Nantucket. Known for its stunning views, historic homes, and beautiful beaches, Nantucket has a unique (and exclusive) charm that sets it apart. The island’s whaling history is a highlight, with the Whaling Museum providing insights into the Cape’s whaling history and the art of Scrimshaw Art. And for the foodies, Nantucket offers plenty of seafood delicacies, from fresh oysters to haddock.

Fall River, MA

Bank Street in Fall River

Fall River, a coastal city in Massachusetts, is known for its historic textile industry and large Portuguese community. The city of Fall River, MA, blends nautical and European history, evident in local cuisine and architecture.

But who am I kidding?

The city is most famous for Lizzie Borden, an infamous figure tried and acquitted for the axe murders of her father and stepmother. The Fall River Historical Society houses a trove of artifacts related to Lizzie Borden. And you can even stay in the house where the murders happened.

Not the least bit intrigued? If you’re driving to Cape Cod, you’ll be passing by, anyway!


Oh, Cape Cod, you’re more than just a pretty face with sandy shores and salty air kisses. You’re a veritable memory-making marvel, a vibrant tapestry of experiences waiting to be woven into stories. At the Cape Cod National Seashore, let the waves serenade you. At the Cape Playhouse, prepare to be wowed by show-stopping performances. And don’t miss the chance to sink your teeth into a succulent lobster roll. Pack your bags, ignite your sense of adventure, and let the Cape sweep you off your feet. This isn’t just a getaway; it’s the place where postcards envy the tales you’ll tell!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you need in Cape Cod?

Consider a week-long stay to fully embrace the Cape Cod experience. With an array of attractions and activities, you’ll want ample time to savor every moment, much like enjoying each chapter of an enthralling novel at your own pace.

Is it worth going to Cape Cod?

Oh, absolutely! Cape Cod is more than just a destination; it’s an adventure by the sea, enveloped in the warmth of New England charm. Picture yourself meandering through Provincetown or Hyannis, where history is palpable in every cobblestone and waft of salty air. Here, each grain of sand tells a tale, and lighthouses greet you like old friends along the coast. So, prepare your luggage for a journey where every day unfolds like a captivating chapter in your travelogue.

What is Cape Cod best known for?

Cape Cod, the sandy jewel of Massachusetts, boasts endless beaches reminiscent of a lazy Sunday. Here, whales rival Broadway with their oceanic performances. More than a place, it’s a summer fling with the ocean, a lively history lesson, and a canvas of vibrant arts and culture. Whether you’re seeking to cool your feet in the waves, unravel pirate tales, or draw inspiration from the dunes, the Cape envelops you like a protective shell at high tide.

What is the best time to visit Cape Cod for whale watching?

Visit Cape Cod from April to October for a chance to witness the ocean’s gentle giants. During these months, whales frequent the Cape’s waters, offering a spectacular display for whale watchers. The best sightings often occur in the morning and early afternoon when the seas are calmest. This grand spectacle will make you feel as if you’ve entered an oceanic tale!


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