Things to do in Cape Cod
This vibrant tourist destination is always thrumming with activity and offers a selection of sights and activities for every type of traveler. Nature lovers looking for things to do in Cape Cod should begin by taking in the spectacular sand dunes, salt marshes and cranberry bogs of the Cape Cod National Seashore, with its miles of pristine beaches. Then, charter a fishing boat to try your luck or take a whale-watching cruise from Provincetown, which rides out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the feeding ground for humpback whales. Cap off an active day by renting a bike and cycling along the popular Cape Cod Rail Trail, which passes through some of Cape Cod’s most spectacular scenery.
Culture lovers looking for things to do in Cape Cod can enjoy a show at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, where a young Bette Davis once worked as an usher, or indulge in a little nostalgia by visiting an old-fashioned drive-in movie theater in Wellfleet. Visit some of the peninsula’s many museums and galleries, from the hundred-year-old Provincetown Art Association and Museum, which collects works from hundreds of artists inspired by the Lower Cape, to the small galleries in Wellfleet, which sell fine art and handcrafted trinkets from local artisans. Enjoy the history lesson at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, where you can climb to the top of the nation’s largest all-granite structure and then become immersed in the history of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Most importantly, don’t forget to relax on one of Cape Cod’s many beautiful beaches, like Sandy Neck Beach, Craigville Beach, or Lighthouse Beach.
This one-room shack carries every kind of hammock imaginable, including crocheted models from Brazil and travel versions that fold up into a backpack.
Flyer’s Boat Shop & Rental, in Provincetown, runs a funky service out to the wild, sandy spit where the Atlantic and the bay meet. If you'd like, the shop rents sailboats, powerboats, and kayaks to take out on your own.
Located in a red-brick building just outside the city center, this bicycle shop is easily recognizable by a round white sign with the word “bikes” emblazoned in bold black letters.
Built on an old railway bed, the 26-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail starts at Route 134 in Dennis and winds through Chatham, continuing north to Wellfleet. There are cyclist-friendly cafés along the way.
Bonatt’s Bakery & Restaurant, in Harwichport, is nothing to look at—but its sugarcoated Meltaway rolls are dreamy.
Set in a former 1844 schoolhouse, the galery focuses on photography-but also exhibits prints and paintings by area artists, as well as modern furniture, jewelry, and mobiles in the adjacent design store.
In the center of Sandwich, the Weather Store carries barometers, thermometers, and everything else weather-related, both old and new.
It’s not Napa Valley, but during a tasting you can try some decent wines that are cultivated in the area, plus (for adventurous palates) a special cranberry blend. Some of the wine comes in adorable lighthouse-shaped bottles that can be turned into lamps when you’re done.
Located on Main Street in West Chatham, this little gray cedar, cottage-style shop with a blue awning and front porch has a big customer following due to its yummy pies, both sweet and savory.
Art’s Dune Tours, in Provincetown, take travelers off road through the lunar landscape of the dunes outside town; in the distance you can see the shacks that have been inhabited over the years by Tennessee Williams, Jackson Pollock, and other legends, and are still rented to artists.
Located on the end of MacMillan Wharf, this small museum showcases artifacts from the only verified pirate shipwreck ever found: the Whydah, an 18th-century ship commanded by “Black Sam” Bellamy before it sank off the coast of Wellfleet, Massachusetts in 1717.
For a more active adventure, catch the eight-mile Cape Cod Province Lands Bike Trail at Race Point. It passes through sand dunes and forests and ends at the ocean. Don’t miss the spur that leads to the Herring Cove lighthouse.
The bright-yellow vessel operated by Beachcomber Boat Tours offers seal-watching tours or drop-offs of passengers at North Beach (and pickups later).
This two-story house in downtown Wellfleet is the go-to place for brightly colored plates, napkins, glassware, and rugs.
Of the hundreds of galleries across Cape Cod, one of the best is this 46-year-old arts space, occupying a Greek Revival-style house with gardens. Stop by on Saturdays between 6 and 8 p.m. for the weekly openings.