Cape Cod

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.

With its relatively flat terrain and its network of paved bike trails, the Cape is perfect for family cycling outings. The seven-mile path along the Cape Cod Canal is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Enter at Pleasant Street in Sagamore.

The Brewster Store was converted from a church into a general store in 1866 and still has the requisite porch, coal stove, penny-candy display, and ice cream parlor. You can buy just about anything here—donuts, puzzles, pitchers, and even lighting supplies.

Lying between the Chatham mainland and Tern Island, Aunt Lydia’s Cove and its sandbars and island beaches can be viewed from Shore Road and the Chatham Fish Pier.

Rock Harbor in Orleans has planted trees in the surf to mark the channel for boats, and they make for a striking silhouette against the colorful sky.

A great place to visit on a rainy day, the aquarium is the oldest research aquarium in the country.

One of the secret springs left over from the Ice Age, hidden deep in the Wellfleet and Truro woods. The water is exquisitely clear and silky.

For guided kayak trips with naturalists or sport fishing charters, turn to Goose Hummock, the area’s aquatic experts.

The emphasis here, also home to the Cape Cod Center for the Arts, is on Broadway musicals. Bette Davis famously began her career here, as an usher.

Sisters Ann Hill and Margaret Hill combined their backgrounds in design and fashion to create this eclectic boutique, which sources from abroad (Scandinavian furniture, Turkish earrings) and close to home (totes made in Maine from old sails).

The group, guided by trained naturalists, makes several daily trips to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, rich with whale sightings and wild seabirds. To see humpbacks, finbacks, and others, head to the upper deck and put down the camera once in a while!

Onlookers at Provincetown’s Race Point Beach erupt in applause the moment the sun disappears. For the more athletic, bike the 5.2-mile look between Race Point and Herring Cove beach.

Operated by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the network of trails here extends some five miles, encompassing woodlands, salt marsh, barrier beaches, and nearby tidal flats. Visitors are encouraged to track birds they see—such as Orioles and Whip-poor-wills.

A popular stop for visitors on the way to Cape Cod, this colorful kite shop is located on Route 28 in the village of Harwichport.

Mari Porcari curates this fashionable boutique, located in an 1835 general store with birch display tables and lime-green walls. The eclectic merchandise includes summer dresses by New York designer Tibi, eco-friendly bamboo bowls, and floral-printed organic quilts.

 

North Beach is the topic of Henry Beston’s Outermost House and Tim Wood’s Breakthrough: The Story of Chatham’s North Beach.