Cape Cod Travel Guide
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.
If you’re in the mood for a pint and live music, head to this gritty nightspot, decorated with license plates from around the world. Local bands perform here a few nights of the week, and the bar menu’s quite good.
Try the bakery's buttery, cinnamony, muffin-shaped Dirt Bomb donuts. (Faithful followers have sleuthed out the recipe and make them back at home.)
A beaded mermaid curtain sets the tone at the kitschy Shell Shop, in Provincetown, opened in 1978 to supply beach houses up and down the Cape with shell-encrusted mirrors and starfish for propping in windows.
A raised platform wends its way through an amazing light-dappled swamp. The result is magical.
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.
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.
Set in an old Victoria home, the stationary shop has a vast and well-edited selection of cards and journals.
The property isn’t quite a museum; rather, it’s the atelier of the artist, who creates 3-D paintings inspired by her travels and Cape Cod scenery.
You can visit even when the shop isn’t open to wander through a peaceful sculpture garden.
The protected Cape Cod National Seashore stretches 40 miles, from Chatham all the way north to Provincetown. It was set aside in 1961 by John F. Kennedy.
Spread across three islands near Chatham, the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area for migratory birds and a popular place to walk. If you’re planning to beachcomb, check the tide charts so that you don’t get stuck; at high tide in some sections, the sand disappears.
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.