15 Best Things to Do on Cape Cod — Including Whale Watching, Beach Combing, and Wine Tasting

Have a summer to remember on the Cape.

Beach in Chatham, Cape Cod, MA
Photo: Courtesy of Alessandra Amodio

Cape Cod is what warm-weather dream destinations are all about. It's the place where the local uniform consists of salty hair and sunkissed skin all summer long and a spot where everyone will find the best in rest and relaxation during the vacation season. If you're planning a trip to Cape Cod this summer and need a little help figuring out your itinerary, we're here to assist. Here are 15 things to do on Cape Cod for your next getaway.

Take in a show at the Wellfleet Drive-In.

Jurassic Park at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre, in Wellfleet, MA
Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Have a classic vacation moment by spending an evening at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre. The theatre is the area's only surviving drive-in and offers its annual first-run double features on its 100-foot screen every night during the summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day. In the summer, the theater also hosts The Wellfleet Flea Market, which is open from 8 a.m. to about 3 p.m. on Saturdays, weather permitting.

Go for a bike ride down the Rail Trail.

Take in the best natural sights and sounds with a day of biking down the Cape Cod Rail Trail. The 25-mile path connects six different towns from Dennis to Wellfleet, offering epic views of beaches, forests, and adorable New England neighborhoods along the way. Not a biker? That's ok. You're welcome to strap on rollerblades, walk, run, or even bring your horse down the trail for a good trot.

Visit the Sandwich Glass Museum.

Get a little art and culture with your stay in Cape Cod by heading over to the Sandwich Glass Museum. The museum displays more than 5,000 stunning glass artworks by local artisans, some dating back to the early 19th century, and even hosts hourly glass-making presentations, which all help tell the story and history of glassmaking in the region. Its permanent collection includes the Color and Chemistry Collection and the Levine Lighting Gallery.

See the Nauset Lighthouse.

Nauset Beach Lighthouse on Cape Cod
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If you're in Cape Cod for a getaway, odds are you have at least a passive interest in New England landmarks, and here that means visiting a lighthouse or two. Pay your vacation dues by checking out the Nauset Lighthouse. The lighthouse still serves as a warning to passing boaters and fishing fleets, as well as an excellent spot for a history lesson thanks to the interpretive signage and tours that are available in the summer.

Stop and smell the roses at the Heritage Gardens.

100 years ago, Charles Dexter purchased a plot of land on the Cape so he could tinker with his rhododendron blooms. And to this day, visitors get to come and experience all the fruits of his labor with the spectacular summer blooms at the Heritage Gardens. But hang on, because the gardens are home to way more than flowers. There's also a vintage car museum, an American folk art area, as well as an ever-changing list of short-stay exhibitions. Come walk the more than 100 acres of gardens, and find your favorite cars and artistic pieces, too.

Get scientific at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Get to know more about the waters surrounding Cape Cod by checking out the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), the world's largest oceanographic research institution. The researchers invite visitors to come learn more about their work, including an interactive exhibit that walks you through the discovery of the wreck of the Titanic.

Snag a bite at the Beachcomber.

Head over to the Beachcomber when you're feeling hungry to get a taste of a true Cape Cod institution. The restaurant sits inside a one-time lifesaving station that was built in the late 19th century. In 1953, the station was converted into a small inn, and later to a restaurant, which now serves a delicious menu of raw bar items plucked straight from the nearby sea.

Sip and savor at Truro Vineyards.

A general view of Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod
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Unwind with a glass of local wine at Truro Vineyards, which specializes in maritime grapes. The vineyard offers guests the chance to take part in tasting flights of five wines for $15. The flights change weekly, so if you're staying for the long haul you can come back more than once to try something new.

Shop for old-school goodies at the Sandwich Antiques Center.

New England is already well known for being an antiques paradise, but Cape Cod really takes things up a notch — especially at the Sandwich Antiques Center. The center holds more than 5,000 square feet of goodies including lighting, accessories, furnishings, and plenty of rare and unique finds.

Root for the home team at a Cape Cod Baseball League game.

Indulge in a little Americana by cheering on the home team at a Cape Cod Baseball League game. The collegiate summer baseball team's tagline is "where the stars of tomorrow shine," which couldn't be more true considering more than 1,000 of its former players have made it to the major leagues. Come for the game, but stay for the hotdogs and Cracker Jacks.

Play a round at The Captains Golf Course.

Want to get in some sporting action of your own? Come play a round at The Captains Golf Course. The par-72 Port Course and the par-72 Starboard Course combine for a stunning 36 holes. The public course, designed by Geoffrey S. Cornish and Brian M. Silva, also features 6,724 yards of golf from the longest tees, making it a course you'll most certainly want to rent a cart for.

Dig your toes into the sand at the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Head of the meadow beach on the national seashore in Cape Cod, USA
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Experience the breathtaking shoreline at the Cape Cod National Seashore. The protected area, which was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, encompasses more than 43,600 acres of land, including woodland areas, ponds, and plenty of beachfront. Come hike, bike, take a ranger-led tour, or just relax on the sand.

Explore the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

Trees growing through the surf at high tide at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Chatham, Cape Cod,
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Get a little more outside time by visiting the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, which helps to protect a host of animals, including migratory birds, horseshoe crabs, tiger beetles, gray seals, and more. Visitors are welcome to come hike, go birdwatching, and snap as many photos of the animals as they'd like.

See a live show at The Cape Playhouse.

Make an evening out of it by getting tickets to a show at The Cape Playhouse. Every show at the playhouse is both splendid and special, and that's likely due to the fact that the playhouse has a seriously strong pedigree. As the longest-running professional summer theater in the country, its past roster of actors includes the greats like Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Betty White, and Ginger Rogers.

Set out for a day of whale watching.

Whale watchers on a boat off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.
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You cannot leave the Cape without hitting the water for a bit of whale watching. Sorry, that's just the law. Ok, you won't get fined if you don't, but you most certainly miss out on the fun. There are a number of great whale watching vessels you can board, but for an extra special ride, book tickets with Whale Watch Dolphin Fleet. The whale watching provider offers sunset cruises so you can both take in the view and see a few whales wave you goodnight along the way, too.

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