Everyone knows that Cape Cod is the place to be in the summer! Spending time on undeveloped beaches where all you can hear is seagulls, the waves, and your fellow beach-goers is a summer dream come true. But that is not where the Cape’s beauty ends! As all Cape Codders know, the beach is lovely, but there is so much more to explore. Those of us that spend winters on the peninsula know how to have fun by staying on-Cape when the summer traffic hits. These the best things to do for a Cape vacation other than the beach!
1. Go Exploring
Find a conservation land and go for a walk through the marshes. Find the White Cedar Swamp in Wellfleet or Talbot’s Point in Sandwich. The walks aren’t too grueling and they give you a new view of the ocean. Google search the conservation lands in the town you are staying in to access online maps, walk lengths, and difficulty levels. The Cape is teeming with beauty, so go find it!
2. Get Some Exercise
Biking is a great way to see some of the Cape you might otherwise miss. The Cape Cod rail trail is a 22 mile bike path following the old Cape Cod rail line stretching from South Dennis to South Wellfleet. Hopping on any point of this ride will maximize time in the sun while getting that Cape Cod charm. If you have never stopped to enjoy the Cape Cod Canal for more than sitting in traffic, take a ride from either the Sandwich or Bourne sides, watch the boats, and breathe that fresh salt air. You can find bike rental shops up and down the Cape, so a little investment makes for a lovely day.
3. Shop Local
Cape Cod is bustling with small enterprise, so check some of it out! The Collections Gallery in Sandwich is staffed and filled by local artists. You can find some kooky clothing, glass-blown jewelry, and trinkets from window hangings to one of a kind cheese platters. There is also Main Street in Hyannis as well the charming town of Chatham! If you go for a day trip to the Vineyard or Nantucket, stop at Falmouth Main Street on your way to the boat. You will find a gorgeous park, children’s shops, beautiful clothing and friendly people.
Cape Cod has a year-round population of almost 200,000 so there are dozens of local-secret spots that embody life on Cape Cod. Pick up breakfast at Earthly Delights or Amie’s Bakery in Osterville. Cobie’s Clam Shack, on route 6A in Brewster (near Nickerson State Park) looks like it hasn’t changed since it opened in 1948, nestled in the pine trees. Head to The Dog House for some family fun and a laugh at this not-so-average hotdog stand.
5. Spend Time On the Water
Rent kayaks and go on a historical guided tour of Sandwich’s creek with ECOtourz. A quick google search for kayak rentals in your town can lead to a lovely afternoon—as a native Cape Codder, I can tell you that there’s no better place to kayak than the marsh creeks at high tide. You could also spend an hour or two on the water and head out to Monomoy Island off of Chatham for a seal watch, or to Barnstable Harbor or Provincetown for a whale watch! If you want to explore the islands, take a high-speed ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket from Woods Hole or Hyannis! Visit the filming location for Steven Spielberg’s hit movie Jaw’s on the Vineyard and meander through the quaint Nantucket streets. You will not regret a day spent by the sea. This is one of the best Cape vacation ideas!
6. End the Day With Desert
There is nothing quite like spending a day in the sun and going to get an ice cream cone after sunset. Ice cream is an institution on Cape Cod, and you really can’t go wrong. For extra fun, find an ice cream stand with mini-golf in the back (Cataumet Crossing, Par-tee Freeze, Harbor Lights). Grab a cone, leave a tip (the college students serving will thank you), and try your hand at put-put.
Of course, Cape Cod’s allure is found in the beaches, so get your tan on! But remember that there is more to do when the afternoon clouds hit. With 15 towns and countless villages, a Cape vacation is waiting for you to explore and discover its hidden gems.