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Things to Do on Cape Cod

Table of Contents

1. Discover Cape Cod's Stunning Beaches

2. Navigating the Charm of Cape Cod Lighthouses

3. A Taste of Cape Cod: Best Restaurants and Bakeries

4. Join the Festivities: Cape Cod Festivals You Musn’t Miss

5. Outdoor Adventures Beyond the Beach

6. Immersive Cultural and Historical Experiences

7. Where to Stay in Cape Cod: Accommodation for Every Traveler

8. Practical Tips for Planning Your Cape Cod Getaway

9. Conclusion

Cape Cod, a unique landscape emerging from Massachusetts into the Atlantic Ocean, beckons with a unique charm. Imagine crisp ocean air, lighthouses standing sentinel against the waves, and quaint villages bursting with character. This historic peninsula boasts a rich tapestry woven from the tales of seafaring communities and the echoes of early American life. And yet, Cape Cod is no relic of the past. It's an environment that throbs with vibrant culture, offering a delectable seafood scene, a thriving art community, and endless opportunities for adventure.

Whether you're a sun-worshipper beachcomber seeking out pristine beaches, a history buff in search of America's earliest days, or a curious gourmand looking to savor the freshest catch, Cape Cod has something for everyone. Pack your bags and get ready to discover a world of sun-drenched landscapes, captivating history, and unforgettable experiences. Let's dive into the best things to do on this enchanting peninsula. 


Discover Cape Cod's Stunning Beaches

Cape Cod's crown jewel is undoubtedly its coastline. With beaches facing both the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay, there's a beach for every variety of beach bum. 

Families with young children will find family-friendly waters at Old Silver Beach in Falmouth, or at Craigville Beach in Barnstable, where gentle waves and shallow sandbars create safe havens for little ones to splash. More active beachgoers can head to Nauset Beach in Orleans, where the strong surf beckons surfers and boogie boarders, or to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, a haven for experienced wave riders. 

For the ultimate in idyllic escapes, Cape Cod National Seashore is the destination of choice. Its Race Point Beach in Provincetown offers vast stretches of pristine sand, ideal for long walks and relaxation. And if tranquility is your priority, escape to Marconi Beach in Wellfleet. Backed by towering dunes, this vast stretch of sand promises a peaceful retreat where the rhythm of waves will provide an extraordinary relaxation soundtrack.

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Navigating the Charm of Cape Cod Lighthouses

Cape Cod's lighthouses are more than just scenic backdrops – they're silent sentinels standing guard over a long and fascinating maritime history. 

Arguably the most photographed lighthouse in Cape Cod is Eastham’s Nauset Lighthouse. This red and white beacon, a beloved symbol of the Cape, replaced an earlier tower threatened by erosion. History buffs can delve deeper at the nearby Nauset Lighthouse Museum. 

For unparalleled views, consider climbing the 66 steps of Highland Light in Truro. The oldest and tallest lighthouse on the Cape, Highland Light boasts panoramic lookouts that extend for miles. Established in 1797 by order of President George Washington, the original wooden tower was replaced by a brick structure in 1831, and the current 66-foot tower was built in 1857. Guided tours are offered during the summer months. 

Nobska Point Lighthouse in Woods Hole, Falmouth has guided mariners from the southwestern tip of Cape Cod for nearly two centuries. Originally constructed in 1828, the lighthouse played a crucial role in ensuring safety in the waters around Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound, and Vineyard Sound.

And no lighthouse tour is complete without mentioning the Three Sisters of Nauset in Eastham. These three lighthouses, originally built in 1837, were strategically placed to warn ships of dangerous shoals. The original structures fell victim to ocean erosion in 1890 and were replaced with wooden towers in 1892. 

If you’re planning to capturing the essence of Cape Cod's lighthouses through photography, aim for early mornings or the golden hour for the most flattering light. Don't be afraid to experiment with different compositions, incorporating foreground elements like rocks or wildflowers to add depth and interest to your photos.

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A Taste of Cape Cod: Best Restaurants and Bakeries

Cape Cod's charm extends far beyond its stunning beaches and historic lighthouses. It boasts a vibrant culinary scene offering something for every palate and craving. From classic New England seafood shacks to upscale waterfront restaurants and international flavors, there's a delicious adventure awaiting around every corner!

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  • Fine dining and local bounty: The Glass Onion offers "refined New American cooking" with a cozy ambiance, while Anejo Mexican Bistro delivers an upscale Mexican experience.
  • Casual comfort and sweet indulgence: Relax with comfort food and craft cocktails at Quicks Hole Tavern. Don't miss Smitty's Homemade Ice Cream, a local favorite.


  • Classics and ambiance: Savor award-winning chowder and lively vibes at Skipper Chowder House, or at Captain Parker's Pub.
  • Quick bites and global flavors: Route 28 Diner serves classic American fare, while Inaho Japanese Restaurant and Il Montebello Restaurant cater to international tastes.


  • Waterfront views and local flavors: Marshside Restaurant offers scenic views, while Chapin's Fish & Chips, Sesuit Harbor Cafe, and Swan River Seafood Restaurant serve delicious seafood. Scargo Cafe provides an upscale atmosphere with local beers.
  • Sweet indulgences: Enjoy ice cream at Holiday Hill Ice Cream, Holy Cow Ice Cream Cafe, and Sundae School Ice Cream!


  • Upscale options: Indulge in fresh seafood with panoramic views at Spinnaker Restaurant. JT's Seafood is a favorite for lobster rolls, while Brewster Fish House offers innovative dishes.
  • Casual and sweet treats: Enjoy homemade ice cream and sundaes at Brewster Scoop.
  • Get the full guide to dining out in Brewster: Best Restaurants in Brewster, MA: Local Expert Picks 


  • Waterfront dining and upscale ambiance: Brax Landing Restaurant boasts stunning views and delicious seafood. Cape Sea Grille offers an elegant atmosphere with creative cuisine.
  • Casual and sweet: Mad Minnow Bar & Kitchen features Cape Cod fare and craft beers. Indulge in homemade ice cream at Schoolhouse Ice Cream (seasonal).


  • Seafood delights: Chatham Pier Fish Market is famous for its lobster rolls and clam shacks. Impudent Oyster offers a unique seafood experience. Upscale options include Chatham Squire and Bluefins Sushi & Sake Bar.


  • Pub fare and scenic views: Land Ho! serves classic dishes in a lively pub atmosphere. The Yardarm offers seafood and American classics with panoramic water views.
  • Breakfast delights and family favorites: Hole In One serves breakfast platters and pastries. Nauset Fish and Lobster Pool offers classic New England seafood in a family-friendly setting. Rock Harbor Grill features wood-fired pizzas and caters to families.
  • Sweet treats: Hot Chocolate Sparrow is a beloved ice cream shop serving coffee, desserts, and sandwiches.


  • Quintessential Cape Cod: Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar offers a taste of tradition. Sam's Deli serves classic sandwiches, while Fairway Restaurant and Pizzeria and Red Barn Pizza & More both cater to families.


  • Fine dining to casual bites: Mac's Shack is renowned for its seafood, while The Wicked Oyster offers fine dining. The Wellfleet Marketplace is perfect for casual meals.
  • Local haunts and ice cream delights: Don't miss Mac's on the Pier, Moby Dick's Restaurant, Winslow's Tavern, The Beachcomber, and the Pearl Restaurant and Bar (seasonal). A Nice Cream Stop and Gelato Joy Cafe (seasonal) offer delightful ice cream options.


  • Fine dining delights: Blackfish showcases fresh seafood in a sophisticated setting.
  • Cafes and casual bites: Explore cafes like Days Market & Deli and Box Lunch Truro for convenient options. Savory and the Sweet Escape serves American favorites like pizza and ice cream.


  • Seafood extravaganza: The Lobster Pot offers classic New England fare, while Front Street Restaurant provides a refined setting for innovative dishes.
  • International flavors and sweet treats: Explore cafes, Portuguese bakeries, Italian trattorias, and Thai cuisine. The Provincetown Portuguese Bakery is a must-visit.

Not all restaurants are open year-round – call ahead to verify opening hours. During peak season, consider booking reservations for popular spots, especially if you’re looking to catch a sunset view!

Join the Festivities: Cape Cod Festivals You Musn’t Miss

Cape Cod throbs with a vibrant calendar of festivals and events that offer you a chance to immerse yourself in the local spirit throughout the year. 

Spring awakening: As the days lengthen and the air warms, Cape Cod awakens with a festive spirit. The Brewster in Bloom Festival explodes with color in late April, featuring a fine arts and crafts show, a lively parade, and a vibrant display of blooming gardens. 

Summer extravaganza: Summer is synonymous with celebration on Cape Cod. The 4th of July bursts with patriotic fervor across the Cape, with parades, fireworks displays illuminating the night sky, and heartwarming community gatherings. For its part, the iconic Provincetown Carnival, spanning a week in late summer, is a kaleidoscope of vibrant parades, live music, amusement rides, and delectable food stalls. 

Fall foliage festivities: As the leaves blaze with fiery hues, Cape Cod offers a backdrop for harvest celebrations. The Chatham Apple Butter Festival in October is a delightful family-friendly event featuring apple-themed treats, crafts, and live entertainment. 

Winter wonderland: The festive spirit continues through winter. Early December kicks off the enchanting holiday season with twinkling lights, carolers, and special events in various towns, including quintessential Cape experiences like the Falmouth Christmas Parade and the lighting of both the Pilgrim Monument and the iconic Lobster Pot Tree in P-town. Ring in the New Year with a bang at Chatham First Night, a family-oriented celebration featuring live music, ice sculptures, and a spectacular fireworks display. 

These are just a few highlights. Every town and village on Cape Cod has its own unique festivals, showcasing local artisans, celebrating maritime heritage, or offering delectable culinary delights. Explore local event calendars to discover hidden gems to pique your interest!

Outdoor Adventures Beyond the Beach

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Visit Cape Cod just once, and you’ll quickly find that its charm goes beyond postcard-perfect beaches and quaint villages. It's a paradise for outdoor adventurers, offering a vast playground for activities that will get your heart pumping and adrenaline flowing.

Hikers are spoiled for choice, with a network winding through forests, meadows, and salt marshes. The Cape Cod National Seashore boasts scenic hiking trails like the Nauset Marsh Trail and its stunning Atlantic views. For a taste of history, take the trail to Coast Guard Beach, where remnants of a World War II observation post stand guard. If you’re looking for something even more secluded, explore the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge just off Chatham, or Nickerson State Park in Brewster.

Cyclists can explore the paved Cape Cod Rail Trail, a converted railway path perfect for a leisurely ride or an invigorating workout. 

Cape Cod's vast coastline also calls to water sports enthusiasts. Kayaking and paddleboarding offer a unique perspective, allowing you to glide through calm harbors or explore hidden coves. Feeling adventurous? Take a guided kayak tour through wildlife-teeming marshes or challenge yourself with stand-up paddleboarding on open waves. As for surfing, spots like Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Beach are havens for catching an unforgettable ride on the waves!

If angling is more your speed, the Cape offers fishing boats aplenty for exciting deep-sea charter adventures, while piers and beaches provide opportunities for more casual fishing endeavors.

Cape Cod also boasts a haven of championship golf courses and seaside links, catering to all skill levels. Tee off amidst breathtaking ocean vistas, navigate challenging fairways sculpted through rolling hills, and putt on meticulously manicured greens (or one of many mini-golf courses on the Cape!). 

Or simply spend a bit of time with America’s pastime. The Cape Cod Baseball League features pro players from across the country, playing for any of the ten teams located on the Cape.

Note that Cape Cod's beauty is certainly not confined to summer! During winter, the landscape transforms, perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing adventures. Many ponds and lakes become havens for ice skating, offering a picturesque and exhilarating experience.

This is just a taste of the outdoor adventures that await. From thrilling whale-watching cruises to exploring hidden beaches by dune buggy, there's something for everyone. Local outfitters and guides can help you plan your adventure, ensuring a safe and unforgettable experience.

Immersive Cultural and Historical Experiences

Not so far beneath Cape Cod's surface lies a rich tapestry of history and culture waiting to be explored. 

The fact is, Cape Cod's identity is inextricably linked to the ocean, from the Mayflower pilgrims who stopped at the tip of the Cape before making their way to Plymouth, to today. Delve into its maritime past at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis, where you can explore exhibits showcasing the region's shipbuilding heritage, or learn about the daring sea captains who braved the Atlantic.

The Cape's artistic spirit is as vibrant as its summer blooms. Provincetown, a historic art colony, boasts a thriving artistic scene (and nightlife!). Wander through galleries showcasing the works of local and regional artists, from established masters to emerging talents. Explore artist studios, attend inspiring talks, and discover unique boutique pieces that capture the essence of Cape Cod's natural beauty and coastal charm. Don't miss the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, which houses an impressive collection of works by artists associated with the region, alongside pieces from broader art movements.

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Artistic expression here on Cape Cod extends far beyond the visual arts. Experience the rich musical heritage of the region at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis. Catch a performance during their summer season packed with Broadway productions, captivating concerts, and lively dance pieces. For a more intimate experience, explore smaller venues tucked away in charming villages, where local musicians weave their magic.

For a deep cultural experience, learn about the rich history and enduring traditions of the Wampanoag people at the Mashpee Wampanoag Museum. There, visitors can explore exhibits showcasing their masterful craftsmanship, cultural practices, and vital role in shaping Cape Cod's story. 

Other notable Cape Cod museums include the Sandwich Glass Museum featuring a scintillating collection of rare glass,, and of course the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.

You can also discover another unique cultural landscape at a working cranberry bog. Take a guided tour to learn about the fascinating history of cranberry cultivation, a cornerstone of Cape Cod's agricultural heritage. 

Truth be told, every Cape Cod town boasts its own historical societies and museums, preserving the unique stories of townsfolk past. Keep an eye out for markers and walking tours that bring history to life!


Where to Stay in Cape Cod: Accommodation for Every Traveler

Del Mar Vacations offers a wide range of Cape Cod accommodations right across the Cape, from luxury hideaways to budget-friendly cottages. 

Yours to explore: 

Practical Tips for Planning Your Cape Cod Getaway

Before you hit the road (or ferry!) to the Cape, here's some essential intel to craft the perfect getaway.

The best time to visit depends on your preferences. Summer (June-August) is peak season, with vibrant festivals, bustling beaches, and warm weather. Shoulder seasons (April-May and September-October) offer pleasant temperatures, smaller crowds, and stunning fall foliage, especially on the Outer Cape. Winter transforms the landscape into a snowy wonderland, perfect for cozy, romantic getaways.

Cape Cod is easily accessible by car. If flying in, Boston Logan International Airport is the major hub, with onward connections to local Cape Cod airports or ferries. Consider ferries from Boston or Martha's Vineyard for a scenic arrival. Once on the Cape, many towns are pedestrian-friendly, and bicycles are a popular way to explore. Car rentals are a good option for exploring the peninsula's diverse offerings.

Pack for the season! Summers demand lightweight clothing, sunscreen, a swimsuit, and a hat. Spring and fall require layers, with evenings turning cooler. Winters necessitate warm clothes, boots, and a hat. Don't forget comfortable walking shoes for exploring charming villages or strolling along the beach. Binoculars are great for wildlife watching, and a camera is a must to capture those picture-perfect moments.

Cape Cod is also a perfect home base for a wide variety of fantastic day trips! Just off the Cape, you can immerse yourself in history at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum that recreates a 17th-century Pilgrim village. Or explore the neighboring islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket with their distinct charm. Trips to Boston offer a taste of the city's rich history and cultural offerings.

In the end, every Cape Cod town boasts its own unique personality. Whether you seek a relaxing beach vacation, a historical adventure, or an artistic exploration,  Cape Cod promises an unforgettable getaway!


Cape Cod is where pristine beaches meet rich history and vibrant culture year-round. Just imagine days spent basking on the seashore, then strolling along charming Main Streets lined with art galleries and local shops. 

Whether you're exploring the Cape's maritime heritage at its museums or delighting in fresh, local seafood, Cape Cod offers a diverse and unforgettable vacation experience. Come discover its magic for yourself!


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About the Author


In 2015, driven by his own challenges as a homeowner dealing with a rental management company and a desire for a better solution, Luke Chapman founded Del Mar Vacations. His goal was to simplify the process of managing and caring for rental homes and their guests, offering a comprehensive, full-service solution. As a lifelong Cape Codder, Luke's deep-rooted love and knowledge of the area infuse every aspect of his business. Through this blog, he shares his insider tips and local insights, aiming to transform each visitor's trip into an unforgettable Cape Cod adventure.