Ready for a “wicked” awesome road trip to New England? Supercharge your East Coast holiday with all the best things to do in Cape Cod, MA. This hook-shaped island juts into the Atlantic Ocean and comprises 15 colorful towns. Discover acclaimed beaches, seafood restaurants galore, and endless coastal adventures on the Cape.
Boogie board the day away at Race Point Beach, then head into lively Provincetown for shopping and lobster rolls. Tackle biking trails up and down the island, and immerse yourself in Cape culture at the many lighthouses and museums. Crack open a Cape Cod Beer as you watch the sun setting on Cape Cod Bay.
Tricky choice deciding what to do? Here’s your blueprint for all the best places to visit in Cape Cod, MA!
Best places to visit in Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod National Seashore
Make the Cape Cod National Seashore one of the first stops of your vacation. Explore salt marshes, walking trails, and six beautiful beaches. You’ll want to set aside a whole day (or more) to see all that the Cape Cod National Seashore has to offer.
Outdoor activities abound along this Atlantic-facing coastline. Plunge into salty swells at Coast Guard Beach, or watch the seals bobbing in the waters of Cahoon Hollow Beach. At Marconi Beach, you’ll have plenty of space to spread out, make sandcastles, and watch the surfers tackling some of the Cape’s best waves.
Bird and nature lovers will want to grab their binoculars and take a stroll down Fort Hill Trail. The one-mile loop passes through flower meadows and opens out to the Atlantic. Be on the lookout for migratory seabirds along the way!
Heritage Museum & Gardens
Heritage Museum & Gardens boasts 100 acres of gardens, museums with eclectic collections, and events year-round. Each garden has a unique theme, from herbs to waterlilies and bee hotels to greenery enhanced with fanciful artwork and sculptures.
Get in touch with nature at the flourishing Heritage Museum & Gardens. Roam the colorful meadows, past cool stone walls, and bubbling fountains in the McGraw Family Garden, sensory gardens designed with inclusivity in mind.
In springtime, frolic about Dexter Rhododendron Garden among the hot pink blooming flowers, and in summer, take in the electric blues of the Hydrangea Display.
Your little ones will have a blast navigating balance beams and making music in the certified nature classroom at Hidden Hollow. Antique car lovers will be giddy about the American Automobile Collection and events like Cocktails for Cars. Appreciate the beauty of the 1908 Looff Carousel. Hop on for a nostalgic activity in a whimsical setting.
Lighthouses are fundamental to Cape Cod’s rich maritime history, and the Nauset Lighthouse is no exception. The iconic red and white, 48-foot tall classic design has kept boats safe since 1877. Spend some time scouting out the Nauset Lighthouse while you’re galavanting the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Climb the spiral staircase to the lookout room and peek out of the circular windows at the Atlantic waves rolling onto the sandy shore. Chat with docents about lighthouse history, like how the Nauset Lighthouse has been relocated several times due to an eroding coastline.
Head down the sea grass-lined, sandy path to one of Cape Cod’s finest beaches, Nauset Light Beach, where you’ll find plenty of space to spread out your beach towels and enjoy the ocean breeze.
Fun fact: The lighthouse on the bag of Cape Cod Chips is the Nauset Lighthouse; be sure to prepare a bag for the perfect Nauset Beach snack!
Race Point Beach
Welcome to Race Point Beach on the northernmost tip of Cape Cod. Plan to spend at least a day on this side of the Cape at Race Point and in nearby Provincetown. This area, called the Outer Cape, is the postcard-perfect image of Cape Cod.
Design sandcastles, play in the water, or shell hunt along the shoreline. Relax to the cawing of seagulls and the crash of the surf. Walk inland over the dunes to the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum. Take cover from the sun as you learn about the history of the Coast Guard.
Head to Cape Cod Bay-facing side of the peninsula and spend the evening sightseeing around Provincetown. Pick up some souvenirs from the gift shops along Commercial Street, or poke your head into the art galleries. Wrap up your night with a gourmet dinner and drinks at the cozy yet upscale Joon Bar + Kitchen.
Whydah Pirate Museum
Shiver me timbers! That’s real booty! Sail by the Whydah Pirate Museum to see the world’s only authenticated pirate treasure and engage in interactive exhibits with your family. Your little lads and lasses will love spending an hour at this quirky museum.
Meet the crew of the Whydah Pirate Ship, and learn about how this slave ship was overtaken and then wrecked on Cape Cod’s coast in 1717. Walk through the replica ship, and browse the pirate artifacts exhibits. See the real gold coins, cannons, pistols, and more. You’ll leave understanding more about colonial-era pirates and the true tale of the Whydah shipwreck.
Keep the pirate theme going and challenge your family to a hole-in-one at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, a mini golf course. While in South Yarmouth, make a sweet stop at Cape Cod Salt Water Taffy for authentic taffy. While you’re there, ask about the legend of “The Great Mistake!”
Nickerson State Park
Get ready for an adventure at Nickerson State Park. Pack your bikes, camping gear, and bathing suits, and detour away from the salty shores of the Cape. Embrace Nickerson’s 2,000 acres of flourishing east coast nature, freshwater marshes, and outdoor activities.
Acquaint yourself with the State Park at the Nickerson Park Headquarters and Nature Center, chat with a ranger, then begin your hike through the trails.
Traverse the serene paths of Flax Trail, or make the Cliff Pond Trail loop. Encounter horseback riders and bikers passing through the park along the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Rent a kayak or go for a swim in the cool, crisp waters of Cliff Pond. Bring your tackle box and try some catch-and-release fishing at Higgins Pond. Stay for a night or two in Nickerson State Park at one of the 400 campsites, choosing from a traditional yurt or an RV.
John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
History buffs should set aside an hour to tour the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. Cape Cod was famously one of JFK’s favorite places, making Hyannis a fitting location for this museum. Stop by to learn about Kennedy’s ties to the Cape and his legacy in American history.
Turn the corner from Main Street and stride up to the grand Colonial Revival home housing the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. Take a picture with the bronze life-size statue of the 35th president, then head inside to peruse an eclectic collection of artifacts. Browse 80 genuine family photographs, and listen to recounts of Kennedy’s life told by his inner circle of friends.
After your museum visit, shoot over to Spanky’s Clam Shack for some of the Cape’s finest fresh seafood. Do Cape Cod cuisine right with creamy clam chowder in a fresh bread bowl, steamers served with sweet butter, or littlenecks and homemade cocktail sauce.
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum
Uncover local history at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. In 1620, the Mayflower arrived at Provincetown with pilgrims aboard. Today, explore Cape Cod heritage at the museum to see how modern Provincetown has developed over the centuries.
Gaze up at the 353-foot tall granite tower, the tallest of its kind in the country, then make the trek to the top. Take in panoramic views of boats in the Provincetown Harbor to the south and the Provincetown skyline to the north.
Head down to the museum, and check out the permanent exhibits about Cape Cod’s development. Browse memorabilia like playbills from the Cape Playhouse, Christmas cards, clothes, and antique children’s toys.
Grab a Cape Cod Bay-facing table at The Lobster Pot, and tuck in your stylish lobster bib. Feast on some of Provincetown’s best lobster rolls or dig into a boiled lobster dipped in drawn butter.
The Chatham Lighthouse is a core facet of Cape Cod’s history. The treacherous curve of the Cape into the Atlantic has been to blame for over 3500 shipwrecks during the 19th and early 20th centuries alone. Come witness the guiding lights of the Chatham Lighthouse on the southeastern edge of Cape Cod.
Mosey up the path to the lighthouse keeper’s home, turned US Coast Guard station, and take in the landscaped property. Naval history fans will want to check out the antique Coast Guard ship on the grass. Take a photo of the 48-foot-tall lighthouse and breathe in the briny ocean air. Head down the Chatham Lighthouse Beach and dip your toes in the cool Atlantic waters.
Just a quick drive away is the Atwood Museum. Tour the 14 rotating and permanent collections about the Cape’s past, from early settlers and the Native Americans who inhabited the land first to modern milestones in Cape Cod’s history.
Cape Cod Museum of Art
Art enthusiasts will find an oasis at the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Immerse yourself in Cape Cod’s booming art scene through this vast collection of art. Survey the locally made pieces, art inspired by the area, and modern displays of American folk art.
Saunter up to the grey-shingled classic cape cod-style house sitting on 25 acres of manicured campus and sculpture gardens. Can you find the stone whale swimming in the grass? Inside, consider artwork created by Cape Codders over the decades. Ponder the symbolic paintings by Alexander Calder, the father of Abstract Expressionism, and The Motus showcase with paintings about movement.
Schedule your visit on a Sunday to hear bluegrass, swing, jazz, and more at the evening music festivals in the romantic setting of the museum.
Sandwich Glass Museum
Cape Cod isn’t just famous for sea glass from the ocean. Visit the Sandwich Glass Museum to delve into the legacy of The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company. Young and old visitors will be fascinated by the demonstrations and exhibits in the museum.
Make your way through the Sandwich Glass Museum inspecting the delicate, eclectic displays of glass art vases, dishes, cups, and decorations. Take in the funky designs of glass sculptures of sea life and flowers, the electrified neon glass vase, and other glowing, magical shapes. Look through the Sandwich-produced glass and exhibits to learn about the founding of The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company in 1825.
One of the most exciting parts of this museum is the operational glass furnace. Behold the glass-blowing demonstration as artists craft, twist, and bend the glass into shape. Feel the heat from the furnace and experience a bit of Sandwich’s glass industry heritage.
Cape Cod Children’s Museum
Taking on the Cod with little ones? Swing by the town of Mashpee for the Cape Cod Children’s Museum. This museum is on a mission to motivate young children and families to play together to learn together. Since it was founded by a group of moms, you know it’ll be good!
Let the creativity soar as your kiddos experiment in each zone. Your tiny sound engineer can use paddles to whack pipes and test hypotheses about sound, and mini actors and actresses can roleplay in the barnyard or pirate ship.
Munchkin explorers can tackle the indoor playground and treehouses, while future engineers create structures with giant-sized connecting toys. There’s a fun activity for every type of learner here.
After all of that playtime, refuel at the Wicked Restaurant and Wine Bar. The whole family will love the famous “fire kissed” pizza, and parents will dig the vast wine and craft beer selection.
Veterans Memorial Park
Searching for a quieter beach to spend the afternoon at? Veterans Memorial Park is a hidden gem in Hyannis. This laid-back beach and park is perfect for families to picnic, relax, and take in the calm atmosphere of the park.
As you walk along the beach, pay respects at the John F. Kennedy Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Facing Lewis Bay, the waters are a bit warmer and calmer than those directly along the Atlantic. Wade through the shallow waters or walk along the shore and sand comb to see if you can find any interesting rocks or intact shells.
Sit and rest on one of the benches, laughing at the funny geese honking and waddling around the grass and flowers. Watch the Nantucket Ferry cruising by on the serene waters. For dinner, bring picnic supplies and light up one of the on-site grills.
Edward Gorey House
If you’re into the macabre or the mystical, make time for the Edward Gorey House. Even those who aren’t familiar with Gorey’s works like The Gashy Tinies or The Doubtful Guest will enjoy the playful nature of this museum. The museum is in a small, unassuming 200-year-old sea captain’s home in Yarmouth Port, or as the locals say, “Yah-mouth” Port.
Inside, uncover a collection of illustrations, and books by Gorey. Begin your visit with a docent-led tour and learn all about Edward Gorey’s life. Hear anecdotes about his obsession with animals and the New York City Ballet. Investigate the Doing the Steps exhibit, where you can view Gorey’s hundreds of playbills and ballet tickets and the ballet-inspired art he created.
Try your hand at the notoriously challenging Gashlycrumb Tinies scavenger hunt. If you can finish, you’ve earned the pride of a job well done and a prize at the front desk.
If you get excited about vineyard tours, tastings, and Charcuterie boards, spend an afternoon at Truro Vineyards. This vineyard with Cape Cod flare has mastered seaside grape growing to bring you incredible locally-made wine and spirits. Take a tour, grab a glass, and enjoy the vineyard-chic ambiance.
Tour the vineyard grapevines and the restored 1830s farmhouse-turned-tasting room. Learn about the varieties of wines like the Lighthouse series in honor of the Cape’s lighthouse heritage.
Try out the Cape Blush or Cranberry Red, and buy a beautiful lighthouse bottle to bring home. Liquor fans will be delighted to hear about South Hollow Spirits on the property. Sample gin and rum or sip on the lawn alongside your wine-loving counterparts.
Lounge on lawn chairs under the shady trees with drink in hand. If you’re feeling peckish, order burgers and sandwiches at Crush Pad Food Truck or fresh cheese boards in the gift shop.
Cape Cod Beer
Attention all craft beer lovers: experience an East Coast beach holiday in a glass at Cape Cod Beer. Take a tour, have a chug, and enjoy the best brewery on Cape Cod.
Follow a guide through the brew house, the grain room, and the industrial taproom. Sip Cape Cod Red, Spiced Mango Brut IPA, or Strawberry Shortcake Cream Ale if you have a sweet tooth. The Pumpkin Coffee Dunkel is perfect for all you pumpkin spice fanatics.
In the Outdoor Beer Garden, sit under an umbrella, or laze in the sunshine, brew in hand. Order some ribs from JP’s Twisted BBQ food truck, and sway to the live music. The beer will surely inspire your best dance moves!
Cape Cod Beer only distributes within a 50-mile radius; if you like what you taste, buy a few cans to take back home. Crack one open when you want some Cape Cod nostalgia.
Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters
Craving coffee made with ethically sourced beans and locally roasted blends? Say no more. Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters is one of the top destinations for coffee connoisseurs on the Cape. Try exotic coffee beans, directly sourced from farms in Peru and El Salvador, freshly roasted and ground by Snowy Owl.
Sip an Inca Espresso or a cup of the specialty Brewster Blend paired with a daily baked pastry like a blueberry scone. Enjoy your treat in the Secret Garden. Take a seat on a bench under the foliage, or catch some rays on the grassy lawn.
If you’re visiting Snowy Owl on the way to Nickerson State Park, get fresh salads, oatmeal bowls, soups, or sandwiches from their grab ‘n go section. Don’t forget a growler of their cold brew for when you need an energy boost! Pick out a bag of your favorite blend to recreate the brew at home.
Recommended places to stay in Cape Cod
For travelers, the most popular places to stay in Cape Cod include Provincetown, Hyannis, Yarmouth, Chatham, and Falmouth. In each of these towns, you’ll find a variety of accommodation options, from seaside hotels to cute vacation rentals for the entire family.
With its distinctive New England charm, this Queen Anne-style B&B in the Falmouth Village Green Historic District is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway in Cape Cod. Rooms feature elegant four-poster beds, fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs. Splurge on the property’s two-bedroom cottage to enjoy its tranquil garden and private deck.
Set in a 17th-century Greek Revival mansion surrounded by two acres of English gardens, this luxury inn in Chatham won’t disappoint. Beside the elegant rooms, the hotel features beautiful common areas teeming with antiques and period decors, and special amenities like a seasonal heated outdoor pool.
If you’re looking to base yourself in Provincetown, few properties charm more than this seasonal luxury hotel. Soak in beautiful views over marshes and sand dunes from the hotel’s chic rooms and suites. Get social with excellent amenities like a heated outdoor pool with a poolside bar, a lobby lounge with a fireplaces, and BBQ grills. Upgrade to a suite to enjoy access to a kitchen, living room, and a rooftop deck with lovely views over the area.