Cape Cod is a popular summer destination. There are many things to do in Cape Cod with your family. You can explore the lovely lighthouses, beautiful bay and ocean beaches, many historical places, and museums. There are also many popular trails where you can enjoy various activities. Each town in Cape has something unique to offer, including natural beauty, history, arts, and entertainment. It would be a lovely place to visit with your family and friend.
To make your trip to Cape Cod memorable, here is a list of the 18 best things to do, attractions, and places to visit in Cape Cod.
Table of Contents
- CAPE COD ATTRACTIONS
- 01. Explore the stunning Cape Cod national seashore:
- 02. Picturesque Race point beach:
- 03. Enjoy biking on Cape Cod Rail Trail:
- 04. Visit the lovely Heritage museums & gardens:
- 05. Cape Cod Chatham lighthouse beach:
- 06. Watch sunrise and sunset at Nauset Beach:
- BEST THINGS TO DO IN CAPE COD:
- 07. Enjoy a refreshing experience with nature at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary:
- 08. Enjoy scenic biking on Provincelands Trail:
- 09. Explore the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum:
- 10. Learn the story of the pirate ship Whydah:
- 11. Enjoy various activities at Salt Pond Visitor Center:
- PLACES TO VISIT IN CAPE COD
- 12. Enjoy the live glass-making demonstration at Sandwich Glass Museum:
- 13. Climb at the top of Nauset Light:
- 14. Enjoy swimming and surfing at Coast Guard Beach:
- 15. Enjoy breathtaking sunset at Nobska Light:
- 16. Go whale watching at Herring cove beach:
- 17. Enjoy a unique shoreline experience at Mayflower Beach:
- 18. Enjoy walking on the Sandwich boardwalk:
CAPE COD ATTRACTIONS
01. Explore the stunning Cape Cod national seashore:
President John F. Kennedy created Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961. It encompasses over 43,00 acres and features forty miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds, lighthouses, cultural landscapes, pine and oak forests, and wild cranberry bogs. Cape Cod National Seashore also includes swimming beaches and lovely walking and biking trails.You can go hiking on the beautiful Atlantic Cedar Swamp trail, Red Maple Swamp and Fort Hill Loop, and the Great Island Trail at the National Seashore.
Atlantic Cedar Swamp trail features beautiful wildflowers and is good for all skill levels. On this trail, you can enjoy hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching.
On the Red Maple Swamp and Fort Hill Loop, you will hike on the boardwalk through the swamp forest, and then you will hike through an open space with lovely views of stunning salt marsh. You will also get beautiful meadows and ocean views at Fort Hill.
The Great Island Trail offers a chance to see wildlife. It’s a beautiful trail with gorgeous views of the seashore, but it is also buggy, so don’t forget the bug spray.
At the Cape Cod National Seashore, you will always see seals by the shore. It’s a gorgeous and peaceful place, and it also has a lovely lighthouse.
Cape Cod national seashore is one of the most popular Cape Cod attractions. You will love exploring this beautiful place.
Address: 99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet, MA 02667.
02. Picturesque Race point beach:
Race Point is an Atlantic Ocean beach and one of the most popular beaches in Cape Cod. You can explore the eight-mile Cape Cod Province Lands Bike Trail, which winds through towering dunes and will take you to the pristine beach. You can also visit the lovely Race Point Lighthouse, established in 1816. The beach features seasonal restrooms, showers, changing rooms, and the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station, which is open seasonally.
You will find many observation decks that provide a beautiful panoramic view of the area. Also, whales and seals can often be seen from these vantage points. On the beach, you will find nice walkways which provide easy access down to the water. You can also enjoy sunrise and sunset on this beautiful beach.
Protected shorebirds typically nest and stage on this beach from late spring to fall. Try to follow any posted pedestrian or pet closures. If you go biking on bike trails, watch out for ticks and poison ivy.
Race Point would be one of the best places to visit in Cape Cod. You can enjoy a wonderful time with your family and friends on Race Point Beach.
03. Enjoy biking on Cape Cod Rail Trail:
The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a 25-mile paved trail located on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The trail is completely paved and mostly flat, and it’s a popular destination for families and recreational bicyclists. Cape Cod Rail Trail is also used for hiking, horseback riding, rollerblading, and cross-country skiing. And the trail goes through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet.
Cape Cod Rail Trail connects to the six-mile Old Colony Rail Trail leading to Chatham and eight miles of trails within Nickerson State Park. The trail also passes near the end of the Nauset Bike Trail, leading to Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod National Seashore. Along the way, you can experience sandy beaches, delectable seafood, ice cream shops, pine forests, lovely landscapes of salt marshes, and cranberry bogs.
You can start your ride from the trailhead at Route 134 in South Dennis, as Rte 134 has ample free parking and a fully equipped bike shop. Also, you can avoid traffic during weekends and summer times. You will find many bike rentals, and to take a break, there are restrooms. You can also camp in Nickerson State Park.
Biking on Cape Cod Rail Trail would be one of the best Cape Cod activities. You can enjoy biking on this lovely trail with your family and friends.
04. Visit the lovely Heritage museums & gardens:
Heritage Museums and Gardens are located on 100 acres in Sandwich, Cape Cod’s oldest town. It has an antique car collection of around 40 American-made cars from 1899 to 1962. The garden includes a significant collection of rhododendrons hybridized by Charles Dexter, and there are over 1,000 varieties of daylilies and an extensive hosta collection. You will also love the designed gardens, exquisite flowers, and sweeping lawns.
The museum has 18,000 items in its collections, which represent the culture, work, leisure, and life of people in southeastern New England, with a special emphasis on Cape Cod and the Islands.
It also hosts indoor and outdoor changing exhibitions each season. Visit the official website for ongoing exhibits.
They offer various fun activities for kids, including fun from home, hidden hollow, and the 1908 Charles Looff Carousel, one of the most popular attractions at Heritage Museums & Gardens. Children will also love the scavenger hunt, different water elements, and the treehouse and play area.
You will have a great time exploring the mazes, beautiful gardens, and flowers. Also, there is a lovely windmill and waterfall. You can spend a great few hours in the Heritage Museums and Gardens. The admission is $20 for adults and $10 for kids.
Heritage Museums and Gardens would be one of the best places to go for Cape Cod sightseeing. Visit the official website for opening hours and to plan your visit.
Address: 67 Grove St, Sandwich, MA 02563.
05. Cape Cod Chatham lighthouse beach:
Chatham Lighthouse Beach is a beautiful beach on the Atlantic coast that features stunning elevated views, miles of sand, and amazing marine life. The beach sits below the Chatham Light, an active lighthouse at the Coast Guard Station that aids in the navigation of Chatham Waters. The lighthouse is generally closed to the public, but it is occasionally open to tourists during the summer months. You can climb to the peak of this towering lighthouse and get breathtaking, panoramic views of the beach and its stunning surrounding scenery.
The beach is home to different birds, animals, and other species that live both onshore and offshore. You will love to see the Chatham Lighthouse Beach seals splashing around in the ocean. There are also Chatham Lighthouse Beach seal tours you can participate in to see seals up close. You will also love walking on the miles of beautiful, sandy beach with its fantastic views. During summer, you can join others for a relaxing morning of beach yoga.
The beach also has wonderful weather and the best temperatures in the summer for a relaxing trip to the beach.
You can stay at the Chatham Gables Inn. This gorgeous, award-winning New England inn is located within walking distance of Chatham’s historic downtown village and incredible beaches. It offers excellent service, luxury spa amenities, bountiful breakfast, and a peacefully beautiful environment.
Address: 8 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633.
06. Watch sunrise and sunset at Nauset Beach:
Nauset Beach is a 10-mile-long public beach with miles of white sand. The beach is located on the east coast of outer Cape Cod in Orleans, Massachusetts. Beach facilities include lifeguards, outdoor showers, changing rooms, restrooms, snack bar, off-road vehicle trails, bike rack, and a picnic area. You can also go surfing in the non-protected beach areas. And with a special permit, the beach is also available for off-road vehicles.
You will get to see seals swimming and playing at the beach, which makes it ideal for great white sharks. But the lifeguards do an excellent job keeping everyone safe, especially when the sea lions are close. Whenever someone goes out too close to the sea lions, the lifeguards will be there.
The sand is soft and clean, and there are good amounts of waves. Nauset beach is perfect for swimming, boogie boarding, skimboarding, and surfing and is a lovely spot to watch sunrise and sunset. The beach is perfect for long walks with no crowds and no charge for parking in the off-season. You will get easy access to the beach, and if you walk or bike, you will get free access to the beach. And the fee for cars is $20.00 if you do not have a town sticker.
Nauset beach would be one of the best places to go in Cape Cod with your family and friends. It is one of the most popular Cape Cod tourist attractions.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN CAPE COD:
07. Enjoy a refreshing experience with nature at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary:
The 1,200-acre Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary provides unmatched beauty on the hillsides and shoreline overlooking Wellfleet Harbor. This sanctuary on Cape Cod is a magnet for wildlife with its salt marsh, sandy beach, pine woods, freshwater pond, and rare heathland. It features extensive trails through panoramic salt marsh, sandy barrier beach, and pine woodlands. Wildlife Sanctuary also has an award-winning “green” nature center with numerous exhibits and aquariums.
The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary offers fun and educational nature-based programs for students from preschool through high school. At the sanctuary, you can also enjoy various activities with your friends and family. You can do activities like Nature Bingo, print out a discovery booklet, or go on a quest. Also, you can go birding, as Wellfleet Bay hosts a wide variety of birds year-round. Visit the official website to learn more about the programs.
The kids will love the visitors center, which includes saltwater aquariums full of local New England marine bay and ocean fish, and various wildlife and plant exhibits. They can also learn about green architecture, as the LEED-certified building features composting toilets, solar panels, and sustainable materials, all documented on display boards. There is also an excellent gift shop that offers books and fun nature items.
There are five main trails you can hike to experience the local forest and wildlife habitats. You can hike on the Goose Pond Trail, which goes through pine and oak woodlands, by two ponds, and along the edges of a salt marsh. If you take the Boardwalk Trail, you will get access to the sandy beach. And the kids will enjoy watching hundreds of fiddler crabs crawling on the flats near the boardwalk.
It would be a good idea to bring field glasses, water, bug spray, and binoculars. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children (2-12), and $3 for seniors (65+).
Visiting the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary will be one of the best things to do in Cape Cod with family. You will have a refreshing experience with nature.
Address: 291 US-6, South Wellfleet, MA 02663.
08. Enjoy scenic biking on Provincelands Trail:
Cape Cod Provincelands Trail is one of the most popular trails in Cape Cod, especially for biking. The route is 5.25 miles long and starts from Province Lands Visitor Center in Provincetown. You can also ride two more miles with the trail extensions, a 1.1-mile spur to Herring Cove, a 0.5-mile spur to Race Point Beach, and a 0.25-mile spur to Bennett Pond.
The route can be challenging at times because of its undulating hilly terrain. Cape Cod Provincelands trail is a great way to tour the vast dune system in the Province Lands area and its shady Beech Forest and unique coastal environment.
The trail loops around the Province Lands, passing through pine forests, sandy dunes, cranberry bogs, marshes, and several saltwater kettle ponds. You will love the breathtaking views of the lovely marshland, dunes, and refreshing expansive shore. Also, you will get direct access to both Race Point and Herring Cove beaches.
Cape Cod Provincelands trail has some steep climbs, including thick woods and dunes. If you are not in good shape, it would be a good idea to rent an E-bike and enjoy riding on this beautiful trail. Along the way, you will find many great spots to rest and enjoy your lunch.
Biking on Provincelands Trail is a must-do in Cape Cod, especially if you enjoy biking.
09. Explore the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum:
The Pilgrim Monument was founded in 1892. The Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association built the Pilgrim Monument to honor the Pilgrims’ first landing in Provincetown. This historic Monument is designed to resemble Torre Del Mangia, a 14th-century tower in Siena, Italy, and it is the tallest all granite structure in the U.S. and includes 60 ramps and 116 steps.
The Provincetown Museum displays significant furniture and decorative arts relating to Provincetown History. Historical photographs, postcards, toys, clothing, household items, scrimshaw carvings, Christmas cards, holy relics, and playbills. You will also get to see Polar bear, musk ox, and Inuit artifacts, Arrowheads, implements, tools, images of the local Native American Wampanoag tribe, and the town’s first fire engine.
The permanent exhibits of the museum highlight the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims, the town’s rich maritime history, and the early days of modern American theater in Provincetown.
You can also climb the Pilgrim Monument, and from the top, you will get breathtaking views of the area. There are lots of stairs to climb, but it’s mainly by slopes. Also, the staff at the Pilgrim Monument and Museum are friendly.
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum is a Cape Cod must-see. You can explore this historical monument and museum with your family and friend. Visit the official website for opening hours and to buy your ticket.
Address: 1 High Pole Hill Rd, Provincetown, MA 02657.
10. Learn the story of the pirate ship Whydah:
The Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth officially opened its doors to the public in 2016. The Pirate Museum is home to thousands of items from the Whydah and houses the largest collection of pirate artifacts recovered from a single shipwreck. In this Cape Cod’s interactive museum, you will learn the story of the pirate ship Whydah. The museum is a must-see attraction for all ages, and you will have a lovely interactive museum experience.
The museum contains multiple exhibit wings, the bell theater room, a walk-through partial replica of the Whydah Gally, a gift shop, a bookstore, and the museum’s onsite conservation laboratory. Also, new exhibits are added to the Whydah Pirate Museum every year.
Whydah Pirate Museum has a treasure hunt where the kids can mark off items when they see them. The museum is informative and exceptionally well put together. The displays are great, and the Whydah story is well told as you made your way through the museum. Don’t miss the conservation room at the end and talk to the conservator if one is there working, and you will get to see silver and gold coins and gold flakes.
It would be a good idea to call ahead to see how crowded they are before going. You can visit the official website for more details and opening hours. Overall:
Whydah Pirate Museum would be one of the fun places to visit in Cape Cod. You can make a plan for one or two hours.
Address: 674 MA-28, West Yarmouth, MA 02673.
11. Enjoy various activities at Salt Pond Visitor Center:
The Salt Pond Visitor Center is located in Eastham. This Cape Cod National Seashore’s year-round visitor orientation facility features a theater, America’s National Parks store, museum, and restrooms. And from the Salt Pond visitor center, you will get access to various popular trails, including the 1.5 miles Nauset Marsh Trail, the Nauset Bicycle Trail, and the Buttonbush Trail. In the visitor center lobby, there is a large map that shows Cape Cod’s glacial history. You will also get breathtaking views of the Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh from the lobby.
The visitor center museum highlights the cultural themes of Cape Cod. The museum interprets Wampanoag culture and history through artifacts, photographs, and art. You will also see other themes covered in the museum, including whaling, lifesaving and lighthouses, maritime industries, and agricultural life.
You can go for the canoe paddle trip to Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh, run by the park’s services, where you can enjoy a leisurely paddle through lovely scenery. It’s well worth the time and money, and you will also learn a lot about the critters and plants in the area. You can also make a plan for Coast Guard Beach as you will find both walking and biking trail starts from the visitor center, which takes you to Coast Guard Beach.
The Salt Pond Visitor Center would be one of the best places to go in Cape Cod. You can explore the visitor center and enjoy various activities on the nearby trails.
Address: 50 Nauset Rd, Eastham, MA 02642.
PLACES TO VISIT IN CAPE COD
12. Enjoy the live glass-making demonstration at Sandwich Glass Museum:
Sandwich Glass Museum is located in Sandwich, Massachusetts. The museum collects, preserves, and interprets the history of the Town of Sandwich, MA, the oldest town on Cape Cod. The museum exhibits around 6,000 pieces of glass in fifteen galleries, produced at the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company during the 19th and 20th centuries. Sandwich Glass Museum also includes daily glassblowing demonstrations, a multi-media theater, a gift shop, a contemporary glass gallery, and special exhibitions.
You will enjoy the live glass-making demonstration, which includes glass-blowing, shaping, mold-forming, and adding bits of glass color. And at the museum’s gift shop, you will find jewelry, paperweights, vases, ornaments, decorative trees, and other Holiday items available for purchase. Sandwich Glass Museum is family-friendly and interactive, and you will love this unique museum, especially if you like glassware or antiques.
Admissions and opening hours: $12.00 for adults, $11.00 for 65+, $2.00 for children 6-14, free for ages 5 and under. The Museum is open daily from April 1-December 30 from 9:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. And open 9:30 am-4 pm February & March, Wednesday through Sunday. Closed January, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Visiting the Sandwich Glass Museum would be one of the fun things to do in Cape Cod. Visit the official website for more details.
Address: 129 Main St, Sandwich, MA 02563.
13. Climb at the top of Nauset Light:
Nauset Light is one of the most famous and photographed lighthouses on Cape Cod. It is a restored lighthouse on the Cape Cod National Seashore near Eastham, Massachusetts. The lighthouse was originally built in 1877 and was demolished and rebuilt atop a cement foundation 200 feet from the cliff’s edge at Nauset Beach. The tower is a cast-iron plate shell lined with brick and stands 48 feet high. Near the lighthouse, you will also get to see an old restored oil house made of brick.
Tours at Nauset Light are free to the public, and during the tour, you’ll be able to climb Nauset Light, visit the lookout room, and learn about the history of the lights. It’s a lovely place to visit with your family, and the kids will also love to explore the lighthouse. There are picnic spots and benches where you can enjoy your lunch. You will also learn lots of historical information about the light and its many movements.
Free tours of the Nauset Light are generally available from May to October. For the latest update, visit the Nauset Light Preservation Society website.
Nauset Light would be one of the best places to visit in Cape Cod with your family and friends.
Address: 120 Nauset Light Beach Rd, Eastham, MA 02642.
14. Enjoy swimming and surfing at Coast Guard Beach:
Coast Guard Beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and is a prime swimming beach during the summer season. The beach is popular among locals and tourists for surfing and boogie boarding. You can enjoy surfing on the beach, and the low tide exposes a fairly flat stretch of beach, making it also popular for skimboarding. There are seasonal restrooms and a wheelchair-accessible rampway to the beach.
During summer, parking can be an issue as there is no parking at Coast Guard Beach unless you are a park employee, handicapped, or a resident of Eastham. The primary parking area for Coast Guard Beach is at Little Creek, located a short distance west of the beach, where a shuttle picks up passengers for the short ride to the beach. You can also bike or hike from the Salt Pond Visitor Center on the Nauset Trail, a distance of 1.8 miles, one way.
The beach is beautiful and well maintained. During the summer months, you will almost always see seals swimming just off the shoreline. You will enjoy your time on the beach, either you are in the water, on the beach, or strolling the grounds taking in the scenic marshes. Crowds are limited because all parking is off-site, but it’s really worth it, and you will have a great time on one of the most beautiful beaches on Cape Cod.
Address: 23 Coast Guard Rd, Provincetown, MA 02657.
15. Enjoy breathtaking sunset at Nobska Light:
Nobska Light, originally called Arabesque Light, is located on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The light station was established in 1826 and was replaced in 1876 by the current 42-foot tall iron tower. Nobska Point lighthouse stands on a bluff 87 feet high above the ocean, offering views of the coast to the mid-Cape, Woods Hole Harbors, and the Elizabeth Islands. The light station was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Nobska Point Light Station in 1987.
The light station includes four buildings: the tower, the keeper’s house, a radio beacon house, and a small oil house. The tower has a brick interior and a metal exterior that rises to a height of around 40 feet.
It would be a lovely lighthouse to visit. Nobska Point Lighthouse sits right on the side of the road, so it is easy to access. There are a few parking spaces right at the light, but you can park just before the light, where you will get beach access and walk a short way to the lighthouse. Tower tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays only from 10 am – 12 noon, though only the lower level of the Tower is accessible. You can also enjoy a picnic in the stunning surrounding of the lighthouse. Also, the sunset from the lighthouse will be breathtaking.
Visiting Nobska Light would be one of the top things to do in Cape Cod with family. Visit the official website to plan your visit and for the latest updates.
Address: 233 Nobska Rd, Falmouth, MA 02543.
16. Go whale watching at Herring cove beach:
Herring Cove beach is located right outside the town center of Provincetown. It is the only Cape Cod National Seashore beach located by Cape Cod Bay. The beach waves are more gentle, and the water temperatures are a bit warmer than on other beaches.
Herring Cove beach offers some of the best sunsets on Cape Cod, and you will also get distant views of Race Point Lighthouse. And the beach facility includes toilets, showers, handicap accessibility, and a snack bar that operates during the summer months. You will also get access to a bike/walking trail that goes through the most rugged dunes with vistas of the salt marshes and dunes.
The beach has beautiful clear water with great swimming waves and warm temperatures. Also, It’s rare to see sharks, and you can spend time on the beach without worries. It’s a lovely place for whale watching from shore, and the beach also has tidal pools for the kids. Herring Cove is also perfect to go with little kids because it isn’t too deep and isn’t particularly rocky. You will love to walk by the water, and it’s a lovely place to enjoy your lunch or early dinner. If you want to have a bonfire, you need a permit.
The beach is beautifully isolated, and there’s a lagoon that stretches behind the dunes for quite a distance. On the beach, you will also find many less crowded places.
Herring Cove beach would be one of the best places to go in Cape Cod. You can go with your family and friends.
17. Enjoy a unique shoreline experience at Mayflower Beach:
Mayflower beach is one of the most beautiful in Cape Cod. The beach attracts thousands of visitors every year to enjoy its unique shoreline experiences. It is a large, clean beach with powdery, white sand and calm waters, and at low tide, you can walk for miles on the tidal flats. Mayflower beach has plenty of room for frisbee games, lifeguards on duty, public restrooms, a boardwalk, picnic area, and paid parking. The daily permit of the beach is $25 on weekdays, $30 on weekends & holidays.
At the beach, you can enjoy the breaking views of the sunset. The beach is family-friendly, and the kids will also love to explore and play on the beach. Along the beach shore, you will find hermit crabs, snails, clams, and crabs. Mayflower beach is beautiful and well maintained, the water is clear, and it includes shower facilities. Try to go early to the beach, especially on weekends, to secure a parking space.
18. Enjoy walking on the Sandwich boardwalk:
The sandwich boardwalk is located in Sandwich, the oldest town in Cape Cod, and was originally constructed in 1875 by Gustavus Howland. It was destroyed in 1991 by Hurricane Bob and was reconstructed using donations from community members. The boardwalk stretching over 1,300 feet across a marsh and creek, providing an opportunity for visitors to explore this beautiful area.
The Boardwalk is an iconic part of Sandwich and one of the best walkways to the ocean on Cape Cod. It’s a well-maintained boardwalk that takes you over a creek and through the marshlands out to a beach. And during the season, it’s a beautiful place to see wildlife and birds. At high tide, it’s a lovely place to kayak into the marsh’s maze of waterways. Most of this boardwalk doesn’t have side railings, and some might find this a bit scary, especially at high tide.
Two parking lots you can use to access the boardwalk. The Town Beach parking lot, located at 103 Wood Avenue. It is ideal for families with young children and is more accessible for those who may have trouble walking. The second parking lot is found on Boardwalk Street, and both parking lots are free during the off-season.
Address: 103 Wood Ave, Sandwich, MA 02563.
Check out our other blog posts: 15 Most Popular Things To Do In Idaho Falls, 15 Most Popular Things To Do In Pasadena, 19 Most Popular Things To Do In Traverse City, 13 Best Hikes In Yellowstone, The Wondrous Yellowstone National Park, 15 Most Popular Things to do in Lake Tahoe, 14 Most Popular Things To Do In Wyoming.