Cape Cod is filled with fun little towns to visit, and Hyannis MA is no different. While some guests to Hyannis may know it as the location of many of the popular retail chain shops on the Cape (like Target, Home Depot, and Kohls), Hyannis also offers some unique experiences like other quaint Cape Cod towns. Here are our favorite things to do in Hyannis MA with kids.
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Fun Things To Do in Hyannis MA With Your Family
Where Is Hyannis?
Like the rest of the Cape Cod towns, Hyannis is located in Barnstable County. However, surprisingly, it’s also the largest village in the town of Barnstable, and not its own city. Other Barnstable villages include Centerville, Cotuit, Osterville, and West Barnstable.
Hyannis is in the mid-Cape section of the region. In addition to the activities below, it’s also home to Cape Cod Hospital, Barnstable Municipal Airport, and the Hyannis Transportation Center.
Main Street Hyannis
Located a few blocks up from Ocean Street is Main Street Hyannis, the quaint shopping street. Here, you’ll find a number of shops, including ice cream shops, restaurants, gift shops, clothing shops, antique stores, and more. Most of these are independent shops, with a few local chains (including Soft as a Grape).
The Hyannis Main Street area also hosts local events in the summer season. In years past, this included Zumba, Movies on the Green drumming, live music concerts, and Tai Chi. From Late June through Labor Day, there’s also a trolley that runs a loop from Main Street to Hyannis Harbor.
Paid parking is offered on street and in municipal and private lots.
Harbor and Whale Watching Cruises
With that gorgeous harbor location, it’s no surprise that there are lots of harbor and whale watching cruise options. If you want to spend some time on the water seeing Cape Cod from a different vantage point, I’d recommend that you take one of these cruises.
There are several companies offering these types of trips. Popular options include Hy-Line Cruises, Bay Spirit Cruises, and Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises.
If you do want to take a Whale Watcher cruise, you should know that they run for about 3 1/2-4 hours. This is due to bot the distance that must be traveled, as well as the speed that must be maintained.
While you may be able to find last-minute availability for these cruises, I definitely recommend booking in advance. Availability can be limited in the busy summer season.
Beaches in Hyannis MA
There are beaches almost everywhere you look on Cape Cod, including several options in Hyannis. Don’t forget to look at our beach packing list before you go so you have all of the essentials. There are also lots of shops on the Cape where you can buy what you need.
Kalmus Beach is located on Ocean Street, along Nantucket Sound. It’s a public beach, offering paid parking for guests. If you are hungry, the Kalmus Beach Snack Bar offers snack bar fare, as well as local Cape Cod specialties, like lobster rolls, chowder, and fish. It’s definitely one of the better menus of the snack bars I’ve seen!
Other beaches in Hyannis include Veteran’s Park Beach and Keyes (Sea Street) Beach.
Cape Cod Mall
I don’t generally recommend visiting the mall on a family vacation when there are so many other activities, but it is nice to have one nearby in case you forgot any essentials. The Cape Cod Mall is conveniently located in Hyannis and offers many popular chain shops. Shops and restaurants include Barnes and Noble, Target, Macy’s, Marshalls, Five Guys, and Jersey Mikes.
The mall also offers Ryan’s Virtual Reality, Ryan’s Ten Pin Eatery, and Regal Cinemas, which are great options for whenever the weather isn’t cooperating.
I love shopping for unique gifts and souvenirs, and always love buying something handmade as a memento from our vacation. In the months of May through October (with some holiday events in November/December), the Hyannis HyArts Artist Shanties are open. They are located in the Hyannis Harbor Overlook and Bismore Park.
The shanties are little shacks featuring different artists each week. The art is for sale, although visitors are always welcome to browse. When we were there, we saw diverse products including lots of hand crafted products like jewelry and paintings. There are also picnic tables and outdoor games in the area, so it’s a fun place to hang out.
For more specifics, including parking options and opening dates/hours, visit their website.
Ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket
Want to visit “the islands” portion of “Cape Cod and the Islands”? You can take a ferry to either Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket from Hyannis Harbor on either the Steamship Authority or Hy-Line Cruises. Both islands can be visited for day trips or a longer stay.
It takes about an hour to get to Nantucket on a high-speed ferry, or two hours and fifteen minutes on a standard ferry. Hy-Line offers the only ferry to Martha’s Vineyard from Hyannis – a one-hour trip to Oak Bluffs.
In season, (especially weekends and holidays), the ships do book up. So you’ll want to reserve your ferry in advance so you have the best choice of times and dates.
John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
One of America’s most famous families, the Kennedy family, spent much of their summer vacation time on Cape Cod. The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum offers exhibits featuring the history of the family, including Robert F. Kennedy as well as JFK’s family. It’s a great way to learn more about US history while on your Cape Cod vacation.
The museum changes hours seasonally, so you’ll want to check their website before going. While there is an admission charge, Massachusetts residents receive complimentary admission with a valid ID.
Cape Cod Baseball League
If you enjoy baseball and visit during the summer, consider attending a Cape Cod Baseball League game. This amateur summer league plays games in ten Cape Cod towns, including Hyannis. Cape Cod Baseball League games are free, and there are no tickets. Donations may be accepted.
The Cape Cod league plays games from late June to early August. Hyannis’ team is called the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, and home games are played at McKeon Park on the Judy Walden Scarafile Field, which is located behind St. John Paul II High School in Hyannis, MA.
With no cost for tickets and no obligation, Cape Cod baseball is a great sporting event option for families. Check out the schedule and venue information on their website.
Fishing Charters in Hyannis MA
Fishing is one of the most popular activities in any seaside community, and Cape Cod is no different. If you want to go fishing while on vacation, the most convenient way is to book a fishing charter. That way, you won’t have to worry about packing anything but your personal belongings.
There are several different fishing boat companies that leave from Hyannis Harbor, including Hy-Line cruises. Those fishing journeys offer 4-hour cruises that are open to multiple parties. You can also book a private charter, which is more expensive but might be better for younger kids.
Cape Cod Potato Chips
One of the most delicious snacks in Massachusetts is Cape Cod Potato Chips (our favorites are the Salt and Vinegar chips). The Cape Cod Potato Chip factory is located in Hyannis.
It’s currently closed due to increased production because of the current situation. However, when it’s open, guests can tour the factory, watch the potato chips being made, and get samples. There’s also a retail store at the end of the tour (which is also closed temporarily).
Cape Cod Central Railroad
If you want to explore Cape Cod from a different perspective, the Cape Cod Central Railroad offers a dinner train leaving from Hyannis. This journey is for adults and children aged 12 and over.
The train fare includes a five-course dinner and a three-hour train ride, so it’s best for older teens or adults. For kids that love trains, there are other train options leaving from Buzzards Bay.
This includes THE POLAR EXPRESS™ train ride, which takes place over the Christmas holiday season. The Polar Express leaves from Buzzards Bay and is 60-90 minutes long.
Pirate Adventures Hyannis
Pirate-loving children will enjoy a ride on the Sea Gypsy VIII with Pirate Adventure Hyannis. This ship sets sail from Hyannis Harbor from Memorial Day to Labor Day each summer.
According to their website, Pirate Adventures Hyannis is best for kids aged 3-10. It includes fun activities for kids on both the dock and onboard. In season, there are five sailings of the Sea Gypsy VIII per day. The total adventure is ninety minutes, and reservations are recommended.
You can learn more about Pirate Adventures Hyannis on their website.
Cape Cod Melody Tent
The Cape Cod Melody Tent and its sister tent (the South Shore Music Circus) are the only continually operating tent theaters in the round in the United States. The Melody Tent is located in Hyannis and offers live entertainment throughout the season. Tickets and the schedule are available on their website.
In addition to all of these fun activities, there are plenty of other things to do in the nearby area. These activities include the Cape Cod Inflatable Park, which offers bounce houses, inflatable water slides, and more, as well as the Heritage Museums and Gardens, the beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore, and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.
Eating in Hyannis
While Hyannis is where you’ll find some of the popular chain restaurants in the US, it’s also where you can get some delicious local dishes. One of my favorites is Raw Bar at the Bluewater Grill. Raw Bar is best known for their huge lobster roll, but they also offer many other dishes including chowder, salads, burgers, mac and cheese, and more. They also have great cocktails, and outdoor seating right along Ocean Street.
For sandwiches, kabobs, soup, and salads, visit the Ocean Street Cafe and Deli. It’s a great place to pick up lunch to eat outside.
Another fun option is Baxter’s, located on the waterfront. The menu includes fried seafood, lobster rolls, soups, salads, and more. There’s also a kids’ menu. Across the way, technically in Yarmouth, is Tugboats, another fun, family-friendly waterfront restaurant.
Other popular restaurants in Hyannis include Spanky’s Clam Shack, the Naked Oyster, and Tap City Grille. Don’t forget to visit Cape Cod Creamery for some post-lunch/dinner ice cream.
Where to Stay in Hyannis
We always stay at our home in Yarmouth during our Cape Cod vacations. But there are some great family-friendly hotels and resorts in Hyannis. Some of the more popular options include:
- Cape Codder Resort and Spa (including the Cape Codder water park)
- The Hyannis Harbor Hotel (perfect location)
- The Anchor In
There are also several chain hotels including the Fairfield Inn and Suites, Doubletree by Hilton, Courtyard Cape Cod Hyannis, and Holiday Inn Cape Cod.