Planning to visit Cape Cod this summer? You’ll join many other families who travel to this special part of Massachusetts each year to enjoy the seafood (don’t forget to get a lobster roll!), beautiful beaches, outdoor activities, and overall vacation vibe. Although you may be tempted to spend much of your Cape Cod vacation time relaxing, there are still plenty of Cape Cod activities you should consider adding to your vacation itinerary.
While you’ll definitely want beautiful weather on your trip, there are times when the weather doesn’t always cooperate. In that case, check out this list of things to do on Cape Cod in the rain.
Keep in mind that many of these Cape Cod activities and tourist attractions are open seasonally. They may be closed or have limited hours in the winter months. Check their specific websites for details.
This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you. We’ve received some complimentary/discounted stays and activities over the years, but all opinions are my own.
The Best Cape Cod Activities For Families
The summer weather in Cape Cod can be really beautiful. If the forecast cooperates, try to make as many outdoor plans as possible to take advantage of it.
One of the more popular family activities on Cape Cod is the Cape Cod Rail Trail. It’s a 25-mile paved trail that goes through six different Cape Cod towns – Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. Free parking is offered at several parking lots in these various towns, including at the Cape Cod National Seashore at the Salt Pond Visitors Center, on Station Avenue in South Yarmouth, and the Trailhead at LeCount Hollow Road in South Wellfleet.
If you didn’t bring your own bikes, there are several bike shops throughout the Cape where you can get bike rentals.
Beaches in Cape Cod
One of the best Cape Cod activities is visiting the beach. Due to the shape and location of the cape, there are lots of beach options in all of the Cape Cod towns. They offer varying amenities and have different parking situations, so you’ll want to do some research in advance.
Some of the more popular beaches include the following:
- The Cape Cod National Seashore beaches are some of the best beaches and include Nauset Light Beach in Eastham, Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, the Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, Race Point Beach in Provincetown, and Head of the Meadow Beach in North Truro
- Old Silver Beach Falmouth
- Chatham Lighthouse Beach Chatham
- Crosby Landing Beach Brewster
- Smugglers’ Beach in South Yarmouth
- Seagull Beach in West Yarmouth
- Nauset Beach Orleans
- West Dennis Beach in West Dennis
- Sea Street Beach in Dennis Port
There are many other fantastic beaches on the Cape – these are just a few options.
Unless you are staying at a hotel with beach access, you’ll need to bring your own supplies, like umbrellas, chairs, blankets, and towels. You can easily buy these on the Cape, bring them from home, or rent them. Many vacation home rentals also supply these things. Check out this list to see things to include in your beach bag.
This Provincetown icon is open and available to visit this year. It was built to commemorate the landing of the Pilgrims in Provincetown before they headed down to Plymouth, and is located on the Outer Cape in Provincetown.
Timed tickets include a ride up and down the inclined elevator and admission to the grounds, the Pilgrim Monument, and the Provincetown Museum. Once you pay to park in the lot, you can stay parked there for 24 hours (always subject to change), so it’s a good place to start your day in Provincetown. After visiting the museum, take the inclined elevator down and walk to Commercial Street.
Heritage Museums and Gardens
The beautiful Heritage Museums and Gardens are located in Sandwich, MA. While these gorgeous gardens may not initially seem to be a family-friendly attraction, there are lots of things that appeal to kids.
Hidden Hollow is an outdoor play area, designed for kids ages 2-10. It includes interactive play features as well as a treehouse. There are different themed activities each month – check out their schedule online.
The Heritage Museums and Gardens also offers a 1908 hand-carved carousel, designed by Charles Looff as well as a historic American car exhibit. Tickets for the museums and gardens can be purchased at the gate, or online in advance of your visit.
The Whydah Pirate Museum is truly a gem among the many great Cape Cod activities. This indoor museum, located in West Yarmouth, houses the recovered remains of the Whydah, a shipwrecked pirate ship. The museum does a fantastic job of showcasing the story of the pirates on the Whydah – how they lived, how the ship was overtaken, and how it was shipwrecked. It also dispels some myths about pirates in general.
The Whydah Pirate Museum is open year-round and is very popular. It’s especially busy on rainy days in the summer season, so make your plans early if possible. Timed tickets can be purchased online in advance. There’s also an audio tour that you can add to your tickets.
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is located in Brewster, MA, on Route 6A. It’s a small museum, focused on showcasing and educating people on the natural world, including Cape Cod specifically. There are lots of individual exhibits and programming, including a honey bee exhibit.
The museum is open 7 days a week from 10 am-4 pm during the peak summer months. Advance ticketing isn’t offered – you need to purchase your admission at the entrance. Again, as an indoor attraction, this is a popular spot on a rainy day, so plan accordingly.
Miniature Golfing on Cape Cod
Mini golfing is a very popular family activity on Cape Cod. There are lots of miniature golf courses on Cape Cod. Some are even combined with other fun outdoor family activities, like bumper boats, batting cages, ice cream counters, and arcades.
We like to go miniature golfing after dinner when the sun isn’t quite as strong. But most of the courses are open all day. The more popular mini golf courses can be very busy, so morning is another good option.
There are lots of courses located throughout Cape Cod – and some are most low-key than others. You can see our favorite miniature golf courses on Cape Cod in this post.
Want to see whales in their natural habitat while enjoying a boat ride on the Cape? There are several different companies offering whale watching tours, in Cape tourist destinations like Hyannis and Provincetown. Whale watching season runs from April through October, and the summer months are generally the most pleasant on the water.
Like most Cape Cod activities, this is something you’ll want to reserve in advance. While you may get lucky with availability, in the most popular peak weeks of summer, things book up early.
Shop on Cape Cod
As an avid shopper, no vacation is complete for me without getting some souvenirs. Luckily there are lots of places to shop on Cape Cod, including many local places. Some of our favorite Cape Cod shopping areas (for local finds) include:
- Commercial Street Provincetown
- Main Street Falmouth
- Main Street Hyannis
- Main Street Chatham
These are downtown areas where you can park your car in one spot and then walk around to the various quaint shops. There’s also Mashpee Commons, which offers outdoor shops including some chains, as well as Cuffy’s, a local store offering Cape Cod souvenirs. Don’t miss one of the many locations of the Christmas Tree Shops, which has all sorts of knick-knacks.
For a unique experience (that may end in some great food to cook later), consider booking a fishing excursion. There are lots of different operators on Cape Cod, offering private fishing charters of varying lengths. We really enjoyed Shark Shark Tuna Fishing Charter, which operates out of South Yarmouth.
As a bonus, many of these charters will clean anything you catch, so you can bring it home to cook. We got multiple meals out of our catch, which we prepared on the outdoor grill at our vacation home.
Like everything else on the Cape, book early for the best availability.
Cape Cod Baseball League
Whether you are a baseball lover, or just want to enjoy an affordable evening activity. The Cape Cod Baseball League games take place in the summer months, throughout Cape Cod. These games are free to attend, so they are a great option for families.
There are teams in many Cape Cod towns, including Bourne, Harwich, Brewster, Chatham, Orleans, Hyannis, Yarmouth-Dennis, Wareham, Falmouth, and Cotuit. Games start in mid-June and end at the beginning of August. You can find more information on their website.
Watch the Seals
Visit the Chatham fish pier, located at the intersection of Shore Road and Barcliff Avenue, to see seals playing by the pier. As an operational fish pier, it’s visited by fishermen throughout the day, and the seals come by to see if they can grab anything to eat.
We love watching the seals from this observation deck. It’s a fun activity for kids and is completely free (except for parking). You probably won’t spend too much time there, so combine it with some other great activities in the area.
Visit Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard
Passenger and car ferries going to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard leave from several Cape Cod destinations every day. The schedules vary throughout the year, but there are ferry terminals in Woods Hole, Falmouth, and Hyannis. If you are going for a day trip, you can probably do a passenger, rather than a car ferry – which typically has a little more availability and is less expensive.
Nickerson State Park
The almost 2,000 acre Nickerson State Park is located in Brewster, MA, right off the Cape Cod Rail Trail on the lower Cape. It offers lots of outdoor amenities for families to enjoy, including hiking trails, bike paths, ponds, campgrounds, and more. It’s the perfect place to visit for families who want to enjoy nature and the outdoors while on their Cape Cod vacation.
The state park does charge for parking, with a reduced fee for Massachusetts license plates. There are other amenities including public restrooms, boat ramps, and showers.
Wine Tasting and Breweries
While not appropriate for the whole family, Cape Cod does offer breweries and wineries. Some popular options include Truro Vineyards and Tree House Brewery (in Sandwich, MA). If you want to visit the very popular Tree House, make reservations online in advance.
Hotel/Vacation Home Amenities
Whether you book a family resort or vacation home, there may be some amenities that your family can enjoy. Popular resort amenities include pools, arcades, and beach access. If you want to spend time doing these things, be sure to book a resort that includes lots of fun amenities.
When booking a vacation rental house, look for board games and other fun activities that you can enjoy in the evenings or when the weather isn’t great.
Popular Hotels on Cape Cod
There are so many options for hotels, resorts, motels, inns, and vacation homes on Cape Cod. Some are open seasonally while others are open year round for families. Here are some of the most popular Cape Cod hotels:
- Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster
- The Bayside Resort
- The Sea Crest Beach Hotel
- The Cape Codder Resort and Spa i
- Red Jacket Beach Resort
- Ocean Club on Smuggler’s Beach
- Red Jacket Riviera Beach Resort
- Chatham Bars Inn
Additional resources: Looking for more Cape Cod travel tips? Click to see our guide with town recommendations, things to do, restaurants, and more in Cape Cod.