A Cape Cod vacation in the warmer months can be a quintessential summer vacation. Beautiful beaches, dining outdoors, eating ice cream, and playing mini-golf are just some of the traditional family vacation activities you can experience during the summer. But of course, in the peak season, crowds can come along with the fun.
If you are not too far from the area, visiting Cape Cod in the winter months can also be a great family vacation. While I wouldn’t fly or travel from a longer distance, local New Englanders can visit Cape Cod to enjoy the winter season with fewer crowds.
Winter on Cape Cod is traditionally cold but can be a little warmer than the inland area of Massachusetts. Be sure to bring all of your winter apparel, especially if you plan to spend any time outdoors during your winter getaway.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. A purchase or click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own. I did visit several of these listed Cape Cod hotels (Sea Crest and Ocean Edge) at no cost for purposes of review over the years (and have also paid my own way).
The Best Cape Cod Winter Activities
Sandwich Glass Museum
Located in Sandwich, MA, the popular Sandwich Glass Museum offers a permanent collection as well as special exhibits. They also offer 20-minute glass blowing demonstrations every hour on the hour (although that may be suspended based upon current conditions).
This museum is probably best visited by adults – young kids aren’t likely to find it too interesting. The Sandwich Glass Museum is closed for the month of January and is typically open on Wednesdays through Sundays in the other offseason months. It can be busy in the summer, so winter is a great opportunity to see it without the crowds.
Learn more at the Sandwich Glass Museum website.
Shopping on Cape Cod
I always love to shop, and Cape Cod offers some fantastic shopping areas with quaint independent shops and small chains. Some of the shops are seasonal, but some are open year-round. Check the individual websites and social media to see operating hours, which may be reduced in the off-season.
Some of our favorite Cape Cod shopping areas and stores include:
- Chatham – park in one spot and enjoy shopping along Main Street
- Provincetown – independent shops, small chains, along Commercial Street
- Mashpee Commons – chain stores, restaurants, and independent shops in an outdoor mall setting
- Hyannis – quaint shops along the Hyannis waterfront
- T. Jazelle in Dennis MA – beautiful USA made bracelets in a variety of colors and designs
- Cuffys in Dennis MA – stylish Cape Cod branded apparel at reasonable prices
- Falmouth – shops and restaurants along Main Street
Nantucket Christmas Stroll
Taking place for one weekend each December is the popular Nantucket Christmas Stroll. This idyllic Christmas setting is the backdrop for a festive holiday event. Activities include entertainment, Santa’s Village with shops and food booths, visits with Santa (who arrives on a Coast Guard ship), a talking tree, and more.
You’ll also want to head to the Nantucket Whaling Museum, located in the center of town. There, you’ll find the annual Festival of Trees, where you can find a collection of Christmas trees decorated by local businesses in Nantucket.
Nantucket isn’t located on Cape Cod, but you can take a ferry from Hyannis. It could be a fun day trip, or you may consider staying one or two nights. It’s a popular weekend, so book your trip well in advance.
Whydah Pirate Museum
The Whydah Pirate Museum is one of the most unique museums I’ve been to. Located in West Yarmouth, MA, in the mid-Cape area, it displays artifacts from an actual pirate ship – the Whydah – which was shipwrecked off the coast of Cape Cod in the 1700s.
A visit to the Whydah Pirate Museum takes about an hour, although you could spend more time if you choose to read all of the descriptive displays. It’s open year-round, although it does have limited hours / open days in the winter months. Timed tickets can be purchased in advance.
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Want to learn about the landscape and natural history of the Cape Cod area? The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is a small museum offering family-friendly programs and exhibits. It’s closed in January, but reopens President’s Day weekend with limited hours and open days in the off-season.
Gardens Aglow at the Heritage Museum and Gardens
Visit the popular Heritage Museums and Gardens during the holiday season to enjoy festive lights and displays. The Heritage Museum and Gardens is located in Sandwich MA and offers a 1908 Looff Carrousel, an American Automobile Collection, and more.
Looking for something to do in the rain on Cape Cod, or in the winter months? Ten Pin Eatery, located in the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, offers eleven bowling lanes, laser tag, virtual reality games, an arcade, escape rooms,and a golf simulator. There’s also a restaurant on-premises.
Reservations aren’t accepted, except for groups of 20 and over. So, you’ll want to arrive early on a weekend or on a holiday.
Check Out The Beach
I always love exploring the beach in the winter, when it can be especially beautiful. While you won’t be able to sunbathe and swim in the cold, you can still walk on the sand. As a bonus, admission to the beaches is free in the offseason, and many allow dogs in the winter.
If you are planning to visit the Cape Cod National Seashore, the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham is open year-round, and offers an educational film, gift shop, restrooms, and museum. It’s worth stopping by if you are in the area and want to learn more. You can also visit the Cape Cod Rail Trail year-round. While there is parking available at the Salt Pond Visitor Center, there are lots scattered throughout the six-town trail including South Yarmouth, South Dennis, Brewster, and South Wellfleet.
Hotel With Indoor Activities
Many of the hotels and motels on Cape Cod are open seasonally. However, there are some that offer indoor activities, pools, and winter programming.
- Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster has an indoor pool, and offers school vacation activities for kids. There are quite a few different lodging types available, including multi-bedroom suites.
- The Bayside Resort in West Yarmouth offers an indoor pool as well as a game room.
- The Sea Crest Beach Hotel is located right on the beach in Falmouth and offers an indoor pool.
- The Cape Codder Resort and Spa in Hyannis offers an indoor water park and is very popular with families.
Looking for more Cape Cod travel tips? Click to see our guide with town recommendations, things to do, restaurants, and more in Cape Cod.