Cape Cod, located in the Eastern part of Massachusetts, is one of the most popular summer vacation destinations. This beach community is comprised of many different towns offering various activities, restaurants, family resorts, museums, walking trails, beaches, and more.
Whether you are planning to spend your whole vacation in Cape Cod, or are visiting as part of a larger New England vacation, you’ll want to plan your vacation well in advance. Cape Cod does get busy in the summer, it’s important to book your lodging early. Some restaurants take reservations, but others are first-come, first-served, so check in advance. If a restaurant doesn’t take reservations, arrive early to avoid the crowds.
Here are all of our Cape Cod travel posts – click through to read the full post and get all of the details.
Disclosure: We have received complimentary/discounted rates at Cape Cod hotels, and also own a vacation rental home on Cape Cod in South Yarmouth. All opinions are my own.
Cape Cod Travel Posts
This post is the best place to start when planning Cape Cod travel. Learn about how to best plan your Cape Cod vacation, including when to travel, the most popular things to do, where to eat, and how to choose a Cape Cod town for your vacation.
The posts below offer some more details on specific towns and things to do. While you’ll likely want to do outdoor activities, like going to the beach, playing miniature golf, and dining outdoors, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. So you’ll probably want to have some indoor activities planned for whenever it rains or if you’ve had enough of the sun for the day.
Martha’s Vineyard isn’t technically part of Cape Cod – it’s an island off the coast of Cape Cod. You’ll need to take a ferry or an airplane to the island, so it really does feel like a completely separate place and seems pretty remote.
When planning your Martha’s Vineyard vacation, you’ll want to look at the various towns on the island. There are several options and they are all different. You’ll also want to decide whether or not your want to have your car there. I’d recommend bringing it, if possible.
In addition to beaches, you’ll find nature activities, shopping, restaurants, and other family-friendly activities. Try to spend as much time outside as possible, especially in the summer.
Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are both islands located off the coast of Massachusetts, near Cape Cod. Because they are islands, you’ll need to arrange separate transportation to both destinations. In this post, we walk through the various options.
The most popular transportation option to both islands is by ferry. They leave from various destinations, including Cape Cod. When you book, you can choose either a passenger ferry or a car ferry. Keep in mind that in the summer, these ferries sell out quickly. So book in advance.
Located on the upper Cape, Mashpee MA offers beautiful scenery, delicious restaurants, great activities, and convenience to other Cape towns. It’s more “built-up” than other Cape Cod towns, but also has areas of beauty and quaintness.
Our favorite area of Mashpee is Popponesset, where you’ll find the Popponesset Marketplace. It offers shops and restaurants (including the famous Raw Bar).
There’s also Mashpee Commons, a large shopping and entertainment complex with chain and local shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
Anyone who has spent time in Massachusetts knows that you can find some fantastic lobster rolls and fried clams in the area. While some of the seafood restaurants and clam shacks in this blog post are located in other parts of the state, many are located right in Cape Cod.
Read about our favorites, and leave a comment if we didn’t include your favorites. Check hours before leaving, as many of these restaurants and huts are only open seasonally.
Wondering where to stay in Cape Cod during your vacation? There are so many different options, including motels, chain hotels, vacation home rentals, and luxurious resorts.
One of our favorite Cape Cod resorts is Ocean Edge Resort, located in Brewster, MA. This family hotel offers a number of different lodging types including townhouses, hotel rooms, family suites, and condos. Many of these are great for a larger family, with plenty of room to spread out.
Ocean Edge also offers several restaurants, private beach access (for guests of specific parts of the resort), pools, a spa, and family activities. It’s a fantastic place to stay, and there are some really great restaurants in the area to enjoy during your stay (behind the options at the resort).
We own a vacation home in Yarmouth MA, which means we spend quite a bit of time in the summers there. Yarmouth is the perfect spot for a Cape Cod family vacation, due to the number of family-friendly activities in the area, as well as its central location close to all of the other popular towns in Cape Cod.
Some of the activities in Yarmouth include the Cape Cod Inflatable Park, the Whydah Pirate Museum (mentioned in more detail below), miniature golf, part of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and several wonderful beaches.
There are three smaller villages within Yarmouth, including West Yarmouth, South Yarmouth, and Yarmouthport.
While you are in Yarmouth, you’ll definitely want to check out some of the restaurants in the area. In my opinion, some of the best restaurants on Cape Cod are located right in Yarmouth.
Some of the specialties you’ll find include the best chowder on Cape Cod, an Italian bakery with some fantastic Italian treats, deep-fried chowder, and some of the best ice cream in the area. Many of these locations are only open seasonally, but they are some fun places to visit during summer vacation.
When I am on Cape Cod in the summer months, I try to eat outside as much as possible. There are some great options, including some right on the waterfront.
One of the most unique museums that I’ve visited is the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth. It’s open even in the off-season, so it’s something that you can do in Cape Cod in the winter.
The Whydah Museum showcases artifacts that were found on and around the shipwrecked pirate ship, the Whydah. The museum does a great job in separating the reality of how pirates actually lived versus the popular myths about them.
While anyone with pirate-loving kids should definitely include the Whydah Pirate Museum in their vacation plans, I think the museum is educational and fun for everyone. Timed tickets are available on their website and are a great way to avoid lines and guarantee access.
Dennis MA is another mid-Cape town located next to Yarmouth MA. This waterfront town is made up of five separate villages, including Dennis, Dennis Port, West Dennis, South Dennis, and East Dennis. Some of my favorite Cape Cod restaurants are in Dennis, including several waterfront restaurants, ice cream shops, and a hot dog shack.
Like other restaurants on Cape Cod, many of the restaurants in Dennis are only open seasonally. They are also extremely popular, so you’ll want to visit early in the evening to avoid the long lines.
Falmouth MA, known for the annual Falmouth Road Race, is located in the Upper Cape area of Cape Cod. It’s one of the closest towns to the entrance of Cape Cod, making it a great option for a Boston day trip.
Falmouth is made up of several villages: Woods Hole, Davisville, Hatchville, East Falmouth, North Falmouth, West Falmouth, and Quissett. If you are planning to visit Martha’s Vineyard, you can also get a ferry from Falmouth, and make it a combination trip.
Chatham, MA is an upscale Cape Cod town located on the Lower Cape. It’s home to a large luxurious family resort, lots of fun downtown village shopping, restaurants, and a fish pier. If you only do one thing in Chatham, visit the fish pier where you can see seals frolicking in the water by the observation areas.
Chatham can definitely be visited as a day trip. When we stay in Yarmouth, we usually visit Chatham once or twice, to shop, eat, and visit. This post will give you all of the details of what to do in Chatham on vacation.
Hyannis, located in the mid-Cape section, is a village in the town of Barnstable, along with Centerville, Cotuit, Osterville, and West Barnstable. Hyannis is where you’ll find most of the chain shops and restaurants on the Cape, including Home Depot, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Michaels. The Cape Cod Mall, with shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and a bowling alley/arcade, is also located in Hyannis.
In addition to this part of Hyannis, there’s also a bustling waterfront area where you can take a ferry to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard, book a fishing charter, or sail on a pirate ship. There are also shops, artist cottages, and restaurants along this waterfront area.
Provincetown is located right at the very tip of Cape Cod. It’s an extremely popular vacation destination in the summer. In addition to the vibrant downtown, there are beautiful beaches (some that are part of the Cape Cod National Seashore), the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, and much more.