Cape Cod lives up to its reputation as a postcard-worthy New England excursion. Jutting out into the Atlantic like a flexing arm, this 339-square-mile Massachusetts playground is home to pristine sandy beaches, rugged natural landscapes and charming seafaring villages. This is where a quiet stroll can lead past Gilded Age mansions, expansive dunes and sun-dappled forests. Check out the charming Cape towns for tranquil walks among coastal pine forests, craggy bluffs, salty marshes and sandy beaches.
Visit the historic lighthouses, tour the wild cranberry bogs, or walk in the footsteps of America’s 35th president. Sample succulent lobster and get crackin’ with the best oysters in New England. Learn the history of the U.S. Coast Guard and explore where Mayflower residents began a new life. This New England coast is steeped in history, legends and romance.
Bay State Paradise
Cape Cod National Seashore, on the tip of Cape Cod, is a 40-mile natural paradise filled with marshlands, freshwater ponds, wild cranberry bogs and beautiful pristine beaches. Wildlife and sea critters are plentiful along with picturesque lighthouses guiding ships at sea to safe harbor. There’s even an ocean graveyard between Chatham and Provincetown where more than 1,000 shipwrecks are buried.
Outdoor adventurers can hunt for wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, quail and pheasant along with rabbit, coyote, squirrel and woodchuck. Anglers can land black sea bass, striped bass, trout, bluefin tuna, false albacore and shark. Take a charter sightseeing cruise to look for whales, porpoises and sea turtles, or head out for a nature hike along the rugged New England coastline.
‘Water’ You Waiting For
With the Atlantic Ocean and numerous tributaries scattered throughout the Cape, water lovers will be in their element. Cape Cod Bay is the perfect spot for ocean kayaking, parasailing and deep-sea fishing. Local marinas rent paddleboards, personal watercrafts and kayaks for afternoon fun. Locals will share tips on the best places to go kitesurfing, wakeboarding, tubing, kneeboarding, even divulge where you can rent and sail a catamaran. Book a charter tour and enjoy time on the water as you search for playful seals. Dive in for a lobster cruise on Cape Cod Bay or dig for clams and shellfish.
Coast through six charming towns along the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail from Dennis to Wellfleet. Ramble past sandy beaches, wooded glades, freshwater ponds and saltwater marshes as you soak up the tranquility of this scenic outdoors. The asphalt trail is open to bikers, inline skaters, hikers and is wheelchair-accessible.
Shining Sea Bikeway is 10 miles of paved and off-road routes that embody the spirit of the Cape. Roll along cranberry bogs, coastal harbors, sandy beaches, and intriguing waterways rolling past the Salt Pond Bird Sanctuary, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and bohemian villages.
Province Lands Bike Trail is a challenging route with more than 4,000 acres of natural hills, dunes and forests to traverse. And check out Provincetown, an artist community with a bohemian vibe, delightful restaurants and quaint shops.
A President, Mansions and Whales
The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum provides a fascinating look at our 35th president’s deep connection to Cape Cod. Kennedy was a senator when he introduced legislation to make Cape Cod a national seashore, and signed the bill into law in 1961 as president. Take the 1.6-mile Kennedy Legacy Trail with ten historic stops ending at the JFK Memorial.
Once the Whaling Capital of the World, Nantucket Island is home to 300 years of sea legends and history housed in the Whaling Museum. With nine galleries and more than 1,000 artifacts, visitors will enjoy intimate tours and a chance to see the town from the widow’s walk.
Goodness on the Half Shell
Awe, shucks! Here’s a chance to slurp up the tastiness of the Cape at its signature event—the annual Wellfleet OysterFest. This two-day festival features educational programs about shellfish, sharks and seals along with the history of shell fishing in the region. Visitors can explore photography exhibitions, local arts and crafts, cooking demos, walking tours, live music and oyster shucking contests culminating with the Shuck Off competition. Regional beers and wines pair perfectly with the wonderful balance of lovely sweetness and tangy brine that are Cape Cod oysters.
Pilgrims and Coast Guards
Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown marks the first landing of the Mayflower pilgrims in 1620. Towering at 252 feet, it’s the tallest all-granite structure in the U.S. Follow the Pilgrim Landing Trail through 55 miles of Outer and Lower Cape Cod, tracing the lives of these settlers.
Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis showcases this region’s close connection to the sea with permanent and temporary exhibits. This is home to the largest private collection of scrimshaw in the region.
The Coast Guard Heritage Museum in Barnstable Village has artifacts and exhibits relating to the Guard’s history in the Cape and the origins of the Life-Saving Service. More than 100 vessels and model aircraft are on display.
Area Good Sam Parks