While Provincetown at the tip of the Cape is its own destination, every town on Cape Cod could be its own day trip too.
Simply driving Route 6A or Route 28 through the small towns is relaxing and enjoyable. There are antique shops, majestic old homes, and quaint restaurants.
The beauty of the Cape pulls you outdoors, even in the winter. Whether it’s a stroll on the beach, a dip in the ocean, fishing, kayaking, or bird watching, the spirit of the Cape is its natural bounty. The weathered looks of the cape cottages sometimes show in the faces of Cape Codders, who value the beauty of where they live.
In Falmouth, walk or bike on the Shining Sea Bikeway. It’s named after the song America The Beautiful, written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates. The nearly 11-mile trail winds through town and along the coast. It’s a picturesque way to spend an hour or two.
If you prefer to take in the sights from the water, rent kayaks and paddle through the marsh and along the coast. Nobska Point Lighthouse is beautiful and gives you a spectacular view of Vineyard Sound. You can even grab a sandwich in town and take it with you to eat while you watch the ferry travel to and from Martha’s Vineyard.
Hyannis, and more notably Hyannis Port, is forever tied to the Kennedy family. Sadly, you won’t be able to see the compound, unless you want to rent a boat.
There is a John F. Kennedy Museum in Hyannis, and its focus is different than his Presidential Library in Boston. This museum contains information about the Kennedy family and their connection to the area, in addition to his presidency. It’s relatively small and will only take you about an hour or so to wind your way through. There is a modest admission fee, and it’s closed from the end of November through mid-April.
Veterans Memorial Park, along the water in Hyannis, is a nice stop. There are memorials to JFK and Veterans of the Korean War. You can recline on one of the benches and watch the boats come and go from the harbor. There is a public beach here too if you prefer to take a stroll.
Chatham is located at the “elbow” of the Cape and is THE place for bird enthusiasts.
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge stretches eight miles off the coast. It’s made up of three islands and is a rich habitat for hundreds of species of resting, feeding, and migrating birds. Grey seals also like to sun themselves on the islands’ beaches. Sometimes the islands are connected to the mainland, sometimes they aren’t; it depends on the strength of the last storm that blew through and how it reshaped the landscape around the waterline.
Private companies do offer boat tours around the refuge so you can get a better look at the extensive menagerie of wildlife. The Monomoy Island Ferry provides private charters to South Monomoy Island, and offers a guide to help you explore. They’re pricey, but your group will have the island to yourselves.
There are plenty of beaches you won’t need a boat to get to. Lighthouse Beach is perfect for a picnic or just a couple hours of sunny relaxation. But keep in mind: strong currents make it unsafe to enter the water in some places, and there aren’t any lifeguards. The Light House is open to visitors every Wednesday from 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. in July and August and the first and third Wednesdays of May, June, September, and October.
If you want to take a dip, try Harding’s Beach. Parking is available, but you will need to pay. There are lifeguards and restrooms, so it has all the conveniences you may need. It’s also a beautiful place to watch the sunset – when Mother Nature cooperates.
Two other notable beaches on the eastern end of Cape Cod are Nauset Beach in Orleans and Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. Both beaches are on the Atlantic Ocean and perfect places to watch the sunrise and enjoy any other beach activity. But be forewarned: the water will be chilly, no matter what time of year you visit.
There are so many excellent restaurants on the Cape that it’s hard to choose just a few. But you can’t go wrong with the following: The Naked Oyster in Hyannis, Ocean House Restaurant in Dennisport, The Brewster Fish House in Brewster, ABBA in Orleans, Nauset Beach Club in Orleans , and Chapoquoit Grill in West Falmouth.