Cape Cod is one of New England’s top vacation destinations, and it’s no surprise. The Cape is home to amazing beaches, sand dunes, world famous lighthouses, museums, entertainment, a long-standing and thriving art scene, and some of the very best whale watching in the world. Whether you want an action-packed adventure or a relaxing day at the beach, Cape Cod is brimming over with all sorts of activity.
The Cape is home to an abundance of breathtaking natural beauty and wildlife. Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary offers over 750 acres of marshes, coastal dunes, and a cedar swamp filled with nature trails. There are exhibits, lectures, and tours available for visitors year-round. Whale watching is also a popular tourist activity. Each spring whales travel over 4,000 miles to their summer home offshore near Provincetown, and sightings occur on a daily basis. Sperm whale sightings have also increased in the past several years.
One of the Cape’s most popular attractions is its beaches. The beaches of the North and West of Cape Cod face Cape Cod Bay and have the least surf. The tides go out for miles and small children are safest here. The south side beaches facing Nantucket Sound have small wave action and are still very safe for toddlers. The east-facing beaches are on the Atlantic Ocean and have larger surf and undertows. Children should be supervised, but teens and adults love it.
Cape Cod vacationers typically enjoy beautiful summers with little rain, but there are great things to check out on rainy days, too. Don't forget a trip to the Woods Hole Aquarium, which has a hands-on exhibit featuring many of the sea creatures you can find along the shores of the Cape. If you are looking for fun activities for kids, the Children's Museum in Mashpee has lots of fun for the 1-8 year-old crowd in particular. For addtional Cape Cod information visit the Cape Guide.
Some of the country’s most historical sites and landmarks can be found in New England and on the Cape. Built in 1797, Highland Lighthouse in Truro is the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod. It is also one of the most powerful lights on the East Coast, with a beam reaching 23 miles offshore. Conveniently, the Truro Historical Museum is located right next door in the Highland House. Sturgis Library in Barnstable, established in 1644, is the oldest public library in America. It houses a detailed genealogical history of early Cape Cod families and an extensive maritime collection.
After a long day of exploring, visitors to the Cape are bound to be hungry. Luckily, Cape Cod offers the largest concentration of fine restaurants in New England. With well over 1,000 eateries from the Canal to P-town you could eat at a different place for breakfast, lunch, & dinner for an entire year. Plentiful seafood of all varieties, choice meats, and fresh produce are available up and down the Cape. Combine this with talent attracted from around the world and you have a destination for some of the finest dining found anywhere. From a romantic, candlelight, seaside dinner to a casual gathering of family and friends, Cape Cod has a wide selection of restaurants for all palates & tastes.
Cape Cod offers a unique landscape that is home to lobster crabbers, world-famous cranberry bogs, and sand dunes created by glaciers thousands of years ago. An excellent way to experience the land is to take a ride on the Cape Cod Scenic Railroad that stretches from Hyannis to Buzzards Bay; a 42-mile ride showcasing the Cape's natural beauty. If you want to travel at your own pace, the Cape Cod Rail Trail is also an excellent way to explore and get acquainted with the area. The Rail Trail starts in Dennis and follows old railroad lines through Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet. It meanders through these six towns past forests, fields, marshland and cranberry bogs. You can walk, run, bike or rollerblade on the paved trail.
It’s also easy to branch out and visit regions beyond Barnstable County. Ferry cruises to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard leave daily from Hyannis and Falmouth Harbors, including Hy-Line Cruises and The Steamship Authority.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the US government financed construction of the Cape Cod Canal (1909-14), which joined Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay, cutting long hours off voyages between Boston and Providence or New York. It also cut off Cape Cod from the mainland, making it, for the first time, an island.
Today there are two Cape Cods: winter and summer. The winter Cape is a quiet, provincial place, inhabited mostly by retirees. The summer Cape is the same place but with better weather and lots and lots of vacationers and day-trippers; at the height of summer more than 80,000 cars cross the Cape Cod Canal every day.