Planning a Trip to Cape Cod? “26 Musts Dos”

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aerial photo of Cape Cod“What are the absolute “must sees” and “must dos” when visiting Cape Cod?” Often asked this question by our Inn guests, we decided to put together our list of the top things to see and do here. It wasn’t easy. Surrounded by miles of sandy beaches and gorgeous coastline, dotted with picturesque villages, and blessed with countless quality museums, Cape Cod is a destination that offers endless opportunity for the explorer and serenity seeker alike.

Of course some activities are seasonal, but the season is long on Cape Cod. So here are some of our favorites, all of which we recommend to our guests when asked, and all of which we have done ourselves, many more than once. Of course, the list could be twice as long as it is, but this will give you a starting place at least, to help you plan your stay.

  1. Visit Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich offers 100 acres of landscaped gardens, but is especially known for its Dexter Rhododendrons, which bloom in mid- to late May. Among its many collections of note are the American Automobile Gallery, with more than 30 classic American cars; the American Art and Carousel Gallery, with a working vintage carousel; and a special exhibitions gallery currently hosting an exhibit of Normal Rockwell’s works.
  2. Take a daytrip to Nantucket via high-speed ferry, a tiny island 30 miles offshore that offers the visitor a glimpse into the past when whaling was king and intrepid sailors built fortunes at sea. The whaling museum alone is worth the trip, but take time to tour the island by bike or minivan.
  3. Go whale watching via the Hyannis Whale Watcher out of Barnstable Harbor or the Dolphin Fleet out of Provincetown. To witness whales in their natural habitat with an experienced guide and naturalist is an adventure of a lifetime.
  4. Climb Highland Light in Truro, one of the few original lighthouses that you can go up into. The docents at the top of the light are fascinating and if you are lucky, you might see whales frolicking offshore.
  5. Take one of Art’s Dunes Tours in Provincetown that will take you deep into the dunes to see the “dune shacks” and mountains of sand in specially equipped dune buggies.
  6. Take a guided tour with Explore Cape Cod in Nauset Marsh or Little Pleasant Bay. If Dick Hilmer is at the helm, you’ll be treated to an awesome adventure while getting an education in marine life and native shorebirds.
  7. Take a nature walk at Long Pasture in Barnstable or Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, both Audubon Society facilities that offer diverse ecology and numerous educational programs throughout the year.
  8. Explore the National Seashore and the Salt Pond Visitors Center. The beaches of the National Seashore are beyond beautiful and the network of nature trails offer a diversity of flora and fauna unmatched elsewhere.
  9. All roads eventually lead to Provincetown, the tip of Cape Cod where the peninsula curls back on itself revealing a quaint town where artists and writers coexist in a tiny fishing village that other counter culture groups have migrated to for ages. Drive through the Provincelands, visit Race Point and the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station, and climb the Pilgrim Monument for a gorgeous view of the Atlantic and Cape Cod Bay.
  10. Cruise along Shore Road in Chatham past Lighthouse Beach, Chatham Light, and Chatham Bars Inn for a glimpse at old Cape Cod. End the day at the Chatham Fish Pier and watch the commercial fisherman offload their catch of the day and be amused by the gray seals that come in hopes of a treat.
  11. Take a seal cruise with Captain Rob and the Blue Claw to witness colonies of gray seals frolicking in Chatham Harbor. It’s an excellent way to beat the heat on a sultry summer day.
  12. Catch the sunset over Cape Cod Bay at Gray’s Beach in Yarmouthport or at the Sandwich boardwalk on Town Neck Beach in Sandwich. Walk along the boardwalk that crosses the marshlands and witness the sun set serenely on Cape Cod Bay.
  13. Have fried clams or a lobster roll at any one of the many authentic clam shacks throughout Cape Cod.
  14. Bike the Shining Sea Bikeway From Falmouth to Woods Hole and have lunch at the Fishmonger.
  15. Take the Island Queen to Martha’s Vineyard and visit Edgartown, Chilmark, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, Menemsha, Gay Head, and Chappaquidick. You can rent a bike, a car, a moped, or use public transportation to get around. Be sure to stop at the Black Dog for some logo items to take home with you.
  16. Visit the Natural History Museum in Brewster and watch the osprey nest on closed circuit TV. The nature trails on the grounds will lead you out to Brewster Flats for some great beach scavenging.
  17. Watch glass blowers demonstrate their craft at the Glass Museum, Pairpoint Glass, or the Glass Studio all located in Sandwich, MA.
  18. Have an ice cream cone at Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville, the absolute best ice cream on Cape Cod.
  19. Take a charter fishing trip from Rock Harbor in Orleans for an opportunity to reel in a striped bass, bluefish, or tuna.
  20. Golf at one of the beautiful public golf courses strewn across the Cape. From Par 3 to challenging pro-designed courses, there is course suited to golfer of all abilities here.
  21. Walk the dune trails at Sandy Neck Beach. From 1 to 5 miles in length, they all eventually lead to the beach where you can hunt for sea glass to add to your collection or have a bonfire after sunset.
  22. Take in a play at one of the oldest summer theater venues in the U.S., the Cape Cod Playhouse. Featuring a mix of comedies and musicals, the setting is nostalgic and the acting superb.
  23. Take in a Cape Cod Baseball league game and watch the rising stars of the sport play up close and personal.
  24. Catch world-class entertainment under the tent at the Cape Cod Melody Tent. Country, jazz, blues, rock, and pop stars from all across the country perform throughout the summer season.
  25. Drive scenic Route 6A through many of Cape Cod’s most historic and beautiful villages. As you wind your way along you’ll see old sea captain’s mansions and be tempted by numerous art galleries, antique stores, and unique gift shops.
  26. Bring a picnic for a relaxing afternoon. Catch the view at Fort Point in Eastham.