An impromptu text message from a friend turned into a much needed getaway weekend to the Cape! Cape Cod (affectionately known as “The Cape”) located in the southeastern corner of Massachusetts, is an actual cape or headland that extends into the Atlantic Ocean. Its busy season is in the summer when it’s majestic beaches, maritime character and resort destinations/islands attract heavy tourists from New England locals, eager vacationers, and many celebrities. For those of us who live in New England, a visit to the Cape is the cherry on top to the perfect summer!
Cape Cod, or Barnstable County, is comprised of 15 towns: Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Harwich, Dennis, Brewster, Chatman, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincenton, split into 4 sections, Upper Cape, Mid-Cape, Lower Cape, and Outer Cape.
South of the Cape, you’ll find popular New England destinations, Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard.
Unlike it’s popular cousin Martha’s Vineyard, you don’t need to catch the ferry to get over to Cape Cod, instead you can pop in your destination via google maps and make a road trip out of it. You’ll get to drive over the popular Cape Cod Canal.
-From Boston, it’ll take you approximately 90 minutes with light traffic following along I-93S (plan to leave early to avoid traffic)
-From NYC, the ride is approximately 5 hours following along I-95N
Depending on where you stay will determine if you will have access to parking, but most rentals provide them!
And though I mentioned that there’s not a true need to catch the ferry, it certainly is an option and can make a quick day-trip/activity from Boston. Seasonal ferry service is available from Boston to Provincetown (P-Town), with traditional or high-speed ferry routes available. Visit capecodchamber.org or cityexperiences.com to get more information on scheduling and tickets. Expect to pay around $65 USD for a 1-way ticket from Boston to P-Town for adults and $42 USD for a 1-way ticket for children (ages 3-11).
There’s also a train, the CapeFLYER that offers service between Boston and Cape Cod on weekends (Friday-Sunday) in the summer from Boston’s South Station. Travel time is a little over 2 hours and tickets are $20USD 1 way or $40 roundtrip. Head to capeflyer.com for more information on schedules and reservations.
Alternatively, you can opt to fly into the Cape Cod Barnstable Airport in Hyannis, what has been the main airport on Cape Cod since the early 1920’s. There are flights to the Barnstable Airport from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and the Boston Logan Airport. In the summer (May-September), the airport offers daily routes from New York’s JFK airport. If you have the coins, you can always charter a flight to the Cape, or you can take a commercial flight with on Cape Air, Nantucket Air or JetBlue.
When to Visit
The Cape Cod busy season is in the summer, when you’ll experience the best weather, May-September, with June/July being the most popular months. If you want to experience the best weather without the crowds (and the peak-season prices), plan your visit for the early Summer (May) or Fall (September or October). If you don’t mind winter weather and are looking for a more low-key getaway, visiting in the winter is less crowded and less expensive, but be mindful that most tourist attractions and several restaurants may not be open.
The best way to get around the Cape is absolutely by car, either bring your own car or rent one! Route 28 and Route 6A are two main roads that run across the Cape, stretching from Sandwich to P-Town, making navigating throughout top tourists destinations/areas quite easy. Overall, parking throughout the Cape is pretty to source and inexpensive, with a of off-street and metered parking available. The exception to this is beach parking, which is not only hard to come by, but also relatively expensive. I suggest getting to the beach early and carpooling with friends when possible, or simply budgeting the roughly $20 USD beach parking fee into your overall budget. *We both drove our personal cars and took turns navigating throughout the city*
Other popular modes of transportation throughout the Cape include :
-Riding/renting a bike, there are over 100 miles of bike trails/paths throughout the Cape, most stretching along the beautiful coastlines. You can do what my friend and I did and opt to ride and explore solo or you can take a group tour! We used Corner Cycle to rent bikes for the day!
-Taking the public bus. Cape Cod’s Regional Transit Authority has bus service year-round on the Cape. One-way rides cost $2USD or you can get a day pass for $6USD. Check HERE for more info on scheduling, stops and updates/alerts.
-Walking. Depending on where you’re staying and where you’re going, you may be able to simply walk around. Our Airbnb, in Falmouth, was located right near the action, a 5-10 minute walk from the Falmouth Center/Strip with popular restaurants, quaint cafes, bike rental and more.
Where to Stay
I mentioned that there are 15 towns that comprise the Cape, so wondering which one is “the best”? Well, that all depends on what you’re looking for :
Falmouth: We stayed in Falmouth, one of the 4 towns in Upper Cape, known for its beach-town vibes with beautiful coastal views. Falmouth is known for its 10 beaches, boating scene, enchanting downtown (Falmouth Center), and local winery. Falmouth is great for young tourists, beach lovers and families and is known as the most walkable town on the Cape.
HERE is a link to the AirBNB we stayed at during our most recent visit. It was perfect for our quick, overnight trip, the owner was adorable and I really appreciated her decorative style (check the pictures in the listing to see what I mean). However, I wouldn’t recommend for larger groups (more than 2), unless you were able to reserve the entire house. There is free parking available on site, it was super clean and there were a few amenities, stocked mini-fridge, snacks and travel-sized toiletries.
Provincetown (aka P-Town), anchored at the northernmost tip of the Cape. P-town is home to the LGBTQ+ community in the Cape, known as being extremely welcoming, vibrant and full of the arts. P-Town is also home to the site of the historical Mayflower ship. Provincetown is great for art and beach lovers, couples, young travellers, foodies and those who like to shop.
Where to stay in P-Town: The Masthead Resort
Hyannis: Hyannis is in the Mid-Cape and is for the foodies, offering the biggest restaurant selection. It’s also great for younger travelers looking for a fun nightlife.
Where to stay in Hyannis: Hyannis Inn
One of the most popular destinations in the Cape driven by it’s historical relevance, the site where the first Pilgrim settlement in 1620, visitors can stand in the very spot that the pilgrims first landed on shore of the United States. Plymouth is for the history buffs, with the Plymouth Plantation available to tour to learn more about the heritage of the area. There’s also a water park, which makes it great for families. And a trip to Plymouth isn’t complete without a visit to Plymouth Rock, amongst other neighborhood highlights.
Where to stay in Plymouth: Hotel 1620 Plymouth Harbor
I highly recommend you pursuing Airbnb for charming “air” BNB options throughout the cape. This is always my go-to when visiting small towns like these listed above in the Cape.
What To Do:
Rent a Bike
There are over 100 miles of bike trails throughout the path, stretching along scenic coastlines and other gorgeous views. You can opt to travel solo or you can join a group, either way, it’s a top 2 activity and it ain’t 2! One of my favorite things to do when visiting the Cape. Check HERE for a list of the best bike paths throughout the Cape.
Head to the Beach
The Cape is one of the best beach destinations in the U.S. Northeast, with over 100 beaches to choose from. Some of the top beaches to choose from:
-Race Point Beach
-Coast Guard Beach
-Head of the Meadow
-Town Neck Beach
-Old Silver Beach
Use Viator to Schedule a Tour
Go on a Sunset Sail
Head to the Truro Vineyard
Other things to do:
Cape Cod National Seashore
Heritage Museums & Gardens
Sandwich Glass Museum
Cape Cod Museum of Art
JFK Hyannis Museum
Where to Eat
Cape Cod is for the foodies, the sea-foodies! New England has an abundance of good-eats and they do seafood extremely well. You can get your NE seafood heros, a classic lobster roll or clam chowder, and some other favs like oysters, calamari, scallops and clams.
Moby Dick’s (Wellfleet)
The Wicked Oyster (Wellfleet)
Chatham Pier Fish Market (Chatham)
Naked Oyster Bistro & Raw Bar (Hyannis)
The Lobster Pot (Provincetown)
Pie in the Sky (Wood’s Hole)
Other good eateries :
Estia- Greek Food (Falmouth)
Water Street Kitchen (Falmouth)
The Mews Restaurant and Cafe
Caffe Gelato Bertini (Yarmouth)
The Red Cottage (South Dennis)
If you’re already in the New England area, Cape Cod is absolutely a no brainer, and if you’re not, but looking for a quaint, cozy getaway, this place will not let you down!