Days of sun, sand and nothingness are the dream of a Cape Cod vacation. The relaxed vibe of the Cape (as it is referred to by those in the know) is the reason why everyone wants plain real estate on their favorite sandy beach. When you need a break from the waves, Cape Cod is a fun place to explore. You can find plenty of activities to do during the day.
I have spent many summer months on the Cape exploring the towns and villages, looking for fun and interesting experiences. Some of my favorite gems are listed below. Baseball nights, local artisans, new adult venues, and more add entertaining fun to your Cape Cod vacation.
Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press tour, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Cape Cod Baseball League
Summer weather on the Cape means burgers, hot dogs, and baseball. The Cape Cod Baseball League is a family-friendly night of fun. Take your picnic dinner to one of the many parks, or support the boosters by eating at the snack bar for a taste of Americana at its best.
Popular with locals, visitors, and baseball scouts, attending a Cape Cod Baseball League game is the best way to spend a balmy summer evening. Packed bleachers, folding chairs, and blankets show the stadiums filled with cheering fans who love the game. Little kids play catch with potential big leaguers, picking up a few tips along the way.
Ten teams from around the Cape college players park hosted by families and local organizations When the Cape Cod Baseball League changed from aluminum (standard collegiate equipment) to wooden bats, Major League Baseball scouts paid attention. College players were easier to judge when they swung bats like the big boys. The scouting potential is impressive – according to Michael Clair of MLB.com, as of October 2019, 1,400 Cape Cod League alumni had played in a Major League Baseball game.
Pro tip: Most parks do not charge admission but ask for a donation or participation in the 50/50 raffle.
2. Highland links
If you’ve never played a classic links-style course, you must play nine holes at Highland Links. It’s an adventure, hitting green on green and trying to avoid the scorching summer. The challenging inclines create blind spots even for expert strikers.
The mostly treeless course is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and offers distant ocean views. It’s a fun outing for novice and experienced golfers alike.
Pro Tip: The busy nine-hole public course is reasonably priced under $100 for a full 18 holes and a cart.
3. John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is a picturesque treasure trove that highlights the family life of our 35th president. The Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port was the summer White House for the first family. As you walk through the photos that show the halcyon days of the Cape, those of us who remember them are taken back in time. It’s easy to recall where you were and what you were doing when JFK was assassinated.
The poignant moments of the Canadian family on display will bring you back to the joy of summer and remind you of the ongoing family tragedies of this storyteller’s New England family.
Pro Tip: After touring the museum, grab a bite at one of Hyannis’ great restaurants.
4. Treehouse Brewing Company
Tree House Brewing Company’s new location on First Beach in Sandwich is a craft beer lover’s dream. The original brewery is located in Charlton, Massachusetts, a mile away from this beautiful beach resort. The views from the second story porch are spectacular; if you see an open Adirondack chair, grab it – it’s a beautiful place.
All guests must reserve a time slot and pre-pay for a limited number of drafts. On a hot summer evening, make your reservation well in advance. Alternatively, you can pre-order for pick-up, swing in and grab your cold one, then head back to your digs for a house party.
Parking is a challenge, but there are several designated spots for the brewing company. Alternatively you can park in the First Beach car park for a fee.
You are allowed to bring in outside food to enjoy with your brew, and the patio is dog friendly.
Pro tip: Sandwich is a great holiday destination and offers visitors a variety of summer holiday experiences. I have written more about charming Sandwich, Massachusetts, here.
5. Quahog Republic Jump Bar
When I first drove up to the Quahog Republic Dive Bar, I was a little unsure of what to expect. A local recommended the bar to me in search of the best lobster roll in Cape Cod. The Republic of Quahog is in an inauspicious Strip Mall without a fancy waterfront view. Just the kind of place someone in the know would recommend.
I ate a few East Coast lobstah rolls in my life (I’m from Boston), and this was one of the best. It is cooked to perfection and served with drawn butter and perfectly crisp fries. Add local draft for a great meal. It’s a great place for a quiet lunch.
Pro Tip: The staff treats everyone like locals – wear your favorite Red Sox cap and grab a seat at the bar.
6. Scargo Pottery & Art Gallery
When looking for that special gift, Scargo Pottery & Art Gallery is an interesting place to start your search. Part indoor, part outdoor, the quirky presentation is like a pleasant walk through a pottery forest. When you arrive, it feels like you’re in the home of someone with an affinity for bird houses and bird feeders.
Birdhouses, dishware, pots, decorative pieces, and more are scattered around in a colorful array. As you enter various display areas, you can feel the essence of the artist while admiring the thoughtful creations.
7. Cranberry Bog Tours
Operating seasonally, Cranberry Bog Tours takes guests on a journey through the world of cranberries. Learn how these tiny tart fruits make their way from small scrubby bushes to your Thanksgiving table.
The tour takes guests on a bumpy ride around the farm to learn about it, meet the four-legged residents, and see the cranberry harvesting equipment.
Pro Tip: These little crimson gems are harvested on a sunny, dry autumn day. Here are my tips for experiencing cranberry harvest season.
8. Truro Vineyards
Sampling local products is the best way to experience the essence of a place. When you’re on the Cape, Truro Vineyards is a local attraction. They blend their own Cape Cod-grown chardonnay, cabernet Franc, and merlot grapes with others from Massachusetts, New York, and California to produce an exceptional variety of wines.
Pro Tip: The Lighthouse Wine Series is sold in stunning lighthouse-shaped bottles. When emptied and filled with twinkle lights, they make a piece of coastal-life flavor that you will love.
9. First Crush Winery
First Crush Winery is another great taste of the grape. Located in an industrial area along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, First Crush is a secret oasis from the dazzling sunlight. The perfect spot for an evening wine slush or a thoughtful, solo wine tasting of their beautiful vintages.
Sit among the fermentation tanks for an urban experience, or under the tent you’re ready next to a wine barrel table.
Pro tip: You can hop off the Cape Cod Rail Trail for a break in your walk/ride to enjoy a relaxing glass with a plate of cheese and crackers.
10. Nickerson State Park
Nickerson State Park offers vacationers an alternative to oceanfront beaches. With lake swimming, hiking trails, and camping, it’s a great place for the outdoor enthusiast. Located along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, Nickerson State Park is a popular destination for avid cyclists.
Pro tip: Find out more about why you’ll want to visit Nickerson State Park.
11. Cape Cod Rail Trail
Wellfleet to Yarmouth
When the Cape Cod Rail Trail crosses six towns from Yarmouth to Wellfleet you can see a local scene. The trail is 25 miles in total (recently increased from the original 22 miles) and meanders beautiful ponds, natural habitats, and full of dining experiences. Walk or cycle the railway track and explore all its secrets.
12. Sandwich Museum of Glass
Take a journey into the history of glass at the Sandwich Glass Museum. Plan your visit to coincide with a glass blowing exhibition. The craftsmanship required to make even the simplest piece is extremely important.
13. Cape Cod Dinner Train
Hyannis, Balkan Bay, and Falmouth
Cape Cod Dinner Train is a unique opportunity to see parts of the Cape not visible from the roads. Along the canal and waterways as you enjoy a beautiful five-course dinner served in upscale, laid-back style.
The three hour ride has incredible views and is perfect for a romantic date night as well as a night out with a group of friends.
Cape Cod is filled with hidden gems. Once you’ve had your fill of beautiful beaches and waterfront restaurants, explore areas off the beaten path to find your favorite Cape Cod gem.