Start with the beaches. The Cape extends into the Atlantic Ocean like a flexed arm enclosing Cape Cod Bay, creating wonderful beaches. Bay beaches are more protected, with warmer and calmer waters, and wide mud flats at low tide. Great for smaller children. Wonderful sunsets. The ocean side beaches have bigger waves, good for surfing. Some are backed by dramatic bluffs or grassy dunes. Cape Cod National Seashore through several Cape towns and encompasses beaches, inland freshwater ponds, a long bike trail and many walking trails, lighthouses, two visitor centers with fabulous exhibits. The National Park Service provides helpful guides and information.
Next up is dining. Visitors can look forward to lobster in the rough and all other types of Atlantic seafood; fun summer food at ice cream stands; and gorgeous formal dining in places like Hyannis and Provincetown. Shopping does not mean malls and big box stores. The Cape is covered with boutique stores, galleries, some old country stores, and funky marine supply and novelty stores. Nearly every town has a whimsical place to shop, like the Lemon Tree Village Shops in Brewster, to name just one.
Plenty of lodging on Cape Cod for all visitors: romantic waterfront lodgings, resorts, family-friendly & pet-friendly hotels and motels, campgrounds, boutique B&Bs, LGBT-friendly inns, vacation rentals for families and big groups, and deals for under $100.
Lots of fun, both indoors and outdoors, for children, parents, and grandparents on a family vacation. See the gardens, antique cars, and outdoor play at the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich. Take in a live show by world-caliber performers at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis. Other great things to do: ride bikes on the Cape Cod Rail Trail (a converted railroad bed), on the trails within the national seashore, or alongside the Cape Cod Canal. Parents: make a date to stroll the art galleries in Provincetown or visit and sip at a winery in Truro or Falmouth.
Among the favorite lighthouses are Highland Light in Truro or Race Point Light on a fabulous beach of the same name in Provincetown. Art’s Dune Tours in Provincetown -- a dreamy trip into the moonscape of sand and bending dune grasses -- are out of this world. The Monomoy Island Ferry Rip Rider out of Chatham offers a tour of marine mammals and sea birds along the Monomoy Islands. An glorious outdoor walks is the Sandwich Boardwalk in Sandwich. It arches across hundreds of yards of salt meadow, from town to the edge of the sea. For culture, get to a live show at the legendary Cape Playhouse in Dennis. And the Cape has many summer festivals, celebrating music, food, art, and families.
First, to get to the Cape, travel options include the ferry from Boston and the Cape Flyer summer commuter train out of Boston. Ferries from Cape Cod also chug out to the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The fastest road through Cape Cod is Route 6, also called the Mid-Cape Highway. Route 6A (the Old King’s Highway) is a slower road, traveling through beautiful villages along Cape Cod Bay. Similarly, Route 28 meanders down the western shoreline along Buzzard’s Bay and then along the southern shoreline, near the ocean.