Cape Cod is more than just a beachy peninsula dotted with lighthouses and oozing with New England charm. (Although, there is ample coastline and it is authentically quaint.) This popular vacation destination has a variety of fun adventures all year round for everyone in the family.
So, call up cousin Frank, the craft-beer aficionado, and your sister Tamara, the natural-born hiker — we’re going on a trip!
Beers & Buddies
With breweries popping up all over the region, craft beer is conquering palates across Cape Cod. Local outfits like Cape Cod Brew Bus and TapTastings Craft Brew Excursions are ready for action. Climb aboard and sample some great local flavors without the hassle of driving. What’s more, they’ll pack the snacks.
A naturalist-guided pontoon ride with Barnstable Harbor Eco-Tours gets you up close and personal with some of the creatures (think blue herons and spider crabs) that call the Cape home. During your leisurely cruise or sandbar exploration, you’ll also view the Sandy Neck region’s coves and coastal salt marshes.
For a hands-on experience, take an oyster farm tour with Wellfleet Shellfish Farm Tours, East Dennis Oyster Farm or Chatham Shellfish Co. You’ll learn about oyster cultivation, from seed to shuck, and have a chance to harvest your own. Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club in Brewster also offers guests walking oyster bed tours, and a unique glimpse into how this local delicacy is harvested on Brewster flats (one of these tours is pictured above!)
Unwind after an active day in the company of gentle sand giants and weather-beaten artist shanties. Art’s Dune Tours in Provincetown provides an intimate view of the picturesque Outer Cape dunes and an appreciation for the ongoing environmental efforts to protect it. Art’s sunset tours have the option of a clambake and beach bonfire, the perfect ending to any day.
Single Tracks & Fat Tires
At last count, there were at least 114 miles of bike paths on Cape Cod. Many are paved, including the just over seven-miles-long Province Lands loop. The short distance and smooth pathway are deceiving. Those rolling landscapes will have you feeling the burn in no time.
West Barnstable’s dramatically named Trail of Tears presents mountain bikers with an entirely different experience. This former off-road motorcycle route has a mix of diverse vegetation and short, steep climbs. Fun fact: It’s only 21 miles long.
Unlike its cohorts, the trail at Sandy Neck Beach is not really a trail at all. However, bring your favorite fat tire bike, or fatboy, as they are affectionately known, and you can cycle on the sand. Pack plenty of water for this mostly unshaded, seven-mile-stretch; your quads will thank you.
Puzzles & Games
Test your puzzle-solving skills with a visit to Riddle Escape Room in Mashpee. With six different scenarios to choose from, there’s no shortage of cryptic clues to unravel. If you’re in Hyannis, drop by Ten Pin Eatery. In addition to 11 lanes of bowling, Ten Pin has virtual reality gaming experiences, an indoor golf simulator, and three escape rooms, including one in which your team will uncover hidden secrets of ancient Egypt.
Wet & Wild
The water doesn’t shut down because it’s not 85 degrees and sunny. Grab a kayak or standup paddleboard and experience the sea from a totally different perspective. If you forgot your boat in your other suitcase, several companies on the Cape can provide a substitute. Rideaway Adventures, FLYER’s Boat Rentals, Cape Cod Kayak and MOCEAN all have equipment available to rent, along with Goose Hummock and NamaSUP. If you’re not quite sure where to start, many of these businesses offer lessons and guided tours as well.
On The Trail Again
Head north to Great Island Trail in Wellfleet. Mudflats, impressive vistas, and a stately pine forest border this sandy trek. If you’re up for another 1.4 miles – and the tide is on your side – you might even make it to Jeremy Point. Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable is another dynamic spot. Deer, osprey and horseshoe crab are known to spy on fluorescent-clad joggers as they pass. At 1.3 miles, Eastham’s Nauset Marsh Trail is the easiest of the three. It’s ideal for hikers seeking excellent views and a moderate grade.
Interactive exhibits at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster offer everything there is to know about marine creatures and shorebirds. But if you venture outside the museum, several outdoor trails traverse the salt marsh through coastal woodlands, leading to the barrier beach and tidal pools of Cape Cod Bay (guided walks are offered in season).
Kids at Play
An interactive nature's classroom called Hidden Hollow is located within the expansive grounds at Sandwich’s Heritage Museums & Gardens. Fostering exploration through play is this outdoor discovery area’s ultimate goal. Providing tree stumps for scaling, materials for building forts, nature for inspiring art, and water tables for experimenting are a few examples of how Heritage realizes this mission.
If your tot isn’t so tiny, it might be time they brave the Challenge Zone at Cape Cod Inflatable Park in West Yarmouth. Free climb the rock tower and sail across the “Super Zipline” together, or enthusiastically cheer on your courageous kid from the sidelines. Afterwards, cool off in the lazy river of the park’s H20 section.
Another way to make a splash is at the Cape Codder Water Park at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis. Adventure awaits for kids of all ages at this 30,000-square-foot indoor water park, featuring two 160-foot water slides, a 300-foot “Stormy River,” a pirate-themed kiddie spray pool and play area, a wave pool and a snack bar.
How pirates came to be associated with Cape Cod is a question best left to the professionals. Luckily, you can ask them directly when you and your swashbuckling crew go the Whydah Pirate Museum in Yarmouth. Exhibits tell the tale of a real pirate ship discovered off the coast of Cape Cod in the 1980s through modern science and recovered artifacts.
Or, set your course for Hyannis and the Pirate Adventures Cruise. This 75-minute interactive excursion will test all three- to 10-year-old buccaneers (and their parents) foolhardy enough to climb aboard the Sea Gypsy.
Not into water cannons? No worries, with a little help from Cape Cod Learning Tours you can delve into the unique world of sea creatures living at water’s edge. Outings include a meal, round-trip transportation throughout the Cape, a guide, and a mobile science lab equipped with microscopes and water analysis kits.
Pirates, land & sea explorations and craft brewery tours are just a glimpse into all Cape Cod has to offer travelers. Find more ways to play here!