Cape Cod is a tourist magnet, attracting millions of visitors a year. While the warmer months are the most popular, the holiday season is the perfect time for a visit. So get your jingle bells ready and check out our tips for the Cape’s best holiday adventures.
Walking and Biking
If you’re lucky enough to be on the Cape on a mild day in December, you can get out and enjoy the hiking and biking trails. They’re less crowded and you may even have some trails to yourself. The windswept beaches of Cape Cod National Seashore are a sight to see, especially in December. Beaches and trails are open except during storms.Other scenic walking trails include the Dead Neck Trail at South Cape Beach in Mashpee, the Fort Hill trails in Eastham, and Ashumet Holly Reservation in Falmouth (which boasts one of the largest collections of holly trees around). Great bike trails include the Trail of Tears (for mountain biking) and the paved Cape Cod Canal Rail Trail.
The winter gives bird watchers on the Cape some rare opportunities. Seabirds are plentiful, but you can also spot passerines, ducks, and gulls. No matter where you are, dress for colder temperatures and be ready for rain and or snow.
This adventure includes climbing the tallest granite structure in the country. The Pilgrim Monument commemorates the Pilgrims’ arrival in Provincetown Harbor in 1620. Since the tower’s opening in 1910, millions of visitors have climbed the 116 feet and 60 ramps to the top; a 360-degree view of the tip of Cape Cod awaits. During the holidays, more than 3,000 festive landing lights illuminate the tower. December hours vary so check the website when planning your visit.
Cape Cod Christmas Train
Find your holiday spirit on the Cape Cod Central Railroad's Train to Christmas Town. The 1½ hour family adventure departs from Buzzard Bay on weekend evenings through December 23, and includes all you’d expect from a storybook train ride. Enjoy Christmas carol singalongs with elves, hot chocolate and cookies, and a visit on the train from Santa once you pull into the festive Christmas Town.
Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
Harken back to the olden days by heading to the forest to cut your Christmas tree. Or, in this case, to a cut-your-own-tree farm. There are two of them in Falmouth: Coonamessett Bog Tree Farm and Bunker Tree Farm (open on weekends) If that’s not your style, plant a live Christmas tree in your yard.
If the weather outside is frightful and you need an indoor adventure, why not check out glass blowing? The Sandwich Glass Museum in Sandwich offers glass-blowing demonstrations every hour, and through the end of the month the museum features the annual “Glassblowers’ Christmas.” Exquisite glass ornaments created by local artists adorn Christmas trees; some of the ornaments are for display, others are for sale (a great gift idea!) Glass blowing demonstrations are also a draw at Pairpoint Glass Co. in Sagamore, America’s oldest glassworks company. You can watch artisans in action and place a custom order for one of their unique creations while you’re there.
The grounds at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich sparkle during the holidays with more than nine miles of holiday lights. Visitors to Gardens Aglow can stroll among the light displays, visit Santa on an antique Model T Ford, ride on the vintage carousel, and roast marshmallows at the fire pits. Gardens Aglow is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights through December 29.
Gardens Aglow photo by Lance Keimig Photographics