Discover one of the region’s best kept secrets and experience Cape Cod in the alluring shoulder seasons - the quieter months that stretch from September into early June, when you can explore like a local and soak in the serenity of this coastal destination.
Embrace Cape Cod’s “Second Summer” in the weeks following Labor Day, when the weather is near-perfect, the local vibe is low-key and autumn bliss is on the horizon. Not only is the fall a golden opportunity to take advantage of off-season lodging rates and less crowded restaurants, it’s also the perfect time of year for outdoor activities. Relax at the beach, where you can park without a sticker, soak up the warm water temps and stroll miles of expansive shoreline. Explore Cape Cod’s waters and unique ecosystem on a kayak or paddleboarding excursion and glide past marshes, rivers and secluded barrier beaches abundant with active wildlife.
When the weather cools and Mother Nature turns up the color, behold the peninsula’s spectacular fall foliage from one of the Cape’s scenic golf courses (with plenty of tee times to suit the day’s plans), or go off the beaten path on a fall hike ablaze with autumn’s rich colors (great fall hikes include the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp in Wellfleet and Nickerson State Park in Brewster).
This is prime time to visit Crow Farm in Sandwich to pick-your-own apples, Cape Abilities Farm in Dennis for monster mums and pumpkins, and Coonamessett Farm in Falmouth for hayrides, pumpkin picking and fall treats. Leaf peeping is at its finest along the Cape’s historic Route 6A, traversing 62 spectacularly scenic miles from end to end.
Fall on the Cape offers a cornucopia of festivals and celebrations. In September, cheer on your favorites at the Seaside Le Mans Formula One Kart Race at Mashpee Commons. Next up, enjoy an artisan fair and on-stage entertainment at the Harwich Cranberry & Music Festival, and experience the best in craft beer at the Cape Cod Brew Fest in Falmouth. In October, the festival fun continues with the Chatham and Mashpee Oktoberfests, the Yarmouth Seaside Festival, Wellfleet Oyster Fest and Chatham’s wildly creative Pumpkins in the Park!
Experience the magic of a classic New England coastal Christmas filled with ongoing special events and treasured local traditions. Kick off the holidays with Cape Cod’s beloved village strolls that transform local towns into a winter wonderland, featuring tree lightings, caroling, visits from Santa and holiday fun for all ages. Among the Christmas on Cape Cod festivities are Falmouth’s Holidays by the Sea, the Mashpee Christmas Parade, Chatham’s Christmas Stroll, the Santa Stampede in Orleans, the Polar Express aboard Cape Cod Central Railroad, and the oh so colorful Holly Folly Days in Provincetown.
Let your community spirit shine along the way as you find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts for everyone on your list in art galleries, trendy boutiques and quaint shops, nestled in festively decorated downtown hubs. The holiday edition of the Love Local Fest on the Hyannis Village Green celebrates the best of the region’s finest makers, artisans and local businesses, and promise unforgettable gifts for everyone.
Is there a more classic holiday tradition than piling into the car at night to drive around looking at Christmas lights? See Cape Cod in a whole new light and take a time-honored drive along Route 6A in Sandwich to spot the colossal lit figures known as "The Giants,” brought to the Cape by local artist Michael Magyar. Gaze at thousands of twinkling lights at Heritage Museums & Gardens’ "Gardens Aglow" celebration, or catch a procession of illuminated boats at the Hyannis Village Harbor Lighting. Sip a thermos of hot chocolate and continue onto Provincetown to view the famous Lobster Pot Tree featured in Smithsonian magazine, and let your holiday spirit soar at the Pilgrim Monument, a 252-foot beacon of light draped from top to bottom in landing lights.
The holidays on Cape Cod offer so many ways to make your season merry and bright. Though singing joyous carols as the sun sets over Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth will likely leave you dreaming forever of your perfect holiday by the sea.
Plan a cozy escape to one of Cape Cod’s charming inns or elegant B&Bs, where you can relax, recharge and enjoy the glistening beauty of the winter months on the Cape. Pull on some extra layers to experience a majestic sunrise, then explore the stunning contrasts of a wintry New England landscape and picture-perfect views of coastline dotted with snow-covered lighthouses.
With plenty of places open year-round on the Cape to warm up and socialize, you never need to worry about cabin fever. . Savor delicious, local fare with fireside dining all winter long at Alberto’s Ristorante in Hyannis, Cuvee at Chatham Inn and The Pheasant in Dennis, or pair a glass of wine with smooth live jazz at the Grand Cru Wine Bar in Hyannis.
Stay active at the Lanes Bowl & Bistro in Mashpee Commons, or with some axe-throwing action at Ryan Family Amusements in South Yarmouth. Keep things moving at the hip Ten Pin Eatery in Hyannis, the ultimate indoor entertainment complex featuring ten-pin bowling, laser tag, a golf simulator, and arcade room. On a family winter break? Make a splash with your kids with a day pass to the Cape Codder Resort’s 30,000 square foot indoor water park, or do a stay & play package at the Hyannis hotel.
Is there anything more romantic than a mid-winter Valentine’s rendezvous? Book a luxurious spa getaway package for two at the world-class spas at Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster, Dan’l Webster Inn in Sandwich, Crowne Pointe Historic Inn in Provincetown or Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham. Sweeten things up at the Osterville Chocolate Festival in February, or book a private craft brew excursion with TapTastings to sample some local winter IPAs with door-to-door service to the Cape’s best local breweries.
You’ll know spring is just around the corner when it’s time to go green and line the streets of Yarmouth for the popular Cape Cod St. Patrick’s Parade in early March.
Celebrate Cape Cod in bloom and the arrival of spring with outdoor activities and cultural events that usher in blue skies, sunshine and warmer weather to New England. You don’t need beach weather to return to one of life’s simplest pleasures, and to the great outdoors. Take a spring bike ride and watch the scenery roll by from miles of local rail trails and bike paths, or go for a meditative hike through woodlands, salt marshes and cedar forests, coming to life with the sights and sounds of spring.
Make the most of the longer days with a round of mini golf. Spring events to mark on your calendar include the Cape Cod Pirate Festival in June and the return of the Yarmouth Sand Sculpture Trail on Memorial Day weekend. Spring is also an opportunity to welcome back local artists and artisans to the HyArts Artist Shanties; these whimsical, seaside working studios can be found along the Walkway-to-the-Sea in Hyannis.
Spring is all about new beginnings…and re-openings. Be first in line to book a reservation at these waterfront dining spots, and greet seasonal restaurants opening their doors: Spanky’s Clam Shack and Baxter’s in Hyannis, The Beachcomber in Wellfleet and Skipper Chowder House in South Yarmouth. Tempt your tastebuds all week long at Wellfleet Restaurant Week in early June, and eat dessert twice now that the Four Seas and Sundae School ice cream shops are back open for business.
Ready to get back on the water? Book a mid-April whale watching expedition to welcome these migrating gentle giants of the sea back to their summer home, or depart on a seal tour guided by Cape Cod’s local naturalists. Day trip to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket on a relaxing ferry ride that will remind you that half the fun in life is getting there, then tour the islands with plenty of room to stroll.
There’s no better place to stop and smell the roses than on spring break on Cape Cod! Admire the gorgeous blooms and surrounding pastels of spring’s flowers and landscapes at the Rhododendron Festival at Heritage Museums and Gardens and the annual Brewster in Bloom Festival. Or just take a tranquil self-guided tour of Spohr Gardens in Falmouth for a nature walk to remember. Your Instagram feed just got more colorful!
For a full calendar of year-round events on Cape Cod, visit CapeCodChamber.org/Events.