Not quite ready for summer to end? The weeks following Labor Day are the perfect time to welcome Cape Cod’s Second Summer, one of the region’s best kept secrets. Here’s how to make the most of the less crowded, alluring shoulder season and help plan your Cape escape!
If you’ve never laid a towel out on one of Cape Cod’s magnificent beaches in early fall, plan on spending most of the day with your toes sunk into the soft sand, mesmerized by the rolling waves and stunning views. Hot sun, warm water temps, low humidity, and plenty of room to beachcomb for a pocketful of treasures and stroll your worries away put this item at the top of your second summer bucket list. The parking attendants have all gone home with the summer crowds, leaving ample parking and easy access to popular beaches like Old Silver in Falmouth, Craigville in Hyannis, Mayflower in Dennis, Paines Creek in Brewster, and those along Cape Cod National Seashore. Bring a sweater and linger or return for the early sunset—another bonus to off-season beach days!
Welcome back the fall foliage and cooler temps on an early autumn hike or nature walk through the Cape’s woodland forests and trails (without all the summer mosquitoes), where you can enjoy some solitude and behold unexpected spectacular views flaming with color, explore wildlife habitats, go birdwatching, or trek for treasure on a geocaching quest! Soothe your senses on the serene walking trails of the Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich, then visit the aromatic gift shop to discover lavender-inspired products that will warm your home, body and soul. Immerse yourself in a postcard-perfect fall day and take the self-guided Captain’s Mile Walking Tour in Yarmouthport. Enjoy a relaxing stroll past 50+ historic 18th and 19th-century sea captains’ homes on the 1.5-mile stretch through the village marked with a landmark gold and black schooner plaque. No doubt you’ll see more than a few autumn-inspired porches to admire and inspire you along the way.
Milder temps and less crowded bike paths make fall the perfect time to explore Cape Cod on two wheels. Cruise by crimson cranberry bogs, golden salt marshes, kettle holes and woodlands showing the first signs of autumn. Miles of tree-lined trails and scenic bikeways offering stunning views await. Check out our recommendations for "Best Fall Bike Rides" and "Perfect Family Bike Rides"!
Fall in love with off-season paddling and experience the splendor of autumn’s reflections on the water from one of Cape Cod’s premier kayaking and paddle board destinations. Glide across locations like the Mashpee River, Toby Island, and Popponesset River and take in wetlands, tidal flats, streams, and shoreline painted with vibrant colors and dotted with wildlife you’ll remember long after you’re back on land. From beginner kayak and paddleboard instruction to guided sunset and nature tours, explore the options and book your next paddle excursion or rental at local favorites RideAway Adventures and Cape Cod Kayak.
If you’ve ever dreamed of chartering a private sailing yacht to commemorate a special occasion on Cape Cod, September is the perfect time to book your ‘second summer sail’. Invigorate your senses and celebrate the beauty of the golden fall season with friends and family surrounded by the Cape’s iconic lighthouses and beaches with a sail to remember into Cape Cod Bay and Provincetown Harbor with Moment Sailing Adventures.
Shop local and let the tastes and harvests of the season inspire you with an outdoor stroll perusing these markets brimming with specialty food vendors, local cuisine, homemade breads and baked goods, pasture-raised meat and eggs, flowers, homemade skin products, and even natural treats for your four-legged friends that run through October! Find a round-up of some of our favorites here.
Make a reservation at that restaurant you couldn’t get into all summer or dine al fresco and linger into the evening on one of the Cape’s renowned Mashpee Commons outdoor patios reminiscent of European dining like Bleu, Estia, or Siena. The off-peak restaurant season is the perfect time to cozy up to a favorite person and explore outdoor fall dining for lunch or dinner and savor local seafood favorites and stunning dockside venues like the Ocean House in Dennis overlooking Nantucket Sound.
What better way to immerse yourself in a gorgeous fall day than on one of the Cape’s many scenic golf courses? Perfect weather, amazing views, and a stunning backdrop of foliage to watch your ball sail through the autumn landscape make for a winning day on the links. Discover what makes the Cape ‘The Golf Coast’ and explore the many courses (you’ll practically have to yourself) on this online booking tool!
While Cape Cod isn’t traditionally known for its ‘peak foliage’, there are plenty of rich autumn colors to behold across the Cape’s varied landscapes and terrain you can explore—all without bumping into too many fellow leaf peepers! Near-empty coastal roads, lighthouses, golden marsh grasses, and wooded trails and waterways ablaze with fall’s breathtaking color palettes are just waiting to be discovered. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come and some ways to take the scenic route.