Probably one of the least fun aspects of vacation planning is packing your suitcase. But with a little help from your friends (that would be us!), your bag prep just got a tad bit easier.

Here are our 9 must-haves when packing for your Cape Cod vacation.

The Cape is not only a tourist haven, it’s a bird magnet. Among the best spots for birdwatching are the Cape Cod Canal, Sandy Neck in Sandwich, Fort Hill in Eastham, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, Race Point Beach in Provincetown, and Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. As you keep your eyes in the sky make sure to occasionally scan the water. where you could spot a seal, whale or dolphin. If you’d rather not leave animal sightings up to chance, bring those binocs with you onboard a whale watching or seal tour. They'll come in just as handy!

There may be no better place to connect with nature than Cape Cod. Miles of pristine beaches await, along with unspoiled natural habitats that have been preserved for the public’s enjoyment. Popular hiking spots can be found along the Cape Cod National Seashore, including the stunning Nauset Marsh in Eastham; and the must-see Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail in Wellfleet. After a walk to Long Point Lighthouse in Provincetown, you can boast that you’ve walked to the very tip of the Cape. Other great hikes can be found at Beebe Woods in Falmouth and at the Lowell Holly Reservation, which spans 135 acres across Mashpee and Sandwich and boasts two freshwater ponds that are perfect to cool off in on a hot day.

Sea-to-table dining is Cape Cod's specialty. After all, Wellfleet oysters are considered some of the world's best! From Buzzards Bay to Provincetown, there’s no lack of choices – Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar, Spanky’s Clam Shack, Moby Dick's and Mac’s Seafood are just a few of our favorite stops when it comes to tasting the best in locally caught and prepared seafood. As well known as the Cape is for seafood, the destination is equally renowned for its homemade ice cream. Kate’s Fried Seafood and Ice Cream in Brewster has wisely combined the two. Other sweet spots, including Four Seas Ice Cream, Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour and Sundae School, specialize solely in the tasty summer treat. Your challenge this summer – try them all!

With 115 sandy beaches to enjoy, you’re bound to spend lots of time by the water during any trip to the Cape. Coast Guard Beach in Eastham continuously garners national attention (by USA Today, Dr. Beach and TripAdvisor, to name a few). Race Point Beach in Provincetown also regularly makes its way onto the national radar; the beach is on TripAdvisor’s list of top 25 beaches in the country. For calmer waters, try the family-friendly Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth, Corporation Beach in Dennis, Craigville Beach in Centerville, and Sandy Neck Beach in Sandwich (Sandy Neck permits off-road vehicles as well as horseback riding). 

Miles of paved and off-road trails with jaw-dropping scenery. That’s exactly what you’ll find on Cape Cod, starting at the scenic Cape Cod Canal, which has two paved trails – one spanning the Cape side, the other running along Buzzards Bay. Other bikeways include the Shining Sea Bikeway, stretching from North Falmouth to Woods Hole, and the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which starts in Yarmouth and passes through Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. If you didn’t bring your bike, don’t worry - several companies on Cape rent and sell them.

Take yourself out to a Cape Cod Baseball League game and you won't regret it. A warm summer evening spent watching some of college baseball’s best players is a vacation tradition. From Wareham to Orleans, the storied league offers action almost every night of the summer, starting in mid-June and ending with the playoffs in early August. Don’t be surprised if you see a CCBL player playing in the big leagues in a few years; prominent alumni include Kevin Youkilis, Jeff Bagwell, Ryan Braun, Thurman Munson, Chase Utley, Frank Thomas, and Carlton Fisk. The best part? The games are free. So pack your beach chair or blanket and make a night of it.

When it comes to adventure, Art’s Dune Tours has you covered on land. Rideaway Adventures, Cape Rib and Great Marsh Kayak Tours have you covered by sea. Cape Cod Duckmobile has you covered on both land AND sea. And with its aerial ropes trails and zip lines, the Adventure Park at Heritage Museums & Gardens has you covered in the air.

Cape Cod offers some of the most beautiful scenery in all of New England, making it a perfect draw for shutterbugs. Historic lighthouses, exquisite gardens and gorgeous beaches offer the perfect backdrop for family photos - so be sure to pack an extra camera battery! When it comes to sunsets, Orleans has the market cornered with Skaket Beach and Rock Harbor Beach. The Knob in Falmouth is another favorite for photographers. And Chapin Beach, especially during low tide which reveals shallow tidal pools, is always a crowd-pleaser. (See more of our suggested Instagram-worthy spots on Cape Cod).

If you still have room in the car, bring a set of golf clubs. The Cape has some of the best public courses, as well as several awe-inspiring private courses. Thanks to a slew of mini-golf courses, including Pirate’s Cove in Yarmouth, even the little ones can get in on the fun.