With summer winding down, and the promise of cooler temps on the horizon, it’s time to plan three perfect fall days on Cape Cod. Even though it’s the fall season, we call it our “Second Summer,” since our beaches are still warm enough for sunning and swimming. What fall brings is beautiful colors sweeping slowly across the marshes and bogs and thinning crowds — at the beach, in our shops, and in our restaurants. Plus, when you stay at the Captain Farris House on Old Main Street in South Yarmouth, you’ll be ideally located to enjoy the best of Cape Cod.
While you could spend weeks exploring the beauty of Cape Cod, with only a few days, we recommend hitting a few of the highlights. And, if you time it right, you might be here for one of our fantastic fall festivals, like the Wellfleet Oyster Festival, our annual salute to the humble bivalve.
Day 1: Route 6A, The Olde King’s Highway
For an overview of the historic north side of Cape Cod, spend some time driving scenic Route 6A from Yarmouth Port east towards Orleans. It was designated as one of the most scenic byways in America, the route cruises past lovely antique shops, art galleries, boutiques, old sea captain’s mansions, and one-of-a-kind gift shops.
Our favorite lunch stop on this tour is the Brewster Fish House for a delicious bowl of chowder and some fresh New England seafood. Or you may prefer the view across the marsh at The Marshside in Dennis.
After lunch, stretch your legs along the nature trails behind the Natural History Museum. This gentle hike passes through forest and marshland, ending at the mudflats of Paine’s Creek, where you can hunt for treasures washed up by the sea.
If you need to refuel after your jaunt in the woods, stop for a refreshing milkshake or soft-serve ice cream cone at Captain Frosty’s in Dennis. Then wander over to the Cape Cod Museum of Art for a bit of culture.
For dinner, may we suggest the Old Yarmouth Inn, Cape Cod’s oldest dining establishment. Then catch the sunset along the boardwalk at Gray’s Beach in Yarmouth Port for the perfect end to your perfect day.
Day 2: The National Seashore
After breakfast this morning, pack a picnic and head east along the Mid-Cape Highway to visit the National Seashore. In Eastham, take a side trip to Fort Hill, one of our favorite picnic spots. Along the way, you’ll pass the Penniman House, a historic sea captain’s mansion that has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Be prepared for the stunning view of Nauset Beach and Town Neck Cove as you approach the parking area. If the mood strikes, take a lovely walk along the nature trails that connect with the Red Maple Swamp Trail for a glimpse of Nauset Marsh. If you’re a bird watcher, this is a “must-see” destination.
Wind your way back to Route 6 and continue to the Salt Pond Visitors Center at the entrance of the National Seashore. Visit the Coast Guard Station at Coast Guard Beach, the Nauset Beach Lighthouse, the Three Sisters Lighthouses, and the Marconi Wireless Station site for a bit of Cape Cod history.
Next, drive down Lecount Hollow Road to Ocean View Drive, where you will find lovely old Cape Cod cottages set in among the dunes. Spread a blanket at Lecount Hollow, Cahoon Hollow, or Newcomb Hollow, all magnificent beaches where you can frolic in the surf and perhaps spot a whale offshore. Alternately, visit the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary to wander the trails through the salt marsh to a sandy barrier beach.
After a day at the beach or exploring the salt marsh, stop at Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar on Route 6 for onion rings and fried clams. If time allows, you can enjoy a round of mini-golf before heading home to your comfortable room at the Inn.
Day 3: Provincetown
Day 3 finds you back on Route 6, where we recommend you make a bee-line for Provincetown, one of Cape Co’s most iconic villages. Along the way, you can detour for a tour of Truro Vineyards and the Atlantic Spice Company at the junction of Route 6 and 6A in Truro.
Take the Shore Road into Provincetown (or “P’Town” as the locals call it), which will take you past one of the iconic images of the lower Cape: Days Cottages. These tiny one-room shacks, built in the 1940s, sport a front yard that embraces Cape Cod Bay.
Once in town, park your car along Commercial Street near MacMillan Pier. Start your tour of downtown with a climb to the top of the Pilgrim Monument for a spectacular view of the Provincelands and the harbor. Then shop ‘til you drop at the quaint and quirky shops along the town’s main streets and side roads.
Have lunch at the Lobster Pot, a quintessential P’Town seafood restaurant with views of the bay. After lunch, book a one-of-a-kind tour with Art’s Dune Tours for a fun-filled trip through the magnificent sand dunes and a chance to see the historic dune shacks used by artists for inspiration
Alternatively, take a whale-watching excursion to Stellwagen Bank with the Dolphin Fleet to spot whales’ tails waving and breaching in the bay. An onboard naturalist will guide your tour, pointing out the various types of whales feasting in this protected marine sanctuary.
Back at the Inn, relax in your luxurious room with a fresh-baked cookie or two while contemplating your dinner options. We suggest the Skipper Chowder House, right around the corner from the Inn, followed by gelato at Caffe Gelato Bertini.
After three perfect fall days on Cape Cod, we know you’ll want to return again and again to experience even more of the area’s spectacular natural beauty. Every season is different here, and each one is more lovely than the last.
Updated September 2023