Known for its pristine beaches and undulating dunes, Cape Cod is one of New England’s premier destinations with some amazing must-dos. Once you cross one of the two bridges that span the Cape Cod Canal, wave goodbye to the hustle and bustle of the mainland. You’ve arrived in a place that captivates most everyone for its undeniable natural beauty and timeless appeal. To truly capture the essence of this gorgeous spit of sand that juts out into the wild Atlantic Ocean, we’ve put together our recommended list of top 10 “must-dos” on Cape Cod.
A drive along historic Route 6A, the Old Kings Highway, may actually be the best way to experience the diversity of the area. Begin in Sandwich and meander the length of the bent arm of Cape Cod on the bayside. Along the route, you’ll travel through quaint towns and villages under a tree canopy, past marshland and kettle ponds to the very tip of the peninsula in Provincetown.
Located in the heart of Cape Cod, the Captain Farris House is ideally situated to explore all of Cape Cod’s charm. From our location, everything we recommend you see and do is within an easy drive. Depending on the length of your stay with us, you may need to return a time or two to capture all of it. So, let’s break it down into 4 categories.
— ADVENTURE —
Several outfitters offer whale-watching trips to Stellwagen Bank, where dozens of whales return year after year to feast and frolic. Board a comfortable vessel for a 3- to 4-hour trip across the bay to witness humpbacks, finbacks, and minkes in their natural environment. Hyannis Whale Watcher departs from Barnstable Harbor and the Dolphin Fleet sails from Provincetown. Both operators employ onboard naturalists to present the highlights of this fascinating excursion.
Art’s Dune Tours
Art’s Dune Tours has been taking visitors on tours of one of this country’s most unique landscapes for three-quarters of a century. Ride in air-conditioned comfort as you traverse the protected dunes of the National Seashore in an SUV. Knowledgeable guides share the history and ecology of the region and tell stories of the artists and writers who found inspiration in them.
Cape Cod Rail Trail
Following the abandoned tracks of a defunct railroad, the Cape Cod Rail Trail negotiates a 25-mile path through fields and forests, past cranberry bogs and kettle ponds from Dennis to Wellfleet with spurs that lead to Chatham and the Salt Pond Visitors Center in Eastham. Run, walk, ride, or skate this relatively flat bike path with modest elevation.
— MUSEUMS —
Heritage Museums & Gardens
Located on 100 acres in Sandwich, Heritage Museums and Gardens offers a quiet and serene place in which to enjoy exquisite gardens and a variety of remarkable museums. Known for its famous Dexter Rhododendrons that bloom from early May to mid-June, Heritage is equally famous for its hydrangeas, Cape Cod’s signature flowering bushes. Take a ride on the working carousel and explore the collection of classic cars housed in a replica Shaker round barn.
Sandwich Glass Museum
Visit the Sandwich Glass Museum and its vast collection of rare and modern glass, including some from the original Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory, founded in 1825. Among the exhibits, you’ll find glass-blowing demonstrations, where you can feel the heat from the fire while the molten glass is being blown into wondrous shapes.
Whydah Pirate Museum
Ahoy, matey! It’s time to set sail on a voyage of discovery — pirate’s treasure at the Whydah Pirate Museum. It holds the most extensive collection of items found on pirate ships worldwide. Since it opened in 2016, the museum has provided hours of entertainment with numerous displays and thousands of artifacts. Don’t forget to grab a souvenir from the gift shop. Your purchase helps support the museum and archeological exploration for more treasure. Yo-ho-ho, ‘tis a booty, you’ll see!
— CULTURE —
Presenting professional summer theater since 1927, the Cape Playhouse serves as one of Cape Cod’s most beloved cultural hubs. Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Olympia Dukakis, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, and Betty White are among the famous actors and actresses who played on its historic stage. Known as the “place where Broadway goes to summer,” attending a play at this iconic theater should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Cape Cod Melody Tent
The Cape Cod Melody Tent has been hosting musicians and performers in its theater-in-the-round venue since 1950. Comedy, harmony, music stars, and more entertain nightly beginning in June. Past performers include Louie Armstrong, Gregg Allman, Tony Bennett, and Joan Baez. Catching a performance at this unique venue is the highlight of any trip to Cape Cod.
— NATURE —
Cape Cod National Seashore
The Cape Cod National Seashore, signed into legislation by president John F. Kennedy in 1962, is more than just a national treasure. It’s a destination rife with fragile ecology and unparalleled natural beauty. Within its 43,607 acres lie 40 miles of pristine beaches, protected salt marshes, kettle ponds, lighthouses, and wild cranberry bogs. It was here that Henry David Thoreau wrote, “A man may stand here and put all of America behind him.”
Island Day Trip
On a multi-day trip to Cape Cod, taking a ferry to an offshore island is a delightful way to spend some time. Both Hy-Line Cruises and the Steamship Authority service the islands from their downtown Hyannis locations. Hop aboard a fast ferry for a swift journey across Nantucket Sound to either of these lovely ladies that draw thousands of visitors yearly.
While there is so much more to see and do while vacationing here, these are our top 10 “must-dos” on Cape Cod. Do as much or as little as you like. We’ll keep exploring the nooks and crannies of the place we now call home and finding new things to recommend to our guests at our bed and breakfast on Cape Cod.