Our recent family trip took us out to Cape Cod. It seemed like a perfect place to visit since we were learning about the Pilgrims this past year in our homeschool. Cape Cod is one of those places families yearn to spend time there during the summer. This hook-shaped land juts out into the Atlantic Ocean offering an unbelievable amount of miles of coastline to explore and enjoy.
Not only can you access the Atlantic coast while visiting Cape Cod, but you can explore Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, and Vineyard Sound. Kids can collect seashells, go fishing, collect clams, visit lighthouses, watch sunsets on the beach, have a picnic, take a ferry to an island, really the list just goes on.
While we were there we rented a house through Airbnb and spent a week out on the Cape. The house was so much better then any hotel could have ever been. It was a huge house, and the owners provided almost every amenity we could have ever asked for. Now, I do not think we will ever stay in a hotel with the kids for more than a day or two.
If you were to ask me a week isn’t enough. While we only spend a week on the Cape our vacation was 10 days long. We drove all the way from West Michigan, stopped in Niagra Falls on the way there for a night. Then on the way home, we stopped on Staton Island and visited the Statue Of Liberty and stayed in Ohio.
In total, we drove for 2,270 miles which were a total of 45 hours. There were 11 people in our 12 passenger van for a full ride. We drove through 8 different states and 1 country. It was an amazing trip full of a ton of wonderful memories. My only tip to you would be not to drive through the Bronx during rush hour with a 12 passenger van pulling a trailer. It was memorable, to say the least, and yes I’m glad to still be alive after that drive whew. I might also extend the trip out to 14 days to be able to spend more time on the Cape, but 10 days gave us a good amount of time to at least be able to get a good idea of the areas beauty!
Between all the research we did before leaving for our trip and from being there I have managed to put together a list of some of the great things to do out on the Cape. With there being 11 of us, we tried to keep everything as inexpensive as possible. There is an amazing amount of inexpensive or free things to do on Cape Cod, you just have to find and utilize them.
Explore the salt flats
Go and explore the salt flats particularly the Brewster Tidal Flats, which are one of the widest expanse tidal flats in the world at 12,000 acres. It extends from Brewster to North Eastham for a total of 9 miles. We visited Breakwater Beach and spent a couple hours exploring it is one of the only beaches along the flats that doesn’t require a parking permit. It is quite the amazing phenomenon and shows just how amazing nature really is. It was really amazing to see just how far the flats go down during low tide. You will get the chance to see lots of great creatures including multiple different types of crabs, birds, and so much more. In order to find out exactly when low and high tide is use this website with the tides.
Old Fashioned General Store
While you are in Brewster visiting the salt flats be sure to stop into the Brewster General Store it has been around since 1866. They have some great souvenirs, some unique gifts, and more. The kids had a fun time picking out some candy here. Their front porch would be a perfect place to eat some of their ice cream.
Visit Light Houses
While our home state of Michigan has an unbelievable amount of lighthouses, Cape Cod has 14 beautiful lighthouses to visit as well. We managed to pass by Sandy Neck Lighthouse on a boat while we were on our whale watching tour. We also visited the Nauset Lighthouse while spending the afternoon swimming at Nauset Light Beach. The kids enjoyed swimming at this beach and visiting the lighthouse. While we were here we were able to watch seals swimming just off of the shore, which was so fun to watch.
One well-known thing to do while in Cape Cod is to ride your bike. You can ride trails that go by the ocean, the salt flats, cranberry bogs, farms, forests, and so many other great sceneries. This may be one of the best ways to see the many scenic views of the Cape. There are many bike-friendly trails around, but one of the favorite trails to ride your bike through is the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Here is a great list of different biking trails, and it is pretty helpful when deciding what trail to take.
Walk The Boardwalks
Hike the Sandwich Boardwalk in Sandwich where you will walk by a creek, marshes, and dunes. It is also a favorite for locals, a “must visit” attraction and it is even included a top 10 US boardwalk according to National Geographic. There is also the Bass Mouth Boardwalk in Yarmouth where you will get some amazing views of the salt marshes.
One of our most favorite stops during our trip was to the Chatham Fishing Pier. It was a free stop and everyone had so much fun! We came in the evening, so all of the boats were in for the day. Mainly because we didn’t know what time to be there. Just as an FYI the boats start coming in at noon. People told us if you get there when the boats come in for the day there are TONS of seals there to get the fish. Even though we were there later, it made for some amazing sunset photos. There was even a seal who still came to visit us and was putting on quite the performance, even though the fishermen weren’t there to hand out goodies to them. Not only did we get to see a seal, we also were able to watch a couple jellyfish floating along the top of the water. While you are there (if you get there early enough) grab one of the world-renowned lobster rolls, a cup of fresh clam chowder, or some fish and chips from the Chatham Pier Fish Market.
Walk The Trails
There are a ton of different walking trails found throughout Cape Cod. Some of them go through salt marshes, others are boardwalks out to lighthouses, others yet. One of the most talked about the trail is through the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge where if you avoid high tide you will be able to walk for miles and find tons of shells. This is a pretty great list of some of the best hiking trails found on the Cape.
Spending the day at one of the many beautiful beaches in Cape Cod is probably a favorite activity. Kids love playing in the sand and water parents enjoy the calm and relaxing day. There are so many beaches to choose from you could spend an entire summer visiting the beaches of Cape Cod. Most of the beaches you will have to pay an entrance fee, so they are not free per-say, but the cost is rather inexpensive you can pay per visit or just pay for a season pass if you will be visiting many of the beaches. Here is an extensive list of beaches, their costs, what amenities each of them have and more. You could also visit these beaches that not many know about or visit Bound Brook Island Beach in Wellfleet, Thumpertown Beach in Eastham, and Forest Street Beach in Chatham.
Go on Whale Watching Tour
During certain time of the year, the whales migrate. When they migrate they pass right along the coast of Cape Cod. During other times they come to the area to have their calves. This was one of the things we decided to pay to go on and boy were we ever glad we did. It was so much fun and we saw many different whales while out. They even have a money back guarantee where you are guaranteed to see a whale or will give you your money back.
There are a ton more ideas on things to do while visiting Cape Cod You can head over to Pinterest and find many more. Matter of fact when I am planning a trip what I do is make a secret board and pin places that we want to visit onto the board.