My family has been visiting Cape Cod every summer for my whole life. Now my parents live full time on the Cape and I bring my kids for at least two weeks a summer. There is no shortage of things to do with kids on the Cape in the summer! Below is my list of the top activities and places to visit while on vacation.
Go to the Beach
No visit to Cape Cod is complete without a visit to the beach. From the National Seashore to the Salt ponds, Cape Cod is famous for the variety of beaches to visit. Families with younger kids will love Yarmouth and Dennis town beaches. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket protect these beaches so they stay relatively calm with no riptides or large waves. Kids will enjoy the warm water, soft sand, and abundance of hermit crabs. Amenities include lifeguards, concessions, and bathrooms.
Looking for waves? Visit Nauset Beach or Coast Guard Beach both part of the National Seashore. Here you’ll find the quintessential large dunes, sandy beaches, and big waves you probably associate with Cape Cod. Warning though, it does get busy during the summer and the parking lots fill up quickly. Plan to go early or wait until the crowds dissipate in the late afternoon. Amenities include lifeguards and bathrooms. Remember to bring these 7 essentials in your beach bag!
There are many, many places to play mini-golf on Cape Cod ranging from old-fashioned putt-putt to modern behemoths complete with waterfalls and sound effects. By far our favorite is Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf in South Yarmouth, Ma where we have our annual family mini-golf battle. Pirate’s Cove is so popular that there are two courses. I prefer the front course, but both are equal in difficulty and creativity. If you really want to avoid the crowds go during a sunny day when everyone else is on the beach. Otherwise, prep your kids for a bit of a wait. There is so much to look at, though; I find most kids are fine with the brief delay.
If the crowds are just too much for you, we also like Skull Island, which is just down the street. It’s not quite as detailed as Pirate’s Cove but it’s still a fun mini-golf experience.
Cape Cod Inflatable Park
This only opened a few years ago and it quickly gained a massive following. Cape Cod Inflatable Park has four areas: toddler area, dry inflatables, wet rides, and the American Ninja Warrior-esque challenge course. My kids go so often we buy the season pass that pays for itself in three visits. There are several great things about this park. First, the kids are exhausted when we leave. Second, they sell beer and wine to parents. Yes, your kids can play while you kick back and sip a glass of wine! Third, the attendants have always been attentive and polite. This is definitely one of my kids’ favorite places. Plan a visit for a cloudy, cool day or later in the afternoon after the beach.
Eat Ice Cream
You can’t leave Cape Cod without sampling at least one of the many homemade ice cream shops. In fact, you should probably eat ice cream every night you are there. You know, for research purposes. 🙂 We have three favorite ice cream shops on the Cape: Cape Cod Creamery, The Lil’ Caboose, and Sundae School. All three serve amazing, creamy ice cream in about a thousand different flavors!
Watch a Cape Cod Baseball League Game
The Cape Cod Baseball League is the premier amateur league in the country. Founded in 1885, over 1100 CCBL alumni have played in the MLB. We love going to CCBL games to meet tomorrow’s baseball stars. For years, my brother would have every player he could sign a baseball for him. Many of those players went on to play on his favorite MLB teams! We always make time to go to at least one CCBL game per trip. The games are free, low-key entertainment on a nice evening.
Bike the Cape Cod Rail Trail
The Cape Cod Rail Trail follows 22 miles of the former railroad through Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. The route is paved and any street crossings are well marked. The first three miles from the South Dennis (Rte. 134) entrance offer plenty of opportunities to picnic, stop for an ice cream or detour off the trail to explore towns. Most of the route is shady and the scenery is beautiful. My kids especially love seeing the cranberry bogs near the South Dennis entrance. If you don’t want to bring your bike, you can rent one right on the trail.
Go on a Whale Watch
Who doesn’t want to see whales on their vacation? Whale watch tours remain one of the most popular attractions on Cape Cod. Two of the most popular tours are Dolphin Fleet from Provincetown and the Hyannis Whale Watch tours from Hyannis. Both offer tours multiple times a day and have comparable rates. I lean toward Dolphin Fleet from Provincetown only because it gives me an excuse to visit Provincetown, which is a colorful, eclectic town with a number of adorable shops.
Cape Cod Pirate Adventures
If you have young kids who aren’t quite ready for a three to four-hour whale watching tour, I highly recommend the Cape Cod Pirate Adventures in Hyannis. Crew decorates each child with temporary tattoos and pirate vests before embarking on a swashbuckling adventure on board the Sea Gypsy of Hyannis Harbor! There are lots of activities for little ones on board including water cannons and maps to decipher. The crew really makes the adventure fun with their energy and enthusiasm.
Visit Chatham Lighthouse and Nauset Lighthouse
Chatham Light was built in 1808 as two wooden lighthouses. They were replaced in 1877 by towers built of cast iron rings and one was moved to Eastham to become Nauset Light in 1923. Today, Chatham Light is a functioning Coast Guard office. They offer tours seasonally every Wednesday from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. The views alone are worth the trip to see this Lighthouse and you can visit the small beach here as well.
Nauset Light was originally located in Chatham and moved to Eastham in 1923. The Nauset Light Preservation Society successfully petitioned to have the light moved again in 1996 to protect it from coastal erosion. Both Nauset Light and Chatham Light are registered on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open for tours seasonally on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 4:30 pm. Tours are free!
Watch a Movie at Wellfleet Drive-in Theater
There are only 330 or so drive-in theaters left in the United States. Thankfully, the Wellfleet Cinema Drive-In has survived the passage of time! It offers a double feature every night in the summer. The first movie is at about 8:20 pm and is usually suitable for kids. The second movie starts around 9:55 pm. Bring cash. They do not accept credit cards for the entry fee. I advise you to get there early to get a good parking spot! There is a playground and grassy area to play in while you wait for the show.
These are my Top 10 things to do with kids on Cape Cod in the summer! Have you been to the Cape? What are your favorite things to do there?