Cape Cod with Kids: 20 Things to Do
Cape Cod is the beach paradise escape within driving distance of many of the Northeast USA’s major cities and towns. Locals and visitors alike can take the 72 minute drive from Boston, MA, the 4 hour drive from New York City, or the five and a half hour drive from Philadelphia to see all that this peninsula has to offer! The many sand filled beaches, cruise options, sweet treats, nature hikes, and family friendly museums are the many reasons you should consider visiting Cape Cod with kids!
20 Things to Do in Cape Cod With Kids
Go For a Bike Ride Along the Shining Sea Bike Trail
The Shining Sea Bike Trail is a 10.7 mile long trail that extends from North Falmouth to Woods Hole. The trail is a flat, paved trail that follows an old railroad trail along the coastline. Along the way you will find access to the shore and when you reach the end you will be rewarded with a quaint town with plenty of restaurants and sweet treats.
You have a couple options for accessing a bike. You can either bring one from home or rent one from the many shops around Falmouth, such as Holiday Cycles of Falmouth Heights or Arts Bike Shop.
Visit the Heritage Museums and Gardens
The Heritage Museums and Gardens, just inside the Cape in Sandwich, is the perfect combination of a relaxing walk through the gardens, entertainment for kids, and for antique car lovers, the Antique Automobile Collection is quite extensive!
Heritage Museums and Gardens offers eight different garden areas with over 100 acres of trees, shrubs, flowers, and statues/sculptures. There is also a small children’s area with a tree house and different stations, such as the water pumping and chalk board areas, for learning and fun! The maze garden was also a big hit with the kids! Visit the Antique Automobile Collection and your child and sit in a real Ford Model T, a great photo op!
Explore the Cape Cod Children’s Museum
The name alone says it all! The Cape Cod Children’s Museum is the perfect attraction for a rainy day when visiting Cape Cod with kids. The museum offers plenty of hands on exhibits that combine learning, imagination, and fun. You will also find several different activities throughout the day, such as arts and crafts, sing-a-longs, and stories. The Cape Cod Children’s Museum is best suited for younger children, up to the age of 6.
Go on a Whale Watch
The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary sits just about 30 miles off the Northern coast of Cape Cod, making it an easily reachable and popular site for whale watching. The Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch is a great option for sighting these majestic creatures and observing them as they play naturally. The cruise leaves from Provincetown and treats you to views of the shoreline, famous P-town sand dunes, and lighthouses. Both the boat ride and watching the whales bob up and down out of the water will be a great experience for the kiddos!
Looking to get out on the water a little more independently? Consider renting a boat, such as these from Get My Boat, and you will be able to explore the waters surrounding Cape Cod at your own pace!
Take the Cape Cod Potato Chip Tour
Located in Hyannis, the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory offers a free tour with free chips-how can you go wrong? If you have ever seen and tried the Cape Cod Kettle Chips with the image of the Nauset Lighthouse on the bag, you will understand why they went from a local sensation to being sold around the world. Visitors to the factory can take a self-guided tour to see how these chips are made and packaged. The tour ends in the gift ship with souvenirs for purchase and a free sample of the chips! Kids of any age are always welcome on the tour, making this a fun activity when visiting Cape Cod with kids.
Walk the Streets of Provincetown
The streets of Provincetown, the northernmost tip of Cape Cod, are lined with restaurants and quaint shops for souvenir shopping. You can find plenty of Cape Cod themed gifts and local, handmade and unique gifts. There is an old fashioned candy shop and a toy shop that are sure to catch your child’s attention. On Commercial Street you will find the Bob Gasoi Memorial Art Alley. Children and adults alike will enjoy walking through the small alley and admiring the artwork, many of which depict common children fairy tales including Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Wonderland.
Learn About Great Whites at the Chatham Shark Center
The Chatham Shark Center will take you under the waters surrounding Cape Cod and introduce you to the Great White Sharks that have made the area their home. You can take a guided tour of the museum where you will learn about the history of the sharks in the area, ongoing White Shark research, and the role of the Great White Sharks in the ecosystem. The Chatham Shark Center is hosted by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, an organization supporting further research on White Sharks and Grey Seals.
Go Lighthouse Hunting
Cape Cod is home to many lighthouses, some of which you can get up close with and others than can be observed from a distance. There are many lighthouses that you are able to tour, including the Nauset Light, Chatham Light, Highland Lighthouse, and occasionally the Nobska Lighthouse. Race Point Lighthouse is one of the most difficult to reach but one of the most rewarding. It sits on the tip of the cape and requires either a 45 minute walk along the coastline or a permit for an oversand 4-wheel drive vehicle. Because of this, you will often find less crowds and have access to a secluded beach area.
Take a Day Trip to Martha’s Vineyard
The well known Martha’s Vineyard is easily reachable from Cape Cod and in under an hour’s time! Ferries are available in multiple areas throughout Cape Cod, including Hyannis, Woods Hole, and Falmouth. Once in Martha’s Vineyard you can enjoy riding the oldest merry-go-round in the United States, hitting the beach, lighthouse viewing, visit some Alpacas at Island Alpaca, explore the Felix Neck Wildlife Refuge, and walk through Mytoi, a Japanese garden.
Go On a Seal Cruise
Monomoy Cruise Excursions offers an excellent hour and a half tour that will bring you up close to lounging and swimming gray seals, past three lighthouses, and the possibility of seeing sea birds and other forms of wild life. The cruise includes a live narrator providing information about the area and wild life spotted. The tour is best for children over the age of 4.
Hit the Beach
This one goes without saying while in Cape Cod. Surrounded on three sides by water, it is only natural that a good portion of a Cape Cod getaway would be spent at the beach. Beach options are endless and range from crowded areas, more secluded beaches, and private resort beaches. Depending on what you are looking for, do a little research and find the perfect beach for you when visiting Cape Cod with kids.
Some of the best beaches for kids are Macaroni Beach in Wellfleet with its pristine sand and beautiful shoreline, Race Point Beach, a more secluded and less crowded beach with restrooms and showers, Mayflower Beach in Dennis for tide pools, a small boardwalk, lifeguards, and restrooms, and the large Craigsville Beach in Centerville with plenty of space to spread out, lifeguards, restrooms, and a nearby snack bar.
Cape Cod has no shortage of mini-golf options. Take a break from beach life for an hour or two and enjoy a game of mini-golf, surrounded by your choice of unique settings, including Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, Skull Island, Wild Animal Lagoon, and Cape Escape Mini Golf. You can even combine a trip to Skull Island mini golf with some go-karting, batting cages, and an arcade.
Go Off-Roading with Art’s Dune Tours
Art’s Dunes Tours is a unique, fun, and family friendly way to experience the famous P-town sand dunes. Art’s Dune Tours will take you through the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District Sand Dunes, past Pilgrim Lake, and past the famous artists’ dune shacks. The tour is lead by a knowledgeable tour guide who will provide you with an overview of the history and importance of the area. For the tour you will sit inside a comfortable SUV that holds up to 6.
There are multiple tour options, including a one hour daytime tour, two hour sunset tour, and dune and water tours (combining a sand dune experience with a water activity such as kayaking).
Visit the Whydah Pirate’s Museum
Any pirate lovers out there? If so, the Whydah Pirate Museum is the perfect spot to not only learn about pirates, but to see actual pirate treasures. Older children will enjoy learning about pirates and the history of the Whydah shipwreck, while younger children can enjoy a scavenger hunt in the museum. The museum offers many exhibits, a partial replica of the Whydah Gally, and Sea lab and Learning Center.
Fly a Kite
The ocean wind sets the perfect scene for kite flying. Cape Cod has no shortage of kite shops, so if you don’t remember to bring one with you, you can easily purchase one. Many of the beaches in Cape Cod are less crowded at night time, especially the less popular ones, so you will find plenty of room for kite flying for the kids and a relaxing spot for you to sit and enjoy the evening.
Some of the best places to find kites in Cape Cod are Dr. Gravity’s Kite Shop in Harwich Port, The Kite Store in Provincetown, The Kite Site in West Dennis, and The Red Balloon Toy Shop is Mashpee/Orleans.
Bounce at the Cape Cod Inflatable Park
The Cape Cod Inflatable Park, located in West Yarmouth, is any child’s heaven. The park contains an inflatable zone and challenge zone, so the park will entertain all ages. For older children, they can enjoy the tight rope, trapeze, zip rope, and rock climbing wall in the Challenge Zone, while younger kids an enjoy the classic inflatables, racing, soccer, and more! The park also has some water rides for those looking to cool down on a hot summer day, including a lazy river, Lilypad Pool, Little Lad Lagoon with 2 slides and a small pool for younger children, and three large inflatable water slides. You won’t want to miss the inflatable park when visiting Cape Cod with kids.
Catch the Cape Cod Sunset
Cape Cod is known as a great spot to catch a sunset, especially on the tip of the Cape facing West. What better way to end the day than with a family picnic on one of Cape Cod’s beaches with the sound of crashing waves in the background and a colorful mixture lighting up the sky?
Some of the best spots on Cape Cod for sunset viewing include Race Point Beach in Provincetown, Gray’s Beach in Yarmouthport, Old Silver Beach in Yarmouth, Sandy Neck Beach Park, Barnstable, Skaket Beach, Orleans, Herring Cove in Provincetown, and Lieutenant Island, Wellfleet.
Catch A Film Under the Stars at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theater
The Wellfleet Drive-In Theater is the last remaining drive-in theater on the Cape and one of only 300 remaining throughout the country. Watch a movie from the comfort of your car or bring a blanket and spread out in the grass while enjoying a movie under the stars with the sound coming through the car’s radio. There is a concession stand as well for you to get some tasty treats, popcorn, and drinks.
Explore the Cape Cod National Seashore
The Cape Cod National Seashore is a forty mile long stretch of sandy beaches, marshes, ponds, lighthouses, walking trails, and wild cranberry bogs on the Atlantic facing eastern shore of Cape Cod. The seashore is full of great, family friendly beaches, including Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Beach and the Nauset Light, and Macaroni Beach.
Aside from the beaches you will find plenty of walking trails, the Salt Pond Visitor Center, the Wellfleet Drive-In Theater, the Three Sisters Lighthouses, Doane Rock, the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the White Cedar Swamp, Highland Light, and plenty of restaurants, ice cream parlors, and candy & toy stores.
Explore the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History combines fun, learning, and appreciation of the natural environment. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History contains over ten exhibits that explore the natural world, including an aquarium, honey bee exhibit, The Cape Takes Shape exhibit highlighting the history of the peninsula, the Naturescape Gallery that highlights local artists and artists around New England, and more! The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is the perfect way to spend a rainy day when visiting Cape Cod with kids or to escape from the summer heat for a bit.
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