The fall is considered the “second summer” at Cape Cod. This is because the weather is still as comfortable as summer during the September-October months but with lesser crowds, as tourists are starting to head back home.
Cape Cod Falls offers comfortable temperatures at 60-70 degrees (sometimes 80). If you’re looking for a quiet vacation away from the crowds and cheaper accommodation, September-October is ideal for visiting. Water is warm enough to swim in these months, and outdoor activities like biking and kayaking are outstanding.
In this post, we’ll discuss why you should consider Cape Cod in the fall, what activities you can do, and what kind of clothes you should pack for your vacation.
Let’s get into it!
What is There to do in Cape Cod in the Fall?
Cape Cod in the Fall is ideal for outdoor pursuits like visiting beaches like the Mayflower, Race Point Beach for watersports, or hiking and biking along trails like the Shining Sea bikeway.
You can camp at parks like the Nickerson State Park or visit museums–like the Sandwich Glass Museum–theaters, or waterparks.
Go to the Beach
Cape Cod is known for its pristine beaches. You can find the warmest waters off the coast of Nantucket Sound or the Old Silver Beach in Falmouth.
Beaches like the Mayflower offer plenty of walking space when the tide is low, so you can go for a stroll with your loved ones or throw a frisbee around with your kids.
Many beaches also offer tidal pools for the little ones to splash around in. You can watch the sunset at Race Point Beach or the sunrise at Ballston Beach. You could survey the boats on the shoreline in Hyannis Harbor or have a picnic on the sand.
During September and early October, water temperatures are comfortable enough–around 70 degrees–to take a dip or swim, but they tend to get colder in November.
Biking and Hiking Trails
Fall is the perfect time for outdoor activities. Cape Cod has a ton of hiking and biking trails that wind through dense forests and marshes and around scenic beaches and ponds.
You could ride along the Shining Sea Bikeway, which drifts along the sparkling waters of Vineyard Sound all the way to the picturesque Woods Hole village.
Grab a bike with the family and set out on the Cape Cod Rail Trail that extends through Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. Take a break at the Nickerson State Park, which comes along the way. The trail ends at the breathtaking National Seashore.
Go hiking along the Beech Forest trail that twists through tall pine and beech trees and passes by shallow ponds. You’ll feel like you’re back in the 17th century, witnessing the land for the first time as the Mayflower did.
Pitch your tent at Nickerson State Park and enjoy the beauty of the pine trees and crystalline ponds, as well as numerous trails where you can bike or hike with the family.
Go to the North of Highland Camping Area in Truro, where you can camp at night and visit the Head of the Meadow Beach during the mornings.
You can have fun kayaking in the Swan River or sailing from Cape Cod Waterways Rental in Yarmouth to the unique Ocean Beach.
Learn a new skill, paddle boarding, at the Cliff Pond in Nickerson State Park.
Follow a natural trail at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, watch the wildlife in the salt marshes, or observe the beauty of rare shorebirds exclusive to Cape Cod. Take a boat ride to a wilderness island.
Watch the seals swim with their pups or visit the Sandy Neck Beach Park with its thousands of acres of dunes and forests, a “living museum” for all to admire.
Speaking of museums, the Heritage Museums and Garden are gorgeous historical landmarks for all who visit the Cape.
Learn about the unique flora and fauna through their public garden, follow the nature trails and observe the natural sights at Cape Cod–like the birds and famous red squirrels.
Drop your kids off in their kiddy park and enjoy the historic and technology-related exhibits–and occasional live musical nights–at the museum.
Take the Kennedy Legacy Trail to get a picture of President Kennedy’s life on Cape Cod and go to the nearby JFK Museum to learn more about their connection with the Cape.
When the weather is less than favorable, take your family to the indoor waterpark at Cape Cod Resort in Hyannis.
The park has four slides, a lazy river, a splash area for the kiddos, 10,000 sq feet of a wave pool, and a hot tub where parents can relax.
What Should I Wear to Cape Cod in the Fall?
Cape Cod temperatures fluctuate a lot during the fall months, which means you should pack for every season. For warmer days, pack a T-shirt and jeans and for colder days keep a sweater or jacket. Add a scarf and hat for even chillier days. Wear close-toed shoes to stay prepared for cold weather and outdoor excursions like hiking.
For those milder September days, having a light sweater or cardigan with your shorts or jeans is a good pick. As it gets colder in October, you could wear a sweatshirt or jacket.
Since Cape Cod also sees a fair amount of rain in the fall months, with late October getting pretty wet, it would be safe to pack a set of waterproof boots and a rain jacket.
Bathing Suit/Wet Suit
The water gets colder in the Fall on Cape Cod, so you should pack a wetsuit if you’re planning on surfing. Bathing suits are necessary if you’re looking forward to swimming.
Sun rays are harmful and even more so in the fall and winter months. UVA Rays can pass through clouds, so it’s essential on cloudy days too.
Pack sunscreen with SPF 30 or above and keep reapplying it as long as you stay outside.
You’ll need these for the beach.
If you plan on going hiking or exploring the natural sights, it’s best if you pack a pair of sneakers or hiking shoes.
8 Reasons to Visit Cape Cod in the Fall
Cape Cod is ideal for visiting during the fall because you can enjoy the sights and beaches without large crowds and with lower room rates. If you want to go whale watching, September and October are the perfect months to visit. Cape Cod in the Fall is also an excellent time to get fresh produce and seafood from seasonal farmers’ markets.
1. Fewer People
September is the time that most tourists are leaving the Cape from the earlier peak season. This means you get to enjoy a peaceful, solitary stroll on the beach with the same comfortable August temperatures.
There are also fewer chances of you getting stuck in traffic, having to navigate your way through the crowded P-town streets, or waiting in long queues for a seat at your favorite restaurant.
2. Cheaper Accommodation
In fall months like October and November, you can end up saving up to 30% on Cape Cod accommodation. Since many people tend to leave around this time, there are ample accommodation options–for everyone from couples to groups to families.
After all, why would you pay more in July and August when you can pay less and get pretty much almost the same weather plus the entire beach to yourself and your family?
3. Beautiful Fall Scenery
The bright reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves against the blue backdrop of the ocean–it doesn’t get more scenic than this. If you drive along Route 6A, you’ll get to see the most picturesque little towns and pastures on the Cape.
The Cape Cod National Seashore offers winding trails that flow through the colorful foliage of a Cape Cod fall.
4. Whale Watching
Whales come to the Cape during the late summer and stay until early fall. The Cape is known worldwide for its unique whale watching tours.
Spot a humpback, fin, minke, or sei whale in the warm coastal waters of this tourist resort. Follow the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch that starts in P-town and is ranked among the best tours on TripAdvisor and Google reviews! Tours typically last for three hours or more.
5. Fall Festivals
Cape Cod loves its festivals and holds many of them throughout the year to keep locals and tourists busy. In fall, they host the Yarmouth Seaside Festival that consists of three days of bonfires, competitions, parades, fairs, and races.
There’s also the theater festival in Provincetown and Wellfleet and seasonal festivals like the Pumpkin, Halloween, and Harvest festivals.
6. Farmers’ Markets
Fall weather gives birth to the fall harvest, which explains the farmers’ markets for this season.
Fresh produce is a staple during the season. You get to purchase everything from fresh corn to apples, tomatoes, and pies. Here’s a schedule of this year’s farmers’ markets so you can get a clear picture of timings and locations.
Many of the Cape’s restaurants also source these fresh ingredients.
7. Sunrises and Sunsets
Fall sunsets and sunrises are the most beautiful of all. This is because the fall months sweep in dry Canadian air, which gives the sky a brighter hue than usual.
An excellent spot to watch the sunrise is Nauset Beach in Orleans, which will show you the eastern shoreline as the Sun slowly drifts above the horizon. Bound Brook Island Beach in Wellfleet is a hidden gem that offers the most spectacular sunsets.
8. Visit a Cranberry Bog
What’s healthier than hand-picking your own fresh fruit? Massachusetts is known for harvesting 1/3rd of the US’s cranberry supply, and the majority of these cranberry bogs are on the Cape.
Take a tour through the cranberry bog for a learning experience, some gorgeous pictures, and your own basket of fresh cranberries!
Is October a Good Time to Visit Martha’s Vineyard?
While Martha’s Vineyard is more popular during the summer, there are many things to do here in the fall too!
Martha’s Vineyard during the fall is ideal for enjoying the Food & Wine and Oyster Festival, as well as seasonal farmers’ markets where you can get locally sourced and fresh produce and seafood. Fishers can take part in the Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby, and weekly antique shows will keep locals busy.
The Food & Wine Festival
A 4-day festival in which you get to enjoy a selection of gourmet meals and fine wines. Visit some of the Vineyard’s most well-known restaurants and get to meet the finest local chefs, farmers, fishermen, and artisans on this 4-day journey of delectable cuisine.
The Oyster Fest at Martha’s Vineyard
A two-day event where you get to taste the local seafood.
The festival celebrates local fishermen and farmers and is an excellent way to show your support for the local fishing industry and practices.
The event features local food trucks and beverages, live music performances, and interactive exhibits that the entire family can enjoy.
The Antique Show at Martha’s Vineyard
Features historic trinkets that you can purchase to enhance the aesthetic at home and keep as a souvenir or just browse to learn more about the Cape.
Watch the Bass & Bluefish Derby
The local derby is a fun way to enjoy fall at the Vineyard.
Initially started to promote tourism in the fall months, the Bass & Bluefish Derby encourages locals and visitors to compete for prizes for capturing the largest fish for each type.
It also has two divisions–one for boat fishing and the other for shore fishing. Proceeds from this derby go towards high school scholarships.
Visit The West Tisbury Farmers Market
The market runs through mid-October.
You get a selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables and local souvenirs that you can take back home. The market consists of 39 vendors, so it functions on a pretty large scale.
Enjoy The Waters!
You can also enjoy the warmer waters of the Vineyard well into October.
Visit some of its most famous beaches at Aquinnah or Chilmark, swim in the seas, or do some watersports.
Bike along the coast of the Vineyard and take in its natural autumn beauty.
Can you Swim in Cape Cod in October?
You can swim warmer waters in Cape Cod in October, especially on Nantucket Sound and Martha’s Vineyard. Water temperatures in the outer banks can go up to 70 degrees which are comfortable for swimming. Moreover, tidal flats on the Bayside have warmer water, while beaches on the Atlantic Ocean side are the coldest.
Cape cod water temperatures oscillate throughout the year. One day they may be warm, and the other, they may be chillier. This is because the wind influences its climate.
The water surface gets warmer in the summer. If there’s no breeze, that warm water stays in place. If there’s an off-shore wind, the warmer water is pushed into the middle of the bay, and an on-shore wind pushes the warm water close to shore.
This is why swimming some days is comfortable and chilly on others. The water is cooler on the Atlantic Ocean-side beaches because of the Labrador Current that passes to the east.
For this reason, the south side beaches like Nantucket Sound are warmer. Water temperatures in Barnstable Beaches can reach the mid-70s even in the early fall months.
If you’re looking for pleasant, mostly summer-y weather without the immense crowds and high hotel rates, early fall is the ideal time to visit Cape Cod. Fall months are the perfect time to carry out outdoor activities like playing on beach sands, soaking in warmer waters, and hiking along the many Cape Cod trails.
Late fall gets cooler but is still mild, and November is colder. As long as you pack a sweater and winter gear, you can still enjoy the weather outside.
Autumn also brings in some of the most vibrant sunsets and sunrises on the Cape. Additionally, the seasonal festivals bring much fun and excitement to the towns.
If you’re planning a vacation this Fall, Cape Cod is the best place to visit. Make a reservation at one of the many affordable accommodations on the Cape and enjoy the colorful foliage and breathtaking views here.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know!