The Best Activities for Seniors on Cape Cod and the Islands
By: Joan Davis
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket are great places for seniors! Whether you’re visiting, summering, or moving here to retire, the Cape and islands have plenty to offer its older residents and visitors. Thanks to the coastal location of the Cape, the climate is more moderate than other spots in New England. The surrounding ocean prevents extremes of heat and cold, and while it does snow in the winter, it generally does not accumulate too much. As those who have vacationed on the Cape will know, the summer months are busy, filled with people and a bustle of activity. Those who retire on the Cape will find the winter months to be quieter, with some establishments closed. Many enjoy walks on the beach in the off season when the crowds are down and enjoy the quiet reprieve of the colder months.
Walking or Biking the Numerous Seaside or Wooded Trails
For seniors looking to stay active the Cape and Islands have plenty of walking opportunities. From paved paths to wooded walks, and of course beaches, seniors will enjoy strolling any time of year. For paved paths consider walking or biking along the Shining Sea Bikeway, the Cape Cod Rail Trail, the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway, or the Cape Cod Provincelands Trail. There’s no shortage of great wooded walks of varied lengths, from the primordial feeling boardwalks of the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail in Wellfleet to the stunning scenery of The Knob in Wood Hole and countless other gems. Then of course there are the beaches! From sandy shorelines to daunting dunes, even beach walking comes with plenty of variety. Enjoy the calm waters and large tidal flats of bayside beaches or the crashing surf and bobbing seals of the ocean-side beaches. Many feature iconic lighthouses that are worth a visit.
Many Cape towns have walking groups- a perfect way to make new friends or chat with old friends while enjoying the fresh air. Many land trusts and conservation groups also organize walks and other events like kayaking and birding trips that are a good way to meet people with similar interests and to learn more about the environment in your backyard. Birdwatching is a great way to get outdoors and appreciate the wide range of species that call the Cape home or pass through seasonally.
The Cape also has lots of opportunities to stay fit participating in athletics. There are plenty of great tennis courts and golf courses for seniors to enjoy. Many sports feature senior leagues, from tennis tournaments to softball and hockey leagues.
Participating in the Thriving Arts and Culture Scene
To keep your mind active the Cape also has a thriving arts and culture scene for seniors to enjoy. From the plethora of art museums and galleries to performing arts centers, there is lots of creativity happening on the Cape. Enjoy a day perusing the works of classic and contemporary Cape inspired artists at the Cape Cod Museum of Art or Provincetown Art Association and Museum, or channel your own creativity with an art class or workshop. The Cotuit Center for the Arts offers a wide range of classes spanning writing, ceramics, painting, photography, music, and more! The Cape Cod Museum of Art also works with the Alzheimer’s Family Support Center of Cape Cod to put on art workshops for people with memory loss and their caregivers.
Museums and Historical Sights with a Glimpse into the Past
Cape Cod also has plenty of museums and historical sights providing a fascinating glimpse into the past and different aspects of Cape life. Several museums on Cape Cod and the Islands dive into the region’s maritime roots including Cape Cod Maritime Museum, the two locations of the Whydah Pirate Museum, the Nantucket Whaling Museum, the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center, the Coast Guard Heritage Museum, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and more. The Wampanoag Indian Museums in Mashpee and Aquinnah Cultural Center tell the stories of the original inhabitants of the Cape who still call the region home. Other museums explore natural history, the Kennedy legacy on the Cape, the region’s glass making industry, and focus on the thriving marine science happening in Woods Hole. Retirees have the freedom to explore the museum and plethora of historic houses and sites on their own time, and don’t need to pack them all into a week the way vacationers might. Consider following the Cape Cod Museum Trail or plan to visit all 22 lighthouses on Cape Cod and the Islands.
Retirees will also benefit from the stellar restaurant and beverage scene on Cape Cod and the Islands. From the wide range of upscale restaurants to plenty of classic seafood flavors there’s always a new spot to try! As year-round residents know, many of your favorite spots will close up shop for the winter months, so you’ll want to take full advantage in the summer season!
Those looking to keep busy and contribute to the community will find plenty of volunteer opportunities with a range of worthy causes. From arts centers to environmental organizations to church groups and more lots of organizations benefit from the generous time given by volunteers.
Retiring on Cape Cod
For those looking to spend their golden years on Cape Cod, there are plenty of paths to take. Whether you’re staying in your own home or taking advantage of the range of assisted living, retirement communities, in-home care options, and nursing homes there are options to meet your needs. The Cape also has a great healthcare system. If you live on Cape Cod year-round or are planning to retire or summer here but need some home modifications to make your stay more comfortable, consider seeking out a contractor who is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. Many Cape communities also have active councils on aging and senior centers that provide resources, transportation, housing, and healthcare assistance, as well as a way to get involved with the community.