Many of us live year round on the Cape but only make it a point to get out and explore when out of town guests come to visit. A great New Year’s resolution is to explore your own backyard or start planning for your 2024 vacation on the Cape. To help you reach this goal we have chosen checklist of 24 beautiful spots to visit on Cape Cod and the islands. These spots ranging from the iconic to esoteric, in total add up to what makes the Cape and the islands so unique.
24 Beautiful Spots to Visit on Cape Cod :
Below are 24 beautiful spots on Cape Cod and the islands. See how many of these not-to-miss locations you have already visited and start making plans to complete the list in the coming year!
1. Cape Cod National Seashore
John F. Kennedy considered the Cape Cod National Seashore one of the most beautiful spots in Cape Cod you should visit so he designated it a national park in 1961. The 40-mile coastline includes many notable beaches like Race Point, Nauset Beach, Herring Cove, and Marconi Beach.
You can hike, bike, and explore the entire area. Be sure to stay until sunset when the sky comes alive with brilliant colors. You should also stop at one of the visitor centers which are filled with interesting information about the area.
The Cape Cod National Seashore is open year-round, but you can only park in the parking lots from 6 a.m. to midnight.
2. Heritage Museums & Gardens
The Heritage Museums & Gardens is home to 100 lush gardens that attract nature lovers from around the world. In the spring, the gardens are afire with blooming rhododendrons. If you have children, then you’ll want to stop at the two-acre Hidden Hollow which is home to a sensory garden and other fun kid stuff. The Antique Automobile Collection is a must-see for any car enthusiast. In addition, the museum is also home to American Folk and a lovely antique carousel that was entirely hand carved.
3. Cape Cod Rail Trail
If you enjoy horseback riding, rollerblading, or biking then you’ll want to check out the 25 miles of paved trail at Cape Cod Rail Trail. It runs through the Lower Cape’s ecosystem and is home to beaches, ponds, and wildlife. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of places to grab lunch or a snack. You can also take the time to explore smaller Cape villages along the way.
4. Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
There are 7,600 acres of protected dunes, a lighthouse, and salt/freshwater marshes that are home to an abundance of wildlife and migratory seabirds. The harbor has an outstanding grey seal population. The seals regularly play, mate, and lounge around the shoreline. You can enjoy a guided tour, pick up a self-guided map or simply explore the beach on your own. If you have any questions, the staff at the welcome center are always happy to answer your queries.
5. Cornelia Carey Sanctuary (The Knob)
Located in the Falmouth village of Woods Hole, you will find the Cornelia Carey Sanctuary, locally known as the Knob. This serene walk in nature offers wooded trails along the coastline with spectacular views of Buzzards Bay.
The Knob, which hugs the warm waters of Quissett Harbor, is also an ideal habitat for waterfowl and other birds. The path, is only about a mile long, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic on the sandy shores of adjacent Crescent Beach.
6. Cahoon Hollow Beach
If you love rolling landscapes, then Cahoon Hollow Beach is one of the most beautiful spots in Cape Cod. The beach is located on the Outer Cape. The waves are a favorite for boogie board riders and surfers. If you have children, then they will love making sandcastles in the soft sand. Stop by the Beachcomber Restaurant to enjoy fresh seafood and live music. During the night hours, you are allowed to build bonfires on the beach, but you will need a permit.
7. Downtown Provincetown
Part of the charm of Cape Cod is the communities that provide opportunities for shopping and dining. Downtown Provincetown is not only filled with boutiques and restaurants but also one of the most beautiful spots in Cape Cod. Iconic trolleys run along the roadway and the streets are decked out with fluttering rainbow flags that embrace the town’s large LGBTQ population. The side streets are filled with quaint cottages and bed and breakfasts. You can explore the pier and check out the many stands put in place by local artisans.
8. Chatham Fish Pier
Another lovely spot to visit in Cape Cod is the Chatham Pier where you can watch the fishing boats come in and off-load the day’s catch. The fishy waters attract seals and many other marine animals that can be observed from the deck. Make time to enjoy a lobster roll or fried clams at the Chatham Pier Fish Market or pick up the fresh catch of the day to take home.
9. Race Point Beach in Provincetown
Race Point Beach in Provincetown provides picturesque views of Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. There are miles of shoreline to explore. On occasion, you can see whales in the distance. If you enjoy biking, then take a bike ride along the Province Lands Bike Trail which leads to Herring Cove. The iconic Race Point Lighthouse is also available for over night stays.
10. Truro Vineyards
Truro Vineyards is a lovely vineyard where you can enjoy a picnic on the outstandingly manicured grounds, take a tour, and enjoy tastings. There is also an onsite gift shop where you can purchase wines and gourmet foods. Choose from Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cayuga, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Zinfandel.
11. Sandwich Glass Museum
Sandwich is the oldest town in Cape Cod, and it is well known as a hub for glass making. The Sandwich Glass Museum is one of the most beautiful spots in Cape Cod. It is housed in a darling red brick building located in the heart of Main Street. The company’s history dates to 1825 and the company were in operation until 1888. Today, the museum is filled with over 6,000 glass items such as candlesticks, perfume bottles, vases, tableware, and lamps.
12. Lobster Roll Cruise
Seeing Cape Cod from the water is necessary to truly appreciate the beauty of the area. The Lobster Roll Cruise, which sets sail from Jesuit Harbor in Dennis, is a great excursion to take with your out-of-town guests to show them the beauty of Cape and the stunning sunset, while they enjoy an iconic New England lobster roll. Cruises run from May to October.
13. Pilgrim Monument
The Pilgrim Monument was built from 1907 to 1910 and is the tallest granite structure in the United States. It consists of 116 steps that rise to 252 feet in the air. The monolith gives you outstanding views of Provincetown and the surrounding region. At the base, you can explore the Pilgrim Monument Museum.
14. John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is a lovely historical museum that holds photographs texts and artifacts of John F. Kennedy. At the Museum Store, you’ll find many Kennedy souvenirs.
15. Vincent House
Built in the 1670s, Vincent House in Edgartown is one of the most beautiful spots in Cape Cod if you appreciate historic architecture. The house was built entirely by using medieval England building techniques and designs. Throughout the centuries the home has remained unaltered. It’s a 45-minute ferry ride and you’ll learn what life was like on the island in the last 1600s.
16. Hoxis House
The Hoxis House has the reputation of being one of the oldest Cape Cod homes. It was built during the 1600s. Immediately you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. Originally the home was occupied by a local pastor and his wife. They had 13 children. While exploring the house, you’ll learn about the history of Massachusetts.
17. Cape Playhouse
The Cape Playhouse is a professional playhouse that has been in operation since 1927. Humphrey Bogart once took the stage in Cape Playhouse. Nowadays, the darling theater is known as, “America’s Most Famous Summer Theatre.” Many actors have performed at the playhouse such as Ginger Rogers, Julie Andrews, Betty White, and Bernadette Peters.
18. Nantucket Whaling Museum
The Nantucket Whaling Museum includes permanent and rotating exhibits, nine galleries, a range of artifacts, works of art, and treasures spanning four centuries of the island’s history. Visitors can’t miss the shining Fresnel lens which glitters in the entryway to the Nantucket Whaling Museum.
As visitors walk through the Nantucket Whaling Museum, they’re sure to enjoy the fascinating exhibits detailing the timeline of whaling and in concert the development of Nantucket. Gosnell Hall is unmissable with the looming skeleton of a sperm whale hanging from the ceiling, and features mock sections of notable whaling ships including the Essex and the Georgia.As you proceed through the museum you’ll spot the restored 1847 Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle Factory, featuring the impressive two-story beam press used to extract oil. There’s also lots of fascinating information on the island’s other industries, from cranberries and wind powered grist mills to straw hat works and baskets woven by men stationed aboard light ships!
19. Coast Guard Beach
Eastham’s Coast Guard Beach is located on the Outer Cape. You can not only enjoy the lovely but also explore the beautiful former coast guard station and explore the historical building and grounds. The region is also home to a wide assortment of birds and perfect for birdwatching on Cape Cod.
There are 16 lighthouses in the area but only a few are open to the public. Explore the lighthouses at Nobska Point, Chatham, Nauset, and Race Point. If you are looking for one of the most beautiful spots in Cape Cod for photography or exploration, then these lighthouses fit the description.
21. Cahoon Museum
If you are a fan of American art then you’ll want to head to the village of Cotuit on Cape Cod to check out the Cahoon Museum of American Art. At the museum, you’ll have the opportunity to see inspiring art exhibitions both inside and outside the museum. The museum is home to a vast collection of American art that dates from the 18th century to contemporary art.
This unique museum was originally the home and studio of Cape Cod folk artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon. In 1945 the Cahoons purchased and restored the 1782 Crocker homestead which is now the home of the Cahoon Museum.
22. Dinner Train
The train provides a first-class dining experience with an extensive menu of options, including a fresh five-course gourmet meal that varies according to the season.
Besides, it’s designed in an old-style way with high ceilings and leather seats. So, it’s perfect for any romantic occasion or just to get away from the hustle-bustle of your daily life!
23. MV Gingerbread Houses
These fairy tale like cottages are one of the most famous architectural sites on the island. Brightly colored, these Victorian cottages stand as reminiscent of the candy and gingerbread house in the story of “Hansel and Gretel.”
And you will be surprised to know; these cottages have a very humble origin. Back in the 1800s, the area around Oaks Bluffs was used for annual religious meetings and retreats by a group of Methodists.
Initially, the group slept in tents. But, over time, when the meetings became more frequent and widespread, they wanted permanent houses to support them.
Due to this need, 500 charming cottages in the architectural style of “Carpenter’s Gothic” was built. Today, only 300 gingerbread cottages remain in the campground, but they are still as magical as before.
24. Take a Cruise in the Cape Cod Canal
This may be the most enjoyable New Year’s resolution that you’ve ever kept. With miles of beaches, boutiques, restaurants, museums, art galleries, and more, you’ll find plenty of amazing places to visit on Cape Cod, to keep you busy when vacationing at New England’s premier destination.