While you can’t beat a sunny day on a Cape Cod beach, some days are bound to be grey, foggy, and wet. Even when the weather isn’t ideal, there’s still plenty to do on the Cape and Islands. So, grab your raincoat, pull on some rain boots, and enjoy!
Here are ten ideas perfect for a stormy day:
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket offer plenty of museums on a wide range of topics. Learn about the lightships that marked dangerous shoals on days with thick fog and rough seas on a visit to the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis or explore the Golden Age of Piracy, learning about the fateful storm that sunk the Whydah and its infamous pirate captain Bellamy at the Whydah Pirate Museum in Yarmouth.
On the islands, learn about lighthouses and the whaling industry at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum or the Nantucket Whaling Museum. A number of historic houses on the Cape and Islands offer glimpses into the past. The Mashpee Wampanoag Museum and Aquinnah Cultural Center both offer perspectives from the indigenous inhabitants of Cape Cod and the Islands.
Cape Cod and the Islands are well known for their thriving arts scene, both historically and today. From the dreamy pastoral scenes of the Outer Cape painted by Edward Hopper to the unique paintings and photography of current Cape artists on display at the Cape Cod Museum of Art or Provincetown Art Association & Museum. In addition to the museums the Cape and Islands offer plenty of private art galleries for visitors to peruse.
Bowling & Arcades
If members of your group might find a museum or gallery tedious, consider spending a rainy day at one of the many bowling alleys or arcades on Cape Cod and the Islands. There’s sure to be fun for all with candlepin and ten pin bowling options and a range of classic arcade games.
While the water pours down outdoors lace up your skates and take advantage of the many ice rinks on Cape Cod and the Islands that offer public skating times! Many have skates available to rent. Kids and adults will have a great time gliding around the rink. Hockey lovers will also enjoy the stick and puck times.
Either visit a theater or curl up at home base with a good film on a rainy day! Many Cape and Island theaters show new releases, and there is at least one classic drive in, though this is probably best saved for a clear night. If you’re watching a movie at your home or home base for vacation, consider picking something to watch with Cape or Island ties!
From the familiar Martha’s Vineyard sights in Jaws to the daring Coast Guard rescue out of Chatham in The Finest Hours, there are plenty of films with Cape and Island scenery and stories. The Light Keepers sports the iconic Race Point Lighthouse and the dunes of the Outer Cape as a backdrop, while Chappaquiddick explores the tragic accident and fallout that put the quiet island into the national spotlight. Beyond these there are plenty of classic films and contemporary rom-coms, horror films and more that are set in or filmed on Cape Cod and the Islands.
Curl up with a good book!
What better way to spend a rainy afternoon than curling up on the couch with a page-turner? Just as there are plenty of films that explore Cape Cod and Island stories, there is an even wider array of books.
Nathaniel Philbrook’s In the Heart of the Sea details the doomed Nantucket whaling ship, Essex, and the sperm whale that sunk the ship. The mythology of the sperm whale and the Essex inspired Hermin Mellville’s Moby Dick.
The Finest Hours recounts the daring rescue conducted by Chatham Coastguardsmen in the blizzard of 1952 and is a gripping story. The recently released, Why Fish Don’t Exist makes a brief mention of Penikese Island, shedding light on one iteration of the island’s many identities. A number of nonfiction narratives, novels, travel, romance, and mystery books also tell Cape & Island tales.
Visit one of the local bookstores or libraries on Cape Cod and the Islands to learn more and get some great local recommendations!
Antiquing or Thrift Shopping
Spend the day looking for hidden gems at the plentiful antique shops on Cape Cod and the Islands. Or try your luck at one of the many local thrift shops who use their proceeds to help the community. From unique furniture, household goods, to a new outfit, you’re sure to find something fun at one of the secondhand shops.
Performing Arts Shows
If your timing is right, you could catch a show at one of the many performing arts and theatre centers on Cape Cod and the Islands. The area’s arts scene is bustling, and there’s sure to be something fun going on!
Restaurants & Breweries
If the weather is frightful why not spend a day exploring the flavors of the Cape and Islands with a leisurely meal at a local restaurant or by drinking your way through the emerging craft beverage scene. While indoor dining isn’t quite back to normal, hopefully that is on the horizon. Cape and Island restaurants run the gamut from roadside clam shacks to upscale establishments. The area is known for great seafood and great flavors. Many restaurants serve classic dishes, some with modern twists. The craft brewing scene is only growing on the Cape and Islands with a number of small breweries, vineyards, and distilleries, many offering tours, and tastings.
Go Outside Anyway!
If the weather isn’t too horrendous, consider getting outside to explore anyways! Grab a raincoat and beat the crowds. Enjoy a windy stroll on the deserted beach and be captivated by the stormy sea. Or take a walk in a forested area, enjoying the quiet sounds of the rain pattering against the foliage or the concentric ripples it makes on a kettle pond. The Cape and Islands are beautiful even when the sun isn’t shining!