If you are headed to New England with kids, be sure to visit the Massachusetts coast, because there are so many things to do on Cape Cod. Most locals love the Cape, and some spend the whole summer there!
That's because it is the perfect family destination with plenty of activities the whole family can enjoy. It has miles of white sandy beaches and sparkling blue water, quaint New England coastal towns, and great family attractions in Cape Cod.
Each summer, our family tries to at least take a long weekend here. Being right down the road from us, it is such a New England treasure and one of our favorite things about Boston.
While the beaches are one of the main attractions, there are plenty of other things to do on Cape Cod with kids. Here's a look at why you should include a visit to the Cape and what makes it perfect for a family vacation.
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About Cape Cod
This might date me, but my first introduction to Cape Cod was when the Tom Hanks movie “Splash” came out in the '80s. My family then visited it when I was in the fourth grade, and I thought it was one of the greatest places to visit. Now, as an adult, I love being able to visit it with my kids because there are so many special things to do with the family!
With 559 miles of coastline and 15 towns, there are plenty of places to see on Cape Cod. It is best known for its spectacular natural beauty, fun-filled recreational activities, and beautiful migrating whales. And, of course, some of the best beaches on Cape Cod are listed among the best and most beautiful in the USA.
Everyone who visits Cape Cod regularly has a different part that they prefer. So there isn't one best place to stay, as each area is special in its own way.
While there are many lovely New England towns, here are some of the more popular areas you may want to visit on your vacation to Cape Cod.
Best Cape Cod Towns For Families
While there are many lovely New England towns, here are some of the regions and best towns in Cape Cod for families you may want to visit. Cape Cod is often described as an “arm with a clenched fist”. So I will use that to help describe locations.
The Upper Cape
This is part of the arm closest to the mainland. In my opinion, Falmouth is one of the best Cape Cod towns for families on the Upper Cape because it offers so many activities. That said, the other towns should also be considered as well if even just on a day visit.
- Has eight distinct villages.
- Great for families with many kid-friendly activities, walkable village centers and fun beaches.
- Old Silver Beach is great for families.
- Closest to the mainland so it gets lots of visitors.
- Many historical and recreational activities, including along the Canal.
- Beaches on Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay.
- Home to the Wampanoag Tribe, who are also in Plymouth and on Martha's Vineyard.
- There are kid-friendly activities, including outdoor things to do, a Children's Museum, and the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum.
- Cape Cod's oldest town.
- Many historical things to visit here.
- One of the quaintest towns.
- Sandy Neck Beach is popular for beach days and for finding seaglass.
The Mid Cape
On Mid Cape, or the bicep part of the arm, Dennis and Yarmouth top the list as the best Cape Cod towns for families with kids. Dennis has a more “resort-like” feel and Yarmouth is full of fun, kid-friendly activities including a pirate museum. Hyannis is also a great Cape Cod town for families. It is also where you can catch a ferry to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket.
- Has quaint, history filled towns and a historic country store.
- Also includes some of the more “Upscale” towns on the Cape.
- Lovely beaches, outdoor activities like boating, fishing, kayaking.
- Quieter family area.
- Craigville Beach in Centerville is great for families.
- Very family friendly with great beaches and activities even for young kids.
- Great museums and recreation like kayaking and kite surfing.
- Vibrant area and can be busy.
- Can take a Ferry to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket from here.
- Veteran's Park Beach is great for families.
- Very family friendly and has great beaches.
- A bit more of a “resort-like” feel with lots of hotels and resorts on the shoreline.
- Lots of family restaurants and activities.
- Mayflower Beach is great for families and Corporation Beach is great for toddlers.
- Very family friendly and has great family resorts particurly in South Yarmouth.
- Yarmouth Port is quieter and quaint.
- West Yarmouth and South Yarmouth have many family activities, great beaches, and is busy.
- The private beach at the Red Jacket Inn is great for families staying there!
- Seagull Beach is great for kids.
The Lower Cape
This part of the Cape is the “elbow” of the arm. In this area, Harwich and Orleans are favorites for the best Cape Cod towns for families.
Harwich does not have as much “bling” as some of the other family-friendly towns on the Cape. It is a bit more upscale with lots of quieter family things to do. Orleans is a great family area, with modern amenities and all the fun beach activities you need (along with two of the best beaches on the Cape.) Here are the other best towns on the Lower Cape.
- Family friendly, but quieter than some of the other family towns.
- Home to the luxury resort Wequassett Resort and Golf Club.
- Things to do for families include beaches, some kid-activities like mini golf and bumper cars, fishing, and bike riding.
- More of a quiet and leisure family location.
- A lot of traditional mom and pop stores here.
- Home to cranberry bogs, quiet neighborhoods, beautiful scenery, kettle ponds, and conservation area.
- Beautiful, historic and charming town with a lot of history and quaint inns and homes.
- Home to the luxury resort Chatham Bars Inn.
- Extremely beautiful scenery, and very picturesque.
- Tends to be more frequented by adults or families who like luxury.
- Also home to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.
- Cockle Cove Beach is great for families.
- You'll find warmer and calmer water here because of its location on Cape Cod.
- Brewster was settled in 1656 and is home to the elegant houses of old sea captains.
- While this is a kid-friendly area, with some activities, it much quieter area than some of the other Cape Cod towns.
- Breakwater Beach is great for families.
- Very popular with families with two of the Cape's beloved beaches, Nauset Beach and Skaket Beach.
- A great place to rent an Air BnB or stay in one of the local inns or motels.
- Has a good town center, with grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. and is centrally located on the Cape.
- Plenty of family friendly activities, restaurants and things to do.
The Upper Cape
We have now reached the forearm and fist of the Cape, where you will find the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is a US National Park. It is some of the most stunning stretches of beach in America. Pristine and natural, you will love a fun beach vacation in one of these towns.
For families, Wellfleet tops the list as one of the best Cape Cod towns on the Upper Cape, and it is where our family loves to stay. You will find family-friendly restaurants, hotels, and activities like minigolf and the famous Wellfleet drive-in theater. But, the other areas shouldn't be overlooked and are definitely worth visiting.
- As part of the National Seashore area, Eastham is considered “old Cape Cod.”
- Many family activities like mini golf, family friendly restaurants, and some hotels.
- First Encounter Beach is where the Pilgrims first met the Native American residents of the Wampanoag Tribe.
- Beautiful beaches and a great place for a quieter, beachy family vacation.
- Coastguard Beach is great for families.
- Headquarters of the Cape Cod National Seashore, one of the most pristine and natural coastlines in America.
- There are great beaches in this area, and often you see seals swimming not far from shore.
- It is also known for its wildlife sanctuary and seafood, including the “Wellfleet Oysters.”
- There are old fashioned, family friendly activities in this area and hotels, as well as boardwalks through woods and walking areas.
- Macroni Beach is best for families. We also love Cahoon Hollow, but you do have to walk down a big sand dune (not for strollers.)
- Known for its prehistoric kettle holes, stunning beaches, and spectacular sandy cliffs.
- Great for a quieter family vacation with the simplicity of beach, biking, nature, and climbing to the top of the Highland lighthouse.
- Lots of rental homes and even small cottages here.
- Head of the Meadow and Ballston Beaches are great for kids.
- One of the most beautiful and picturesque Cape Cod towns.
- Visit Provincetown for shopping and to see the history of the oldest continuous art colony in America.
- An eclectic area that welcomes all guests and is very popular with the LGBTQ+ community.
- Great area for walking around, dining, shopping, and daytrips.
- You can actually take a day trip from Boston to Provincetown on a ferry!
- Race Point Beach is great for families.
15+ Best Things to Do on Cape Cod with Kids
You could spend months in Cape Cod and still not get to all the outdoor activities alone, much less the other fun activities this area has to offer. Here are a few highlights and some of my family's favorite things to do.
1. Cape Cod Aquarium
If you’re looking for an indoor activity for the kids on a rainy day, check out one of the five Cape Cod aquariums:
- Woods Hole Science Aquarium
- Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
- National Marine Life Center
- Buzzard’s Bay Discovery Center
- Cape Cod Museum of Natural History has an aquarium
2. Visit the Cape Cod National Seashore
The Cape Cod National Seashore spans forty miles of beautiful beaches, uplands, marshes, and ponds and is home to a diverse range of species.
Visiting one of the gorgeous beaches should be on your list of things to do in Cape Cod with kids. Here are some of the best beaches on the National Seashore:
- Cahoon Hallow
- Macroni Beach
- Coast Guard Beach
- White Crest Beach
- Nauset Beach
- Race Point Beach
3. Take Surf Lessons
You can take surf lessons at beaches like those in Chatham and Wellfleet. The Sacred Surf School offers lessons, rentals, paddleboard tours, and even a Kid's Surf Camps.
4. Wellfleet Drive-In Theater
Drive-in movie theatres are a thing of the past, but several are still open across the nation that you can enjoy. Travel back in time at the Wellfleet Drive-in Theater to watch a family-friendly movie under the stars.
This special place is the last on Cape Cod and one of only 300 drive-in theaters in the country. It’s one of the fun, relaxing things to do in Cape Cod with kids.
5. Pirate's Cove Adventure Mini-Golf
There are several mini-golfs throughout the cape. But one of our favorite attractions in Cape Cod is the Pirate's Cove Adventure Mini-Golf. Located in South Yarmouth, MA, Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf is known as a local landmark. Visit them to see the decorative pirate theme, neat grounds, and modern hole design for family mini-golf fun.
6. Take a Day Trip to Provincetown
Provincetown is the perfect place to take a day trip from Boston, Massachusetts. Visit the Pilgrim Monument and stop for lunch and shopping on Commercial Street. There are plenty of shops to buy souvenirs and Cabot's Candy Store where you can buy saltwater taffy.
7. Whale and Seal Watching
This is one of our favorite Cape Cod things to do with the family. Take a boat ride to watch seals off of Monomoy, a wildlife refuge and barrier island that thousands of seals call home.
You can also watch whales on a sportfishing boat from Monomoy Island Ferry to see the whales off the east shore of Chatham. You can see Minke, Finback, and Humpback whales and even white-sided dolphins and sea turtles.
There are also whale watching tours out of Hyannis, which is one of the best attractions in Cape Cod for families.
8. Cape Cod Inflatable Park in West Yarmouth
Visiting the Cape Cod Inflatable Park is one of the best things to do on Cape Cod with kids. More than just a few bouncy houses; it's one of the most fun attractions for kids!
And, it's the largest inflatable park in the country. Also, make sure you visit their waterpark to cool off on the water rides if you're there in the summer.
And the best thing about this inflatable park is it's a Cape Cod Family resort too.
9. Visit Chatham Atlantic White Shark Center
Learn more about the marvelous, but often misunderstood, Great White Shark at the Atlantic White Shark Center in Chatham. Kids love learning more about sharks, and this is the perfect rainy-day activity. The center includes shark storytime and youth programs! Note that currently, they are using a reservation system for visitors.
10. Brewster General Store
If you plan to visit Brewster, stop by the Brewster General Store in the heart of the town. It was built in 1852 as a church but soon turned into a store for the locals in 1866.
You'll get to see a real general store over 150 years old and even sample penny candy just like the kids did in the 1800s. It's also a great place to pick up souvenirs.
11. Tidal Pools in Brewster
While you're in Brewster, visit the tidal pools located at Robbin's Hill Beach and all throughout the Brewster Flats. The unique ebb and flow of the tides going out to Cape Cod Bay create tide pools that are very special.
There are plenty of nooks and crannies for sea creatures to hide in, so the kids will love this stop on your vacation. Your kids will love finding sea stars, anemones, hermit crabs, clam beds, and more as they run from tidal pool to tidal pool. This is also a great thing to do in Cape Cod with toddlers!
12. Cape Cod Central Railroad
One of the best attractions in Cape Cod is a scenic ride on the Cape Cod Central Railroad for a unique family adventure. You'll find train stations at Hyannis and Buzzards Bay on the Cape.
Have a Sunday brunch or weekday lunch on the train while you ride past sand dunes, cranberry bogs, and other beautiful nature scenes. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Cape Cod with Kids.
13. Eat Homemade Ice Cream at one of the Creameries
Homemade ice cream is a staple of Cape Cod! Make sure you stop at one of the best homemade ice cream stores, the Cape Cod Creamery in Hyannis, and Dennis Port or one of the many homemade ice cream shops throughout the Cape. It is one of the must-do things to do on Cape Cod with kids!
14. Eat a Delicious Seafood Meal
No beach vacation would be complete without great seafood meals, and you can find them all over the Cape. While you're in Hyannis, some of the best places to eat are Spanky's Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon, Fresh Ketch, or Baxter's Boathouse. You'll find plenty of delicious, often family-run, seafood spots throughout the Cape!
15. Candlepin Bowling at Ryan Family Amusements
Candlepin bowling is a great thing to do on Cape Cod with kids. It is different than traditional bowling because the balls are smaller and lighter than traditional bowling and the pins are more straight up and down (rather than traditional pin shape. ) They are harder to knock down and are not cleared in between a player's two turns, so it is a bit harder to score points.
Plus, it is primarily played in New England and the seaside Canadian regions, so it is a special thing to do on Cape Cod!
Ryan's Family Amusements has locations all across New England, including Yarmouth, the Cape Cod Mall, and Buzzard's Bay. It's a great place to go candlepin bowling at an affordable price and a great rainy day family activity on Cape Cod.
16. Become A Pirate on a Pirate's Adventure Boat Cruise
Kids can step into the boots of a pirate on this fun, pirate adventure boat cruise. The thematic 90 entertaining boat tour (on a pirate ship!) will be an experience of a lifetime as young mateys are instructed to look for treasure. The boat leaves out of Hyannis and is a great Cape Cod family attraction.
A Few Additional Things To Do On Cape Cod With Kids
There are tons of other outdoor and indoor activities to do on Cape Cod, so here are a few others:
- Tour and Taste On The Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory Tour
- Enjoy The Whydah Pirate Museum
- Discover The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
- Play At The Cape Cod Children’s Museum
- Visit The Cape Cod Lavender Farm
- Discover Chatham Lighthouse and Chatham Lighthouse Beach
- Tour Cranberry Bogs
- Cape Cod Baseball League Baseball Game
You'll find plenty of kid-friendly activities to do, whether your vacation to the Cape is a road trip or you've never been to New England.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can toddlers do in Cape Cod?
There are plenty of things to do in Cape Cod with toddlers. You can visit one of the family-friendly beaches. Or go for a bike ride with the family on the 10.7-mile long Shining Bike Trail or 22-mile long Cape Cod Rail Trail. Toddlers would also love to look for sea creatures in one of the tidal pools in the Brewster Flats.
Kids of all ages love the Cape Cod Children's Museum too. And check out the Whydah Pirate Museum. Most of the activities on this list are toddler-friendly too.
What is the best time of year to go to Cape Cod?
You can visit any time of year and have family fun, but the best time to visit is May through October except of July and August. The months of July and August are the peak summer season, and the temperatures in the air and ocean are warmer.
What are the best beaches in Cape Cod?
There are several listed above as the best beaches in Cape Cod. Our favorites are:
- Cahoon Hallow
- Macroni Beach
- Coast Guard Beach
- Nauset Beach
- The private beach in front of the Red Jacket Inn
Where are some Cape Cod kid-friendly resorts?
Along with Cape Cod family attractions, you may be looking for some Cape Cod kid-friendly resorts. Here are several that we love because of their full offering of family activities and great resort amenities that kids love.
- The Red Jacket Beach Resort & Spa
- Cape Codder Resort & Spa
- Riviera Beach Resort
- Blue Water Resort
- Chatham Bars Inn Resort and Spa
- The Villages at Ocean Edge Resort and Spa
- Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
- Cape Cod Inflatable Park Resort
Final Thoughts on Things to Do on Cape Cod with Kids
Cape Cod is an epic family beach vacation for all ages. But more than that, it is also a quintessential New England experience as well as a historical adventure.
As a very special and unique place, it is perfect for families. With endless family-friendly activities and things to do, you'll never get bored on your Cape Cod family vacation. Once you’ve vacationed there, you’ll love it and want to go back again.