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! It's one of our favorite places to visit on the New England East Coast.
That's because it is the perfect family destination with plenty of Cape Cod family activities everyone will love. It has miles of white sandy beaches and sparkling blue water, quaint New England coastal towns, and great family attractions in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Each summer, our family tries to at least take a long weekend here. It's a mini road trip of sorts. Being right down the road from us, it is such a New England treasure, and visiting Cape Cod is one of our favorite things about Boston and the East Coast.
While the beaches are one of the main attractions, there are plenty of other fun 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 the cape. It is best known for its spectacular natural beauty, fun-filled recreational activities, and beautiful migrating whales. Plus, even the kids will find the archaeological and natural history of the area interesting.
And, of course, some of the top beaches on Cape Cod are listed among the best and most beautiful in the USA.
Everyone who goes down the cape (as New Englanders say) 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 East coast's beautiful summer destination of Cape Cod. And it is a must-stop on any New England road trip itinerary!
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 Upper Cape towns for families because it offers so many activities.
And it's a perfect stop during our East Coast road trips in southern New England. It is easily accessible as one of the first towns on the Cape.
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 beautiful sandy 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 sea glass.
- Town Neck Beach has a boardwalk where kids can jump off when it's high tide.
- The Heritage Museum and Gardens is located in Sandwich.
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. Cape Cod's Town of Dennis has a more “resort-like” feel and West Yarmouth is full of fun things to do with kids including the Whydah 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 and outdoor activities like boating, fishing, and kayaking.
- Quieter family area.
- Craigville Beach in Centerville is great for families.
- Visit one of the art galleries like Higgins Art Gallery
- 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, and a great place to rent bikes and ride the rail trail
- Cape Cod's Mayflower Beach is great for families and Corporation Beach is great for toddlers.
- Cold Storage Beach is one of the best places to find seashells.
- Very family-friendly and has great family resorts, particularly in South Yarmouth.
- Yarmouth Port is quieter and quaint.
- West Yarmouth and South Yarmouth have many of Cape Cod's family activities, and great beaches, and are busy.
- The private beach at the Red Jacket Inn is great for families staying there!
- Seagull Beach is great for kids.
- West Yarmouth is home to the popular Whydah Pirate Museum.
- At Cap'n Kids in South Yarmouth, you can take an hour fishing trip the focus on the ultimate kid's experience where you can bait a crab trap, pull a lobster trap, or fish with a rod and reel. You can see dogfish sharks, spider crabs, scups, and more.
The Lower Cape
This part of the Cape is the “elbow” of the arm. In this area, Harwich and Orleans are two of the best towns on the cape for families.
Harwich does not have as much “bling” as some of the other family-friendly towns on Cape Cod. 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.
- Fun 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 leisurely family location.
- A lot of traditional mom-and-pop stores here.
- Home to Cape Cod's 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 is very picturesque.
- Tends to be more frequented by adults or families who like luxury.
- Also home to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (the Chatham Shark Center) – we loved learning more about the shark from Jaws at the Chatham Shark Center.
- 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 towns on the cape.
- Breakwater Beach is great for families.
- Nickerson State Park is here too. We loved exploring the 1,900-acre Nickerson State Park because of all the hiking trails and it's a great place for camping with over 400 campsites.
- 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 fun 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 on the Cape Cod National Seashore.
For families, Wellfleet tops the list as one of Cape Cod's best towns on the Upper Cape, and it is where our family loves to stay. You will find family-friendly restaurants, hotels, and activities like playing mini-golf and the famous Wellfleet drive-in theater. The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is also located here.
While Wellfleet is amazing, the other areas shouldn't be overlooked and are definitely worth visiting.
- As part of the Cape Cod National Seashore area, Eastham is considered “old Cape Cod.”
- Many Cape Cod 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 is 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.
- Marconi 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.
- Provincetown is located on the northern tip of the cape and is one of the most beautiful and picturesque towns in the area.
- 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. From a visit to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History to shopping to spending a day at one of the beautiful beaches, there's so much to do in this stunning location.
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 to visit sea life:
- 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
Visiting an aquarium like the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Woods Hole Science Aquarium, or the one in the Cape Code Museum is often a favorite activity for younger children. They love learning about all the sea creatures and fascinating marine life in the Cape Code Museum or other aquariums.
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 on the cape with kids. Here are some of the best beaches on the National Seashore:
- Cahoon Hallow
- Marconi 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 relaxing, fun things to do in Cape Cod with kids.
5. Pirate's Cove Adventure Mini-Golf
There are several mini-golfs throughout the cape, and playing mini-golf is an activity our whole family loves. But one of our favorite attractions in Cape Cod is the Pirate's Cove Adventure 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. Seal and Whale 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 eastern shore of Chatham. You can see Minke, Finback, sea bass, Humpback whales, white-sided dolphins, sea turtles, and other local species. Monomoy Island is another great place to spend some time outdoors because it's off the beaten path.
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 the cape with kids. More than just a few bouncy houses, it's one of the most fun attractions for kids!
And the Cape Cod inflatable park is the largest in the country. Also, make sure you visit their water park to cool off on the water rides if you're there in the summer. And the best thing about the Cape Cod Inflatable Park is it's a family resort too.
If you're looking for another waterpark to cool off during the summer, the Cape Codder Water Park in Hyannis is another great option with a wave pool, high-speed water slides, and more. It's known as the first indoor water park. Once our kids got older, the wave pool and slides were some of their favorite activities.
The Cape Codder Water Park is part of the Cape Codder Resort and Spa, so it's another place you can stay during your trip.
9. Visit Chatham Atlantic White Shark Center
Learn more about the marvelous, but often misunderstood Great White Shark at the Chatham Shark Center. 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, the Chatham Shark Center is 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 for a few hours while you ride past scenes like sand dunes, bogs with bright red cranberries, Cape Cod Canal, 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 delicious ice cream shops throughout the Cape. The Sundae School Homemade Ice Cream Shop in Harwich Port is another great place to get your sweet fix.
It is one of the must-do things to do on Cape Cod with kids and Harwich Port has some other things your family will love like live music, Bank Street Beach, and other entertainment!
14. Eat a Delicious Seafood Meal
No beach vacation would be complete without great New England fresh seafood delicacies like lobster rolls, clam or crab cakes, or New England Clam Chowder. You can find great restaurants all over the Cape. If the kids don't like things like lobster rolls or clams, you'll find plenty of other things they'll eat.
While you're in Hyannis, some of the best places to eat are Spanky's Clam Shack, The Friendly Fisherman and Seaside Saloon, Fresh Ketch, or Baxter's Boathouse. There's no shortage 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 pirate ship 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
- Tour the salt marsh, watch birds, and learn more about the natural world at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History on Main Street in Brewster. This is another one of the museums with neat interactive exhibits.
- Visit the Cape Cod Children’s Museum on Main Street in Brewster as it also has a variety of activities including interesting interactive exhibits.
- Visit The Cape Cod Lavender Farm
- Discover Chatham Lighthouse and Chatham Lighthouse Beach
- Tour Cranberry Bogs
- Visit Heritage Museums & Gardens to learn more about the natural history and culture of the region and visit the fun interactive exhibits in Hidden Hollow.
- Take a trip to Martha's Vineyard. Be sure to visit Oak Bluffs while you're there and see the oldest operational carousel, the flying horses carousel.
- Watch a show at Cape Playhouse
- Visit Sandwich Glass Museum. This is one of the Cape Cod Attractions the entire family can enjoy.
- Go on one of the Blue Claw Boat Tours
- Explore the scenic Cape Cod Trail in South Yarmouth
- Visit the Edward Gorey House
- Visit Nickerson State Park. The Nickerson State Park is perfect for camping and, has a number of hiking trails and it offers easy access to the famous Cape Cod Rail Trail.
- Learn more history at the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
- Explore the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge to learn more about the natural history, plant, and animal life in the Cape Cod area.
- Visit the Cape Cod Museum of Art
- Visit Nauset Lighthouse
- Cape Cod Baseball League Baseball Game
- Stop by any Cape gift shop for souvenirs, like Cape Tradewinds Gift Shop in Yarmouth or Seaside Selections in Hyannis.
- Take a Hyannis Harbor Cruise. The Hyannis Harbor is a great way to see famous landmarks and learn about the area's maritime history.
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 Sea Bikeway or 22-mile-long Cape Cod Rail Trail. Riding the Cape Cod Rail Trail is a favorite outdoor activity for my family, but 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. The Cape Cod Children's Museum is one of my kids' favorite museums to visit, but you must check out the Whydah Pirate Museum too. Most of the activities on this list are toddler-friendly too. Both the Cape Cod Children's Museum and Whydah Pirate Museum were two of our family's favorite places to visit because they have so many activities for young kids and older kids.
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 mid-October, except for 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
- Marconi 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 to stay at during your family vacation. 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.