The Best Towns of Cape Cod to Explore When You Visit

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Cape Cod Massachusetts is world-famous as one of the best beach destinations to visit. It’s well-loved for a down-to-earth vibe and 500 miles of Cape Cod coastline and natural beauty. You’ll find fifteen unique towns and countless charming villages in this popular New England destination. So when you’re planning a Cape Cod vacation, where do you start? Read on to learn about which of these best towns of Cape Cod and the Islands are perfect for you!

Editor’s Note: This article was updated in November, 2023 to keep the content fresh and up to date.

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CONTENTS: In this article, you will find an introduction to Cape Cod, its regions and towns, and how to maximize your visit to this famous Massachusetts vacation spot.

Where is Cape Cod?

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Cape Cod Map: A vintage post card gives an overview of the lay of land (and sea) in Cape Cod.

Cape Cod is easy to recognize as an “arm” that juts out from southeastern Massachusetts into the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll find this sandy peninsula a half-hour south of Plymouth and about a two-hour drive from Boston. If you want to rent a car, check rates and book on Discovercars.

Cape Cod is separated from the mainland by the Cape Cod Canal, so if you’re driving to the Cape, you’ll cross over either the Bourne Bridge or the Sagamore Bridge.

Another great option to get here is to take the Boston to Provincetown Ferry.

Once there, you’ll discover thirteen charming Cape Cod towns, each with its own unique personality and some having several villages. While visiting Cape Cod, be sure to plan a visit to one or more of the islands, too.

While Cape Cod makes for a great weekend getaway and shorter stays, it’s even better when you plan for longer stays.

Recommendation: For a unique way to experience and remember the magic of Cape Cod nights, you can book a Private Guided Night Photography Tours on Cape Cod here.

Where to Stay in Cape Cod

You’ll find a wide range of options when it comes to staying in Cape Cod. You can find the best deals when you compare offers on booking platforms like,, and Or, use the interactive map below to hone in on your lodging options. But book early! Many summer rentals fill up as early as January. In fact, many regular visitors to the Cape reserve their favorite rental cottage as much as a year ahead.

A Brief History of Cape Cod

Cape Cod’s history dates back to US colonial days. Colonial settlers, known as “The Pilgrims,” first came aground in Massachusetts in 1620. They landed in Provincetown and Plymouth.

Long before that, though, the Nauset and Wampanoag tribes called Cape Cod home. So, when you visit Cape Cod, you’ll notice some of the towns of Cape Cod (particularly the villages) have names with Native American origins. Here are a few examples:

  • Pocasset – “where the narrows open”
  • Cataumet – “great fishing place”
  • Monomoy – “lookout place”
  • Sippewisset – “small cove”


In 1788 Massachusetts became the sixth state of the United States of America…and the rest, as they say, is history.

Regions of Cape Cod

These best towns, Cape Cod can be broken into five distinct regions rich with small-town charm:

  1. Upper Cape – You’ll find some of the oldest towns and villages here, and it’s the easiest region to reach, being close to the bridges.
  2. Mid Cape – You’ll enjoy a sense of “getting away” but will still be close to bustling town centers and mainstream stores.
  3. Lower Cape – Here, you’ll discover quaint Cape Cod towns and villages, shops, soft sandy beaches, and excellent dining options.
  4. Outer Cape – You’ll explore expansive beaches, fresh oysters, and private, sometimes remote, properties.
  5. The Islands – You’ll love Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, reachable by ferry, boat, or air.

One way to explore these areas is to take guided tours from trusted guides. Click here to select from the 10 best boating, bike, wine and other tours on Cape Cod.

Read on to learn more and find in-depth coverage of each of these Cape Cod areas, including more about the towns and villages within them. While there are a few chain stores that have crept into the region, most of Cape Cod’s small towns retain their New England charm.

Cape Cod Towns and Villages | Things To Do – Cape Cod

One of the most common questions people ask is “What is the best Cape Cod town?”

That is probably one of the most difficult questions to answer, because each of the towns and Cape Cod villages offers unique things. (You’ll find some that say they are all the best Cape Cod towns!)

Of course you’ll enjoy beaches and lighthouses, water activities, art and artisan galleries, the best seafood, craft breweries, charming inns, and so much more.

So, to help you decide where to begin for yourself, read more about each Cape Cod town, below. When you’re planning the best towns of Cape Cod to visit, the good news is, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch.

Upper Cape Towns & Villages

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Upper Cape Cod is home to some of the oldest parts of Cape Cod, and includes the towns of:

  • Bourne
  • Sandwich
  • Falmouth
  • Mashpee


Bourne is the Cape Cod town closest to the mainland and is split by the Cape Cod Canal. It’s known as the gateway to Cape Cod, with three bridges crossing the canal:

  • The Bourne Bridge,
  • The Sagamore Bridge
  • The Cape Cod Canal Railway Bridge

Two bridges are free to cross by car.

The Bourne Bridge, takes you to a rotary where you can branch off to Route 6A or 28. The Sagamore Bridge is nearly identical to the Bourne Bridge, except it’s an exit earlier off Route 495/28.

The Sagamore takes you further through Bourne, where you can access Wareham/Onset. Or you can continue down Route 6 toward the Cape.

There has been recent talk of adding a third bridge with a pay toll to alleviate traffic, but to date, those plans have not materialized.

In Bourne, the 14 mile Cape Cod Canal bike path runs along both sides of the canal. It’s a great place to walk, bike, or fish. Pack some folding chairs and spend an hour or two watching the tankers, tugs, cruise ships, and pleasure yachts motor by. You might even see some adults enjoying their time riding an electric tricycle!

Related: What’s the Best E-Trike for Adults?

Here, you’ll get a closeup look of the iconic Cape Cod Canal Railway bridge, suspended over the canal to let boats cross under. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the bridge descend for a train to pass through. It is the second-longest vertical lift bridge in the world!

A Town Divided by the Cape Cod Canal

On one side, Bourne borders Plymouth and Wareham, and the canal actually splits the town in two. Buzzards Bay and Sagamore Beach are on the mainland side, flanked by Buttermilk Bay and Buzzards Bay. The remaining villages of Bourne are on the “Cape” side.

Bourne was originally settled in 1640 as a part of the town of Sandwich, and didn’t become its own independent town until 1884. Some say that makes Bourne both the oldest and the newest Cape Cod town.

You’ll find several historic points of interest in Bourne.

For instance, the nation’s oldest store, the Aptucxet Trading Post, may be one of the earliest remains of a Pilgrim building.

It is a replica built in the 1920s upon the original foundation. The Aptucxet Trading Post is said to be where the Pilgrims first traded with natives and the Dutch of New Amsterdam (now NYC). They used wampum, a local currency made of polished quahog shells.

Bonus: The Aptucxet Trading Post is set within 12 acres of recreational land where you’ll find a wildflower garden, walking paths, and a windmill.

Other places of historical importance in Bourne are part of the Cape Cod Museum Trail.

This includes:

  • Briggs McDermott House
  • The Briggs Forge
  • Alan Green Carriage House

The Alan Green Carriage House is on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll find vintage carriages and sleighs on display along with period furnishings and every day items from the 1840s and 1950s. This local museum also features a special exhibit of marine artist Charles Raleigh worth seeing.

Beaches in Bourne

Bourne has two beautiful bays, Buttermilk Bay and Buttermilk Bay, where you’ll find plenty of beaches:

  • Barlow’s Landing Beach
  • Electric Avenue
  • Gray Gables Beach
  • Hen Cove
  • Monument Beach*
  • Picture Lake
  • Queen Swell Beach
  • Sagamore Beach*
  • Squeteague Harbor Beach

Except for Monument Beach and Sagamore beach, most beaches in Bourne are private. Of course, if you rent a private cottage or house on one of these beaches, you’re all set.

The Bourne Scenic Park, located beneath the Bourne Bridge, is another of the popular Cape Cod places to visit. It offers camping facilities, picnicking, a playground and in-ground pool.

The Lobster Pot and Lindsey’s Family Restaurant come highly recommended for seafood. There’s also Mezza Luna for Italian.

One of our favorite things to do as we leave the Cape is to stop at The Seafood Shanty for the quintessential order of fried clams (with bellies, please). Or, we also love an order of Thai Food from Krua Thai, so we can eat on the shores overlooking the Canal.

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The 10 Villages of Bourne

Bourne is made of 10 villages, some sharing a zip code, others with their own unique postal code. If you’re not familiar with the area, it can be confusing to hear these names, but these villages make up the greater Cape Cod town known as Bourne:

  1. Bourne Village – where you’ll find Old Bourne Village, a working blacksmith, preserved homes and historical buildings along the Cape Cod Museum Trail.
  2. Bournedale – north of the canal, where you’ll find and interesting rock formation called Sacrifice Rock, also known as Chamber Rock.
  3. Buzzards Bay – home to Massachusetts Maritime Academy, with degree programs in maritime-related fields.
  4. Cataumet – a former rail station in Post Office Square. Look for the Cataumet Schoolhouse Museum, Miniature Golf, and the Beaton Cranberry Bog.
  5. Gray Gables – the private railroad station frequently visited by President Grover Cleveland. He had his summer white house in Bourne.
  6. Monument Beach – for a visit to the beach of the same name with scenic views of Buzzards Bay, a boat launch, and some free parking.
  7. Otis Air Base – an Air National Guard installation and military training facility.
  8. Pocasset – have a look at Wing’s Neck Light, a lighthouse built in 1849.
  9. Sagamore – formerly housed a major freight car producer.
  10. Sagamore Beach – a residential village with a six-mile stretch of public beach.

Other Bourne Attractions

Among many other worthwhile attractions in Bourne, you’ll find:

  • The National Marine Life Center – a non-profit rehab and release hospital for stranded sea turtles and seals.
  • Butterflies of Cape Cod – a native butterfly habitat.
  • Main Street – this shopping area offers a variety of antique and vintage shops. (Tip: You’ll find plenty of parking at Buzzards Bay Park on Main Street.)
  • Pairpoint Glass and Crystal – America’s oldest glass company where glassblowers continue an almost 200-year-old tradition of glassmaking.
  • The Massachusetts National Cemetery – where memorials honor veterans from the WWI error to modern day.


Sandwich is considered the oldest town down the Cape, established in 1640. It’s also one of the best towns on Cape Cod. It was once much bigger, incorporating Bourne as well, but that split off in 1950.

If you’ll be commuting to work off the Cape, it’s one of the best places to live in Cape Cod since you’re close to the bridge.

Sandwich has three charming villages.

The Villages of Sandwich

  1. Sandwich Village – the oldest part of Sandwich, first settled by about 60 families.
  2. East Sandwich – northeast portion of the town of Sandwich.
  3. Forestdale – the southern part of Sandwich, bordered by Mashpee.

You’ll find most historic points of interest in a walking tour of the blocks around Sandwich Village.

Here are some great things to see and do in Sandwich, including some with strong historic significance:

  • The Sandwich Glass Museum – features a wide range of rare glass, including glass from Boston & Sandwich Glass Factory, plus glassblowing demonstrations.
  • Heritage Museums and Gardens – a public garden and a museum featuring a collection of classic American cars, folk art, a functional 1919 carousel, a renowned collection of flowers, three gallery buildings, a Labyrinth, the Hart Family Garden Maze, Flume Fountain, and Hidden Hollow.
  • Dexter Grist Mill – an early American mill in the center of Sandwich at the end of a lovely mill pond (Shawme Pond) complete with ducks, and next to a cool, splashing mill race and an old pump.
  • Green Briar Nature Center & Jams – a natural history museum inspired by the writings naturalist and author Thornton W. Burgess; offers a delightful experience for visitors with its charming nature center and enchanting jams, surrounded by picturesque nature trails.
  • Hoxie House – the oldest house on Cape Cod and one of the oldest in the state, built in the mid-1600’s.
  • Benjamin Nye Homestead – a 2.5 story timber house museum built in 1685.
  • Route 6A Drive (The Old Kings Highway) – a scenic, winding drive at times flanked by salt marshes and cranberry bogs.
  • The Sandwich Fish Hatchary – stocks the fish into 35 rivers and streams and 50 lakes and ponds in Southeastern Massachusetts.
  • Wing Fort House – built in 1641 and recognized as the oldest house in New England continuously owned by the same family.
  • Shawme Crowell State Park – a year-round, wooded campground with 285 sites.
  • Peter’s Pond RV Resort – a family-friendly Cape Cod camp ground with cottages and an RV Park.

You’ll also find walking trails, bike paths, beautiful seashores, salt water estuaries, fresh-water ponds, bird sanctuaries. You could invest in compact monoculars to get the most out of your birdwatching.

Must-See: The Sandwich Boardwalk

Be sure to check out the Sandwich Boardwalk. It’s been damaged and rebuilt many times by storms, but remains a wonderful short walk to a lookout over Boardwalk Beach. You will see the marshlands, wildlife, and oftentimes, fisherman clamming.

The last time I went I had the honor of trying a fresh oyster pulled from the marsh just moments before. (So good!)

If you want to plan a picnic, stop into The Brown Jug for a delicious, organic fare and pizza.

Some of my favorite shopping stops in Sandwich are:

  • The Spotted Cod – a gift boutique with regional gifts and beach decor.
  • The Weather Store – a unique assortment of weather gauges and the likes.
  • Heart of Stone Geode Store – various geodes, stone jewelry, and more.
  • Sandwich Antique Center – regional antiques and rare finds.
  • Titcombs Bookshop – a curated selection of books for all ages, children’s toys, greeting cards.

Beaches in Sandwich

There are several beaches in Sandwich you’ll want to check out. The beaches themselves are most-often made up of larger, smooth beach rocks. Listen for the rocks clicking together as shore waves drag them back and forth.

Because Sandwich faces Cape Cod Bay rather than the seaside of the Atlantic ocean, you’ll find the beaches are a bit warmer.

They include:

  • Sagamore Beach (on the mainland)
  • Scusset (on the mainland)
  • East Sandwich Beach
  • Sandy Neck Beach & Dunes
  • Town Neck Beach
  • Paine’s Creek
  • Scorton Neck Beach
  • Sandy Neck Road
  • Snake Pond Beach

Note the Scusset Beach State Reservation and Sagamore Beach are on the mainland side of Sandwich (so you don’t have to cross the bridge). It’s one of the best beaches to visit if you don’t want to venture too far down the Cape.

At Scusset, you’ll find find a soft sand beach where you can walk the jetty and watch ships pass through the canal. There is a $20 admission fee during the summer, but plenty of parking.

You’ll also find restrooms and an outdoor shower so you can hose off the sand. And, if you’re in an RV, you can also camp at Scusset.

Besides beaches on the ocean, there are several ponds in Sandwich. They include:

  • Peter’s Pond
  • Snake Pond
  • Wakeby Pond
  • Shawnee Pond
  • Hoxie Pond.

Where to Stay in Sandwich, MA

We’ve rented several traditional cottages on East Sandwich beach and thoroughly enjoyed being right on the water. This is a great place to spend your family vacation. Pack up your bags and head to the coast! (If you’re looking for a durable, matching 4-piece luggage set for the fam, arrive in style with this one from Product of Travel.)

Sadly, it’s getting harder to find the smaller, classic cottages. Many have been torn down and replaced with much bigger beach front homes. So, if you can find the quintessential old-school beach house on East Sandwich beach, be sure to book it right away!

But you’ll find a variety of other lodging options that can be just as charming.

You might also consider two exceptional luxury accommodations where we’ve stayed in Sandwich Village. The first is the Dan’l Webster Inn. The Second is the Belfry Bistro & Inn. Either one is a great choice for a romantic getaway.

You can learn more about them, along with other elegant Cape Cod Bed & Breakfasts here.

Where to Eat in Sandwich

Both the Bistro and Dan’l Webster have great dining facilities. We especially love the mid-week wine-tasting at the Bistro, and casual fare at the Tavern at the Dan’l Webster Inn.

Our go to for coffee and picnic fixings is The Brown Jug, a gourmet grocer that has expanded to include wine, pizza, and other delicious things.

For Breakfast, you can’t beat Marshland for a diner vibe and generous servings.

For bakery items, be sure to check out Beth’s Bakery and Cafe.

Pizza lover? The best thing is to head to Sweet Tomatoes for a delicious Neapolitan style crust pizza.


The town of Falmouth is perhaps one of the most favorite Cape Cod towns, especially for Massachusetts locals. Part of the reason this town on Cape Cod is so well-loved is because it’s not too far over the bridge.

Or, maybe it’s the 68 miles of coastline with white sand beaches along the “fingers” of Falmouth, making it one of the best Cape Cod beach towns.

Or, it could be because of the happening strip of Main Street, bustling with good food and shops and pizza.

Or maybe it’s because of easy access to Woods Hole where you can take the ferry over to the Cape Cod Islands.

Whatever it is, Falmouth is not to be missed.

Like Bourne, Falmouth has ten villages, including:

  1. East Falmouth
  2. Falmouth Heights
  3. Falmouth Village
  4. Hatchville
  5. North Falmouth
  6. Sippewisset
  7. Teaticket
  8. Waquat
  9. West Falmouth
  10. Woods Hole

Falmouth Beaches

Beaches in Falmouth are plentiful, and there are also plenty of free public beaches, too. For some, you can even get a season’s pass even if you’re not a resident. As mentioned, it’s one of the best beach towns in Cape Cod.

  • Falmouth Heights Town Beach
  • Falmouth Beach
  • Woodneck Beach
  • Menauhent
  • Bristol Beach
  • Chapoquoit
  • Old Silver Beach
  • Surf Drive Beach
  • Megansett
  • MBL Stony Beach
  • Black Beach
  • Trunk River Beach
  • Nobska Beach
  • Quisset Beach

What to Do In Falmouth

Beyond spending time at the beach, there is no shortage of things do to.

For one, there are some great restaurants and cafes in Falmouth.

Our favorites are Anejo Mexican Bistro (Mexican) and Pie in the Sky (for coffee, pastry, and more). You’ll also find delicious Greek food at Estia, an Irish Pub, Liam MaGuire’s, and La Cucina Sul Mare, where you’ll find plenty of fresh-seafood, Italian-style.

Even if the restaurants have a wait list, you’ll enjoy shopping the stores on Main Street for some swanky beach wear, t-shirts, and other souvenirs.

Perhaps you’ll select a children’s book from a local writer at Eight Cousins Falmouth Bookstore. Or, you’ll stop for an ice cream or homemade fudge after dinner.

Downtown Falmouth is a great spot for window shopping, too, with several upscale boutiques featuring the latest styles in casual wear.

Main Street in Falmouth is always a good take!

You can rent a bicycle for the day to ride along the Shining Sea Bikeway, even bring the bikes with you to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket by ferry.

You’ll find many picturesque scenes in Falmouth, Nobska Lighthouse being one of them. It is one of the most photographed lighthouses on the Cape.

Or, you could check out the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, where you’ll learn about seals and lobsters and other sea life.

Another interesting place in Falmouth is the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). This renowned marine research institution is a world leader in ocean science, exploration, and technology. Here, they conduct groundbreaking research on oceanography, climate change, marine life, and the deep sea. While it’s primarily a research institution, you can visit some parts of the campus. Check their website or call for details.

A Hidden Attractions in Falmouth

You’ll find a beautiful seaside garden experience and gardening inspiration at the Spohr Gardens.

You might also check out Cornelia Carey Sanctuary known as “The Knob.” It’s a short walking path which ends with trees and things juts out into the ocean. You can read more about the Knob in Falmouth here.

We love the art galleries, too, especially the Ruah Gallery. Nearby, the Highfield Hall & Gardens, a 19th-century estate, exhibits contemporary art. 

Some other things in Falmouth not to miss:

  • Ashumet Holly and Wildlife Sanctuary – 45 acres of woodlands, fields and hiking trails that are part of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
  • Coonamesset Farm – a membership-based pick-your-own farm with fresh vegetables, fruit, and lunch sandwiches.
  • Peterson’s Farm – one of the oldest farms on Cape Cod. Town-owned with with tranquil pastures, walking trails, sheep, and other wildlife.
  • Cape Cod Winery – A peaceful place to relax and sample nine different varieties of wine in East Falmouth. Also hosts vinyasa yoga, paint nights, and other events.
  • Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery – a brewery and tasting room where you can enjoy some Bad Martha beer with cheese plates, charcuterie, crudité, and artisan pizza in East Falmouth (also in Edgartown).

Falmouth is also one of the best places to stay in Cape Cod, since you’ll have easy access to the ferry and beaches.


The town in Cape Cod is the site of the headquarters and most members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, one of two federally recognized Wampanoag groups. For more about the history of Native Americans in Mashpee, click here.

Villages of Mashpee

You’ll find seven villages in Mashpee to explore, each different from the next. They include:

  1. New Seabury
  2. Mashpee Neck
  3. Monomoscoy Island
  4. Popponesset
  5. Popponesset Island
  6. Seabrook
  7. Seconsett Island

Beaches in Mashpee

You’ll find several beaches in Mashpee, too:

  • Attaquin Park Beach
  • Mashpee town beach
  • John’s Pond
  • South Cape

Outdoor Activities in Mashpee

If you love the outdoors, Mashpee offers some great places where you’ll enjoy scenic beauty and get close to nature. Here are just few ideas for the nature lovers among you:

  • South Cape Beach State Park
  • Lowell Holly Reservations
  • Mashpee River Reservation
  • Mashpee national wildlife preserve
  • Quashnet Conservation Area

Still more things in Mashpee you’ll want to check out:

  • Mashpee Commons – offers shopping and dining options. You’ll also find several good places to rent stand up paddle boards
  • Old Indian Meeting House – built in 1684, it’s the oldest Native American church in the eastern US, and the oldest church on Cape Cod.
  • Naukabout Beer Company – small batch craft brewery with “hop-forward” beers.
  • Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum – cultural center in Mashpee and the only known museum devoted exclusively to Wampanoag history. You’ll find ancient artifacts, heirlooms, and a typical scene from an early Wampanoag settlement.
  • Mashpee One Room Schoolhouse – built in 1831and one of the town’s first two school buildings, constructed for underprivileged Wampanoag children.
  • Cape Cod Children’s Museum – interactive play-&-learn exhibits for ages 6 months to 8 years old.
  • Mashpee Mini Golf – family mini-golf in the heart of Mashpee Commons
  • Cleveland Island – a small, heavily forested island within Wakeby Pond once belonging to President Grover Cleveland.
  • Swiss Healing Center – wellness, yoga, massage, healing, and more.

Mid Cape Towns & Villages

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Marshland in Cape Cod

In some ways, Mid Cape Cod offers the best of both worlds: “getting away” from it all, but having bustling town centers and mainstream stores close at hand. The Mid Cape cities (Barnstable) and towns in Cape Cod include:

  • Barnstable
  • Yarmouth
  • Dennis


The town of Barnstable is an underrated Cape Cod destination with lots to do. It is the largest community in terms of acreage and population, perhaps the most famous being Hyannis, former home to the Kennedy’s.

Towns & Villages of Barnstable

You can explore villages of Barnstable, including some that are very well known and others less famous.

  • The Village of Barnstable (Cummaquid)
  • Centerville
  • Cotuit
  • Hatchville
  • Hyannis (includes Hyannis Port and West Hyannis Port)
  • Osterville
  • West Barnstable
  • Craigville
  • Marston Mills

Beaches in Barnstable

Since Barnstable is the biggest town down the Cape, it should be no surprise that you’ll find plenty of beaches here.

On the ocean side, you’ll find:

  • Craigville Beach
  • Hyannis Port Beach
  • Millway Beach
  • Veterans Park Beach
  • Keyes Memorial Beach
  • Kalmus Beach
  • Dowses Beach
  • Lewis Bay Beach
  • Loop Beach
  • Kalmus Park Beach
  • Ropes Beach
  • Eugenia Fortes Beach
  • Keegan Beach
  • Long Neck Beack
  • Ocean Avenue Beach
  • Wianno Beach
  • Pompanesset Beach
  • South Cape Beach
  • Hanks Beach
  • Riley’s Beach (Mother’s Beach)
  • Oysters Harbor Beach
  • Covell’s Beach

On the Bay Side, check out:

  • Sandy Neck Beach
  • Scorton Neck Beach
  • Millway Beach

Pond Beaches in Barnstable

And then there are the Pond Beaches:

  • Joshua Pond Beach
  • Wequaquet Lake Beach
  • Cousins Cove
  • Main Beach
  • Quiet Beach

Of course, there’s so muck to do in Barnstable, beyond the beach.

JFK fans, you’ll especially want to explore Hyannis in-depth.

That’s because John F. Kennedy loved to vacation in Hyannis Port, particularly at what’s known as The Kennedy Compound. These three houses on six acres overlooking Nantucket Sound have a long history in the Kennedy family.

It was originally a cottage purchased by Joseph P. Kennedy in 1926. During John F. Kennedy’s presidency, it served as a summer white house and presidential retreat.

Today, you can view the property from a distance, but it is privately owned. Instead, visit the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and Hyannis Kennedy Legacy Trail. You can save money by purchasing a sightseeing pass.

More Fun Things to Do in Barnstable

Here are some other fun things to do:

Cape Cod Maritime Museum – boat-building exhibits and features on the maritime history of Cape Cod

You can take the Ferry to Nantucket from Hyannis.

Visit Mass Audobon’s Barnstable Great Marsh to see expansive salt marsh views, two open ponds, shady oak woodlands, wildlife.

In Barnstable, you’ll also find an airport, a mall, and the Cape Codder hotel/water park.

Rest Assured, in Barnstable, you’ll have no trouble finding great food and places to stay. For seafood, we love the Black Cat Tavern in Hyannis. You can sit on the heated deck and watch the boats in the harbor, or enjoy the nautical theme indoors.

If you time it right, you might even catch some live music.


In addition to beaches and New England charm, both historic and scenic, Yarmouth also offers plenty of hiking trails and picturesque cranberry bogs to admire. The bogs bloom in early July and are harvested in September and October.

Villages of Yarmouth

There are a few different areas in Yarmouth you’ll want to explore:

  • Bass River
  • South Yarmouth
  • West Yarmouth
  • Yarmouth Port

Beaches in Yarmouth

Yarmouth has multiple sea water and fresh water beaches.

Salt Water Beaches:

  • Bay View Beach
  • Colonial Acres Beach
  • Englewood Beach
  • Seagull Beach
  • Smuggler’s Beach
  • Parker’s River Beach
  • Sea View Beach
  • South Middle Beach
  • Wilbur Park Beach
  • Windmill Beach
  • Bass Hole (Gray’s Beach)

Fresh Water Beaches

  • Long Pond Wing’s Grove
  • Flax Pond Recreation Area
  • Sandy Pond Recreation Area
  • Dennis Pond

Things to Do In Yarmouth

You might like to climb the 30-foot cobblestone Scargo Tower, built in 1874, for a look out over Scargo Lake, or walk the Captain’s Mile, a self-guided walking tour of 54 original Captains homes from the late 1700s to early 1800s.

Yarmouth It’s also the home to the Cape Cod Potato Chip! Opt for a self-guided tour and help yourself to a sample at the end.

A fun thing to do in Cape Cod is to check out the Cape Cod Lighthouses from Wings Neck Light to Race Point Light. Along the way, make sure to stop at Yarmouth’s Point Gammon Lighthouse. You’ll find it on the southern tip of Great Island.

Similarly, follow the windmill trail of Cape Cod to discover traditional windmills in Yarmouth like Sautucket Mill, Judah Baker, and Farris Mill.

Or, stop for Grist Mills, like the Baxter Grist Mill on Route 28 Yarmouth at Grist Mill Park. (Insider Tip: You’ll find other Grist Mills on Route 130 in Sandwich and Satucket Road in Brewster.

More Things to Do in Yarmouth

And there’s still more to do in Yarmouth!

Have a look-see at The Taylor Bray Farm, a 22-acre working farm which gives tours.

You’ll find a long boardwalk over the marshes at Gray’s Beach, making an excellent spot for photography, especially at sunset.

And, you can enjoy a variety of water sports in Yarmouth, from kayaking and paddle-boarding to parasailing and jet-skis.

Finally, for a look at some whimsical surrealism, plan a visit to the Edward Gorey House, featuring the work of children’s writer/illustrator, Edward Gorey.

If you’re looking for a great place to eat, try the historic Yarmouth Inn. You’ll love their fresh warm rolls with whipped butter served before classic New England fare–and the ambiance is great.

Where to Stay in Yarmouth

If you’re looking for the charm of a historic inn in Yarmouth that’s a short drive from the best Cape Cod beaches and top attractions, you’ll want to consider staying at Chapter House. In addition to enjoying the updated bar and four season porch here, this gorgeous 21-room boutique inn in Yarmouth Port offers luxury accommodations.

You can stay in the 3-story main house or the fully remodeled carriage house. It’s one of the largest inns on Cape Cod.

Chapter House is the newest addition to Baxter Hospitality’s portfolio, a family run, husband-and-wife team who also runs Sesuit Harbor House in Dennis. (More about that, below.)


As you approach Dennis, you are nearing the center of the Cape.

I must admit, for many years, I mistakenly overlooked this part of the Cape, either staying closer to home or just passing through to visit family in Brewster. Boy, was I missing out!

Trust me – you won’t regret making Dennis part of your Cape Cod visit.

Villages of Dennis

Dennis can be broken down into 5 villages you might want to explore:

  • Dennisport Village
  • Dennis Village
  • East Dennis
  • South Dennis Village
  • West Dennis Village

Beaches in Dennis

You’ll find beaches in Dennis on the Atlantic side of the Cape and also on the Bay side.

Atlantic Beaches in Dennis

  • West Dennis Beach
  • South Village Beach
  • Sea Street Beach
  • Raycroft Beach

Bayside Beaches in Dennis

  • Chapen Memorial Beach
  • Corporation Beach
  • Cold Storage Beach
  • Mayflower Beach
  • Glendon Road Beach
  • Haigis Beach
  • Sesuit Beach
  • Princess Beach
  • Inman Road Beach
  • Scargo Beach
  • Howe’s Street Beach

You can also enjoy kayaking and canoeing at Swan Pond River.

Where to Stay and Eat in Dennis

We recently stayed over at what was once known as “The Dennis Motel.” It’s now called the Sesuit Harbor House and is more like a friendly family resort than anything I’d call a motel. In fact, we look forward to a return visit! You can read my full Sesuit Harbor House review here.

Another place you don’t want to miss out on is the Sesuit Harbor Cafe, where you can have a delicious lobster roll and all sorts of other fresh seafood (including a raw bar) overlooking the water.

The same talented family runs Encore Bistro, which offers more formal dining and creative fare. Encore is conveniently located right next to The Cape Cod Art Museum and The Cape Playhouse.

It’s also convenient to the Dennis common, where you might find apple festivals and other interesting community activities at this time of year.

Another great place to eat and/or drink is at The Pheasant. It’s in a historic farmhouse and serves up New England coastal inspired New American farm-to-table dishes using Cape Cod sourced ingredients. The food and drinks are a foodie heaven!

Other Things To See and Do in Dennis

  • Scargo Stoneware Pottery & Art Gallery – beautiful but practical handmade dishes, mugs, and bakeware.
  • Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm – pick your own blueberries in July and August.
  • Josiah Dennis Manse and Old West Schoolhouse – recently restored original home of the Rev. Dennis depicting 17th century life, including knowledgeable period-dressed staff.
  • Annies Crannies – a beautiful bog with a gift shop open in October through mid-November. Gifts include Bogside Honey, Beeswax Candles, Jams, Cranberry Recipes, Soaps and Annies’ Crannies Gift Boxes.

Lower Cape Cod Towns & Villages of Cape Cod

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The Lower Cape Cod Towns are about 1.5 hours or 90 miles from the bridge. They represent some of my favorite Cape Cod towns and include:

  • Brewster
  • Harwich
  • Chatham
  • Orleans


We spent a lot of time in Brewster when my children were young because my in-laws had a condo there. A visit to Brewster brings back many fond memories for that reason alone. You’ll find there is much to love about Brewster, whether you travel with children or, as we do now, as empty-nesters. It’s one of the best towns in Cape Cod to visit.

Villages of Brewster, MA

There are several villages of Brewster to check out, including:

  • Brewster Village
  • East Brewster
  • Factory Village
  • West Brewster

Beaches in Brewster, MA

All of Brewster’s beaches are on the bay side of the Cape, and the tides go way out, leaving miles of the “Brewster Flats.” This is perfect for crabbing, shellfishing, or simply long strolls on the beach.

You’ll also find this leaves many tidal pools, where warm waters are shallow and perfect for young children. Parking is very limited and many spots call for a sticker.

The beaches include:

  • Breakwater Beach
  • Paines Creek Beach
  • Crosby Landing Beach
  • Robins Hill Beach
  • Mants Landing
  • Ellis Landing Beach
  • Point of Rocks Landing Beach
  • Town Beach
  • Linnell Landing Beach
  • Saints Landing Beach
  • Long Pond Brewster Beach
  • Skaket Beach
  • Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club Beach – perfect if you also love golf courses!

Freshwater Ponds in Brewster, MA

You might be interested to know that there are many ponds in Brewster to explore, too! They are:

  • Cliff Pond
  • Cliff Pond Trail
  • Little Cliff Pond
  • Higgins Pond
  • Seymour Pond
  • Sheep Pond
  • Walkers Pond
  • Cobbs Pond
  • Upper Mill Pond
  • Flax Pond
  • Slough Pond
  • Blueberry Pond
  • Pine Pond
  • Owl Pond
  • Blueberry Pond
  • Griffiths Pond
  • Black Pond
  • Schoolhouse Pond
  • Greenland Pond
  • Eel Pond

Things to Do in Brewster, MA

No doubt, you’ll want to check out these attractions while you’re in Brewster:

  • Nickerson State Park – over 1,900 acres of state-owned, public recreation area with scrub pine and multiple kettle ponds.
  • Cape Cod Museum of Natural History – a small museum about natural history and archeology.
  • Cape Cod Rail Trail – a 25.5-mile paved rail trail passing through Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. Perfect on foot or bike! (Tip: You can rent a bike right on Underpass Road.)
  • You’ll also find some interesting boutique shops here and there in Brewster, as well as antique barns, artist galleries, and a garden center.

Brewster is truly a beautiful town worth exploring when you visit Cape Cod.


Harwich is one of the best places to visit in Cape Cod, especially since you’ll find so many unique villages to explore.

Villages of Harwich

Harwich has 7 villages:

  1. East Harwich Village
  2. Harwich Center Village
  3. Harwichport Village
  4. North Harwich Village
  5. Pleasant Lake Village
  6. South Harwich Village
  7. West Harwich Village

Beaches in Harwich

Harwich has some of the loveliest beaches. Here they are:

  • Atlantic Avenue Beach
  • Bank Street
  • Earle Road Beach
  • Fernandes Bog (Long Pond)
  • Grey Neck Beach
  • Pleasant Road
  • Red River
  • Sand Pond
  • Wixon Memorial Beach (Long Pond)
  • Cahoon Beach Landing (Long Pond)
  • Jackknife Beach
  • Wah Way Taysee Beach
  • Merkel Beach
  • Uncle Venies Parkhead Beach

Things to Do in Harwich

There are some great art galleries

  • Art galleries, including The Art Gallery of The Guild of Harwich Artists
  • winery
  • Brooks Academy Museum
  • Murphy’s General Store
  • Dr. Gravity’s Kite Store
  • Cap’n Kids Fishing Adventures
  • Monomoy Island Excursions
  • Freedom Cruise Line
  • Yankee II Deep Sea Fishing
  • Cranberry Bog Tours

If you love the look and scent of Lavender, visit the 12-acre Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich.

Related Article: Have a look at another amazing lavender farm in Nova Scotia here.

Grab an ice cream at Schoolhouse Ice Cream.

At the end of the day, check out the Mooncussers Tavern and retire to the Wequasset Resort and Golf Club.


Villages of Chatham, MA

  1. Chatham Port
  2. Chatham Village
  3. North Chatham
  4. South Chatham
  5. West Chatham

Beaches in Chatham, MA

  • Forest Beach
  • Ridgevale Beach
  • Harding Beach
  • Keegan Lighthouse Beach
  • Cockle Cove Beach
  • Chatham Lighthouse Beach
  • Oyster Pond Beach
  • North Beach Island
  • Jackknife Beach
  • Monomoy Beach
  • South Beach
  • North Beach Island
  • Little Beach
  • National Seashore

Things To Do in Chatham

  • The downtown area has some really quaint shops
  • Explore Monomoy and Morris Island, incredible nature preserves
  • See the Sulfur Spring Marshes
  • Check out Mill Creek or Cockle Grove Creek
  • Chatham Bars is known for their spas and they have a great pub.
  • Yoga on the Beach at the Lighthouse
  • Definitely take a seal tour
  • Tour the Shark Center
  • The Godfrey WIndmill
  • Atwood Museum

I really enjoyed my stay at the Chatham Tides Inn, which has its own private beach and a view to Monomoy on the southern shore of Chatham. My suite had its own kitchenette, and it was a perfect place for a solo overnight in Chatham (full review here).

For upscale accommodations, head to Chatham Bars Inn.


You’ll find that some towns on the Cape are really driven by tourism and shut down in the off-season.

Not Orleans.

This New England Community offers a happening down town, wildlife preserves, and lots to see and do. In fact, it’s one of the best places to live on Cape Cod..

Villages of Orleans

There are three villages in Orleans:

  1. East Orleans
  2. Orleans Center
  3. South Orleans

Beaches of Orleans

Of course, there’s no shortage of beaches, either”

  • Big Waves Side
  • Nauset Beach
  • Skaket Beach
  • Orleans Beach
  • Coast Guard Beach
  • Cape Cod National Seashore
  • Bayside
  • Sunken Meadow Beach
  • Cooks Brook
  • Rock Harbor
  • Thumpertown Beach


  • Tonset Road Beach
  • Priscilla Beach
  • Hog Island
  • Pochet Island
  • Orleans Parks & Beaches

Check out these outstanding art galleries while you’re there, too:

  • Addison Galleries
  • Tree’s Place
  • Collins Gallery

Outer Cape Towns & Villages

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On the outer cape, the land starts to narrow.

Only a single main road, Route 6, will take you to the tip of Cape Cod. Here, you’ll find some of the more quiet towns of the Cape, depending on the location and season.

But this stretch of coastal villages are vibrant and unique, and have some of the best of the cape. If you care to take the drive from the bridge, it’s two hours without traffic.

The towns of the Outer Cape include:

  • Eastham
  • Welfleet
  • Truro
  • Provincetown


Eastham is another of the best towns to visit in Cape Cod.

Villages of Eastham

  • North Eastham

Beaches of Eastham

  • Boat Meadow Beach
  • Campground Beach
  • Coast Guard Beach
  • Cooks Brook Beach
  • Dyer Prince Beach
  • First Encounter Beach
  • Great Pond
  • Herring Brook Beach
  • Kingsbury Beach
  • Sunken Meadow Beach
  • Thumpertown Beach
  • Wiley Park

Things To Do in Eastham

Eastham is rich with history and attractions, if you know where to look.

Here are some ideas:

  • Visit the Captain Penniman House
  • Check out Dill Beach Camp (a dune shack)
  • Tour Swift Daley House
  • Visit the Chester Ranlett Tool Museum and the 1869 Schoolhouse Museum
  • Have a closer look at Nauset Light and Three Sisters Lighthouses
  • Learn about the Site of the “First Encounter”
  • Visit the Olde Eastham Windmill
  • Walk around the Old Coast Guard Station
  • Discover Doane Rock
  • Learn about French Cable Hut 
  • Explore the Cove Burying Ground and Bridge Road Cemetery 
  • Go kayaking in the marshlands
  • Ride the Nauset Bike Trail and Cape Cod Rail Trail
  • Explore the Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary with it’s scenic trails and overlooks.


Villages of Wellfleet

Wellfleet has two villages:

  • South Wellfleet
  • Welfleet Village

Beaches of Wellfleet

Many of these beaches feel like you’re at the ends of the Earth!

  • Cahoon Hollow Beach
  • Duck Harbor
  • Great Pond
  • Gull Pond
  • Indian Neck Beach
  • Lecount Hollow Beach
  • Long Pond Beach
  • Mayo Beach
  • Newcomb Hollow
  • Powers Landing
  • Whitecrest Beach
  • Marconi Beach

Things To Do in Wellfleet

  • Have a drink and catch live music at The Beachcomber
  • Get a chocolate croissant at Boulangerie, a French bakery
  • Look for the trans-Atlantic station at Marconi Beach, the Marconi Wireless Station. (You’ll find the counterpart station in Orleans.)
  • Get close to Nature at the White Cedar Swamp, Great Island Trail, and Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Go bargain hunting at the Wellfleet Flea Market
  • Search for a fine art piece to take home from so many galleries


Villages in Truro

There are three villages in Truro:

  • North Truro
  • South Truro
  • Truro Center

Beaches in Truro

You’ll also find some of the best soft-sand beaches here, including:

  • Ballston Beach
  • Coast Guard Beach – Truro
  • Cold Storage Beach
  • Corn Hill Beach
  • Great Hollow
  • Head of the Meadow
  • High Head
  • Longnook Beach
  • Pond Village
  • Ryder Beach
  • Fisher Beach

Things To Do in Truro

Here are some things you might like to do in Truro:

  • Visit Highland Light
  • See the Truro Historical Museum and Truro Highland House Museum
  • Walk the Pamet Area Trails and Pilgrim Spring Trails
  • Relax by the Pamet River
  • Look for the Cranberry Bog with an old house for the workers.
  • Take a bike ride on the Province Lands Bike Trail
  • Play Highland Links — Cape Cod’s oldest golf course
  • Check out the Whydah Pirate Museum on MacMillan Wharf
  • Stay over at this hostel at the old life guard building, one of only three hostels on Cape Cod (the others are Nantucket, Hyannis).
  • Sample wine at Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod


“P-Town,” as it’s known by the locals, offers a vibrant community, LGBT communities, a thriving arts community, theatre and music, and perhaps some of the most beautiful beaches along the National Seashore.

Commercial Street runs along the waterfront and is a bustling area where you’ll find many little shops, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment venues.

Note: It can get crowded at the height of tourist season, but that’s part of the attraction!

Beaches in Provincetown

You’ll also find several great beaches in Provincetown, including:

  • Herring Cove Beach
  • Race Point Beach
  • Cape Cod National Seashore
  • Long Point Beach
  • Bayside Beach

Things to Do in P-Town

Arts Dune Tours are fantastic. It’s one of the last operating tours allowed to ride through the dunes. Along the way, you’ll see the famous “Dune Shacks,” former rudimentary summer homes to artists during the 70s. Most are without electricity or running water. You can even apply for an artist’s residency.

Tip: A great way to see parts of the national seashore that are off-limits, like the dunes, is by taking a Dune Tour, where you’ll get a look at the famous Dune Shacks and maybe have a lobster bake at Race Point. The Dune Shacks were rudimentary places that were built or used by artists. Most are without electricity or indoor plumbing. A few are still open for artist residencies.

Of course, there’s plenty more to do in Provincetown. Here are just a couple of ideas.

  • Explore the Beech Forest Trails, walk around kettle ponds (self-guided) and woods.
  • Climb Pilgrim Monument, where you can climb up and on the way, find each of the Massachusetts towns etched into the bricks. (The view at the top is wonderful!)
  • Check out the Race Point Lighthouse
  • Visit the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), which preserves and showcases artists from the Cape and Islands.

That said, you may just want to go with the flow here, because there’s always something interesting going on in P-town!

The Cape Cod Islands

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Two famous Massachusetts islands are off the shores of Cape Cod: Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, along with a small string of islands known as the Elizabethan Islands. They make up Dukes County.


Nantucket has a history that’s intertwined with the whaling industry.

At one point in time, it was considered the whaling capital of the world. By today’s standards and understanding of the cruel whaling industry, one might be horrified. But in the 1800s, it was a seat of honor that brought wealth and fame to Nantucket.

In fact, the book Moby Dick was set off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

A “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” meant a whaling boat was dragged on a dangerous ride in the ocean by a harpooned whale.

While the annuls of history are marked in the Whaling Museum, islanders are sensitive to the cruelty of whale hunting. After all, by 1760, they had all but eliminated the whale population in pursuit of oil, blubber and money.

It’s interesting to note that while the husbands were away, Nantucket was essentially a female-driven economy. The downtown was known as “Petticoat Row” in the 19th century.

Now, Nantucket is a fashionable summer resort with quaint Cape Cod homes and retreats and cobblestone paths. It’s said to be one of the best preservations of an 18th- and early 19th-century New England seaport town.

We stayed at the Cliff Lodge Bed & Breakfast, which was a short stroll to the downtown in a beautiful Victorian inn. It couldn’t have been more ideal.

Towns and Villages of Nantucket

There’s only one town in Nantucket:

  • Nantucket Town

There are several villages in Nantucket:

  • Coskata
  • Madaket
  • Polpis
  • Shawkemo
  • Siasconset
  • Wauwinet

You’ll find a small hamlet in the eastern part of the island known as Siasconset lined with rose-covered former fishing villages and crushed white shell paths.

There are also two small islands, Tuckernuck and Muskeget, that comprise the Town and County of Nantucket.

In the downtown, you’ll find art galleries and breakfast nooks, gracious beds & breakfasts just off the thoroughfare.

In early April, the annual Daffodil Parade strolls through the downtown with all sorts of vintage vehicles decorated with this yellow harbinger of spring.

Nantucket is often foggy (hence its nickname, “The Gray Lady”), and you’ll discover three lighthouses on the island for this reason.

Nantucket Draws the Rich and Famous

While the population is just over 10,000 Cape Cod islanders, it rises to over 50,000 in the summer months. It still attracts the wealthiest Americans, with property values among the highest in the country.

The best way to get to Nantucket (aside from a private boat) is the ferry from Hyannis or Harwich Port. You’ll also find ferries from New York City, NY, and New Bedford MA. Note that the car ferry is often booked months in advance. Depending on your departure, the ride can take from 1 to 3 hours.

There is also an inter-island boat that runs between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard every hour or so in peak season.

Alternatively, you can fly into the Nantucket Memorial Airport on a private plane, or from Boston, New York, and Hyannis,

Beaches in Nantucket

Even though Nantucket is a fairly small island (about 105 square miles), as you might expect, there are plenty of beaches…80 miles of beaches, to be exact. All of them are open to the public. They include:

  • Brant Point Beach (& Lighthouse)
  • Dionis Beach
  • Cisco Beach
  • Jetties Beach
  • Ladies Beach
  • Madaket Beach
  • Miacomet Beach
  • Steps Beach
  • Surfside Beach

The island is very flat and you can see most everything by car.

Things To Do In Nantucket

Aside from renting a jeep and picnicking on the beach, you’ll find plenty to do in Nantucket. For instance:

  • You can shop and dine in the downtown.
  • Take the Bluff Walk through Rose-Covered Cottages.
  • Explore the island on bicycle.
  • You can visit the three Lighthouses on Nantucket:
    • Brant Point Light
    • Sankaty Head Light
    • Great Point Light
  • Check out fishing activities in Nantucket on Viator
  • Finally, Visit the Jethro Coffin House, thought to be the oldest house on the island in its original state.

What to Wear in Nantucket

Nantucket may just be the most formal of the Cape Cod destinations, where you’ll want to pack a string of pearls, your stripes, and khakis for men. The social scene is part of the draw for this exclusive destination. Don’t be surprised if you bump into some politicians and Hollywood types.

Martha’s Vineyard

Going to “The Vineyard” is a favorite pastime for the locals and world travelers.

With Nantucket, it was a prosperous center for the whaling industry in the 19th century.

It’s known for world class beaches, fresh seafood, and a laid-back lifestyle.

You’ll find excellent restaurants and bars, as well as live music. It’s an exclusive destination—and also one of the priciest places to vacation, according to TripIndex. But, so worth it, even if you only have time for a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard—but try to spend the weekend!

Kelly HouseHarborside Inn, and the Ashley Inn are excellent lodging options.

To get to Martha’s Vineyard, you can take the ferry from Woods Hole in Falmouth. It’s about a 45-minute ride, weather depending. You can also arrive by air, as Martha’s Vineyard has a small airport. (Remember the TV show “Wings”?)

Towns and Villages in Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard is about 100 square miles and has six towns:

  • Aquinnah
  • Chilmark
  • Edgartown
  • Oak Bluffs
  • Tisbury
  • West Tisbury

Chappaquiddick is an eastern peninsula and sometimes island in Edgartown.

On approach by sea, you’ll love the gingerbread houses dotting Oak Bluffs’ waterfront.

Vineyard Haven is the most commercial of Martha’s Vineyard’s villages, where you’ll find plenty of downtown shopping, the main port of entry to the island, and bikes to rent.

Edgartown is a bit more quaint and upscale, while Oak Bluffs is a little more lively.

You’ll find luxury retreats and waterfront vacation rentals in West Tisbury.

If you’re looking for a more tranquil, relaxing sort of vacation, opt for Aquinnah, Chilmark, or Menemsha (a village in the fishing town of Chilmark).

Related Article: Read more about what to do on Martha’s Vineyard here.

Beaches in Martha’s Vineyard

As you might expect, there is no shortage of beaches on this island paradise.

  • Aquinnah: Gay Head Cliffs and Beach, Aquinnah Public Beach (Moshup Beach), Lobsterville Beach, Philbin Beach
  • Chilmark: Lucy Vincent Beach, Menemsha Public Beach, Squibnocket Beach
  • Oak Bluffs: Eastville Beach, Oak Bluffs Town Beach, ​Joseph Sylvia State Beach
  • Vineyard Haven: Lake Tashmoo Town Beach, Owen Park Beach, ​Tisbury Town Beach
  • Edgartown: East Beach (Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and Wasque Reservation), Fuller Street Beach, ​Katama Beach (South Beach), Lighthouse Beach
  • West Tisbury: Lambert’s Cove Beach, Long Point Beach (at Wildlife Refuge)

MV is a favorite summer retreat for some famous personalities, too. For instance:

  • Newscaster Walter Cronkite
  • Historian Henry Louis Gates,
  • Former US President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

Among the famous who took up residence in Martha;s Vineyard are:

  • First lady Jackie Kennedy
  • Television host David Letterman
  • Journalist Diane Sawyer
  • Film director Spike Lee.

Going to Martha’s Vineyard is a very different experience than visiting the rest of Cape Cod. If you can possibly schedule a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard, you won’t regret it.

The Elizabeth Islands

You may not hear much about the Elizabeth Islands, but those who know of them, love them.

You’ll find this archipelago of 22 small islands and islets southwest off the coast of Cape Cod and north of Martha’s Vineyard. They make up the Cape Cod town of Gosnold, named after the first white man who landed here in 1602 (Barthomele Gosnold). Prior to his landing, the islands were inhabited by Wampanoag Indians. All the islands together amount to only about 13 square miles of property.

The seven major islands of the Elizabeth Islands include:

  • Cuttyhunk Island
  • Naushan Island
  • Nashawena Island
  • Penikese Island
  • Pasqua Island
  • Nonamesset
  • Uncantena

Today, all but two of this island chain are owned by the Forbes family since the mid-1800s, which leaves limited public access. Only two of the islands, Cuttyhunk and Penikese, are open to the public.

The only way to access these islands is by boat.

Penikese Island, a former leper colony, is currently home to a state-owned wildlife sanctuary worth exploring.

If you don’t have a private boat, you can get to Cuttyhunk on the Ferry service year round out of New Bedford. You might even take one of the local cruise tours and make plans to stay overnight in Cuttyhunk.

Towns Near Cape Cod

There are a handful of towns sometimes thought to be part of the Cape, but technically, they are not. This includes Plymouth and Wareham. Both are lovely to visit as part of your Cape Cod travels when you’re nearby.

Final Thoughts – Towns | Cape Cod

So, from the Bourne Bridge to the tip of Race Point Beach, you can see how much there is to see and do in Cape Cod. (No wonder it’s loved by so many!)

Now that you have a better idea about what each of these charming and different towns of Cape Cod has to offer, you can begin to plan your summer adventures from these Cape Cod best towns. To enhance your experience, you will want to checkout these awesome Cape Cod tours and activities from Viator. But don’t wait too long because this popular destination books up early in the year!

Do you have a favorite Cape Cod town or village? Which of these towns of Cape Cod do you think would be the best “home base” for your vacation? We’d love to hear tour thoughts in the comments below!

Jackie Gately at the beach

About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

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Photo Credits: Fishermans Wharf, Sandwich, Brewster Mill: Image by John French; Saltmarsh Image by Jennifer Crowder, Aquinnah; Pilgrim Monument portrait: Image by Mark Martins Image by D_Theodora; all via Pixabay | Post Card: By Pub. by The Mayflower Sales Co., Provincetown, Mass. Tichnor Bros. Inc., Boston, Mass. – Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers collection #62797, Public Domain; Cuttyhunk – By Arwcheek, Wiki Commons Public Domain


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18 thoughts on “The Best Towns of Cape Cod to Explore When You Visit”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this – so much essential information and has really inspired to me look more into visiting the area as it’s been on my bucket list for many years. I also never knew there we so many islands!!

    Laura x

    • My pleasure, Laura. I’m a little spoiled to live so close to this beautiful destination. I hope you get the chance to visit Cape Cod soon!

  2. First of all, the geography of Cape Cod is interesting, the way it looks like a horn into the ocean. It is the home to the 2nd longest vertical lift bridge in the world? Wow!!! Falmouth Beaches seem interesting. Good to know we can get a pass for them together and some are free as well. I’d love to check out the Mashpee Wildlife Preserve and conservation area. That’s totally my kinda place to visit.

    • Happy to introduce you to this beautiful section of Massachusetts! I hope you do get a chance to see it for yourself soon. 😀

  3. That was a lovely post on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I think all these beach towns of Cape Cod are special in their own way and earn a historical significance because of the earliest pilgrims landing there and how some of the places still bear native names. Cape Cod is famous for its seafood, beaches and laid back lifestyle. I would love to visit Martha’s vineyard and Nantucket to check out the “Dune shacks” and the celebrity homes.

    • Sounds like a great plan, Puloma. The Dune Shacks are pretty cool, among the other attractions, too!

  4. Love your extensive guide to Cape Cod which I only had limited knowledge of. So good to know the towns and places to explore when there. The beaches have always attracted us as we love relaxing for hours together. Brant Point Beach with the Lighthouse should be nice. And so should be the others I guess as well like Dennis Beach, Cisco Beach, Steps Beach & Surfside Beach.

    • All of those choices are excellent. I appreciate the kind words, too. The Cape is a great place for relaxing, alone or with company!

  5. Wow! There are so many beaches and interesting places in Massachusetts. Pity I had not read your post when I visited it three years ago. I specially would like to visit the Elizabeth islands. I did a sailing tour when I was in Salem and I specially liked that area. I will keep this post on on file for the next time I will visit Massachusetts.

    • It’s true! I’m glad you got a taste of Massachusetts when you visited last! Definitely check out the Cape & Islands, and if you can, the Elizabeth Islands, too!

      • The Cape is impressive, indeed. There are so many places to visit and relish. To visit all the beaches sounds like it could take weeks. But I definitely have a taste for the islands. I just like tranquility and the nature side of them. The villages differ in their own way as well. It would be nice to visit them and learn about the culture and traditions.

        • Yes, Ossama – you are exactly right about all of this! It sounds to me that you would enjoy Cape Cod, for sure.

  6. We have read a lot about Cape Cod but sadly have not yet had the chance to visit. I did not know there were so many great small towns to visit in Cape Cod. And some with funny names like Sandwich and Mashpee! I think we would need to plan a long enough visit to enjoy several of these on one … or more … visits. Taking a wine or bike tour would be a fun way to see several spots. So many great places for fresh seafood. Keeping this for future planning. A great comprehensive guide.

    • Happy to inspire a visit to the Cape, Linda! It’s one of my favorite places. 🙂 Yes, the names are quite unusual, many based on Native American language. Expect to mispronounce more than a few!

  7. This is an excellent and detailed guide to Cape Cod. I really had no idea there were so many parts and villages to see here! I’d love to really see them all, but Sandwich, Bourne and Dennis have peaked my interest. So cool that they all have a ton of beaches to visit too, I’m sure they’re all beautiful.

    • Thanks, Lisa! You’ve made some good picks, and no shortage of beaches down the Cape! Hope you get the opportunity to see for yourself.

  8. Wow, what an extensive guide to this region, some of the names of places here are so interesting or odd. I didn’t know there were so many cool towns and places to explore here in Cape Cod, it looks perfect for doing a road trip and visiting most of these cool and fun communities and towns.

    • Cape Cod is a whole world of its own, Noel! A road trip is an excellent idea, with so many opportunities to explore. Great suggestion!

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