Over these years living in Boston, I could not count how many times I have been to the Cape, either a day trip or a short staycation, with a group of friends or as a couple. To me, Cape Cod is like Cheung Chau (長洲) or Lamma Island (南丫島) in Hong Kong, where you can get away from the city and be closer to the nature, and most importantly to relax from the busy city life, yet it’s still close to home and does not break the bank.
One of my life dreams is to have a vacation home in the Cape. It was a distant dream because I did not think that I could do it all by myself. After I met D, now my husband, it became one of our life goals. It started when we went to the Cape together for the first time for his friend’s wedding. He asked me how come we never thought of doing a trip in the Cape. I told him I suggested it before but he never really responded to my question =.= Since then we go to the Cape every summer. He also liked the idea of having a vacation home. So every year, I tried to plan to stay in a different town to see if it can be potentially the location of our future vacation home 😀
Since I have been there so many times, here I’m trying to put together what to do or where to eat, or what I think about each town. These are all solely my own experience. There would be places or restaurants that are good that I don’t know of. So I can only recommend what I have done or have researched, so that my friends can plan their trips with some help and with my personal experience.
First, about the beaches in Cape Cod……
There is no free parking! Most of the beaches in Cape Cod require you to pay an entrance fee. They also have daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal passes. Prices and rules are different in each town. Some of the beaches have “beach hours”, and you can park in the lot for free outside the beach hours. To take advantage of it, I like to go to the Old Silver Beach in Falmouth after 5pm to see the sunset 🙂
August 25 is National Park Service Birthday, so entrance fee is waived at 6 of the national seashore beaches.
Here you can find some free parking beaches in the Cape.
Warm water beaches are the ones facing south/Nantucket Sound, including the ones in Falmouth.
Beaches facing north have freezing cold water!
I always avoid going to the ones facing north!
It is a good stopping point before crossing the bridges to the Cape. We went there a few times either for fishing or just to watch the boats going by on the Cape Cod Canal. It is nice to take a stroll along the paved bike path with a view of the gorgeous Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge. There is also public bathroom if there is too much traffic crossing the Sagamore Bridge :p
Sandwich is probaly the first town that you pass by after crossing the Sagamore Bridge. We have stayed there once. What I like about staying in Sandwich is that it is relatively closer to Boston, thus a shorter drive. It still has what Cape Cod has offered, like the sereneness and the beaches, yet you don’t have to drive 30min or 15 miles more to Hyannis, especially traffic is bad during summer.
That time that we stayed in Sandwich was because I wanted to visit Falmouth, and it was still easy to drive to Hyannis for more actions and restaurants.
Things to do
Sandwich has Broadwalk Beach and near the border of Barnstable has Sandy Neck Beach. Both require entrance fee. We went to Sandy Neck Beach once. Water was freezing cold though, and the beach was a bit rocky.
- Sandwich Fish Hatchery
They have different kinds and sizes of trouts. Bring quarters so you can buy some fish pellets to feed the fishes. Kids would love it!
Places to eat
- Cafe Chew
It is a nice cafe in a plaza where there is outdoor seating. The sandwiches were pretty good. We had the best pancake there for breakfast. So buttery yet so fluffy! Highly recommend this place! There we saw an old lady reading her book. We overheard that she retired and lived in Sandwich, and she came to this cafe for breakfast every morning. D felt that it’s kinda like a dream retirement….
It is an average seafood place. I just like their outdoor seating deck a lot as it is overlooking the Cape Cod Canal. It feels very relaxing while you enjoy your meal with sea breeze brushing your face.
Falmouth is not close to the main highway. It is 40mins drive to Hyannis. So if you want to explore other parts of the Cape, I don’t recommend staying in Falmouth. However, Falmouth has the best beach (to me)!
Things to do
My favorite beach in the Cape is in Falmouth! I loveeee Old Silver Beach. It has really fine sand and warm water. It faces west so it is a good place to see sunset. Every time people ask me which beach to go in Cape Cod, I alway tell them Old Silver Beach it is! No entrance fee after 5pm. There is a hotel right on the beach which has their own private section of Old Silver Beach. It has a really nice location but of course it is pricey.
- Woods Hole Science Aquarium
It is an excellent place for kids to learn about sea life in Cape Cod area. They have a touch tank and also twice a day, they feed the seals in an outdoor area in the aquarium. Admission is free and donation is accepted.
- Nobska Point Lighthouse
Picturesque and nice view of the ocean on a clear day.
Place to eat
- Pie In The Sky – nice bakery to stop by to have some coffee or snack.