Plan a Cape Cod Road Trip

Fun Things to do, Places to See, & Recommendations for the Cape

The beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, and quaint backroads of Cape Cod are best seen via road trip. All of these small towns on this Massachusetts peninsula together form one of the largest tourist attractions on the east coast of the United States. Despite that, Cape Cod still remains tranquil, relaxing, and true to its New England roots in many spots. On this page, you can find some of the best beaches on Cape Cod, the best places to see, fun things to do on Cape Cod, and recommended Cape Cod road trip routes. Scroll down to start reading!

Highways of Cape Cod

Main roads and Cape Cod highways

Cape Cod has one major highway that covers the length of the peninsula, along with one other highway that travels across the southern part of the Cape. Route 6 is the main route of Cape Cod. A drive on Route 6 on Cape Cod from start to finish will begin in Bourne near the Sagamore Bridge and Cape Cod Canal and end at Provincetown. Route 6 stays close to the northern part of Cape Cod at first, then stays in the middle as the peninsula heads north in the towns of Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown.

cape cod towns

Route 28 starts at the Bourne Bridge and ends in Orleans. It travels through the towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee, Barnstable, Dennis, Yarmouth, Harwich, Chatham, and finally, Orleans. This road is a much more meandering route than Route 6. Route 28 is a divided highway until Falmouth, then becomes a state road. For the rest of the trip, it hugs close to some of the most well-known harbors of southern Cape Cod, offering beautiful beach views. Route 28 can also be very congested in the summer. Expect heavy traffic backups in almost every town along Route 28. It’s a good idea to get out a map book and take some alternate routes while enjoying the backroads of Cape Cod.

Cape Cod Food

Restaurants and local food of Cape Cod

What type of food does Cape Cod serve up in restaurants, pubs, and cafes? As you could have guessed, seafood is a popular food of Cape Cod. To be more specific, you’ll see plenty of lobster on the menus of Cape Cod, as well as scallops, local oysters, and local cold water Atlantic fish (some of the tastiest and best for you of all types of fish). Cape Cod is also a big ice cream place. Every major tourist town has a few ice cream parlors and shops.

Cape Cod also has plenty of traditional food you’ll find anywhere else, like Italian food, pizza, fried seafood, sandwiches, and American cuisine.

A few tips for dining at restaurants on Cape Cod:

  • If it looks hokey, it might just be hokey. Some restaurants don’t have to be all that good to survive on Cape Cod.
  • Check Trip Advisor if you can before dining. These reviews can really come in handy in pointing out the best restaurants Cape Cod has to offer.
  • Know ahead of time that restaurants will be super crowded on weekend nights (especially in the summer), and sometimes during breakfast and lunch. Plan ahead by visiting during non-peak hours, or making reservations.
  • Eat local foods. Buy seafood that was caught locally for the best flavor.

Cape Cod Beaches

Visit Cape Cod’s most scenic and well-traveled beaches

Cape Cod is best known, of course, for its beaches. This page will point you to some of the best of the best Cape Cod beaches, like Race Point Beach and Rock Harbor in Orleans.

Best Cape Cod Beaches

Things to do on Cape Cod

Enjoy everything Cape Cod has to offer… a few suggested ideas on things to do

  • Spend the day at the beach.
  • Take a whale-watching on Cape Cod Bay.
  • Visit local restaurants. There are hundreds to choose from.
  • Bike the miles of bike paths on Cape Cod.
  • Kayak in creeks, rivers, streams, and coves throughout Cape Cod.
  • Scenic drives in small towns on Cape Cod.
  • Enjoy the local nature. Birdwatching, hiking, fishing, and harbor tours are a great way to do it.
  • Drive around to the tourist hot spots and take photos, or find out of the way hidden beaches and backroads for a unique photo.
  • Visit the Wellfleet Drive-in Movie Theater, one of the few left in the USA.
  • Drive around to find all of Cape Cod’s lighthouses (good idea for a rainy day!).

Whether you visit Cape Cod as a couple, family, or gathering of friends, there’s plenty to do on Cape Cod. Here are some of the ten best places to see on Cape Cod for some more ideas.

Cape Cod Traffic (and How to Avoid it)

Ways to get out of Cape traffic

When you think of traffic, you think of big cities like Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. The last thing you want to think about when visiting a vacation destination is sitting in traffic… yet that’s just what you might wind up doing if you visit Cape Cod in the summer. While getting over the bridges is often the worst part of getting to Cape Cod, there are ways to lessen it. First, know when traffic is the busiest on Cape Cod. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, traffic is at its worst. A month or more before and after Memorial Day/Labor Day there could also be some traffic. Even in the heat of summer, you can still avoid traffic going over the bridge. Plan your trip over the Bourne Bridge or Sagamore Bridge at night on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and you’re much less likely to hit traffic. The later you cross the bridge, the less traffic you’ll encounter. Early mornings before 7 am also have little traffic, on any day of the week. Avoid crossing the bridge like the plague on the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.

Besides the bridges, there are also traffic backups frequently on Route 6 and Route 28. You can use a map to bypass these routes sometimes, except in the region between Eastham and Provincetown, where it’s the only route.

Popular Cape Cod Destinations

Some of Cape Cod’s busiest must-see attractions

The real star of the show is the scenery on Cape Cod, but there are plenty of other things to do, too. Here are a few landmarks and museums that you can visit:

Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge

This old bridge is a famous Cape Cod landmark. It crosses the canal near the canal’s western end, at Buzzards Bay. Find photos, videos, and more information about the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge here.

Highland Light

Also known as Cape Cod Light, this famous lighthouse is one of the oldest in the country.

Monomoy Island

Just off the south coast of Chatham is Monomoy Island. Seal tours and harbor excursions can be found on this website.

Cape Cod National Seashore

The beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore, as seen through the nps.gov website.

Sandy Neck Beach

One of Cape Cod’s biggest beaches, and one of the most private.

JFK Hyannis Museum

Learn all about John F. Kennedy at this museum that’s goal is “to provide support for the JFK Hyannis Museum to enhance the visitor experience, to celebrate the legacy of President Kennedy and family, to share his specialties to Cape Cod and to educate the community, especially our students.”

When to Visit Cape Cod

The best times of year/seasons to visit the Cape

Most people visit Cape Cod during the summer, however, the Cape is really beautiful all year round. A trip to Wellfleet in the winter will allow you to see beautiful icebergs floating in the creeks of Cape Cod Bay. A fall trip has the added bonus of fall foliage and far fewer visitors, while still experiencing comfortable temperatures. During the spring, Cape Cod is just coming into bloom. March remains cool and damp, while April experiences great temperatures when it isn’t raining. May, too, is a great month to come to the Cape, just before the big visitor boom.

There is something to be said about Cape Cod in the summer. The beaches are full, they’re warm, and the ocean is as frigid as ever (sometimes in the mid to high 60’s if you’re lucky). The restaurants are all open during peak summer, and the air is warm. Despite the traffic and crowds, summer still might be the best season to visit Cape Cod.

Why Do People Love Cape Cod?

What keeps bringing people back to Cape Cod

People have been vacationing on Cape Cod for centuries. What drives people to this peninsula region of Massachusetts? It’s not anyone thing, it’s many things. When people think of oceans and beaches in the northeast of the United States, they often think of Cape Cod. The fact of the matter is that Cape Cod has some of the best beaches on the east coast, and for the most part, they’re all untouched. Where else in the United States can you can drive for 100 miles on both sides of a peninsula without leaving the state? Well, maybe the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but that’s not Cape Cod.

What really keeps bringing people back to Cape Cod year after year is the remoteness of it. The Cape is largely cut off from the “mainland” of Massachusetts, New England, and the east coast as a whole. Though Cape Cod isn’t an island, it sure does feel like it. Once you cross one of those bridges, it changes your mindset immediately. Goodbye work, hello vacation. The sometimes shoddy cellphone reception and lack of commercial restaurants throughout much of Cape Cod help contribute to the overall appeal, in a way forcing you to leave it all behind and relax. This mentality has drawn people to the Cape for centuries, and much of the towns on Cape Cod try to preserve that feel to this day. Some of the least commercial towns on Cape Cod include the further east towns like Brewster, Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro. Still, don’t discount the beauty of Falmouth, Sandwich, and even the commercial hub of Cape Cod, Hyannis.

Recommended Cape Cod Road Trip Routes

Beautiful Cape Cod scenic drives

King’s Highway (Route 6A)

Route 6A begins in Bourne, ending in Provincetown. The most well-known portion of the highway, or King’s Highway, is between Sandwich and Orleans. This portion is the way Cape Cod used to be — shaded roads with Saltbox Colonial homes, pristine views of Cape Cod Bay, and a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. During the summer, Route 6A is also crowded like Route 28, but is less so. Drive this route in the offseason to have the roads pretty much to yourself.

Shore Road, Chatham

Starting at Lighthouse Beach (Chatham Light) in Chatham, this beautiful road hugs the Atlantic eastern coast, with stellar views of stretches of beaches and homes. Eventually, this road will take you to Route 28 and the unforgettable views of Pleasant Bay, and eventually, to the rotary at Orleans.

Route 6, from Truro to Provincetown

No trip to the Outer Cape is complete without a drive to see the massive sand dunes in Truro and Provincetown. Get out to see them up close at Head of the Meadow or any of the other pullovers between Provincetown and Truro.

What’s Your Favorite Spot on Cape Cod?

Tell us about your favorite Cape Cod town, beach, scenic view, restaurant, or lighthouse!

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