Cape Cod Day Trips: Ideas For A Day On The Cape

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Nestled along the picturesque coast of New England, Cape Cod stands as a symbol of quintessential American charm and natural beauty. With its sandy beaches, historic sites and miles of trails weaving through its seaside landscapes, the Cape is a destination worth exploring. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking the perfect bowl of clam chowder, Cape Cod offers an array of experiences perfect for a memorable day trip. 

With so many fun choices, it can be hard to decide how to spend the perfect day in the Cape and sometimes even harder to decide how to get there. This post will give you Cape Cod day trip ideas based on your personal preferences, along with helpful transportation information so you can plan a hassle-free day trip to the Cape. 

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Getting to Cape Cod for a Day Trip

There are several ways to reach Cape Cod on a day trip. What is best for you depends on your goals for the day and time of year you are visiting. Here are the most convenient ways to get to the Cape if you only have a day.

Car

While getting to Cape Cod via car is possible, traffic can get bad during the peak season. Most parking is expensive or hard to come by in this area, especially if you plan to go to the beach.

However, there are several rental car companies to choose from near Cape Cod, and renting a car is a great way to experience the entire island at your own pace. Driving here isn’t a bad idea if you have the extra money and don’t mind paying for parking or if you are visiting in the low season when most parking fees are eliminated.

Train

If you’re heading to Cape Cod over the weekend, you can take the CapeFLYER from the South Station in Boston. This summer-only rail service runs to Hyannis every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. 

This journey takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes and costs $40 round-trip or $22 one-way—no reservations are needed!

Bus

From Boston, you can hop on a bus to several towns in Cape Cod. The Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Company provides buses from Logan Airport and South Station in Boston to Sagamore, Barnstable, and Hyannis on Cape Cod – these rides take about 2 hours. The South Station to Hyannis round-trip ticket costs $50. 

Peter Pan Bus Lines has similar services from South Station and Logan to Hyannis and Woods Hole. Ticket prices vary by season. 

Once you get to Cape Cod, you can enjoy bus and shuttle transportation via the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. Six public bus routes go from Woods Hole in Falmouth on the Lower Cape to Provincetown, the northernmost town on the Outer Cape. One-way tickets cost $2, while day passes are $6. The seasonal shuttle goes from the Outer Cape along Provincetown, Herring Cove Beach, and North Truro. 

Ferry

You can either take a regular or high-speed passenger ferry from Boston to Provincetown.

The Bay State Cruise Company, accessible via the MBTA Silver Line, has several daily departures from May 16 to October 20 for its 90-minute Fast Ferry. Adult round-trip tickets start at $108. 

Boston Harbor Cruises, which depart from Long Wharf, also has a 90-minute catamaran ride to and from Provincetown, with daily departures from May 16 to October 20, starting at $68 round-trip.

Day Trips for Different Interests

Whether you love the outdoors or want to shop until you drop, I’ve listed a few of my favorite ideas perfect for a Cape Cod day trip.

If You Love Biking: 

Cape Cod Rail Trail

This 25-mile bike trail runs through six Cape Cod towns: Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. Because several sites offer free parking for trail users, the best way to reach this path is by car. 

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is open from sunrise to sunset, so you can get there early in the morning and leave later in the afternoon. Enjoy riding through Nickerson State Park and exploring some of the adorable towns along the trail.

The Shining Sea Bikeway 

This bikeway is considered one of the top bike trails in the country, so it’s one of the best things to do on a day trip to Cape Cod for those who love cycling. This 10.7-mile scenic route runs north and south between Woods Hole and North Falmouth, and it’s one of the lesser-trafficked areas, so you’ll avoid the tourist crowds. 

Depending on the time of year, you’ll see stunning native flowers and tree species, cranberry bogs, and coastal views—be sure to bring your camera! The best way to get here is via car, and you’ll find a parking area on the corner of County Road and Route 151.

The Perfect Beach Day 

Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore has miles of Cape Cod beaches, so naturally, this is one of the best places in the area to spend a day at the beach.

If you love tall cliffs and sand dunes, start at Nauset Beach, one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Cape Cod. Even if you don’t want to swim, this beach is renowned for its scenery alone. 

Coast Guard Beach in Eastham is another excellent option – and it’s likely one of the most famous beaches in Cape Cod since it’s an excellent place to swim with showers and a restroom. The best way to get here is by bike or the free trolley running during the summer. 

You can also check out Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, which also has showers and restrooms. Located right off of a bike path, this beach is easily accessible by bike. This shore is also home to an observation platform from which you can see the ocean and bay of the Outer Cape.

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Not sure what to pack for a day on the cape? Check out this packing guide for summer and fall.

For Sightseeing & Outdoor Activities

Buzzards Bay/Bourne 

Bourne Scenic Park is best known for its picnic areas and campsites – so this is a great place to turn your Cape Cod day trip into an overnight trip! This campground has over 400 sites, with plenty of activities like fishing, hiking, and biking along nature trails and the banks of the Canal. Amenities include a Rec Hall with movies and video games, a playground, and a swimming pool. 

Nickerson State Park

Located in Brewster, Nickerson State Park offers several nature trails, small ponds for fishing and canoeing, and campsites. This 1,900-acre park is perfect for nature lovers, with lots of sandy soil and scrub pines, so you’ll see plenty of wilderness as you hike along one of the many trails within this park. 

Bring your swimsuit—this park also has sandy shores where you can dip your toes in the water. The Cape Cod Rail Trail passes through this park, so it could be a stop along a lengthy bike ride.

If you’re here in late October, it’s one of the best places to see colorful fall foliage.

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Self-guided Lighthouse Driving Tour

Enjoy Cape Cod’s lighthouses along a self-guided scenic drive – you’ll definitely need a car for this one. Stop at Hyannis Harbor Light, also known as the Lewis Bay Lighthouse, constructed during the mid-1800s. From there, you can go to Chatham to see the Chatham Lighthouse, also known as the Twin Lights. During the summer months, this lighthouse is sometimes open to tourists for free!

Another lighthouse in the Chatham area is the Monomoy Lighthouse, established in 1823. While it is closed to the public, you can snap a picture outside while in the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

Golf at The Captains Golf Course 

Brewster is often called the “Golf Capital of the Lower Cape,” so it makes sense that you’ll find The Captains Golf Course in Brewster! This golf course has two courses: the Port Course and the Starboard Course. 

The Captains Golf Course has an excellent replay rate between $20 and $40, where you can play both courses in a day. With 36 holes and well-kept greens, these are some of Cape Cod’s most legit public golf courses. Plus, this course has a parking lot, so it’s easily accessible via car. 

Culture, Art, Shopping & Dining 

Many small towns in Cape Cod offer an abundance of art, culture, shopping, and dining. The three towns below have all of these things – plus easy accessibility due to their location and available public transportation.

Sandwich 

Start your day in Sandwich, the oldest town in Cape Cod, at the Heritage Museums & Gardens, which reopens for the season in April. This expansive complex offers a glimpse into Cape Cod’s past, featuring a variety of exhibits and beautifully landscaped gardens. You’ll see antique automobiles, American folk art, and artifacts from the region’s maritime history. 

You can also check out the Sandwich Glass Museum, showcasing rare glass pieces dating back to the 19th century, originating from a local glass factory. Watch glass-blowing demonstrations and learn more about the history of glass while you’re here! 

After working up an appetite, head over to Ice Cream Sandwich, a popular local spot with delicious frozen treats. Indulge in a scoop (or two!) of their homemade ice cream, available in classic flavors and on cookie sandwiches. 

Falmouth 

Begin your day in Falmouth with a visit to the iconic Nobska Lighthouse. Perched atop a bluff overlooking Vineyard Sound, this structure has guided sailors home since the 19th century. 

You can also head to Woods Hole to wander along the scenic waterfront. From here, you can take a ferry to explore the outer islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Spend the day exploring these charming coastal areas, soaking up the sun on beautiful beaches, or indulging in delicious seafood cuisine at waterfront restaurants. You’ll definitely need a full day for this Cape Cod day trip!

Hyannis 

Spend the morning in Hyannis with a visit to the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, where you can learn about the legacy of America’s 35th president. Explore exhibits showcasing JFK’s time spent in Hyannis, including his love for sailing and the family’s cherished moments on Cape Cod. 

After immersing yourself in history, stroll down Main Street to explore the charming shops, boutiques, and eateries – this is also a great spot to grab some lunch.

If you have extra time, head to Hyannis Harbor to catch a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, where you could easily spend an entire afternoon. Since both destinations have so much to do, you could skip Cape Cod altogether to spend your day on one of these iconic islands.

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Spend the Day in Provincetown 

Provincetown is one of the best day trips to Cape Cod! The best way to get here is via ferry from Boston to MacMillan Pier.

Spend the morning along Commercial Street in the downtown area, which is lined with colorful shops, art galleries, and cafes. Main Street is another great spot to walk around and check out the local restaurants and shops. 

Later in the morning, make your way to the iconic Pilgrim Monument, an imposing granite tower commemorating the Mayflower Pilgrims’ landing in 1620. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Provincetown and the surrounding Cape Cod landscape. 

History lovers will also enjoy the Provincetown Museum, located at the foot of the Pilgrim Monument. This museum showcases exhibits like a recreation of a 19th-century sea captain’s parlor at home and his quarters at sea. You can also view a scale model of the first theater of the Provincetown Players and a diorama of the Mayflower Compact being signed on the Mayflower in Provincetown Harbor.

After descending from the monument, head to Race Point Beach, a pristine stretch of shoreline known for its sweeping dunes and serene atmosphere. Spend some time lounging on the sand, swimming in the refreshing waters, or simply soaking up the sun against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

You can also venture out to Race Point Lighthouse, a historic landmark perched on the edge of the dunes. Take a scenic hike along the trails that wind through the Cape Cod National Seashore, immersing yourself in the natural beauty of this protected coastal area.

Enjoy a Festival

Love a Festival? The Cape does too. Consider enjoying a summer or fall festival to make your day trip to the Cape even more fun! From Oysters to Hydrangeas, there is a festival for everyone.

Wellfleet Oysterfest

Enjoy the simple pleasures of good food, good company, and the natural beauty of Cape Cod at the annual Wellfleet Oysterfest in mid-October. You’ll be greeted with freshly shucked oysters sourced from the pristine waters of Cape Cod, celebrated for their exceptional flavor and freshness. There will also be live music from local musicians, educational presentations, and lively shucking competitions. Whether you’re a seafood connoisseur or simply looking for a fun-filled day out, the Wellfleet Oysterfest promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you craving more.

Hydrangea Festival

The Hydrangea Festival in early July offers a breathtaking display of vibrant blooms set against the backdrop of scenic coastal landscapes. This enchanting 10-day event celebrates the iconic flower with garden tours, workshops, and artistic displays. Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast or simply seeking natural beauty, the Hydrangea Festival promises a delightful experience immersed in Cape Cod charm. 

Harwich Cranberry Festival 

The Harwich Cranberry Festival in September offers a vibrant celebration of Cape Cod’s rich agricultural heritage, centered around the iconic cranberry. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities including bog tours, cooking demonstrations featuring cranberry-inspired dishes, live music performances, and 100+ vendor craft show. The festival creates a festive atmosphere where locals and visitors come together to appreciate the cultural significance of this tart fruit with wine, beer, and food trucks!

​Additional Cape Cod Festivals

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Whether you choose to rent a bike, embark on a fishing charter, enjoy the miles of beaches, or just relax on the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, one thing is for sure: one day in the Cape won’t be enough! I love spending fall and summer days enjoying the charming villages, lighthouses, and seaside views of the Cape. I definitely recommend staying more than a day in the Cape, but if a day is all you have- it’s absolutely still worth it!

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