Cape Cod in October: What to Expect + Things to Do

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Cape Cod is a popular summer destination from early July through Labor Day with plenty of sunny days, ice cream shops, and things to do. But when summer visitors start to disperse and harvest season introduces new fall festivals, gorgeous leaves, and beautiful weather, it becomes the perfect time to visit Cape Cod. 

Commonly known as the Cape’s Second Summer, shoulder season in Cape Cod welcomes average temperatures in the 60s, fewer crowds, and more affordable accommodations than the peak summer months. Cape Cod in October is the perfect time of year to visit for a quieter pace and relaxing vibe.

The past few years I’ve been visiting the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard in mid October along a FL to NY road trip and find it to be so comfortable and much more enjoyable than visiting in the height of summer. Plenty of outdoor activities, scenic drives, restaurants and accommodation remain open through early November. A visit to Cape Cod in October means exploring without the summer crowds, indulging in local flavors and seasonal delights, and enjoying a picturesque fall backdrop for your adventures.

What to Expect During October in the Cape

Although some Cape Cod attractions close right after Labor Day, there is still plenty to see and do during the fall season. You’ll still find fresh seafood and lobster rolls, along with fall foliage and pumpkin patches throughout Cape Cod in late September and early October. You can listen to live music at one of the many restaurants and bars, hike to a lighthouse over powdery white sand dunes or ride bikes along the coast while enjoying the cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. 

Cape Cod hosts several fall festivals and events in October, including harvest festivals, art shows, food festivals, and Halloween events. A visit to Cape Cod in October is also a perfect time to take a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. You’ll love the solitude you can find in these neighboring islands that you won’t get in the summer. The weather is the perfect temperature for a beach day, a bike ride, or walking through the many nature trails found on Cape Cod.

Things To Do On Cape Cod in October

Bike Rides along the Cape Cod Rail Trail

Running from South Dennis to Wellfleet, the Cape Cod Rail Trail is a paved bike path spanning 25 miles. With relatively flat terrain, this is an accessible bike ride passing by several attractions, recreational areas, and gorgeous scenery.

If you’re short on time, the middle section of this trail offers the best scenery. This part of the path goes between Long Pond, Seymour Pond, and through Nickerson State Park before leading you down the Cape. Along the way, you’ll see incredible fall foliage and classic New England scenery. This is one of the best activities to do on Cape Cod in October! 

I love taking the side loop to Chatham. It’s one of the most scenic neighborhoods and villages on the Cape. You can park your bike at the beach and walk along the beautiful shoreline spotting a few famous lighthouses along the way. 

Go Whale Watching

October marks the tail end of the whale watching season in Cape Cod. While sightings become less frequent as whales migrate south for the winter, it’s still possible to spot some marine life, especially earlier in the fall months!

September is one of the best times for whale watching in Cape Cod. On a whale-watching cruise, you’ll likely see Humpback whales, Finback whales, Minke whales, and the Atlantic White-sided dolphin. Bring your camera!

Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore, spanning 40 miles along the Atlantic coast of Cape Cod, was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. This protected area encompasses sandy beaches, sand dunes, salt marshes, freshwater ponds, and upland forests, providing habitat for various plant and animal species – making it the perfect destination for outdoor exploration. Plus, it’s one of the most beautiful areas in Cape Cod in October, perfect for a Cape Cod fall getaway. 

While you’re here, you can explore this shore’s picturesque landscapes while hiking along scenic trails, birdwatching, swimming (if you don’t mind cold water), surfing, and beach combing. Iconic landmarks within this area include the historic Highland Light, the scenic Nauset Light Beach, and the iconic Marconi Station site, where Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first transatlantic wireless communication in 1903. 

While swimming might not be as popular in October due to cooling water temperatures, beaches are still enjoyable for walks, beach combing, picnics, and relaxing by the shore. Some brave souls might even try surfing or paddle boarding. And if you visit earlier in the fall, you’ll still find mild water temperatures for wading and swimming.

Yarmouth Seaside Festival

The Yarmouth Seaside Festival is an annual Columbus Day weekend event with live music, arts and crafts, and several fun events. With children’s programming, kayak races, pie-eating contests, beach bonfires, and a fireworks display, this is one of the best things to do on Cape Cod in October for the entire family.

Wellfleet Oysterfest

If you love seafood, the Wellfleet Oysterfest is a must-do on Cape Cod in October! This annual event takes place the weekend after Columbus Day, and it’s a great place to sample Wellfleet’s famous clams, oysters, and other seafood. This two-day event also hosts an arts and crafts fair, educational lectures about shellfishing traditions, live music, and children’s activities. Don’t miss the annual Oyster Shuck-Off competition before you go!

Enjoy the Cape Cod Brew Fest

In late September, Cape Cod hosts the annual Cape Cod Brew Fest at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in Falmouth. This festival showcases over 50 local breweries and 150 types of beer – so this is a must-visit if you’re a beer enthusiast. Your ticket price will include beverage samples, and while you’re here, you can purchase snacks from food vendors, listen to live music, and more!

Wine Tasting

Enjoy Cape Cod’s fall foliage with a glass of wine in hand at one of the area’s many vineyards and wineries. You can start at Truro Vineyards, a family-owned winery located in an 1830s farmhouse. Sample their Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, and grab a bite from one of the food trucks onsite with bites like lobster rolls and burgers. At this vineyard, tastings include a sampling of 5 vintages plus a small cheese platter. 

Located in East Falmouth, Cape Cod Winery is another excellent option, known for its fruit wines – this winery has a fun patio area where you can sit outside with a glass of wine and enjoy the cooler temperatures. Sample a glass of their famous cranberry wine, order a brick oven pizza to munch on, and listen to live music. There’s no better way to spend a chilly fall evening!

Cranberry Bog Tours

Cranberry bog tours are a must-do for those seeking an authentic taste of autumn in Cape Cod. Harvest season is mid September to mid December making October a perfect time to visit the Cape for an authentic look into growing and harvesting cranberries- a quintessential New England fruit.

A cranberry bog tour offers a peek into the rich history and cultivation of cranberries. Along the way, you’ll be guided through sprawling bogs adorned with crimson carpets of floating berries while knowledgeable guides unravel the intricate process of cranberry farming, from planting to harvesting. You’ll be able to enjoy fresh cranberries from mid-September to the end of December.

Go Camping in Nickerson State Park

With its dense forests showcasing red, orange, and yellow during the autumn, Nickerson State Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit on Cape Cod in October.

There’s no shortage of breathtaking views along the scenic trails for hikers. Enjoy a super easy 1.7-mile loop around Little Cliff Pond – you’ll see pitch pines and scrub oaks along the way. For something more moderate, check out the Cliff Pond Loop, a 3.2-mile trail with gorgeous water views. Cyclists can hop on the nearby Cape Cod Rail Trail and pedal through the stunning scenery, soaking in the crisp air and vibrant colors along the way.

Fishing enthusiasts will find plenty to love as the park’s ponds offer tranquil spots to cast a line and reel in the day’s catch. And for those who prefer to spend their nights under the stars, camping at Nickerson State Park is an unforgettable experience – there are around 400 campsites within this park. Picture cozy campfires, starry skies, and the soothing sounds of nature all around.

Visit a Heritage Museum

If the weather is chilly and you’d rather stay indoors, Cape Cod has plenty of museums you can visit on those colder days. You can start at the Sandwich Glass Museum. This museum showcases a stunning glassware collection from the early 19th century to the present day. While you’re here, you can explore exhibits featuring exquisite glass pieces crafted by skilled artisans.

Nestled in the quaint town of Dennis, the Cape Cod Museum of Art showcases a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other multimedia artworks – making this the perfect stop for art enthusiasts. From serene landscapes inspired by the region’s natural beauty to thought-provoking contemporary pieces, there’s something to captivate every artistic palate.

Located in Brewster, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is another fun way to spend a chilly afternoon. From hands-on exhibits exploring coastal habitats to informative displays highlighting local wildlife species, there’s something here for everyone in the family.

One of this museum’s standout attractions is its extensive collection of marine life specimens, including shells, fossils, and taxidermy displays. These exhibits will teach you about the intricate ecosystems that thrive beneath the waves of Cape Cod’s coastal waters, from colorful coral reefs to elusive marine mammals.


Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or engaging in outdoor activities, October on the Cape promises a delightful and uncrowded experience with a more intimate exploration of scenic landscapes, charming villages, and captivating coastal drives. Whether you’re savoring local flavors, immersing yourself in outdoor adventures, or simply enjoying the tranquility, Cape Cod in October offers a distinct and unforgettable experience. Enjoy your journey to the Cape and rest assured, you’ll leave wanting to return for more!

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