Sure, Cape Cod has its share of beautiful beaches, but it also boasts more under-the-radar history, nature, and art than you think. Check out my list of places you need to go on your next visit to Cape Cod.
Art’s Dune Tours, Provincetown: Art’s Dune Tours takes you on a journey through the Provincetown Cape Cod National Seashore protected lands. Climb into one of their comfy Suburbans and your guide will drive you up, over, around and through the vast sand dunes, pointing out flowers and plants and educating you on the ecosystem. You’ll see the dune shacks where famous artists have come for isolation and inspiration, and learn about the “life savers” that were stationed on the dunes to save thousands from shipwrecks off the coast of the Cape. We had the chance to get out, take photos of the breathtaking scenery, and run up and down the dunes – a highlight for the kids!
Pilgrim Monument, Provincetown: When you’re ready to tire the kids out, visit the Pilgrim Monument and make the 116-stair climb to the top for a phenomenal view of the area. It’s just around the corner from Art’s Dune Tours, so take the tour, have some dinner in P’town, then head to the Monument.
Momo’s Food Emporium, East Sandwich: Award-winning sandwiches, salads, sides, soups, coffees, baked goods, and ice cream are not all you’ll find at Momo’s. It’s also a delightfully cozy shop stocked with specialty and imported foods. With couches and fluffy pillows, you can enjoy lunch there or pack a picnic to take the Green Briar Nature Center.
Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen, East Sandwich: This unique, educational stop offers an eclectic mix of animals, rocks, wildflowers, galleries, hiking trails, and a jam kitchen. Go for a walk, have a picnic, then visit the jam kitchen to view the jam cooking process first-hand. As a family that makes jam at home, my kids loved seeing the process on a larger scale. Green Briar offers Family Jam Workshops (ages 6 and up) most Saturdays year-round.
Blue Claw Boat Tours, East Orleans: Tour Pleasant Bay and Chatham Harbor and get up close and personal with adorable seals. Captain Rob will make history come alive with his tales of pilgrims and pirates and buried treasure! Blue Claw Boat Tours is happy to create a custom tour for your family or group. Bring your own refreshments and relax on a sunset cruises, or try a 2.5 hour beachcombing tour that allows you to get off at a beach for shell-collecting.
Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory, Hyannis: You can’t actually “tour” the potato chip factory, but you can walk down a windowed hallway and observe the factory at work. This is a quick stop, but it’s free and fun for the younger kids. Well, it’s free until you get to the gift shop where you won’t be able to resist buying several varieties of Cape Cod chips! They do give you a small sample bag, but that’s not nearly enough.
Sandwich Glass Museum, Sandwich: Commemorating the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company, responsible for the lasting fame of Sandwich glass, this museum showcases the work of local and national artisans. Watch a live glassblowing demonstration, then stroll through the beautiful exhibits. Be sure to ask for the scavenger hunt to keep the kids searching for special glass pieces.
Lighthouse Inn, West Dennis: We loved the charm of the working lighthouse, the spacious cottage, and the amazing breakfast served oceanfront. There are several lodging options from rooms to cottages to larger homes. With pools, a playground, shuffleboard, beach volleyball, and a waterfront view, the Lighthouse Inn has a campy, relaxed, community feel. I could definitely see staying there for a week and making friends for life.
If these eight stops aren’t enough to fill your itinerary, consider a side-trip to Plymouth. Cape Cod also has an aquarium, lighthouses, hiking and biking trails, dinner cruises, and trendy villages. You’ll definitely need to book a second visit!
Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to some of the places included in this article, but all opinions are strictly my own.