Growing up near Pittsburgh, my family always vacationed at Long Beach Island in New Jersey during the summer. While I’ll always have fond memories of our holidays in LBI, spending every summer on the Jersey Shore meant I never visited any of the other east coast beaches.
Since moving to New York City a few years ago, Cape Cod, and by extension Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, have been on my to-travel list. When I received an invite to a friend’s wedding on the Cape for the end of April, I was excited to finally have a reason to head north and check out the area.
After spending the night in Boston, we rented a car and started our drive out to the Cape. On the way, we stopped in Plymouth to load up on some grocery essentials and take a quick drive by Plymouth Rock.
Plymouth Rock is a cool to see if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit- unless you’re a history buff.
If you’ve never been to Cape Cod, you’re in for a treat- white sandy beaches, local restaurants with fresh seafood, and plenty of coastal activities, like whale watching, to keep you busy when you’re not on the beach. The quintessential New England getaway spot is just that – timeless.
With so many adorable seaside towns to choose from, knowing where to begin can be tough. Planning around wedding activities, we decided to stay in Harwich and spent most of our time there and in Chatham.
Even if your time on the Cape is limited, these are three things I’d recommend doing.
Drive around the little towns and check out the amazing houses. From shingled cottages to Victorian houses, if you appreciate architecture, you’ll be in heaven here. If you’re staying near Harwich like we were, stop by the Lavender Farm on your drive. Nearby Chatham is a quaint town, with cute boutiques lining the main road. Park your car in one of the shopping lots and spend some time checking out the local shops.
Lounge on the beach, or take a walk on the beach if you visit in the off-season.
- Chatham Lighthouse Beach is ideal for an evening walk
- Sandy Neck Beach offers beautiful dunes
- First Encounter Beach and Cold Storage Beach are both beautiful for a morning walk or day lounging in the sun
- Bass Hole Beach is known for its long boardwalk and grasslands
- Old Silver Beach has stunning views of the bay
Stroll through Provincetown. At the tip of the Cape, Provincetown is a popular summer destination. There is so much to do for everyone, from great restaurants and shops on Commercial Street to activities like whale watching. We didn’t have a chance to visit Provincetown during our weekend on the Cape, but it’s at the top of my list to check-out on a return trip.
We visited the Cape in the off-season, which means less tourists, but also chillier weather. Our weekend on the Cape brought a mix of rain and sunshine with the temperatures hovering in the high 40’s / mid-50’s. Even though the weather wasn’t ideal, I’m glad we made the trip, 1) Because nothing tops watching a good friend get married, and 2) We have favorite places to stay/visit and a list of things to do on our next trip to the Cape.
Because we visited in the off-season, we were able to score a great deal on an Airbnb. This charming historic carriage house was the perfect place for five first timers to stay.
Our carriage house came fully equipped with a gorgeous kitchen, but we chose to have breakfast and dinner out to hit up some local spots. We didn’t have time for the full list of recommended places in/nearby Harwich friends shared with me, but all of these places would be good options if you’re looking for a bite to eat or sweat treat.
Where to Eat
- Schoolhouse Ice Cream: What’s summer without a delicious cold treat?
- The Talkative Pig: Farm-to-table Italian food
- George’s Pizza House: This place may not look like much from the outside, but their pizza is seriously delicious
- Brax Landing: Waterfront restaurant with fun frozen cocktails and seriously good seafood. Don’t miss the crab dip or lobster roll
- Hot Stove Saloon: Great atmosphere, a good place to grab a drink or watch a sports game
- Ruggie’s: Tasty breakfast
- Bonatt’s: Another good breakfast or lunch option
- The Orpheum Cafe: Adorable cafe, right next to the cutest movie theater in Chatham
- Corner Store: The burritos and whoopie pies get rave reviews
- Dino’s: A no-frills local diner serving up hits-the-spot breakfast
- Hole in One Donut: Hand cut doughnuts, um yum
- Sunbird Bakery & Cafe: Two morning essentials: Quinoa porridge and espresso
- Dunkin Donuts: There are multiple locations on the Cape, but no trip to New England is complete without a stop at this chain coffee shop (Bias disclosure: I’m a huge Dunkin Donuts iced coffee fan and am always excited to stay somewhere with a DD)
The Cape sure didn’t disappoint, and I’m already looking forward to the next time I’ll have a chance to visit. If you’re planning a longer vacation to the Cape, check out Travel & Leisure’s guide for the best of Cape Cod.
And, in case you’re interested- some of my favorite wedding weekend moments 🙂