Advice for 5 nights on Cape Cod

Old Jun 26th, 2021, 10:12 PM
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Advice for 5 nights on Cape Cod

Looking for some guidance on preliminary itinerary planning for our first visit to Cape Code next summer (early June). Family of 4, including a 2 year old and 4 year old). We'll be spending 2 nights in Boston prior to renting a car and driving to Cape Cod, where we plan to spend 5 nights.

Interests: Spending time at the beach, a day trip to Nantucket, and day trip to Martha's Vineyard, beautiful scenery, lighthouses, a sailboat ride, bike ride, maybe some other fun activities like a clam bake or going clamming, shopping at cute local shops.

A couple of questions:

1) What area of Cape Cod should we stay? Looking at house rentals near Provincetown, near Truro, Chatham, Yarmouth, Hyannis, Falmouth... not sure what suites us best. We'd like to be in a quiet area right on the beach where the kids can go out an play in the mornings and afternoons after our daily excursions. I understand that Provincetown and Truro is at the very end of Cape Cod - but the beaches look so pristine and serene... just not sure this would be too far out of the way from other areas.

2) Where is the best place for a family bike ride? Ideally we'd like to be able to rent 2 adults bikes and a bike trailer to pull the kids. Is there a great bike ride on Cape Cod? Or better to do this on Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket?

3) Best towns for shopping? Cute local shops.

4) Thoughts on this general 5 night Cape Cod itinerary? I know a lot depends on the location we will be staying - so this may change around once I get a better idea of what area we should stay.

Day 1: Leave Boston in the morning and drive to Cape Cod. Depending on check-in time, stop at Sandwich and/or Plymouth along the way. We should have a full afternoon to hang out at the beach.

Day 2: Day trip to Martha's Vineyard

Day 3: Visit beaches along the National Sea Shore. Afternoon in Provincetown (if we don't end up staying here). Maybe stay in Provincetown for dinner and to watch the sunset.

Day 4: Spend most of the day relaxing at the beach house. Maybe a bike ride? Sunset sail boat ride? Maybe clamming?

Day 5: Day trip to Nantucket

Day 6: Leave early to fly out of Boston
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Old Jun 28th, 2021, 06:29 AM
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I have been to Cape Cod numerous times and when my children were young.
Most definitely stay at the Outer Cape. Provincetown, Truro , or Wellfleet. Lots of good shops and restaurants. The
National Seashore has lovely paved bike trails. There are shops that rent bikes.
I would not go to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard Both are long days and would be boring for the kids. There is plenty else to do.
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Old Jun 28th, 2021, 07:45 AM
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We stay in Dennis but that is because we have always rented from friends. I would pick Chatham. Dennis is good for getting to Hyannis and we have taken fast ferry over for the day.
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Old Jun 28th, 2021, 11:23 AM
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Chatham Tides is a great place to stay with a private beach. If you can find a rental nearby it would be perfect. However in early June I think there is only one ferry a day from Harwich to Nantucket. You might want to stay nearer Hyannis if you are going to do two all-day ferry trips in five days. Personally with kids that young we prefer to just relax and enjoy the beaches.
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Old Jun 28th, 2021, 04:44 PM
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We stayed in Dennis, but that was after Labor Day. In the summer, driving from Dennis to other locations east might be less enjoyable with the heavier traffic. Here's part of my tripreport:

We stayed in Dennis, which was chosen because its location appeared to be well centered and the rental was cheaper ($480 for four nights) than rentals farther east toward Provincetown. It was a small two bedroom cottage with a full kitchen and breakfast nook. But it was farther from the bay than we thought—a 30 minute walk—so that someone staying there in the summer would need a bicycle as I think that parking was very limited and definitely banned off the parking lots—no street parking available. We hoped to take a long walk on a boardwalk over the marsh but it had been destroyed by a storm and its replacement was much shorter, maybe a couple hundred yards. Just south of where we stayed there is a large shopping center half way between the bay and the ocean side. That’s where we did our shopping for home cooking. Prices of seafood—local mussels and scallops—were very reasonable, whereas prices at tourist locales tend to be on the high side for lobster rolls, clam chowder and other “must” items when by the sea.


and here is the album:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmJieizS

Last edited by Michael; Jun 28th, 2021 at 04:48 PM.
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Old Jun 29th, 2021, 05:10 AM
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Thank you all for the advice. After taking some time to consider each of the different areas and do some more research, I think we've decided on either the beach house in Eastham or Truro. This is the revised itinerary, if others could provide their inputay 1: Arrive in Boston, overnight Boston

Day 2: Full day in Boston, overnight Boston

Day 3: Full day in Boston, overnight Boston

Day 4: Pick up rental car and drive to Cape Cod. Stop at Sandwich boardwalk on the way. Pick up groceries. Spend time at the beach. Sunset sailboat ride.

Day 5: Relaxing morning. Afternoon in Provincetown. Highland lighthouse on route to Provincetown. Lobster Pot restaurant. Shopping in downtown. Spend time at one of the beaches. Stop at Hatch's fish market for fresh seafood - make a home cooked seafood dinner.

Day 6: Martha's Vineyard (2 hours each way including ferry). Gingerbread Cottages of Oak Bluffs and the beautiful harbor town Edgartown. (Consider skipping MV since it'll be 4 hours of total travel time... what are some other options for this day? Any cute seaside towns with good shopping?)

Day 7: Relaxing morning. Late morning sailboat charter in Fleetwood Bay to Jeremy Point. Or marsh kayaking tour. Visit beaches of Cape Cod National Sea Shore, Nauset Lighthouse Beach, and Marconi Beach. Arts Dune sunset clam bake and bonfire in the evening.

Day 8: Relaxing morning. Nauset March Trail bike ride (1.6 miles each way). Begins at Salt Pond Visitor Center and runs to Coast Guard Beach, intersecting with the Cape Code Rail Trail.

Day 9: Drive back to Boston for flight home.
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Old Jun 29th, 2021, 08:37 AM
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I would pick Eastham as my destination location. The National Seashore starts here. The bay beaches are perfect for children, sunsets are great and four miles across as the crow flies are the ocean beaches (Nauset Light and Coast Guard). Coast Guard Beach is often on the Top 10 list of beaches by Dr. Beach. Wellfleet is the town to the north. It is the classic quaint village with shops, galleries and restaurants. Orleans is the town to the south. It is larger with more of the above. Nauset Beach is on the Atlantic and is a gorgeous beach.

Just over the town line in Wellfleet is the Wellfleet Drive-In. One of the few left. Marconi Beach is about 10 minutes from Eastham. Mac's Seafood in Eastham is excellent. You can pick your lobster (or just order it) and they will steam it at no extra charge. And you can add in some steamers. The Friendly Fisherman is great for fried clams or fish and chips.

Day 4. If staying in Eastham or Truro you would do your grocery shopping in Orleans, probably Stop and Shop just off the Orleans rotary. In Eastham the Superette is good for the forgotten items. It is like an old fashioned grocery store and small but has a decent fresh meat selection.

Day 5. On your way to P-town stop at the Atlantic Spice Company on Route 6 in Truro for spices and food gifts. They sell spices in bulk as well as the smaller bottles.

Day 7. Sounds very busy esp with two little ones. And Art's is all the way back to P-town. Never heard of Fleetwood Bay but do know Jeremy Point.

Please let me know if you have any questions.
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Old Jun 29th, 2021, 11:21 AM
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My post has been in moderation limbo for over two hours.
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Old Jun 29th, 2021, 07:06 PM
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MODS, where is my post?? Posted around 1PM. Now 11PM.
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Old Jun 29th, 2021, 09:37 PM
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Hi gomiki, it looks like your post finally showed up! Thanks for the advice. We ended up finding a good deal and booking a beach house right on the beach in North Eastham for early June.

I'm thinking we might stay in the first evening that we arrive on the cape (day 4) and spend time relaxing at the beach and do a nice home cooked seafood dinner that night. I know you mentioned stopping for groceries in Orleans. Is there a good fish market that you recommend there? I've seen reviews for Hatch's fish market in Fleetwood. Should we do that and get groceries in Fleetwood? Or is there something that is more convenient on our way to Eastham?

Maybe we will do the clam bake on day 5. The only place I could find that would set up a clam bake on the beach for you is Art's Dunes Tours. Do you know anywhere else we could go to for a clam bake (4 adults and 2 little kids)? Or maybe something we could get catered at the beach house we rented? Arts Dunes Tours has an option for a sunset clam bake and beach bonfire. Do all beaches allow bonfires? Only specific ones? A clam bake sounds fun and seems like a very "quintessential New England / Cape Cod" thing to do

Sorry meant Wellfleet Harbor (not Fleetwood Bay).

For Day 6 I am rethinking Martha's Vineyard. Especially with a 4 year old and 2 year old. Seems like a lot of travel time. Any cute seaside towns you'd recommend instead? Or is MV a "must see"? Not specifically interested in amusement parks, mini golf, etc. Maybe Chatham?

Thank you for restaurant recommendations - Mac's Seafood and the Friendly Fisherman. Are both of those good options for "take out" to bring back and enjoy out on the deck at the rental? Sometimes its easier to do takeout with smaller children than trying to sit down at a restaurant (especially after a long day).

Do we need to have backup plans for rainy weather in early June?
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Old Jun 30th, 2021, 03:08 AM
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I don't know anything about Art's bonfire tour but their regular tour over the dunes is great fun.

Also, one activity the kids love is to explore the mudflats of the bay in Provincetown at low tide. There a multitude of interesting creatures there.
The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History offers Mudflat Mania, a guided exploration of the flats.
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Old Jun 30th, 2021, 05:52 AM
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Nauset Fish - Home is in Orleans very near Stop and Shop. Your cottage is about five miles up the road. I would go to Mac's in Eastham. www.macsseafood.com . They do clambakes to go but not on the beach. Open fires are not allowed on bay beaches. You can get a permit at the Salt Pond Visitor Center for a fire at Nauset Light Beach, Coast Guard or Marconi. Nauset Light is the one you want. More in a bit..
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Old Jun 30th, 2021, 07:37 AM
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I'm going to give you a totally different recommendation. In June, the water on the Cape is still quite chilly. The only place you are going to find some moderately bearable water is on the south shore - Martha's Vineyard sound, Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay. Falmouth is about as good as it gets for small children on the beach with miles of mild, calm water. Places like Surf beach are very popular with families. Falmouth also has possibly the nicest family oriented bike trail, the Shining Seas, which goes along the sea, through marshes, and down into Woods Hole, where there is a wonderful child oriented aquarium. Also, there are two ferry services to Martha's Vineyard from Falmouth. The one drawback to Falmouth is that it's a long haul to other parts of the cape.
Of course the whole Cape is fantastic, and Eastham is a great area - the little harbor area beach in Wellfleet is also a warmer water beach.
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Old Jun 30th, 2021, 10:18 AM
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I do not disagree with what zootsi said. However in North Eastham the tide is extreme and goes out about half a mile. The sun warms the sand and then the water as it comes in. It can be very comfortable. The biggest variable is the weather. We have had 80+ degrees on Memorial Day weekend. This year it was cold, rainy and miserable. And yes, backup plans are always good to have here.
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Old Jun 30th, 2021, 10:53 AM
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We have spent a lot of time on the Cape and our kids went with us from birth to college years. If we went to an Atlantic ocean beach when they were small ( from Chatham out to Provincetown) it was too cold for them to go in the water and often the sea was too rough. With small kids look at places to stay on or near Nantucket Sound or Cape Cod Bay where the water will be much warmer as well as calmer. You plan to go in June and I remember having my breathe taken away when entering the Atlantic in Orleans at the Cape’s “elbow.” June is early as New England and other east coast schools are still in session and the ocean is still cold.
I would look to stay at Dennis, and Harwichport on Nantucket Sound and Brewster on Cape Cod Bay.
Skaket Beach on the Bay side of Orleans is great for little kids. Go at low tide when they can walk way out.
There are also many fresh water lakes on the Cape and that is where my kids took their swimming lessons.
Go up to the National Seashore for wonderful walks or bike rides. You can
see the big surf in East Orleans at Nauset Beach without needing to drive to Truro or Wellfleet, Provincetown. Save Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard for when your children are older. Day trips to the islands can be exhausting. If taking a car on the ferry you need reservations way in advance.
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Old Jun 30th, 2021, 01:53 PM
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Wow thanks for all the help! I don't anticipate that we will do a lot of ocean swimming, but instead playing in the sand, maybe splashing around the water a bit, exploring the tide pools, etc. I understand that the water will be very cold in June. Maybe it makes sense to spend one of our days in one of the towns on Nantucket Sound (instead of going to Martha's Vineyard). Maybe Falmouth to enjoy the warmer beaches and a longer bike ride along the shining sea bike trail.
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Old Jun 30th, 2021, 02:31 PM
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I have rented many times in both Eastham and Wellfleet and in June the bayside water is warm enough .

there is no way I’d do the MV trip with small kids and such a short time on the Cape. Don’t miss the Audobon sanctuary in Wellfleet.
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Old Jul 1st, 2021, 12:02 PM
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After reviewing everyone's advice, I've revised our itinerary. Does this seem better? I still have some questions at the bottom of this post.

Day 1: Arrive in Boston, overnight Boston

Day 2: Full day in Boston, overnight Boston

Day 3: Full day in Boston, overnight Boston

Day 4: Pick up rental car and drive to Cape Cod. Stop at Sandwich boardwalk on the way. See the replica of the Mayflower ship. Pick up groceries in Orleans at Stop Shop, pick up some fresh seafood at Nauset Fish Market. Check-in at rental house is at 4pm in North Eastham. Spend some time at the beach. Homecooked fresh seafood dinner.

Day 5: Relaxing morning at the beach in front of rental house. Spend the afternoon in Provincetown. Highland lighthouse on the way to Provincetown. Lobster Pot restaurant. Shopping in downtown. Arts Dune Tours – sunset clambake with beach bonfire.

Day 6: Nauset Marsh Trail bike ride, 1.6 miles each way (Little Capistrano Bike Shop | Little Capistrano Bike Shop). Begins at Salt Pond Visitor Center (visit the salt ponds?) and runs to Coast Guard Beach, intersecting with the Cape Code Rail Trail. Spend some time at Coast Guard Beach. Early 5pm dinner in Wellfleet. 6:30pm sunset sailboat ride from the Wellfleet harbor.

Day 7 Option 1: Visit Falmouth and take a bike ride along the Shining Sea Bike path (bike rentals at www.cornercycle.com). Bike from Falmouth Village to Woods Hole, 4.5 miles each way.

Day 7 Option 2: Afternoon in Chatham. Walking around the main street. Visit the lighthouse. Watch the seals as the fisherman arrive back at the fish pier.

Day 8: Relaxing morning. Visit other beaches of Cape Cod National Sea Shore - Nauset Lighthouse Beach, and Marconi Beach. Lobster clambake dinner on the patio at the house while watching the sunset over the ocean (pick up lobster clambake to go from Mac’s Market & Kitchen).

Day 9: Drive back to Boston for flight home.



Do we need to visit both Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Light house beach, and Marconi beach? Are they similar or each have something unique?

Can we bike from Coast Guard Beach to Nauset Lighthouse on Day 6? It’s not that far, but there doesn’t appear to be a bike trail. We will be pulling the kids in a bike trailer.

Day 7 – Which option sounds better? Falmouth or Chatham? This was the day we planned to do Martha’s Vineyard, but we are going to skip it since we’ll have 2 little kids. Anything else you would add for this day?

When does the tide go out in bay near Eastham? Morning or evening? Trying to decide if we should plan morning or later afternoon beach time for the kids (I think they will prefer to explore the tide pools left behind rather than swimming in the ocean since they are only age 2 and 4).
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Old Jul 1st, 2021, 01:32 PM
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Where do you currently live? I am guessing not on either coast.
Get a tide chart if you can find one online for the specific ( ocean, bay, sound, town etc) area you want to calculate times for. There are two high tides and two low tides every day and each day those times change by about an hour each day.
And the tide pools occur at low tide, as the water goes out.
If there is a full moon, the tides will be more extreme as tides are caused by the earth’s response to the moon’s gravitational pull.


Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Jul 1st, 2021 at 01:42 PM.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2021, 06:58 AM
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Day 4, You probably know this and just wrote the order wrong but the Mayflower is in Plymouth which is before the Cape and the boardwalk.

Excellent tide description by HappyTrvir to help you plan.

You can bike from Coast Guard Beach to Nauset Light. It is about a mile and it is uphill. You would be on the road. The access to the beach is a sloping path about 300 feet long. The stairs were damaged for several years in a row due to winter storms so they removed them and made the path. The lighthouse there was moved across the street several years ago as the land was eroding and it was close to toppling into the ocean.

I love Falmouth and the bike trail is very scenic. It would be about an hour and a half to get there. Chatham is about 30 minutes.
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