My family has been going to Cape Cod, or as it’s more affectionately known by New Englanders “The Cape”, almost every year since I was 9 years old. If you haven’t been you should, even if it’s for a long weekend. The summers are prime tourist season, but it’s beautiful in the fall as well. Plus, it’s still pretty warm in September in the northeast so you could get in some beach time. My family typically stays in the Harwich Port/Chatham area, which is on the ocean side – more waves and a stronger current. My husband grew up visiting the bay side – calmer waters and a lot of sand bars. Here is my mini guide for eating, beaching, and exploring Cape Cod:
Breakfast: Woolfies Bakery in Dennis Port has amazing pastries and doughnuts. My personal favorite is the raspberry danish. It’s set in an old house and has a very welcoming environment with picnic tables and a rope swing out front. See picture below of all the yummy.
Lunch – Arnolds Lobster and Clam Bar in Eastham has the best lobster roll on the Cape. For those less familiar with lobster rolls they’re either served cold with mayo or hot with butter. Arnolds is hot with butter and OH MY GOD you need one. There will always be a line, but it moves quickly and is worth every second.
Dinner – The Impudent Oyster in Chatham has an amazing lunch and dinner menu and is a little more upscale. Great opportunity to break out that flowy dress you brought “just in case you go somewhere nice.” Also, you have to get dessert and it has to be the butterscotch blonde. It is my favorite dessert of all time and I eat a lot of desserts my friends.
Ice Cream – Sundae School has multiple locations (Dennis Port, Harwich Port, and East Orleans). The ice cream is homemade and super creamy. They also have a specific cooler with “allergy free” ice cream/yogurt which is awesome for those with nut allergies. My husbands favorite is the frappe float which is a milkshake with a scoop of ice cream in it. Pic of their strawberry ice cream cone below.
Nauset Beach (ocean side) – Located in Orleans and is our favorite beach on the Cape. It has that crowded beach vibe that I love, the waves are usually big, and you always end up spotting a couple of seals swim by. Nauset also has Liam’s which has great beach and fried food. We always get a jumbo order of the clam fritters. So. Good.
Hardings Beach (ocean side) – Located in Chatham and is a lot quieter than Nauset. There are 2 big parking areas ($20 to park unless you have a weekly/seasonal pass), bathrooms on-site, and an ice cream truck stationed right next to the stand.
First Encounter Beach (bay side) – Located in Eastham and is huge. Beaches on the bay side have more real estate because the water goes out a lot farther, even at high tide, so there is more space for everyone to sit. The water is shallow and there are easily accessible sand bars out 200+ feet at low tide. This beach is great for kids because there are multiple pockets of super shallow water for them to sit and play in.
Downtown Chatham – Chatham in itself is very picturesque. Downtown has a ton of shops and restaurants. There are multiple free parking lots as well as free street parking. They have music in the parks some evenings and outdoor craft fairs a few times a month.
Cape Cod Beer Brewery – We went to the brewery for the first time this year. It’s located in Hyannis, but outside the main drag so it’s not as hectic. The beer was “so so” according to my husband, but we both really liked their blonde ale. We sat outside in the beer garden in a couple of adirondack chairs for a few hours chatting and people watching. They also have picnic tables set up and a hot dog truck. You’re able to bring your own picnic and dogs are welcome in the beer garden.
Provincetown – It’s all the way out at the tip of the Cape, so it’s a bit of a drive from most everywhere (30-60 minutes), but it’s a fun little town. Once you park the main street, Commercial Street, stretches a ways and is super walkable and packed with shops and restaurants. My favorite part about Provincetown is all the used book stores. Heaven. The beach is right there also and the town as a whole is very dog friendly, a lot of shops put water bowls out for the visiting pooches.
Share your own Cape Cod recommendations in the comments!