I have spent many summer months in the Cape exploring small towns and villages, looking for interesting and interesting experiences. I’ve listed a few of my favorite gems below. Baseball nights, local artisans, adult refreshments and more add to your Cape Cod vacation.
Note: Some of the information in this article was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are mine.
1. Cape Cod Baseball League
Summer in the Cape is synonymous with burgers, hot dogs and baseball. Cape Cod Baseball League is a fun, family-friendly night out. Bring your picnic dinner to one of the many fields, or support your boosters by dining at the snack shack to savor Americana at its best.
Popular with locals, visitors, and baseball scouts, attending a Cape Cod Baseball League game is the best way to spend a balmy summer evening. Packed bleachers, foldable chairs and blankets dot the stadiums full of cheerful fans who simply love the game. Young kids play their part alongside potential big players, and they get some pointers along the way.
Ten teams of all Cape Field College players are hosted by local families and organizations When the Cape Cod Baseball League turned aluminum (standard team equipment) into wooden bats, Major League Baseball scouts noted. Evaluating college players became easier when they were swinging like big bats. The potential for exploration is amazing – according to MLB.com’s Michael Clear, as of October 2019, 1,400 Cape Cod alumni have participated in a Major League Baseball game.
Pro tip: Most fields do not charge an admission fee but ask for a donation or participation in the 50/50 raffle.
2. Highland links
If you’ve never played golf on a classic links style course, you need to play nine holes at Highland Links. It’s an adventure, hit the tee to the green and try to avoid the harsh burning summer. Challenging ripples create blind spots for even expert attackers.
The mostly treeless trail is part of Cape Cod National Beach and offers far ocean views. It’s a fun outing for novice golfers and experienced golfers alike.
Pro tip: The busy public nine-hole track is reasonably priced at under $100 for a full 18 holes and a buggy.
3. John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is a treasure trove of photography that highlights the family life of our thirty-fifth president. The Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Harbor was the first family’s summer white house. As you wander through the photographs depicting the days of the perished in the Cape, those of us who remember go back in time. It’s easy to remember where you were and what you were doing when JFK was assassinated.
The touching Kennedy family moments on display will take you back to the fun of summer and remind you of the ongoing family tragedies of this New England family.
Pro tip: After touring the museum, grab a snack at one of the great Hyannis restaurants.
4. Tree House Brewing Company
The Tree House Brewing Company’s new location on First Beach in Sandwich is a craft beer lover’s dream. The original brewery is located in bustling Charlton, Massachusetts, miles from this beautiful beachfront setting. The views from the second floor balcony are wonderful. If you find an Adirondack chair open, grab it – it’s a lovely spot.
Each guest must reserve a time slot and prepay a limited number of drafts. On a hot summer evening, make reservations in advance. Alternatively, you can pre-order to pick up, swing and grab a chill, then head back to your digs for a house party.
Parking is a challenge, but there are a few places designated for the brewing company. Or you can park your car at First Beach’s car park for a fee.
You are allowed to bring outside food to enjoy with your drink, and the patio is dog friendly.
Pro tip: Sandwich is a charming vacation destination and offers visitors a variety of summer vacation experiences. I’ve written more about Witch Sandwich, Massachusetts, here.
5. Quahog Republic Dive Bar
When I first traveled to Quahog Republic Dive Bar, I was a little unsure of what I would encounter. The bar was recommended to me by a local while I was searching for the best lobster rolls in Cape Cod. Quahog Republic is located in an ominous mall without a great view of the waterfront. Only the kind of place that someone familiar with would recommend.
I ate a little from the east coast crab Laps in my life (I’m from Boston), this was one of the best. It is cooked to perfection and served with pulled butter and perfectly crunchy french fries. Just add a local project for a great meal. It is the perfect place for a quiet lunch.
Pro tip: The staff treats everyone like they are locals – put on your favorite Red Sox hat and sit at the bar.
6. Scargo Pottery and Art Gallery
When you’re looking for that special gift, Scargo Pottery & Art Gallery is an interesting place to start your search. Partly on the inside, and partly on the outside, the quirky presentation resembles a pleasant stroll through a pottery forest. When you arrive, it looks like you are in the home of someone who is connected to birdhouses and bird feeders.
Birdhouses, dishes, utensils, decor pieces and more are spread in a colorful array. When you enter different exhibition areas, you can feel the essence of the artist while admiring the thoughtful creations.
7. Cranberry Bog Tours
Cranberry Bog Tours operate seasonally, taking guests on a journey through the life of the cranberry. Find out how this tart, tiny fruit from the tiny bushes made its way to the Thanksgiving table.
The tour takes guests on a bumpy ride around the farm to learn about it, meet the four-legged residents, and see cranberry-harvesting equipment.
Pro tip: These little crimson gems are harvested on a dry, sunny day in the fall. Here are my tips for experiencing the cranberry harvest season.
8. Chrome Truro
Sampling the local produce is the best way to experience the essence of the place. When you’re in the Cape, a local product worth noting is Truro Vineyards. They mix Cape Cod-grown Chardonnay, Cabernet Frank, and Merlot grapes with other varieties from Massachusetts, New York, and California to produce an exceptional variety of wine.
Pro tip: The Lighthouse Wine Series is sold in stunning lighthouse-shaped bottles. When empty and filled with twinkling lights, they make for a signature piece of coastal life you’ll love.
9. The first crushed winery
First Crush Winery is another great flavor of grapes. Located in an industrial area along the Cape Cod Railroad, First Crush is a secret oasis of bright sunshine. The perfect spot for an afternoon wine slush or a thoughtful and unique wine tasting of their beautiful wines.
Sit between fermentation cabinets for an urban experience, or under the cozy tent casually to wine barrel tables.
Pro tip: Hop off the Cape Cod Rail Trail for a walking/ride break to enjoy a relaxing cup with a plate of cheese and crackers.
10. Nickerson State Park
Nickerson State Park offers vacationers an alternative to oceanfront beaches. With swimming in the lake, hiking trails, and camping, it is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts. Located along the Cape Cod Railroad, Nickerson State Park is a popular spot for avid cyclists.
Pro tip: Find out more about why you might want to visit Nickerson State Park.
11. Cape Cod Rail Trail
Wellfleet to Yarmouth
Crossing the Cape Cod Railroad track as it cruises through six towns from Yarmouth to Wellfleet allows you to see a local view. The trail has a total length of 25 miles (recently increased from the original 22 miles) and meanders by beautiful ponds and natural habitats and is filled with dining experiences. You can walk or cycle on the railway track and explore all its secrets.
12. Sandwich Glass Museum
Take a trip into the history of glass at the Sandwich Glass Museum. Plan your visit to coincide with the glassblowing show. The craftsmanship required to make even the simplest mind-boggling piece.
13. Cape Cod Dinner Train
Hyannis, Buzzards Bay, and Falmouth
The Cape Cod Dinner Train is a unique opportunity to see parts of the Cape that are not visible from the roads. Drift along the canal and waterways as you enjoy an exquisite five-course dinner served in style.
The three-hour cruise has great views and is perfect for a romantic night as well as a night out with a group of friends.
Cape Cod is full of hidden gems. When full of beautiful beaches and waterfront restaurants, explore the off-the-beaten-track to discover your favorite Cape Cod gem.