Fall Weekends on the Cape

By Victoria@celebratetheweekend
In Boston and New England
Oct 19th, 2016

Thanks to a very dear family connection, we spend many summer weekends on Cape Cod enjoying its beautiful beaches.  In the fall (with all the kids’ activities), we don’t get to visit as often, but we look forward to the opportunity to get off the beach chairs and follow our favorite biking path to the National Seashore.

For our readers outside of Massachusetts, Cape Cod – locally known as “The Cape” – is a geographical cape extending into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of southeastern Massachusetts. 

Here are some of our fall weekend activities on the Cape:

Biking on Cape Cod Rail Trail

There are several biking trails – with a total of 114 miles of biking paths on the Cape – along the ocean vistas, meadows and lakes.  Our favorite is the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT), which follows a former railroad way for 22 miles from the town of Dennis in the south through the towns of Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet.  The surface is paved and the hills are few – what’s not to like for a family of casual bikers?

Fall Weekends of Cape Cod

Wooded path of the CCRT in Eastham

There are several rental shops along the Trail, the biggest being Barb’s at the southern end of the Trail in Dennis.

Exploring the Beaches of  the National Seashore

You are never too far from a beautiful beach on the Cape!  In the summer, we prefer the warm water beaches of Nantucket Sound in Hyannis, but in the fall we go further to the outer Cape to admire the dunes and waves of the National Seashore Beaches.

Cape Cod Rail Trail has several access points to National Seashore: this past weekend we got off the trail for a walk and a picnic at Marconi Beach in Eastham.  There are no life guards on the beaches after Labor Day but parking lots stay open all year (parking fees are not collected after Labor Day).

What to do on Cape Cod in the fall

Marconi Beach, National Seashore.


Visiting a Museum

We have recently  “discovered” Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, which houses American cultural artifacts in its three galleries and features the largest garden in all of Southern New England.  There are numerous nature trails and hidden treasures (and a nature playground for the kids) to spend a full day exploring the indoor and outdoor collections.



What to do on Cape Cod in the fall

The Gardens: Photograph taken on location at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA


The Museum is open mid April through mid October on a regular basis, but upcoming Halloween Family Weekend on October 28-29 will offer a chance to visit permanent collections, meet movie characters,  go on hay rides around the property and partake in special Halloween-themed activities.  Come in costumes and wear comfortable shoes to explore the vast Museum grounds!

What to do on Cape Cod in the fall

Jack Sparrow character will be greeting guests during Halloween Weekend October 28-29.  “Cut! Costume and Cinema” visiting exhibit pictured here was on display through October 10. Photograph taken on location at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA


What to do on Cape Cod in the fall

The Old American Car Collection. Photograph taken on location at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA

Winter Wonderland Garden Aglow starts November 25 and runs through December 18.


Visiting the Water Park

We have visited the indoor/outdoor water park at Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis on some rainy summer days before, but last weekend after our 15-mile bike ride it felt especially good to float along the path of the “lazy river”.


What to do on Cape in the fall

Vi floating in the “lazy river” at Cape Codder

After a major recent renovation, the park now has four slides, a lazy river, little kids splash area, 10,000 sf wave pool, hot tub and sauna.  In the summer, they open the retractable roof to let the sun in. Call ahead for day passes or check their website here.

Fall Weekends on Cape

New waterslides under retractable roof of Cape Codder Water Park


Vi is splashing in the kiddie area

Day Tripping to the nearby islands of Martha Vineyard and Nantucket

We have yet to make it to the island of Nantucket, but we have enjoyed several day trips to the island of Martha’s Vineyard (seven miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod) over the years.  (Read This post about our most recent visit for lots of practical tips on getting to and around the island).

Family vacationers visit Martha Vineyard on a day trip from Hyannis, Cape Cod

Aquinnah Lighthouse. Martha Vineyard

Going Camping

There are numerous campgrounds on the Cape and September-October is typically mild enough to enjoy a family camping weekend, and even go for a swim.

As if to formally separate our “mid-Cape summer” from our “outer Cape fall” we now have a Labor Day weekend tradition to stay at the North of Highland Camping area in Truro.  This campground in the pine tree forrest is situated directly on the preserved National Seashore and provides access to Head of the Meadow Beach.

Fall Weekends on Cape

North of Highlands Camping Area. (No, this is not a secret product placement, but I love our new tent!)


Path to the Beach. North of Highlands Camping

Path to the Beach. North of Highlands Camping



Head of the Meadows Beach. National Seashore

Visit a Theater Festival

With its two dozen theaters, Cape Cod has a vibrant theater scene that extends well into fall.  WHAT (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater) offers “thought-provoking” programming year-round.  If you are looking for more  family-oriented programming, check out the Cape Cod Theatre Company (home of Harwich Junior Theater) and The Cape Playhouse (Dennis).

Next September I am putting Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival on my calendar.  To celebrate the playwright’s connection to the Cape (Williams wrote many of his works, including The Street Car Named Desire and Glass Menagerie in Provincetown!), the organizers present his plays and the works of his peers performed by innovative theater troupes coming from as far as South Africa and Russia.


Walking the Main Street

Without the summer traffic and crowds, fall weekends might be the best time to visit the colorful Provincetown at the very tip of the Cape.   We typically visit every fall: walk the main (Commercial street), eat the Malassadas (fried dough) at the Portuguese bakery in the center of town and enjoy some oysters with a water view  at the food court (yes, they serve oysters in the food court here!).

You could also take a walking tour to learn about the town’s rich literary heritage or let a van tour take you to the dunes (I heard Art’s Dune Tours are great).









“Hidden” waterfront dining spot at the food court on Commercial Street


I don’t know about you, but my  list is already filling up for next fall!


Here are more places to explore:

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham.  Boat rides to the refuge are offered May-October, but you might also view the seals on the sand bar along the harbor inlets or at the Chatham Fish Pier (5 Barcliff Ave).  Go hiking on the Morris Island trail and watch some interesting shorebird species.

Woods Hole Science Aquarium is small public aquarium with 140 species of marine animals from Northeast and Middle Atlantic waters.  Entrance is free (donations welcome).

Truro Vineyards offer daily wine tastings from April to December, and the tours from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

Have you visited the Cape in the fall? What are some of your favorite things to do?

Fall Weekends on Cape Cod

Note: We received media passes to some of the attractions mentioned in the post. Check the websites for current ticket pricing.


8 Comments to “Fall Weekends on the Cape”

  1. Anda says:

    I’ve only visited Nantucket, but never been to Cape Cod. It looks very beautiful. I love those endless beaches that go on for miles and miles. Didn’t know there are indoors water parks. We only have outdoor ones in California. Very beautiful pictures, Victoria.
    Anda recently posted…Landsort, the Little Swedish Village That Time ForgotMy Profile

  2. Anisa says:

    I really want to visit Cape Cod, I have heard so many nice things. I guess I always just thought it was a summer place. Good to know fall is nice there too. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  3. Cathy says:

    I love the Cape and islands especially in the Fall- fewer tourists! I’ve been a few times but haven’t see all that you recommend. The camp ground sounds great- I love that it is right off the beach!
    Cathy recently posted…Street Art Adventures in the City of BostonMy Profile

  4. dee says:

    I am lucky enough to live on Cape Cod. The Fall has been awesome. I swim til late September, but never stop walking on the beach. This past week, the full moon, the tides, and the weather were fabulous!

  5. I have never been to Cape Cod but it looks like a great place to spend the weekend and hike!
    Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats recently posted…Edinburgh Festivals in August: An Essential Planning Guide to 6 FestivalsMy Profile

  6. I had no idea there were so many fun things to do in Cape Cod. I always imagined it to be just a about the beach.
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted…My Favourite Sanur Restaurants and Not So FavouriteMy Profile

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