If you’re looking for an east coast place to visit on your next vacation, Massachusetts has plenty to offer with its many years of history, great food, and beautiful views.
There are multiple great places to visit, such as Boston, Salem, and Lowell, but you should put Cape Cod at the top of your list to get a real taste of what this New England state has to offer. On the eastern side of Massachusetts, you’ll find a hook-shaped landmass jutting out, called Cape Cod.
This beautiful peninsula offers hundreds of miles of shoreline and views of the spacious Atlantic Ocean, ultimately intriguing many tourists. Cape Cod is one of the most popular places to visit in Massachusetts, with 4,017,239 visitors in 2021 alone!
So, what makes the area so great that millions of people choose to visit and vacation there each year? Let’s take a look at what makes Cape Cod the perfect place to visit on your days off and find out when is the best time to visit the peninsula.
Why You Should Visit Cape Cod
The Bay State became a part of the United States on Feb. 6, 1788, making it number six of the original 13 colonies. The state gets its name from the Massachusett Native American tribe.
And Cape Cod itself gets its name from Bartholomew Gosnold (English explorer), who named the area in 1620 after finding tons of cod just off the shorelines. Along with this rich history, Cape Cod has plenty of museums for you to explore and learn more information.
However, if history isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other activities to do to keep everyone in your traveling group busy! Whether you’re on a New England food tour, looking for water-themed activities, or want to shop around, Cape Cod has it all.
The sprawling beaches are one of the most popular activities, as they offer stunning views and opportunities to soak up the New England sun.
Take a look at the lighthouses nearby and even explore them, as many offer guided tours. You could even take a boat tour to go whale and dolphin watching! Bring a raincoat, as they may breach and splash you a little!
If you’d rather stay dry and sunburn-free, you can find all kinds of stores, coffee shops, farmer’s markets, and flea markets located all around the peninsula. Don’t forget to stop at one of the many dining options to grab some local New England food!
Lobster rolls, clam chowder, and clam cakes are some favorites that are worth a try. These are just some of the many fun things that you can enjoy during your visit to Cape Cod!
Overall Best Time to Visit Cape Cod
The overall best time to visit Cape Cod is from April to June or September to October. There are a few reasons for these timeframes, including weather, decreases in tourism, and the beauty that the area has to offer.
If you visit from April to June, you can expect temperatures ranging from the 50s to the low 70s, and if you visit in September or October, you can expect temperatures in the 60s and 70s. These temperatures allow for comfortable walking weather during the day and cool jacket weather at night.
You’ll also be avoiding the rainiest times during these months. Spring and early fall tend to fall within Cape Cod’s shoulder seasons, which means that most tourists are back at home, taking a lot of the large crowds with them.
Kids are typically in school during these months as well, so fewer families are taking vacations. Hotels also tend to decrease prices slightly because demand is lower, ultimately saving you some money. The best part about visiting during the spring and early fall is the beauty of Cape Cod.
In the springtime, many of the flowers begin blooming, bringing in colors of pink, purple, red, and bright green foliage. Then in the early fall, the leaves start changing into beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red, creating an autumn wonderland.
Cheapest Time to Visit Cape Cod
The cheapest time to visit Cape Cod is typically from November to March. These months are Cape Cod’s off-season due to the cold weather, fewer available activities, and the fact that many people are busy working and going to school.
Traveling to somewhere cold probably isn’t at the top of many people’s lists in the winter months. Since the winter months are Cape Cod’s off-season, you are likely to find lower prices for hotels, plane tickets, and tickets for the few activities that may be available.
When demand is low, prices generally drop. Search on hotel, travel, and car rental websites to compare prices. Sometimes you’ll find deals that cut your expenses by more than one-half.
When compared to the best time to visit Cape Cod, the winter months can get quite cold, requiring you to bring thick jackets and boots. Temperatures usually hover in the 30s and 40s from November to March, with March being slightly warmer and sometimes hitting the 50s.
However, nighttime in the off-season can be brutal, hitting the 20s and sometimes the teens. Since Cape Cod is in the Northeast, you can also expect snowy conditions, so keep an eye on the weather before your visit.
However, don’t let this scare you away! Stores, restaurants, and museums are open all year, so you can still have fun. Head to a coffee shop for a hot latte, bundle up, and enjoy the low travel expenses!
Least Busy Time to Visit Cape Cod
The least busy time to visit Cape Cod is usually from December to February. These months are in the middle of winter when lower temperatures and snowy conditions typically occur.
It’s also in the middle of the school year, so children usually can’t travel during this time, keeping many families with young children at home. In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice typically occurs around Dec. 21 or 22, where you can expect Cape Cod temperatures to be in the 40s.
January has the coldest temperatures of the year, with temperatures in the low 30s, and February puts temperatures back into the 40s. Most of the time, the winter skies are partly cloudy, with snow possible.
The cold temperatures tend to scare people off, and most people prefer to go somewhere sunny and warm in the winter. However, no tourists means you don’t have to wait in lines for anything or worry about dinner reservations.
It also means you’ll be able to find reasonably priced lodging without too much searching. Typically, the only people around in Cape Cod during the dead of winter are the locals.
While prices are already low during this time, you can attempt to find even better deals on travel websites. Prices for hotels, plane tickets, and car rentals are typically cheaper on these sites compared to the hotel and rental brand name websites.
Worst Time to Visit Cape Cod
The worst time to visit Cape Cod is in July and August. While the sunny days and hot weather roll around during these months, large crowds tend to follow.
If you’re looking for an affordable, relaxing vacation without waiting in line for hours, visiting Cape Cod in the summer isn’t recommended. As school comes to an end and the summer days get hotter and longer, families begin vacationing because this is usually the only time they can travel.
With this overabundance of people, comes more demand for the area. You’ll see companies start hiking up their hotel room rates and plane ticket prices, putting quite a dent in your wallet.
Discounts for anything during the summer are highly unlikely, as these months are Cape Cod’s peak season. You can also expect to be waiting in long lines for tours and local restaurants.
You may not even get a chance to sit on the beach due to the crowdedness, making it difficult to enjoy the beauty up close or cool off in the ocean. Cape Cod temperatures can reach the 70s to the upper 80s in the summertime.
And the UV radiation from the sun can damage your skin in as little as five to ten minutes. The summertime is also peak hurricane season, as it starts June 1 and ends Nov. 30. So, prepare for the possibility of your trip getting canceled.
Things to Consider
If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Cape Cod, you need to consider a few things. Here are some travel tips to keep in mind while planning and packing for your trip:
- Pack your bag accordingly. If you decide to visit Cape Cod during its peak season, you need to ensure that you pack high-SPF sunscreen, breathable clothes, and water bottles. If you go in the low season, you’ll need plenty of warm clothes.
- Don’t plan your trip near any holidays or school breaks, especially ones that occur in warmer months because many people will want to be on the beach. Prices will also be astronomical during these times, costing you hundreds and sometimes thousands.
- Always search for discounts. Even if you can’t find any coupons online, many stores and activities offer discounts for people who are students, seniors, or in the military. Your hotel might offer coupons and discounts for activities as well. Just ask.
- Check the weather a few days before your trip. If you visit Cape Cod during the summer, ensure no hurricanes are heading towards Massachusetts. Make sure there aren’t any snowstorms coming if you visit in the winter. Adjust your trip accordingly.
- Avoid taking a car to Cape Cod if you can. It’s difficult to find parking and parking garages can get pretty expensive.
- Travel to Cape Cod during the week. The weekends can get rather busy, and hotels are typically cheaper during the week.
- Make dinner reservations ahead of time so you can ensure you get a chance to taste all of the best local dishes. This is especially true during the peak season. There is nothing like fresh Atlantic seafood!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions people have when traveling to Cape Cod:
Is Cape Cod walkable?
Cape Cod contains 11 of Massachusetts’s 15 Cape towns, including:
While each town has walkable areas, the entire Cape isn’t walkable. You’ll need transportation to travel between towns due to the large size of the peninsula. If you don’t have a car, there are buses, ferries, and bicycle rentals for you to utilize.
How many days do you need to visit Cape Cod?
About three to four days is usually the best amount of time to spend in Cape Cod. If you plan out your trip ahead of time and map out each attraction and restaurant you want to visit, you’ll be able to squish it into a few days.
What is the hottest month in Cape Cod?
July tends to be the hottest month in Cape Cod. Most of the time, the temperatures stay in the 80s, but on some occasions, the temperatures can go over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Cape Cod, along with other New England areas, is no stranger to heat waves.
What is the most popular part of Cape Cod?
Provincetown is the most popular part of Cape Cod due to its shopping area, inviting atmosphere, and a long list of activities and restaurants. Many people spend the majority of their Cape Cod stay in Provincetown.
What food is famous in Cape Cod?
Fried clams are a big winner in Cape Cod. For this dish, clams typically get dipped in milk, egg, and seasoned flour. Then the clams get fried until golden brown. You’ll usually get some delicious tartar sauce, fries, and coleslaw with these crunchy pillows of fresh clams.
If you’re not keen on clams, lobster is another food that Cape Cod is famous for. You can get it boiled with melted butter for dipping, chopped up in a delicious lobster roll, or stuffed with seafood stuffing. Many restaurants offer lobster in pasta dishes, such as ravioli as well.
Are the beaches free in Cape Cod?
Town beaches in Cape Cod are usually free to walk onto. However, while admission is free, parking often isn’t. Prices can vary for parking depending on the beach you’re going to. This is why biking or walking to the beach is always best.
Can you swim in the ocean in Cape Cod?
Yes, Cape Cod allows you to swim in its oceans. However, try to swim at the beach rather than in a secluded area, as the beaches typically have lifeguards to watch you. Beaches also provide warning flags if there are things you need to be aware of when swimming, such as rip currents, high bacteria levels, and other dangers.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Cape Cod?
The overall best time to visit Cape Cod is by far from April to June or September to October. During this time, you’ll find mild weather, reasonable prices for hotels and travel expenses, and smaller crowds of tourists.
Use these travel tips to help you plan your trip to Cape Cod and make it one of your best vacations yet! And trust us — Cape Cod is one of the best and most charming areas you’ll find in the entire world. Happy travels!