Cape Cod is an iconic island in Massachusetts, known for its very quaint atmosphere and scenery, and it’s very popular with tourists during the summer season. However, despite being a popular vacation spot, not many people know a lot about this region other than that it’s close to Nantucket.
In order to help you decide whether you should give this place a shot and find out where to stay in Cape Cod, we’ve outlined all of the information that you need to know before you start planning your trip.
Where to Stay in Cape Cod
Cape Cod is a coastal region, which means that it’s absolutely covered in beaches. We’ll point out the ones that stand out, but in general, feel free to assume that all of the locations that we name in our article will have at least a decent beach where you can spend all day lounging in the sun or going for a swim.
Most of these beaches are pretty calm, so there aren’t any waves that surfers can take advantage of. Additionally, the large sea life in the area doesn’t really make scuba diving possible.
However, the waters in these parts are home to both seals and whales, so while you won’t be able to swim with them, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of them in their natural habitat. Cape Cod also has quite a few museums and galleries that you can check out.
The most notable of these would probably have to be the Railroad Museum and the John F. Kennedy Museum. Either way, while there are similar attractions in every town, there’s something unique about each one of them, so you’re sure to find a place that’ll pique your interests. Here are our suggestions.
The 5 Best Parts of Cape Cod
Cape Cod is a lot larger than people think, and it’s actually divided into quite a few regions. However, in order to keep things easy to follow, we’ve outlined the most interesting spots for tourists to visit.
- Provincetown: The original Pilgrims’ landfall and amazing beaches
- Hyannis: Home to several memorials dedicated to John F. Kennedy
- West Yarmouth: Wine, pirates, and more than a few interesting museums and galleries
- Falmouth: The place to go for nature lovers
- Chatham: Where you can observe marine life in a unique setting and even more museums
Cape Cod’s Best Areas and Hotels
Since Cape Cod is a popular vacation spot, it obviously has quite a few hotels in all price ranges. The locations of these hotels are also convenient in terms of proximity to attractions, so we we suggest basing your decision on that.
Some hotels will be sparse in terms of amenities, but the room will be much cheaper as a result. Others will offer quite a bit of luxury, but you’ll need to carry a pretty fat purse to pay for some of the rooms on our list.
Ultimately the decision will be up to you. Our list includes great deals and luxury accommodation options alike.
Provincetown is the best place in Cape Cod for anyone looking to learn a bit more about the history of the region. Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum will tell you everything that you need to know about the people that used to live here.
You’ll get to see countless interactive video exhibits about the city and the region as a whole. The Pilgrim monument itself is also a pretty famous attraction thanks to its significance. After all, it’s a monument dedicated to the Mayflower, the ship that carried the first settlers to today’s USA.
If you’re not one for history, you’ll at least get to enjoy some stunning views. The Provincetown Art Association and Museum is another great spot in Provincetown, where you can find hundreds of amazing works of art.
These range from abstract paintings to sculptures, but the facility also has a lot of interesting programs for kids. If you’re looking for something a little bit less educational and a little more relaxing, then we’d suggest going down to Herring Cove Beach.
This is one of the beaches that doesn’t see many waves and doesn’t have many exciting scuba diving spots that you can dive down. However, that does mean that you can just enjoy the peace and quiet.
The biggest issue with Provincetown might seem trivial to a lot of people, but the city is located at the far end of Cape Cod. This means that it’s out of the way, and getting to the other spots on our list will be a bit of a hassle.
Things to Do
- Visit the art gallery and check out all of the wonderful works of art while your kids can explore their creative side.
- The Pilgrim Monument and Province Museum offer a spectacular view of the surrounding area, as well as a look back into the history of the region.
- Herring Cove Beach is one of the best beaches in the area, and you can spend all day just tanning or swimming.
Where to Eat
- Napi’s Restaurant offers both seafood and international fare depending on what you feel like that day.
- Fanizzi’s Restaurant has a fantastic seafood menu full of both Italian and American specialties.
- The Mews Restaurant & Cafe is where you can get a cup of coffee during the day and a stiff drink at night.
Provincetown Budget Hotels
- Gifford House Inn comes with a cable TV and free wifi in every room, a complimentary breakfast every morning, and an in-house bar.
- Harbor Hotel Provincetown has an outdoor swimming pool, rooms that have a coffee and tea maker, and an in-house bar with a decent list of cocktails that you can get.
Provincetown Mid-Range Hotels
- Sandcastle Resort offers access to two outdoor swimming pools of varying sizes, free parking, and wifi, and the resort itself is located close to the beach.
- Provincetown Inn is a beachfront hotel that comes with an outdoor swimming pool, an in-house bar, and rooms that come with cable TV and free wifi.
Provincetown Luxury Hotels
- Surfside Hotel and Suites is another beachfront hotel that has a microwave, a coffee maker, a cable TV, and a refrigerator in every room, as well as a swimming pool with a poolside bar that has a massive cocktail selection.
- Brass Key Guesthouse is an adult-only resort with an outside swimming pool, a flat-screen cable TV and DVD player in every room, free wifi throughout the property, and a complimentary breakfast every morning.
Hyannis is another city in the region with a fantastic museum that can show you a glimpse of history. The glimpse in question is of the late president Kennedy, which you can experience in the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.
You’ll learn a bit about the man himself, his upbringing, his family, and some of the policies that he enacted and that impacted the US. There’s also a Kennedy Memorial that can be found nearby, which is also worth checking out. There’s also a Maritime Museum where you can learn a bit about the local marine biology as well as the region’s sailing history.
Aside from that, the boat restoration classes or the rowing classes are truly unique experiences. Having said that, while the museums are definitely a big attraction to tourists, the biggest draw of this area would probably be the Cape Cod Central Railroad.
This is the best way to see the region, as the train takes you past some of the most beautiful and notable sights in Cape Cod. If you take the tour, the guide will tell you everything that you might like to know about the region.
We suggest taking the dinner train, as you’ll get to enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the scenery. Hyannis is a city with a number of interesting attractions that you can visit; however, it’s not exactly brimming with bars and nightclubs.
Things to Do
- John F. Kennedy is a big part of the history of Cape Cod, and both the museum and the monument tell you everything you need to know about the man.
- Buy a ticket for the Cape Cod Central Railroad and see all of the best sights in the region in style and luxury.
- The Maritime Museum has a lot of interesting exhibits that you can check out, and you might learn something about the local sealife as well.
Where to Eat
- Black Cat Tavern is a chic eatery where you can listen to live music while you eat.
- Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon is a casual restaurant where you can try some seaside specialties.
- Brazilian Grill is where you go if you want to try some BBQ.
Hyannis Budget Hotels
- Comfort Inn Hyannis has a free parking spot and free wifi throughout the property, as well as daily housekeeping services and an outdoor swimming pool.
- SeaCoast Inn comes with a complimentary breakfast every morning, a coffee maker in every room, and free wifi throughout the property.
Hyannis Mid-Range Hotels
- Cape Codder Resort & Spa has two swimming pools with their own lounge areas, a full spa and wellness center with plenty of treatment options, and an in-house bar with a pretty impressive selection of drinks.
- Hyannis Inn has an on-site cocktail lounge where you can enjoy a drink at the end of the day, a heated indoor swimming pool, and free wifi throughout the property.
Hyannis Luxury Hotels
- Best Western Cape Cod Hotel comes with a complimentary breakfast every morning, daily housekeeping services, and rooms that come with a cable TV, an AC unit, and free wifi.
- Resort & Conference Center at Hyannis has both an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool, a full-service spa where you can get a massage and relax, and rooms that come with free wifi and a 32-inch flat-screen TV.
3. West Yarmouth
Since we’ve already started our previous two segments with museums, let’s not break the trend here. The Whydah Pirate Museum is a pretty unique facility that shows tourists around the famous Whydah Gally, tells them about the boat’s storied history, and even lets them see the famous lost treasure that it was carrying.
The museum also goes deep into the history of piracy and the most famous individuals that came to light during the so-called “golden era of piracy.” It also disproves some of the details of pirate life that might have been romanticized a bit in a certain series of movies, and Whydah is one of the best ways to get that first-hand recount.
This area has quite a few attractions that might appeal to kids as well, the most notable of which would probably have to be the mini golf course and the inflatable park.
The inflatable park is simply a space full of bouncy castles where kids can jump around for hours on end, whereas the mini golf course can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Antiques Center of Yarmouth.
While this might not be the best place for kids, it does have everything from extravagant pieces of jewelry to intricately decorated furniture, which tourists might like to check out.
This area is home to a few wineries that offer tours of their facilities, as well as more than a few bars where you can grab a drink. However, there aren’t many nightclubs where you can listen to live music or dance all night.
Things to Do
- Go to one of the local wineries that can be found around this region and learn a bit more about the wine-making process.
- The Whydah Pirate Museum is a major draw for tourists, thanks to the Whydah Gally, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
- The local mini golf course is a great place to go with your family or friends and try to see how many hole-in-ones you can get.
Where to Eat
- Captain Parker’s Pub is where you go if you want to grab a drink or some clam chowder.
- Basil Thai Cuisine is a pretty small restaurant with a selection of Thai cruising to choose from.
- Yarmouth House is famous for lobster dishes.
West Yarmouth Budget Hotels
- Windrift Motel comes with two swimming pools that are right next to each other, free wifi throughout the property, and rooms that come with a cable TV and a coffee maker.
- Yarmouth Resort offers a fitness center with some pretty decent gear that guests can use, a game room, and a selection of different rooms that come with different amenities depending on the price.
West Yarmouth Mid-Range Hotels
- The Mariner Resort has an indoor swimming pool, free wifi throughout the property, and rooms that come with a flat-screen TV and a coffee maker.
- Sunbird Cape Cod Resort gives you a choice of either a continental or a buffet breakfast every morning, and there’s both free wifi and parking for all of the guests.
West Yarmouth Luxury Hotels
- Bayside Resort Hotel comes with two swimming pools, a poolside bar where you can grab something to help beat the heat, a complimentary breakfast every morning, and an on-site games room.
- Hampton Inn & Suites has two swimming pools with lounge areas where guests can relax, a fully-equipped fitness center, and rooms that come with a microwave, a refrigerator, and a 37-inch flat-screen HD TV.
Rather than a museum, the most interesting facility in this area is an aquarium. The Woods Hole Science Aquarium has all sorts of sealife, massive exhibits that teach you everything about the indigenous fish, and even several interesting fossils.
Having said that, we can’t go without mentioning the Nobska Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built all the way back in 1826, and it has quite a bit of history associated with it.
There’s always something special about lighthouses, especially ones that are this old, and if you enjoy that aesthetic, you’ll surely love Nobska. The most notable characteristic of Falmouth is its biking trails, which are probably the best there are on Cape Cod.
Regardless of which one you decide to follow, you’ll more than likely see scenic landscapes. However, we suggest the 10.7-mile Shining Sea Bikeway. You’ll also find some fantastic fishing spots where you can just go and spend hours on end alone with your thoughts trying to catch a big one.
Falmouth also has several wineries that you can check out, a petting zoo where you can see some friendly goats, and several small theaters, museums, and galleries that you can visit.
The only problem with Falmouth is that none of the attractions are really all that remarkable. This isn’t to say that they’re not interesting, but rather that none of them are worth getting too excited for.
Things to Do
- Go to the Woods Hole Science Aquarium and check out all of the live and dead specimens that are on display here.
- The Nobska Lighthouse is one of the most famous landmarks in the area, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
- Rent a bicycle or a fishing rod and check out the abundance of natural beauty that Falmouth has.
Where to Eat
- Quarterdeck is a nautical-themed restaurant that has surf n’ turf.
- La Cucina Sul Mare is the best place in the region if you want some Italian food.
- Flying Bridge Restaurant offers a beautiful view that you can enjoy while you eat.
Falmouth Budget Hotels
- Town & Beach Motel provides free parking for all of the guests, a satellite TV in every room, and free wifi throughout the property.
- Falmouth Inn has an indoor swimming pool, free wifi throughout the property, and rooms that come with cable TV and a coffee maker.
Falmouth Mid-Range Hotels
- Sea Crest Beach Hotel comes with an in-house restaurant with a pretty decent menu, an in-house bar where you can grab a drink at night, and free wifi throughout the property.
- Falmouth Heights Motor Lodge has a large swimming pool with a lounge area, a flat-screen cable TV in every room, and free wifi throughout the property.
Falmouth Luxury Hotels
- Inn on the Sound provides all of the guests with a gourmet breakfast every morning, free parking for all the guests, and rooms that come with an AC unit and a flat-screen cable TV.
- Frederick William House offers free wifi throughout the property, free parking for all of the guests, a children’s playground, and rooms that come equipped with an AC unit, a coffee maker, and a TV with satellite channels.
We couldn’t resist starting another section with a museum, so let’s talk about the Chatham Railroad Museum. This is the home to several antique engines, most of which are decommissioned trains with a lot of history behind them.
You might also like to check out the nearby Atwood Museum, which doesn’t have a particular theme but rather has a massive collection of clothing, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts of different shapes and sizes.
This is also where you can find the Shark Center, which unfortunately doesn’t have any actual sharks, but it does have a ton of info on the great whites, their habits, diet, and so on. However, while you won’t find sharks in Chatham, you will find plenty of seals.
Furthermore, there are boat tours that you can go on, which will specifically take you to seal congregation points so that you can see these majestic creatures up close and personal.
You can also go whale watching, but be aware that whales are a lot more difficult to spot, and there’s a chance that you’ll spend a few hours on a boat and still not see even one blowhole. If you do, though, it’ll make the trip worth it and then some.
For more R&R, Chatham also has a massive golf course where you can go to play a few holes. Alternatively, there’s also a driving range where you can practice your swings or see how far you can hit the ball.
This area is a bit sparse when it comes to hotels, so it might be a good idea to book a room before you come here; otherwise, you might be left high and dry.
Things to Do
- Go on a boat tour of the area and either visit the famous seal-watching spots or try and catch a glimpse of the elusive whales.
- The Railroad Museum is a pretty interesting spot, especially if you’re curious about these massive machines and their role in American history.
- The Atwood Museum is another interesting spot where you can check out the many historical artifacts that are collected here.
Where to Eat
- Impudent Oyster is the best place around if you want to try some oysters or seafood specials.
- Wild Goose Tavern is a classic pub with quite a drinks selection.
- Pates Restaurant has a great wine selection that you can check out.
Chatham Budget Hotels
- Surfside Inn Chatham has free wifi throughout the property, a cable TV in every room, and some rooms are also equipped with a microwave and refrigerator.
- The Chatham Motel has an outside swimming pool, a children’s playground, and rooms that come with a coffee maker and cable TV.
Chatham Mid-Range Hotels
- The Hawthorne comes with free parking, a fully-equipped business center, and rooms that have a flat-screen cable TV and free toiletries.
- Chatham Wayside Inn provides all of the guests with a complimentary continental breakfast every morning, an in-house bar, and a front desk that’s always available for anything that you might need.
Chatham Luxury Hotels
- Old Harbor Inn comes with a fully-equipped fitness center, free wifi throughout the property, a complimentary breakfast every morning, and rooms that come with a flat-screen TV and a DVD player.
- Captain’s House Inn has a cable TV, DVD player, coffee maker, and a fireplace in every room, a complimentary breakfast every morning, and free parking and wifi.
So, Where Should You Stay in Cape Cod?
West Yarmouth probably has the most entertaining attractions out of all of the locations that we went over, so it’s the best choice for anyone that wants to just relax and have a bit of fun on their holiday.
Falmouth has plenty of biking trails and fishing spots that really show off the natural beauty of the region and will appeal to outdoorsmen types.
And finally, If you want to learn a bit more about the region and the history of the people that lived here, then we’d recommend staying somewhere close to Hyannis. However, you’re sure to love it, wherever you choose to stay. Happy travels!