There are so many things to do on Cape Cod with kids, where do you even begin to decide? The suggestions below are the best of the best according to a born and raised Cape Codder who experienced all these things herself growing up, and now shares them with her young Goddaughter.
Things to Do on Cape Cod with Kids
Guest Post by Brittany Quaglieri
Best Beaches For Kids on Cape Cod
On the top of most kid’s list of things to do is play in the sand and jump in the waves along the Cape’s coastline. Here are a few of my favorite beaches to visit with kids.
Gray’s Beach (Bass Hole) in Yarmouth
In addition to a calm bayside beach, at Gray’s Beach are a beautiful boardwalk, playground, seasonal bathrooms, a picnic area, and a covered pavilion. Plus, there are walking trails in the area, like the Alms House Trail that leads out to a scenic overlook of the marsh and tire swing. Bonus: parking at Gray’s Beach is free!
Ridgevale Beach in Chatham: Things to do on Cape Cod with Kids
For parents of little ones, the creek running by Rydgevale Beach offers shallow, slow water to play in. Plus, a snack bar, portable bathrooms, and paddleboard and kayak rentals right nearby.
Nauset Beach in Orleans
This expansive Atlantic Ocean beach provides soft, almost rock-free sand and waves perfect for adventurous boogie boarders and surfers. It is a true gem of New England. These activities, plus an onsite snack bar with a picnic area and bathrooms with showers make it appropriate for kids of all ages. It’s a popular beach for fishing and over-sand vehicles (with a special permit) as well!
*Shark sightings in Cape Cod waters have increased over the decades. Most beaches now have a warning system in place, so it’s important to pay close attention to the lifeguards on duty while enjoying your time at the beach, especially if you are paddleboarding, kayaking, or surfing in the ocean.
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Things to Do on Cape Cod with Kids: Play Time
Help your kids get all their wiggles and energy out at one or all of these places.
Always open to the public and free to utilize, are the playgrounds of Cape Cod. Luke’s Love Boundless Playground on Meetinghouse Way in West Barnstable tops the list of playgrounds to visit. It was constructed with children of all capabilities in mind and sits next to a baseball field (good for running around) and across the street from the Barnstable Farm & Pet store that has goats, chickens, and peacocks to pass the time admiring.
A few others to consider visiting are the playground at Veteran’s Field in Chatham, the playground at Veteran’s Beach in Hyannis (overlooks boats passing through Lewis Bay), and Taft’s Playground in Woods Hole with a kid’s dream-come-true wooden structure to climb.
Remind your kids to pack their skateboards (and protective gear) because Cape Cod has a handful of skate parks for them to try out. There is one in Sandwich, Bourne, Falmouth, Barnstable, Chatham, and Orleans.
There are several to choose from – or not and ride them all! There is the bikeway at the Cape Cod Canal where you can see boats and fishermen as you ride. The Shining Sea Bikeway, a 10.7-mile rail-trail that runs between Woods Hole and North Falmouth along Buzzards Bay. Finally, the Cape Cod Rail Trail runs for 25 miles through six of the Lower and Outer Cape towns, through state and national parks lands. Don’t fret if you don’t have your own bikes to bring on your Cape Cod vacation, there are plenty of trusted businesses close to all the bikeways to do so like Corner Cycle in Falmouth and Dennis Cycle Center on the CCRT.
The Cape Cod Inflatable Park in Yarmouth is a family resort with inflatable rides, a challenge zone for thrill-seekers, an arcade, and more in addition to the water park. Day passes are available, so no need to stay at the resort to enjoy the park!
Water Wizz, the filming location for the movies Grown-Ups and The Way, Way Back, is the way to go if you’re looking for towering water slides and other thrilling features. Water Wizz is in Wareham, a town just over the bridge from the Cape.
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Nature for Kids on Cape Cod
For lovers of the outdoors, animals, and the ocean.
Watch as seals beg for treats from the fishermen at Wharfinger Chatham Fish Pier. Say hello to Chloe, the beautiful Scottish Highland cow who resides at Taylor-Bray Farm in Yarmouth Port. While you’re there, walk to the end of the boardwalk to see if you can find ospreys in their nests.
Head down to the Woods Hole Science Aquarium to see 140 species of marine animals found in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic ocean, and an ever-popular touch tank.
Visit the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History to see even more critters such as rare blue and pumpkin-colored lobsters, tiny baby horseshoe crabs, an indoor honey bee hive, and more.
Walking Trails and Parks
There is no shortage of parks to stretch your legs on Cape Cod. It’s hard to narrow down all there is to offer, but let’s start with Nickerson State Park in Brewster, which has miles of trails to walk, ponds for swimming and kayaking, and 400 campsites.
The Heritage Museum and Gardens has 65 acres of gardens, exhibits, and trails to explore. With little ones, you’ll definitely want to check out the Flume Fountain and Hidden Hollow + Tree House.
The jewel of conservation efforts on Cape Cod has to be the 68 square miles of beaches, woodlands, and ponds in the Cape Cod National Seashore. The best trails in CCNS are the Red Maple Swamp Trail, the Nauset Marsh Trail, and the Pamet Area Trails.
The best tidepools occur at beaches facing Cape Cod Bay – those in Dennis, Brewster, and Orleans in particular. A unique feature called tidal flats extends the shoreline out for nearly 10 miles at low tide. Walk onto the flats to find tidepools left in between sandbars and discover hermit crabs, fiddler crabs, snails, scallops, clams, and the like. Use a tide chart (select a Sesuit Harbor East Dennis Cape Cod Bay chart) to plan your visit to Gray’s Beach or Chapin Memorial Beach in Dennis, Paine’s Creek Beach in Brewster, or Skaket Beach in Orleans at low tide.
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Things to Do on Cape Cod with Kids: Eats and Treats
For some (maybe most?) people, food is the reason why they travel. It seems like there are thousands of restaurants on Cape Cod from which to choose. These are all-around favorites.
The restaurants on Cape Cod that hit a home run with their kid’s menus and offer the adults delicious options are Sam Diego’s in Hyannis, Sesuit Harbor Cafe in Dennis, and Moby Dick’s Restaurant in Wellfleet. Places that don’t have a separate kids menu but kids will love are 3 Fools in Orleans, Mom & Pops in Chatham, Spiritus Pizza in Provincetown, and Crisp in Osterville.
A very important part of any visit to Cape Cod is where to get ice cream every night after dinner. I suggest The Shipwreck in Sandwich, Four Seas in Centerville, Sundae School in Harwich Port, Katie’s Homemade Ice Cream in Hyannis, or Smitty’s with three locations. If you’re a soft-serve ice cream fan, my go-to place is Par-Tee Freeze in Hyannis.
Candy Stores. There is something so nostalgic about “penny” candy stores on Cape Cod. As a kid, it’s so much fun to plop your favorite candies into a basket and bring it up to the register to be counted up. The best candy stores on Cape Cod to do this are Kandy Korner in Hyannis, Cabot’s Candy in Provincetown, and 1856 Country Store in Centerville.
Entertainment For Kids
When beaches, parks, and nature just won’t cut it.
The Wellfleet Drive-in has been in operation since 1957, playing family-friendly, classic, or new blockbuster double features every summer. As a result of social distancing guidelines during the summer of 2020, other drive-ins opened up across the Cape. Like the Yarmouth Drive-in, the Movies on Main popup drive-in theater in Hyannis, and the Falmouth Drive-in at Barnstable County Fairgrounds. We’re all hoping these new drive-ins are here to stay!
A circular theater under a giant blue tent with a rotating stage in the center, kids love this place! Experience a fun evening listening to live music or a daytime production of classic fairy tales with the family. Kidz Bop usually makes an appearance every summer, as well as family-friendly bands like the Beach Boys, and cover bands from Abba to Queen. Check the Melody Tent website for schedule updates.
Arcades and Bowling
These are great rainy day activities for kids! The Ten Pin Eatery in the Cape Cod Mall is a Ryan Family Amusements location that offers bowling, a game room, laser tag, virtual reality, escape rooms, a golf simulator, and a full-service restaurant – it has it all!
While you’re at the mall, let the kids ride the carousel located next to the food court. Other Ryan Family locations are Yarmouth, Plymouth, and Buzzards Bay. The Alley in Orleans is a bowling alley with a delicious BBQ restaurant on-site for lane-side dining.
Cape Cod Baseball League Games one of the best Things to do on Cape Cod with Kids
Sports fans will love watching Cape Cod League games, where college athletes play in hopes of being recruited to the major leagues. So far, 1400 players (and counting) have made the jump from CCBL to MLB. There are ten teams that play at fields across the Cape in June and July every summer. All games are free!
What are your favorite things to do on Cape Cod with Kids? Let me know in the comments!
About the Author of Things to Do on Cape Cod with Kids
Brittany has always loved the beach, protecting the environment, and the magic of summer because she grew up on Cape Cod. So, she created Cape Cod Travel Tips to share her love of the Cape and help travelers feel like a local when they visit. Reach out to her on Instagram or Facebook.