With nearly 560 miles of scenic, pristine coastline and 130 public beaches to explore, Cape Cod is one of the best summer travel destinations out there.
Along with being known for its stunning beaches and laid-back atmosphere, Cape Cod has gained a reputation as a popular family-friendly travel destination. From historic sites to kid-friendly beaches and museums, there’s something for family members of every age to enjoy during a trip to Cape Cod.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts also has a huge variety of different regions to explore, so it’s important to know which areas have the best resorts for families or the best places to stay on Cape Cod for families with kids. Here’s your guide to planning the perfect family vacation on the sandy shores of Cape Cod.
The Best Family-Friendly Places To Stay on Cape Cod
Here are ten of the best places to consider staying when planning your next family vacation to Cape Cod.
Located in the upper cape region of Cape Cod, Falmouth is one of the most popular summer family travel destinations that you can find on the Cape. This vibrant and charming town boasts 68 miles of picturesque shoreline, eight distinctive and unique villages, and a wide variety of kid-friendly activities to explore.
If you’re looking for a quintessential Cape Cod beach vacation while traveling with kids, Falmouth offers plenty of options.
Woods Neck Beach has a calm tidal area where kids can wade or float through the channel. Chapoquoit Beach also offers a low tide and plenty of tidal pools for wading and exploring. And if you’re interested in beachcombing with young kids, Surf Drive Beach has a sprawling shoreline with an abundance of hermit crabs and shells.
For even more ways to get outside and enjoy the fresh air with kids, you can visit the Shining Sea Bikeway, a 10.7-mile paved path that winds through meadows, woodlands, and farms alongside the ocean.
After a long day outdoors, you and the kids can relax with a stroll through historic downtown Falmouth. Here, you and your family can:
- Shop at gift stores, boutiques, candy stores, and more
- Go bowling or play arcade games at Ryan’s Family Amusements
- Grab a bite to eat at a picturesque waterfront restaurant
- Stop in a quaint and charming local bookstore
Just a few miles from downtown you can also find Woods Hole, a village within Falmouth known for its unique and educational marine science institutions. Here, you can stop by the Woods Hole Science Aquarium to see over 140 unique marine life species and get up close to sea creatures in the aquarium’s touch tank.
Because Falmouth is such a popular location for families traveling with kids, there are plenty of family-friendly hotels and inns in the area. You can stay in a unique camping-themed room at the Treehouse Lodge or relax and unwind in a spacious suite with ocean views at the Beach Breeze Inn.
Falmouth is also one of the best places to stay overnight if you’re planning a family day trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Because Falmouth falls on the Southwestern tip of Cape Cod, there are plenty of car ferries and boats departing throughout the day to bring you to this scenic island.
Yarmouth is another fantastic option for families with kids planning a trip to the Cape. Between scenic beaches, outdoor adventures, and vibrant and unique villages, this historical New England town will keep family members of every age happy and entertained.
Yarmouth is home to a large section of Old Kings Highway, a 34-mile highway stretch that leads to an enormous range of hidden gems and historical sites. This scenic drive will take you through cranberry bogs, captain’s homes, and some of the oldest villages in the area.
If you want to get outside and stretch your legs, Yarmouth offers plenty of family-friendly beaches to explore. Seagull Beach is one of the most popular choices in the area, with gentle waves, food service, and soft white sand that’s perfect for making sand castles.
The Bass River also offers several opportunities to enjoy a relaxing family day on the water. You can rent a fishing charter or power boat and spend the day on the water catching fish, looking for whales, or just enjoying the ride.
Kids of all ages are also guaranteed to enjoy a visit to the Whydah Pirate Museum while in Yarmouth. This interactive pirate ship exhibit provides an engaging and exciting inside look at pirates, treasure, divers, and explorers.
Adventurous kids can also enjoy a thrilling day at some of Yarmouth’s other kid-friendly attractions, including Wild Animal Lagoon, Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf, and Cape Cod Inflatable Park.
And after a long day of exploring all the outdoor activities Yarmouth has to offer, you can find a variety of art galleries, shops, restaurants, and ice cream parlors along the boardwalk of Downtown Yarmouth.
With plenty of accommodation options, it’s easy to find the perfect place for you and your family to stay. Popular family-friendly options include:
No matter where you choose to stay, you’re never far from Yarmouth’s renowned picturesque ocean views and incredible family attractions.
Bordering Yarmouth in Barnstable County is the historic town of Dennis. Situated along Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound, Dennis boasts world-class beaches and a huge collection of family-friendly outdoor adventures.
The town is divided into five distinct villages – Dennis, Dennis Port, West Dennis, East Dennis, and South Dennis. Each village has its unique charm and history, so you’ll never run out of exciting things to explore and discover during your stay in the area.
No visit to Dennis would be complete without a trip to one of its iconic beaches. Mayflower Beach is one of the most popular options and offers a snack bar, picnic area, plenty of amenities, and nearby shopping and mini-golf. The pristine shoreline also offers some of the best sunset views to be found on Cape Cod.
However, because it’s so popular, Mayflower Beach can quickly become crowded with beachgoers. If you’re looking for other family-friendly beaches in Dennis, you can visit:
- Corporation Beach
- Haigis Beach
- Cold Storage Beach; and
- Princess Beach
When you’re not exploring the incredible shoreline, Dennis has plenty of other activities designed especially for families with kids to enjoy. Stroll through the Cape Cod Museum of Art, step back in time at the Jericho Historical Center and Barn, or see a live performance at the Cape Playhouse.
If you decide to stay in Dennis during your Cape Cod visit, you’ll also have an enormous selection of charming, family-friendly hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts from which to choose. The Edgewater Beach Resort, The English Garden Bed and Breakfast, and The Soundings Seaside Resort all offer spacious rooms, family-friendly amenities, and easy access to stunning Dennis beaches.
From outdoor seaside adventures to unique historical sites and museums, the bustling fishing town of Chatham is a family favorite when it comes to Cape Cod vacations.
While in Chatham, you’ll want to set aside time for some of the incredible museums in the area. These museums, designed for kids and adults alike, are the perfect way to learn about the historic region and discover some of Chatham’s hidden gems. Visitors can:
- Walk through historical art and unique exhibitions at the Chatham Historical Society’s Atwood House Museum
- Learn about historic railroads at the Chatham Railroad Museum; or
- Uncover maritime communication history at the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center and Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum
You can also stop by the Chatham Lighthouse, one of the Cape’s iconic lighthouses, to learn more about maritime history in Chatham.
Any animal and wildlife enthusiasts should also consider visiting Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. This nearly 8,000-acre undeveloped wildlife refuge stretches for eight miles along the elbow of Cape Cod. As you stroll or hike through the wilderness, keep an eye out for water birds, shore birds, Horseshoe crabs, seals, and other local species.
If you’d rather relax on a pristine shoreline, Chatham also has plenty of beaches that both kids and adults will love. You can enjoy the gorgeous views and gentle waves at Cockle Cove Beach or splash in the tidal pools at Ridgevale Beach.
Chatham is also home to a lively Main Street with delicious restaurants, unique shops, and trendy art galleries. There are several hotels on or within walking distance of Main Street, so you can be in the middle of all the action. These include the Chatham Wayside Inn and the Chatham Inn.
If you’re planning a visit during the summer or over a holiday, keep an eye on Chatham’s event calendar for family-friendly gatherings and events for the 4th of July, Christmas, or New Year’s.
If your family is interested in seeing historical sites and learning about the region’s history during your Cape Cod vacation, there’s no better travel destination than Plymouth. As the site of the first Mayflower Pilgrim settlement in 1620, the area offers plenty of unique, engaging ways to learn and uncover Plymouth’s rich history.
Colonial and indigenous history comes to life at Plimoth Plantation, a completely immersive historical site. While you’re here, you can learn about Indigenous heritage in New England at Historic Patuxet, see how 200-year-old millstones work at the reconstructed Plimoth Grist Mill, or play classic Pilgrim games at the Plymouth Colony recreation.
For even more history, visitors can stop by the Mayflower II to tour a reproduction of the ship and see Plymouth Rock along the waterfront. And to continue to celebrate this history throughout your stay, you can book a spacious suite at Hotel 1620 Plymouth Harbor.
While Plymouth might be best known for its historical sites, there are plenty of other activities for families to enjoy during their stay.
Myles Standish State Forest has several beginner kid-friendly walking trails, as well as horseback riding, swimming areas, and water sports. Brewster Park is also home to several walking trails, bridges, a fountain, and a nearby playground.
The coastal town also has a vibrant downtown area close to the harbor and several other key attractions. Downtown Plymouth is full of restaurants with delicious seafood, cafes, gift shops, and galleries. You can even enjoy free outdoor concerts on Friday nights and other special events throughout the year.
A small, charming island located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Nantucket is full of family-friendly activities guaranteed to keep you and your kids busy throughout your stay.
With over 81 miles of beautiful, sandy shoreline, you can’t go wrong with planning a beach day or two throughout your Nantucket vacation. While Jetties Beach, Surfside Beach, and Nobadeer Beach are all fantastic options, the best kid-friendly beach in the area is the aptly-named Children’s Beach.
Along with the shallow waters and gentle waves, Children’s Beach is home to a playground, a grassy field where kids can run around, a snack shack, and a store with water toys and games. Over the summer, you can also attend live concerts and kid-friendly events at this beach.
For even more waterside fun, stop by the Straight Wharf. Here, you can watch yachts pass by, taste incredible fresh seafood at the Straight Wharf Restaurant, or search for fish and lobster on a Critter Cruise through the harbor.
Like many other Cape Cod towns, Nantucket has a rich maritime history worth exploring during your visit. You and your family can discover more about this history through a visit to the Whaling Museum or one of the many Nantucket Historical Association Tours in the area.
Animal-loving kids will also be ecstatic about a visit to the Maria Mitchell Aquarium and Natural Science Museum. Kids can touch clams, crabs, snails, and more at the aquarium touch tank and see frogs, snacks, and turtles at the Science Museum’s Live Animal Room.
To finish off the day, be sure to book a relaxing, kid-centered ice cream cruise. While you enjoy the scenic harbor views, kids will love the cold summer-time treats they receive on the boat ride.
Many of Nantucket’s hotels are more luxurious and upscale, which unfortunately doesn’t make them ideal for younger kids. However, there are plenty of family-friendly hotels and inns, such as the White Elephant Village and the historic Martin House Inn.
If you’re looking for more of a small-town atmosphere when planning your trip to Cape Cod, Wellfleet might be the best travel destination for you. Despite the small-town, tranquil environment, Wellfleet has an abundance of attractions and activities for every family member to enjoy.
Marconi Beach is one of the best and most popular beaches in Wellfleet. Situated along the Cape Cod National Shoreline, this sandy beach offers stunning Atlantic Ocean views and great opportunities for viewing seals, crabs, and other wildlife.
While the rough waves at Marconi Beach are better for surfing and boogie boarding than swimming, there are plenty of other beaches that are great for swimming and relaxing, including Duck Harbor Beach and Mayo Beach.
For more outdoor family adventures in Wellfleet, head over to the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary is home to five miles of walking trails, sweeping views of salt marshes and beaches, hands-on birding activities, and various types of crabs, herons, turtles, and more.
Wellfleet Cinemas is another incredible stop during your family visit to Wellfleet. This entertainment complex has a drive-in theater, indoor cinema, flea market, and mini golf course. And after shopping, playing a round of golf, or seeing a movie, you can stop by the dairy bar for a delicious shake or sundae.
You can find even more family-friendly activities and amenities with a stay at Even’tide Resort & Cottages. This family-run hotel was designed with families and kids in mind and includes an indoor pool, playground, mini golf course, a horseshoe pit, and more.
Situated along Buzzards Bay near the base of the Cape Cod Peninsula is the town of Bourne. Split by the Cape Cod Canal, this historic town has ten unique and distinct villages for visitors of all ages to explore.
When the weather’s warm, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to the Cape Cod Canal. The paved Cape Cod Canal Bikeway offers seven miles of flat, scenic paths perfect for biking, walking, or jogging. You can also find several picnic and recreational areas along the trail where you can fish, watch the boats pass by, and keep an eye out for local fish and birds.
Bourne is also home to several engaging museums and historical sites. You and your kids can visit the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum, tour the historical Briggs McDermott House, or stop by the interactive exhibits at the National Marine Life Center’s Discovery Center.
While Bourne doesn’t have quite as many public beaches as other Cape Cod coastal towns, there are still several sandy, picturesque beaches worth a visit.
Monument Beach is one of the best options in the area, with an extensive shoreline and plenty of space to swim, windsurf, go boating, or just relax on the sand. Electric Avenue Beach, situated right by Downtown Bourne, has scenic views, clean, soft sand, and a playground for kids.
There are also several hotel options available for families with kids, including:
If you travel to the north side of the Cape Cod Canal, you’ll find the charming waterside village of Sagamore Beach. This Bourne Village offers even more modern and historic accommodation options, as well as some of the best restaurants and diners in the area.
With over 11 miles of shoreline, a thriving arts and culture scene, and seven distinct villages, Harwich truly has something for every family member to enjoy.
Be sure to plan a visit to Harwich Port, a charming village of Harwich that’s full of stores, restaurants, art galleries, ice cream parlors, and coffee shops.
Because Harwich is nestled along the warm Nantucket Sound, beachgoers can enjoy the warm water, gentle waves, and pristine shorelines when they spend the day swimming or beachcombing at one of the many Harwich Beaches. Popular family-friendly beach options include:
- Bank Street Beach
- Pleasant Road Beach
- Red River Beach; and
- Earle Road Beach
Families can enjoy even more time in the great outdoors with a visit to Bell’s Neck Conservation Lands. This wooded 259-acre area has several kid-friendly beginner trails, fantastic wildlife spotting opportunities, and educational guided walks throughout the year.
One of the biggest draws to the area for both kids and adults alike is the gorgeous, family-owned Cape Cod Lavender Farm. Home to 75 acres of land and over 7,000 plants, adults and children of all ages will find themselves enchanted by the colorful lavender fields and tranquil landscape.
Along with strolling through the farms, you can walk through the wooded trails, visit the fairy village, and buy lavender candles, herbs, and assorted food and drinks at the quaint gift shop.
When you’re not exploring the area or relaxing at the beach, you can return to one of the many family-friendly Harwich hotels and inns, including the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club and the Allen Harbor Breeze Inn.
In truth, you can’t go wrong with a visit to any of Cape Cod’s picturesque towns, but it’s crucial to find a place to stay on Cape Cod that meets all of your family’s needs.
Luckily, there are many fantastic places to stay on Cape Cod for families with children. Whether you want to relax on the beach, learn about the region’s history, or enjoy the great outdoors on hikes, it’s simple to plan a vacation that you and your kids will love while traveling to one of these fantastic areas.
Now that you have an idea of which Cape Cod destination might be best for you and your family, you can start creating a trip with plenty of family bonding and long-lasting memories.