A Guide to Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket - Travel by Srp (2022)

Idyllic Cape Cod is hands down one of the best parts of living and/or visiting Massachusetts. It is the ultimate summer destination: not much can beat Cape Cod from June to September. See visions of quaint towns, beautiful coastlines, and countless sunny days. This guide will show you the top destinations to visit in Cape Cod in case you are currently planning a trip or maybe it even convinces you to visit this beautiful area.

One of the benefits of Cape Cod is that there is something for everyone on the Cape. It is the ideal destination for a bachelor/bachelorette party, family vacation, romantic destination, or even a honeymoon. Whether is relaxing on a beach, swimming in the ocean, taking part in water activities, eating lobster rolls, even visiting a vineyard, the options are endless.

A Guide to Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket - Travel by Srp (1)

Things to know:

  • Cape Cod has four major regions: Upper-Cape, Mid-Cape, Outer-Cape, and Lower Cape. Cape Cod is basically considered the whole “arm” of Massachusetts. Upper Cape is the area closest to Boston and Lower Cape is the area furthest from Boston.
  • The best way to get around and explore Cape Cod is by car. I would highly recommend renting a car to best explore the area.
  • The weather in Massachusetts can be a bit unpredictable (it is known to have one last snow in late April), but if you visit from June to September, temperatures will be warm and the skies will be sunny.
  • In order to visit Nantucket and/or Martha’s Vineyard, two of the most popular islands off the coast of Massachusetts, you will need to take a ferry.
    • The ferry to Nantucket departs from Hyannis and the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard departs from Woods Hole.
A Guide to Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket - Travel by Srp (2)

How Long Should You Stay in Cape Cod?

  • I would recommend anywhere from 3 to 10 days in Cape Cod. I know that is a wide range, but the beauty of Cape Cod is that you can easily choose anywhere from a weekend to a week or longer exploring the whole area. If you can only spend a weekend, I would recommend a base in one destination versus moving about the area. If you are in the area for a week, there are plenty of places to split your time: for example, three days in Nantucket and four days in Falmouth or Chatham.

When to go:

The high season in Cape Cod is the summer, specifically from June to beginning of September. The most popular season to visit Cape Cod is marked by Memorial Day (the kick-off to summer) and Labor Day (the end of summer). While the Cape is still beautiful during the end of September and October, winter is not the optimal time to visit the area.

How to get to Cape Cod:

These directions are all leaving from Boston, Massachusetts.

By Car:

The best way to get to the Cape is to drive especially since a car is very useful once you get onto the Cape. From Boston, the drive will take anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours depending on which location you are staying on Cape Cod.

The entrance of Cape Cod is marked by two bridges: Bourne Bridge and Sagamore Bridge. Because these are two lane bridges (and rotaries immediately afterwards), there can usually be traffic at the bridges especially during summer Friday afternoons, Saturday mornings, and Sunday evenings. I would recommend trying to avoid Friday and Sunday transit if you can. However, even if you have to sit in some traffic, the destination will be well worth it.

By Air:

If you are flying into Boston, the closest airport in Boston is Logan International Airport. Once you arrive at Logan, I would recommend renting a car.

Alternatively, Cape Air does offer limited flights to Hyannis, MA, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard. Just as a warning- these flights are usually small prop planes so if you do not do well on those types of flights, I would suggest flying into Logan Airport and then driving the remainder of the way. In addition, Cape Air only flies to Hyannis from a limited number of cities.

Seasonally, there are direct flights to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, DC but these flights can get expensive.

BY FERRY:

There is a seasonal ferry from Boston to Provincetown which takes about 90 minutes. The ferry runs from May to October and costs $90 USD per adult round trip. Click here for more information on the ferry service.

BY TRAIN:

The CapeFLYER is seasonal train that goes from South Station (located in Boston, MA) to Bourne or Hyannis. The train is a weekend-only train and only travels on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Click here for the current fare.

If you decide to take the train or ferry, you will have to find a way to get your final destination which is why it is nice to have a car. However, there is Uber in the area.

Where to go in Cape Cod:

There are so many different places to go in Cape Cod- and the choice really depends on what you are looking for during your trip.

Cape Cod is split into four different regions: Upper Cape, Lower Cape, Mid-Cape, and Outer Cape. Below will show you where you should stay in each area.

UPPER CAPE:

FALMOUTH:

Falmouth is one of the closest destinations from Boston, MA on Cape Cod and is located about 20 minutes from the Bourne bridge. One of the benefits of Falmouth is that is a very convenient destination to the rest of Massachusetts. The town is known for its beautiful town center lined with restaurants, nice breakfast spots, coffee shops, and boutiques. There are plenty of beautiful beaches such as Old Silver Beach located right in town.

Distance from Boston: 1 hr 20 minutes [ roughly 72.5 miles ]

MIDDLE CAPE

Barnstable:

Barnstable is the largest town on Cape Cod and includes seven villages. The most famous of the villages is Hyannis- the chosen summer destination of the Kennedys. Since the Nantucket Ferry departs from Hyannis, you could easily add this as a day trip during your stay.

Distance from Boston: 1 hr 20 minutes [ roughly 70.5 miles ]

LOWER CAPE:

CHATHAM

Chatham is definitely one of the most exclusive destinations on Cape Cod. In fact, Chatham is often ranked as the most beautiful town in Cape Cod. If you want to visit picturesque Cape Cod with beautiful oceanfront houses and picturesque hydrangeas, etc, Chatham is definitely a top contender.

Chatham has a nice town, with streets lined with stores, restaurants, and beautiful resorts, including one of the most famous resorts in Cape Cod: Chatham’s Bar Inn. I would definitely recommend staying there if you have the chance. It is the ideal destination to spend your time with a glass of wine in hand while sitting in a lawn chair, overlooking incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean as far as you can see. Chatham’s Bar Inn will book up quickly for the season, so if you decide to stay there, try to book your accommodations as soon as possible. Chatham is located a bit further from Boston than Falmouth.

Distance from Boston: 1 hr 45 minutes [ roughly 88 miles ]

OUTER CAPE:

WELLFLEET

Wellfleet is located towards the northern tip of Cape Cod. It is one of the furthest towns on Cape Cod and can be at least a 3 hour drive from Boston without traffic. However, Wellfleet has some of the most beautiful beaches on Cape Cod. However, because of seals in the area, there are sometimes shark sightings on its beaches.

If you decide to stay in Wellfleet, you have to visit The Beachcomber, a staple bar/restaurant located right on Cahoon Hollow Beach. I would recommend making a trip out there for at least one day while in the area. As it is a bar, many opt of a party bus or organized transportation to get there and back. If you do not want to stay in Wellfleet, Eastham is also a nice alternative in the vicinity.

Distance from Boston: 2 hrs [ roughly 102 miles ]

ISLANDS:

NANTUCKET

While not located in Cape Cod, Nantucket is an island is located about an hour ferry away from Hyannis. Nantucket is one of the most relaxing and gorgeous summer destinations. This perfect island is a prime destination to explore some of the most beautiful beaches in Massachusetts (or the world), enjoy fresh seafood from one of the island’s top restaurants, or enjoy live music and fantastic food and drink at Cisco Brewery. Nantucket is one of the most exclusive islands in the world, and definitely a place to been seen during the summer. Make sure to book your accommodations early!

While prime time on Nantucket is during the Summer, another popular time to visit is the first weekend in December (Christmas Stroll). This is when the entire town is decorated in Christmas decor gets into the holiday spirit. While Nantucket is usually a seasonal destination, Christmas Stroll is a lively time to visit as well.

I always recommend booking the ferry in advance especially during the summer since they sell-out quickly.

Distance to Boston: Drive to Hyannis, 1 hr ferry to Nantucket Town.

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Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard is another island located off the coast of Cape Cod. It is a much larger island and therefore offers a wide range of landscapes, towns, etc to choose from when you visit. In my opinion, the best place to stay is Edgartown, which gives off a similar appeal and feeling as Nantucket. Once you arrive, you definitely wont want to leave.

Distance from Boston: 1 hr 25 minute drive, 45 minute ferry.

For 2021 Ferry Schedule, visit here.

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Where to Stay in Cape Cod:

Accommodations in the summer will book up quickly. Whether you choose a resort, a house, or hotel, I would recommend booking as soon as possible.

  1. Rent a house through VRBO or Airbnb.
  2. Stay at a hotel:
    • Chatham’s Bar Inn (Chatham)
    • Chatham Wayside Inn (Chatham)
    • Wequassett Resort and Golf Course (Harwich)
    • Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club (Brewster)
    • Wychmere Beach Club (Harwich Port)
    • The White Elephant (Nantucket)
    • 21 Broad Street (Nantucket)
    • The Nantucket Hotel and Resort (Nantucket)
    • Brant Point Inn (Nantucket)
    • The Wauwinet (Nantucket)

Where to Eat in Cape Cod:

Breakfast:
  • Daily Brew Coffee – Falmouth
  • Cape Cod Bagel – Falmouth
  • Pie in the Sky- Woods Hole
  • Coffee Obsession – Falmouth
  • Chatham Filling Station- Chatham
  • Provisions- Nantucket
  • Black-Eyed Susans – Nantucket
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Lunch:
  • Anejo Mexican Bistro- Falmouth
  • Beachcomber – Wellfleet
  • Landfall Restaurant – Falmouth/Woods Hole
  • The Pickle Jar Cafe – Falmouth
  • Millie’s Nantucket – Nantucket
  • Galley Beach – Nantucket
Dinner:
  • Chatham’s Bar Inn – Chatham
  • The Chatham Squire – Chatham
  • The Lobster Trap – Bourne
  • Landfall Restaurant- Falmouth/Woods Hole
  • La Cucina Sul Mare – Falmouth
  • The Nautilus – Nantucket
  • Cru- Nantucket
  • Lola 41 – Nantucket
  • Straight Wharf Restaurant – Nantucket
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Drinks:
  • The Chart Room – Cataumet
  • Courtyard Resort and Pub – Cataumet
  • Chicken Box- Nantucket
  • Cisco Brewers- Nantucket
  • The Gazebo – Nantucket
Treats:
What to Eat:
  • Lobster Roll
  • Clam Chowder

Head here to check out some of my other Travel Guides.

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