Hiking Trails

13 Hidden Gems to Explore on Cape Cod

Days of sun, sand and doing nothing are a Cape Cod vacationer’s dream. Cape Town’s relaxed vibe (as the connoisseurs call it) is why everyone wants real estate on their favorite sandy beach. When you need a break from the surf, Cape Cod is a fun place to explore. You can find many activities to do during the day.

I spent many summer months in Cape Town exploring towns and hamlets, looking for fun and interesting experiences. I’ve listed a few of my favorite gems below. Baseball nights, local artisans, adult dining venues and more add fun to your Cape Cod vacation.

Note: Some information in this article was obtained through a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.

Cape Cod Baseball League

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

1. Cape Cod Baseball League

Summer in Cape Town means burgers, hot dogs and baseball. The Cape Cod Baseball League is a fun, family night. Bring your picnic to one of the many fields or support the boosters by dining at the snack bar for a taste of Americana at its finest.

Popular with locals, visitors and baseball scouts, catching a Cape Cod Baseball League game is the best way to spend a balmy summer evening. Packed bleachers, folding chairs and blankets dot the stadiums filled with cheering fans who love the game. Little kids are playing wrestling alongside would-be big leaguers, getting a few tips along the way.

Ten teams of college players from Cape Town, hosted by local families and organizations. College players became easier to assess when they were swinging bats like the big boys. The potential for scouting is mind-boggling – according to MLB.com’s Michael Clair, as of October 2019, 1,400 Cape Cod League alumni had played in a Major League Baseball game.

Pro Tip: Most fields do not charge admission but require a donation or 50/50 raffle entry.

Highland Lighthouse in Truro, Massachusetts

Highland Lighthouse in Truro, Massachusetts

Photo credit: John Kropewnicki / Shutterstock.com

Truro

If you’ve never golfed on a classic links-style course, you have to play nine holes at Highland Links. It’s an adventure, hitting the tee to the green and trying to avoid the scorched summer. Difficult undulations create blind spots even for expert attackers.

The mostly treeless course is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and offers distant ocean views. It’s a fun outing for beginners and experienced golfers.

Pro Tip: The popular nine-hole public course is reasonably priced at under $100 for a full 18-hole course and cart.

The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum

The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum

Photo credit: Radomir Rezny / Shutterstock.com

3. John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum

Hyannis

The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is a pictorial treasure trove highlighting the family life of our 35th President. The Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port was the first family’s summer White House. As you wander through the photographs depicting Cape Town’s halcyon days, those of us who remember are transported back in time. It’s easy to remember where you were and what you were doing when JFK was assassinated.

The harrowing Kennedy family moments on display will bring you back to the joy of summer and remind you of the ongoing family tragedies of this legendary New England family.

Pro Tip: After touring the museum, grab a bite to eat at one of Hyannis’ excellent restaurants.

First Beach, Sandwich

First Beach, Sandwich

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

4. Tree House Brewery

Sandwich

Tree House Brewing Company’s new location on First Beach in Sandwich is a craft beer lover’s dream. The original brewery in bucolic Charlton, Massachusetts is miles from this beautiful beachside venue. The views from the second story porch are gorgeous; if you spot an open Adirondack chair, grab it – it’s a beautiful place.

Each guest must reserve a time slot and prepay a limited number of drafts. On a hot summer evening, make your reservation well in advance. Alternatively, you can pre-order for pickup, pop in and catch your chills, then head back to your digs for a house party.

Parking is a challenge, but there are a few designated spots for the brewery. Or you can park in the First Beach parking lot for a fee.

You are allowed to bring outside food to enjoy with your beer, and the patio is dog-friendly.

Pro Tip: Sandwich is a charming vacation destination and offers visitors a variety of experiences for a summer getaway. I wrote more about charming Sandwich, Massachusetts, here.

Quahog Republic Dive Bar Lobster Roll

Quahog Republic Dive Bar Lobster Roll

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

5. Quahog Republic Dive Bar

Falmouth

When I first arrived at Quahog Republic Dive Bar I was a bit unsure of what I was going to encounter. The bar was recommended to me by a local when I was looking for the best lobster roll on Cape Cod. Quahog Republic is in an inauspicious strip mall without stunning waterfront views. Just the sort of place a connoisseur would recommend.

I ate some East Coast lobster rides in my life (I’m from Boston), and this was one of the best. It is cooked to perfection and served with melted butter and perfectly crispy fries. Just add a local draft for an amazing meal. This is the perfect place for a leisurely lunch.

Pro Tip: The staff treat everyone like they’re locals – put on your favorite Red Sox cap and take a seat at the bar.

Castle of Scargo Pottery and Art Gallery

Castle of Scargo Pottery and Art Gallery

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

Dennis

When looking for that special gift, Scargo Pottery & Art Gallery is an interesting place to start your search. Part inside, part outside, the quirky layout resembles a pleasant stroll through a potter’s forest. When you arrive it looks like you are staying with someone who has an affinity for birdhouses and bird feeders.

Birdhouses, dishes, pots, decorative pieces and more are scattered in a colorful array. As you enter different exhibition areas, you can feel the essence of the artist while admiring the thoughtful creations.

Harwich Cranberry Bog Tours

Harwich Cranberry Bog Tours

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

7. Cranberry Bog Tours

Harwich

Operating seasonally, Cranberry Bog Tours takes guests on a journey through the life of a cranberry. Find out how these tart berries make their way from small brushy bushes to your Thanksgiving Day table.

The tour takes guests on a bumpy ride around the farm to learn about it, meet the four-legged residents and see the cranberry harvesting equipment.

Pro Tip: Harvesting these little crimson gems takes place on a sunny, dry day in the fall. Here are my tips for living the cranberry harvest season.

Wine at Truro Vineyards

Wine at Truro Vineyards

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

8. Truro Vineyards

Truro

Tasting local products is the best way to discover the essence of a place. When on the Cape, a notable local producer is Truro Vineyards. They blend their own Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes grown on Cape Cod with others from Massachusetts, New York and California to produce an exceptional variety of wines.

Pro Tip: The Lighthouse Wine series is sold in stunning lighthouse-shaped bottles. When emptied and filled with twinkling lights, they make a decorative piece of coastal living you’ll love.

9. The first crush

Harwich

Another good taste of grapes is First Crush Winery. Located in an industrial area along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, First Crush is a secret oasis of glorious sunshine. The ideal place for an afternoon wine porridge or an individual and thoughtful tasting of their fine vintages.

Sit among the fermenting vats for an urban experience, or tent comfortably set up at wine barrel tables.

Pro Tip: You can hop off the Cape Cod Rail Trail to take a break from your walk/ride to enjoy a relaxing drink with a plate of cheese and crackers.

Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod

Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

10. Nickerson State Park

Brewer

Nickerson State Park offers vacationers an alternative to seaside beaches. With lake swimming, hiking trails, and camping, it’s a wonderful place for outdoor enthusiasts. Located along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, Nickerson State Park is a popular spot for avid cyclists.

Pro Tip: Find out why you’ll want to visit Nickerson State Park.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail

The Cape Cod Rail Trail

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

11. Cape Cod Rail Trail

Wellfleet to Yarmouth

Crossing the Cape Cod Rail Trail as it meanders through six towns from Yarmouth to Wellfleet lets you see a local’s view. The trail is 25 miles in total (recently increased from the original 22 miles) and winds past pretty ponds, natural habitats, and dotted with culinary experiences. Walk or cycle the railway path and explore all its secrets.

A demonstration at the Sandwich Glass Museum

A demonstration at the Sandwich Glass Museum

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

12. Sandwich Glass Museum

Sandwich

Take a trip through the history of glass at the Sandwich Glass Museum. Time your visit to coincide with a glassblowing demonstration. The craftsmanship required to make even the simplest piece is mind-boggling.

13. Cape Cod Dinner Train

Hyannis, Buzzards Bay and Falmouth

Cape Cod Dinner Train is a unique opportunity to see sections of Cape Town not visible from the roads. Cruise along the canal and waterways while enjoying a delicious five-course dinner served in upscale retro style.

The three-hour journey offers incredible views and is perfect for a romantic evening as well as a night out with a group of friends.

Rhododendrons in Dennis, Massachusetts

Rhododendrons in Dennis, Massachusetts

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

Cape Cod is full of hidden gems. When you’ve had your fill of beautiful beaches and waterfront restaurants, explore off-the-beaten-path areas to unearth your favorite Cape Cod gem.