Cape Cod in Massachusetts is a must-see destination for domestic and international travelers alike. The sections of Cape Cod create four distinct regions. Within Upper Cape Cod, Mid Cape Cod, Lower Cape Cod and Outer Cape Cod, each of the towns in Cape Cod has its own history and attractions to explore. Some of the best towns in Cape Cod include the beach towns in Cape Cod like Wellfleet Cape Cod or Falmouth Cape Cod or cute towns in Cape Cod like Chatham Cape Cod or Harwich Cape Cod. Find out why a Cape Cod vacation is on many a traveler’s bucket list.
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The Sections of Cape Cod
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or rural countryside experience, you’ll have a great Cape Cod vacation in one of the towns of Cape Cod.
If you are looking at Cape Cod as the shape of an arm and an elbow, there are four sections of Cape Cod that you can choose for your Cape Cod vacation. The part nearest the mainland is the Upper Cape, the middle section is Mid Cape, the elbow section is the Lower Cape and the part that sticks up toward Boston is the Outer Cape.
How many towns on Cape Cod? There are 15 towns on Cape Cod to be exact, and a whole lot of villages within these official towns.
The 4 Upper Cape Cod Towns
The Upper Cape isn’t as remote as the other parts of Cape Cod making it both more populous and easier to reach. It’s only about 55 miles from Boston and the next big stop on the coastline after Pilgrim Central, Plymouth.
Although you can also get to Cape Cod and the Islands from the Upper Cape, this area is much more than a pass-through section. Both Falmouth and Sandwich are charming towns with beautiful town centers and pretty beaches. Moreover, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute a is world-renowned maritime research center.
Bourne Cape Cod
Bourne sits at the heart of Cape Cod Canal, a 7-mile long canal that connects Cape Cod Bay to Buzzards Bay. The paved paths along the canal are ideal for skating, walking, and jogging, as they boast sweeping views of the water. If you’re spending a few days in Bourne, you can stay at one of the family-run inns or head into the forest for camping.
Falmouth Cape Cod
With over 95-miles of coastal shoreline, Falmouth is one of the best towns on Cape Cod for a beach getaway. One of its most popular beaches is Falmouth Heights, which sits just across the water from Martha’s Vineyard (which you can reach by ferry from neighbouring Woods Hole.)
Mashpee Cape Cod
The small village of Mashpee is the main residence of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Similar to the Aquinnah Cultural Center on Martha’s Vineyard which relates to the Wampanoag tribe of Martha’s Vineyard, you can learn more about the history and culture of this tribe on the Cape at the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum.
Sandwich Cape Cod
Founded in 1637, Sandwich is the oldest town in Cape Cod. The immaculately preserved historic district contains the 17th-century Dexter Grist Mill and the restored Hoxie House, also built in 1637. Sandwich is also known for its glass production, which can be explored at the Sandwich Glass Museum.
The 3 Mid Cape Cod Towns
About 70% of the Midcape lives in Barnstable and its 7 villages. Hyannis in Barnstable is the home of the JFK Museum and high speed ferries to the islands. The Mid Cape is known for being family-friendly with lots of entertainment for kids (such as the Cape Cod Inflatable Park and the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory).
Barnstable Cape Cod
Home to roughly seven different villages, Barnstable is one of the largest towns on Cape Cod. From whale watching and ferry tours to train museums and white-sandy beaches, Barnstable has something for every type of traveler.
Dennis Cape Cod
The town of Dennis is actually comprised of 5 villages. Dennis is the home of the mid-range Cape Cod family resort, the Cape Codder Resort. Dennis has two beach fronts – one on Nantucket Sound and the other on Cape Cod Bay. Both with warm waters, Dennis has great beaches for families. Dennis also has an artsy vibe being home to the Cape Cod Center for the Arts.
Yarmouth Cape Cod
Made up of three villages, the quaint village of Yarmouth was founded in 1639 and parts are very pretty. Attractions include the Whydah Pirate Museum, the old Cape Cod Discovery Trail, and the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Head to Route 28 for the strip mall look of motels, cheap restaurants and kid friendly activities like mini-golf.
The 4 Lower Cape Cod Towns
Lower Cape Cod is where you start getting the small town feel that Cape Cod is associated with. It’s got great outdoors activities like the Nickerson State Park.
Brewster Cape Cod
Thanks to the sprawling Nickerson State Park, Brewster is one of the most outdoorsy towns of Cape Cod. This 200-acre park is full of hiking trails, campsites, and unspoiled ponds and woodlands to explore. Charming and prosperous, Brewster Cape Cod has historic sea captain’s homes, beautiful beaches, antique stores and great restaurants.
Chatham Cape Cod
Chatham is located on the “elbow” of Cape Cod and is a picture perfect incarnation of small town America as imagined by Ralph Lauren (with prices to match). Throughout the whole town, you’ll find beautifully preserved homes, historic sites, and shops that were built over 300 years ago. |Check out the Chatham Lighthouse which is operated by the Coast Guard still and the seals that call nearby Monomoy Island home.
Harwich Cape Cod
Harwich is one of the more resort-focused towns in Cape Cod, MA especially the Harwich Port village part. This laid-back seaside neighborhood is home to scenic harbors, lavender farms, and crystal clear kettle ponds. Harwich also hosts the annual Cranberry Festival, celebrating its heritage in starting the commercial cranberry industry in 1846.
Orleans Cape Cod
If you’re looking for picturesque beaches and sand dunes, look no further than the town of Orleans. Spend the day splashing in the Atlantic Ocean at Nauset Beach, or enjoy a quiet, sunny day on Cape Cod Bay at Skaket Beach.
Orleans Cape Cod is also where the Cape narrows and at parts there are only a few miles between the coasts.
The 4 Outer Cape Cod Towns
Outer Cape Cod has the most secluded feel thanks to the Cape Cod National Seashore which makes up a significant part of it. The town of Eastham is the official entrance to the Cape Cod National Seashore. For a completely different vacation, Provincetown has a party atmosphere with its artsy and gay scenes.
Eastham Cape Cod
Eastham is the start of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is one of the highlights of visiting Cape Cod. At the Salt Pond Visitors Center, you learn more about the park and arrange ranger-guided tours of the area. For something more relaxing, visit Coast Guard Beach for a few hours of swimming or sunbathing.
Provincetown Cape Cod
With a history that spans 400 years, Provincetown was the site of the first Mayflower landing in 1620. The Pilgrims thought (rightly) that the soil conditions weren’t great for agriculture so they got back on board the Mayflower and landed next in Plymouth.
Provincetown is one of the most liberal and bustling towns in all of Cape Cod befitting the oldest art colony in the USA. Commercial Street is the beating heart of Provincetown; it’s lined with restaurants, bars, shops, and museums for every taste. Outdoor enthusiasts can spend the day whale watching on the ocean or exploring the sand dunes.
Provincetown is accessible by a direct ferry from Boston making it an easy day trip from Boston.
Truro Cape Cod
A delightful mix of beaches and countryside, Truro is the ideal destination for an active family vacation. Its remote location offers a bit more peace and tranquility compared to other towns around the Cape. Don’t miss the Highland Lighthouse or the Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod.
Wellfleet Cape Cod
The untouched marshlands and rocky coastlines make Wellfleet one of the most scenic towns on Cape Cod. Enjoy the beaches of Cape Cod National Seashore or the salt marshes of the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
Map of Cape Cod Towns
The towns of Cape Cod are a diverse bunch with assorted villages adding even more contrast within Cape Cod’s towns. This Towns of Cape Map outlines where the main Cape Cod towns are located for trip planning purposes.
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