To drive over the Sagamore Bridge onto Cape Cod is a transformative experience, even for those who do it all the time. There’s a real sense of arrival as this spectacular bridge shoots you up and over the Cape Cod Canal before coming to ground again. And if you journey all the way down the peninsula along Route 6 to Provincetown, you'll see that the Cape is many things to many different people.
Some 69 Wampanoag tribes called this land home and praised it for its rich fishing waters; it was here that the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact, and that the post-World War II prosperity boom and rise of car culture in the 1950s brought droves of families to the beach forevermore. This destination has long been a summer favorite, as quintessentially New England as Ben Affleck starring in Dunkin’ commercial. Since the pandemic, more people than ever are becoming “year-rounders,” which means that good food, fun, and hotels are easier to find than ever.
Here are some of our favorites—read on to learn more about the best Cape Cod hotels, or jump straight to the area you’d like to stay in.
- Upper Cape: AutoCamp Cape Cod | The Coonamessett | Woods Hole Inn
- Mid-Cape: Bluebird Dennisport | Pelham House Resort | Red Jacket Beach Resort
- Lower Cape: Candleberry Inn | Ocean Edge Resort | Wequassett Resort & Golf Club | Chatham Bars Inn | The Chatham Inn
- Outer Cape: The Anchor Inn Beach House | AWOL Provincetown
What are the best parts of Cape Cod for a vacation?
The beauty of Cape Cod is that in driving end-to-end, which only takes just over an hour, you’ll encounter a number of different communities, each on with a unique vibe and offering. Stay near Upper Cape if you’re traveling as a family. You’ll want the convenience of multiple restaurants, mini-golf courses, antiques in nearby Sandwich, and proximity to trails and nature reserves. Further out you’ll find the less busy Mid-Cape communities of Dennis, Yarmouth, and Harwich, where some Boston-area families tend to have their own beach houses. Dennis, in particular, is considered the Cape’s cultural hub, with art galleries, museum exhibits, and live theater to explore.
The Lower Cape’s communities of Chatham and Brewster are home to some of the Cape’s fanciest hotels, and offer close proximity to the Cape Cod National Seashore for whale-watching and eco-adventures. Further “down” the Cape—which in reality is further north—is the Outer Cape. Its towns like Provincetown and Wellfleet have long attracted artisans, beatniks, and the LGBTQ+ community for their unparalleled natural beauty and anything-goes atmosphere.
What makes Cape Cod so special?
Oh, what doesn’t make Cape Cod so special? The beaches, the history, the nature preserves—it’s all here, and all relatively close together. If you’re not staying physically on a beach, it’s almost never more than a 10-minute drive to plant your toes in the sand. Aside from beaches, there is a ton to explore here: popular dive bars, award-winning restaurants ranging from fine dining to quintessential clam shacks, activities for the kids, historic sites, and, of course, beautiful hotels.
What's the best time of year to visit Cape Cod?
Peak season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but especially the months of July and August. That’s when you’ll have the longest, warmest days followed by comfortable, breezy nights. Locals know that while the hottest temperatures level off by Labor Day, you’ll still find beautiful weather and the occasional beach day through early October. And while a number of restaurants will close after the holiday season, there is still a die-hard contingent who enjoys winter’s quiet charms. There’s really no bad time of year to visit Cape Cod.