Continually shaped by ocean currents, this windswept land of sandy beaches and dunes has compelling natural beauty. Everyone comes for the seaside, yet the crimson cranberry bogs, forests of birch and beech, freshwater ponds, and marshlands that grace the interior are just as splendid. Local history is fascinating; whale-watching provides an exhilarating experience of the natural world; cycling trails lace the landscape; shops purvey everything from antiques to pure kitsch; and you can dine on simple fresh seafood, creative contemporary cuisine, or most anything in between.Separated from the Massachusetts mainland by the 17.5-mile Cape Cod Canal—at 480 feet, the world's widest sea-level canal—and linked to it by two heavily trafficked bridges, the Cape is likened in shape to an outstretched arm bent at the elbow, its Provincetown fist turned back toward the mainland.
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Things You Can't Miss
Rent wheels and a helmet, or put on your walking shoes: Miles of trails crisscross the cape, passing pine forests, lakes and cranberry bogs.
Stephen Saks Photography/Alamy
Choose a sunset tour or a traditional New England clambake: Just hop in the van and let Art’s Dune Tours take you on a magical ride.
… and fried clams and an ice-cream cone. There’s no better way to get the feel of the cape.
Cape Cod streets bustle with tourists during the summer but the crowds diminish after Labor Day.
One of the world’s foremost marine, biomedical and environmental research facilities offers summer walking tours and an exhibit center year-round.
Pat Canova / Alamy
There are a handful of must-see scenic drives in America. From dramatic mountain ranges to coastal cliffs, theses drives will make your jaw drop. unforgettable routes — our picks as the most iconic drives in the United States.
More than 100 beaches dot the cape. Go toward the end of the day, when the sun isn’t so strong; the crowds are gone, and the light is spectacular.
Pack a picnic and head to Lighthouse Beach in Chatham, where you can also visit the still-working Coast Guard lighthouse.
Hyannis is the home of the Kennedy family summer compound, and this small museum pays homage.
Choose gourmet dining, family suppers, murder mystery or scenic rides past woodlands, cranberry bogs, marshes and sand dunes on a classic train ride.
Michael Neelon / Alamy
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