There is something wonderful that happens during a summer vacation on Cape Cod. Normally surly teens begin to laugh at dad jokes, families begin to enjoy being together, and the peace that accompanies any beachy adventure invades your soul and if a getaway to Cape Cod is on your bucket list, we at New England Vacation Rentals feel that there is no time like the present. This guide, which we have divided according to town and village, to a Cape Cod summer vacation and a stay in our seasonal sanctuaries will help the realization dawn that some dreams really can come true!

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A Stay in Barnstable

Barnstable is the Cape’s largest town, comprised of seven different villages and running in second (behind Sandwich) for the title of oldest town. It is also where many of our largest homes are located, offering between 3 and 5 bedrooms (maybe more, sometimes less) and all the comfort and charm you have come to expect from New England Vacation Rentals. Also providing fully equipped kitchens, guests can choose to eat a meal at home or enjoy a taste of the town by dining at some of the restaurants listed below.

Breakfast at the Buttercup Café, 3226 Main Street

Our doctors have told us many times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and when the thought of cracking a few eggs in your Barnstable escape simply does not appeal, the downhome meals offered at the Buttercup Café will! Offering classic dishes, some prepared with a creative twist (Carrot cake pancakes, anyone?), while others remind us there is no need to fix something that isn’t broken, your summer days are destined to be sunny ones when you chow down at the Buttercup.

A beach with people

Lunch at the Dolphin Restaurant, 3250 Main Street

For 70 years, the Dolphin has been feeding hungry guests from menus that reflect an authentic taste of Cape Cod. Offering all-American classics that include burgers and sandwiches, it is always their seafood dishes that we gravitate towards, falling in love with the sweet flavor of freshly caught treasures from the sea. For those looking for a typical Cape Cod dish, go for the Dolphin’s fried basket; you can thank us later!

Those Sunset Views at Mattakeese Wharf, 273 Millway

Offering sunset views of the harbor, a seafood-centric menu (try the Baked Stuffed Quahogs for a true Cape Cod treat) and live music on the weekends, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate another idyllic day in Barnstable. Reservations are not accepted, and the place gets pretty crowded on live music nights, but we promise, it will be worth every minute you have to wait.

Hanging Out in Barnstable

Now that we have the meals taken care of, it is time to play and Barnstable is known for its low key vibe and appetite for fun, ensuring that visitors will enjoy every minute of their stay within its city limits. This next list will give you some ideas as to what you can do in between enjoying comfortable moments in our Barnstable summer sanctuaries.

People sitting in chairs on sand

Millway Beach, 399 Millway

Of course, every adventure on Cape Cod should begin at the beach and Millway Beach, although not one of our largest beaches, is popular with families. Offering calm waters, the majority of waves come from passing boats, parents can feel safer when their littles are frolicking in the waters.

Sturgis Library, 3090 Main Street

Ok, we understand that most travelers don’t want to spend their summer vacation inside at a library, but the Sturgis Library is something special. The original part of the library was actually constructed in 1644, over 100 years before our country fought for its independence and it is considered the oldest library building in the United States. A bible belonging to the reverend for whom the original structure was built, Reverend John Lothrop, is on display in the room that was once used for public worship and when you step inside, you won’t help but be charmed at the history that surrounds you.

Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, 345 Bone Hill Road

The beauty of Cape Cod lies mostly within its natural landscape and the creatures that make this section of paradise their home and the Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary offers trails throughout its protected land that will let you get close to nature. Also offering picnic tables, the countryside changes from flower filled meadows to sandy beaches and offers tantalizing glimpses of both farm animals and wild ones.

Sand piper on beach

 Touring Bourne

 Although Bourne is not as large as Barnstable it is comprised of nine different villages, two more than Barnstable. Once the summer home of President Grover Cleveland, this town was known as the Summer White House when he was in residence. Today, it is also known as being the home to the Bourne Stone, a 300-pound granite slab carved with two lines of mysterious markings, the mystery behind the stone has remained unsolved since the 1600s, when it was first discovered. There are a lot of things that make this Cape Cod town popular, including the items we have listed below.

Upper Cape Car Show, 220 Sandwich Road

In July, Bourne is where the Upper Cape Car Show is held, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bourne and offering an extensive selection of classic cars that are always fun to check out. Open to everyone, they will have hot dogs, burgers, and a variety of snacks for sale, with all proceeds benefitting the Bourne and Sandwich communities.

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Butterflies of Cape Cod, 26 Herring Pond Road

Open during the summer season only, Butterflies of Cape Cod is a native butterfly habitat offering a magical experience for all who visit. Oh, and parents? The activity is an educational one as well, something your kids won’t realize as they are too busy being enchanted by the delicate and fluttering creatures that like to take rides on little boys’ and girls’ arms, sleeves, and on occasion, noses.

Brookside Golf Club, 11 Brigadoone Road

Nothing beats a good game of golf unless it’s a good game of golf played at Brookside Golf Club, our local public course. Designed by golf architect Michael Hurdzan in 1986, John Sanford updated and refined it 10 years later and today it is one of the best courses on Cape Cod, popular with golfers of all skill levels.

Person golfing

Seeing Chatham

It’s all about the sea in Chatham, home to some of the most pristine beaches on Cape Cod, and to one of the worlds most iconic performers, Harry Connick Jr. The idyllic lifestyle and stunning seascape of Chatham has enticed Hollywood to film from here with The Perfect Couple (a limited Netflix streaming series starring Nicole Kidman, Liev Schreiber, and Dakota Fanning) being the latest movie to be filmed here. Known for being a foodie paradise, however, your summer vacation will be quite satisfying when you dine at any of the following restaurants.

Wild Goose Tavern, 512 Main Street

This chef driven food spot is famous for its modern American cuisine, especially for its local favorites such as New England Clam Chowder and Fried Cod Sandwich, but it is their Goose Fries that you definitely have to try!

Chatham Squire, 487 Main Street

Moderately priced and offering a casual vibe that enhances your dining experience, this local sports bar is a great place to leave dad while the rest of the family gets a little shopping done. Pub Grub is the star of this menu and live music is another reason you may want to add this to your vacation itinerary.

Impudent Oyster, 15 Chatham Bars Avenue

When you are seeking a special occasion meal during your stay in Chatham, the Impudent Oyster is the first, last, and quite possibly, only place you will want to visit. Offering an elevated seafood menu, this restaurant has been feeding hungry guests for over 50 years.

Boats in a pier

Events and Explorations

There is always something fun to do in Chatham and this next list will give you a few ideas on how to spend your vacation minutes.

Chatham Lighthouse, 37 Main Street

The lighthouses of Cape Cod, including the Chatham Lighthouse, enhance the beauty of the coastline while also providing guidance to seafaring vessels. Open for tours again in 2024 after being closed for a few years due to the pandemic, the tours are available every Wednesday in July & August and every other Wednesday in the month of September, but even if you miss the tours, family photos taken in front of this historic lighthouse will offer an iconic souvenir of your Cape Cod adventures.

4th of July Parade

Marching for nearly 70 years, the historic Chatham 4th of July Parade and Celebration is one of the nation’s oldest events. Offering everything you expect from a small-town parade, the fireworks celebration after will make you want to visit Chatham every Independence Day.

Tour of Homes on Shore Road

With the exception of Chatham Bars Inn, you won’t be able to go inside the homes on Shore Road, but their beauty and charm are worth checking out and on a beautiful summer’s day, a walk along Shore Road will bring you joy.

House with flowers

Dennis Adventures

Dennis has been designated an all-American city and is one that families feel most comfortable inside its city limits. Offering 16 saltwater beaches and two freshwater ones, your imaginations of what the perfect beach vacation consists of will fall short in comparison to the reality. This is the town where kids can be a little loud, where restaurants understand cranky, and where our vacation rentals are laidback and inviting to visitors of all ages and this guide to the adventures you can have during your stay in Dennis may make it your favorite of all Cape Cod locales.

Fishing for Largemouth Bass

There are a variety of ponds in Dennis in which the largemouth bass thrive, including Little Long Pond and Long Pond, Whites Pond, and Flex Pond, giving visitors more than a fair chance to catch their limit. Spend a few hours behind the pole and bring home a veritable treasure trove of freshly caught bass to grill on the barbecue that is in the backyard of your Dennis escape.

Cape Cinema, 35 Hope Lane

When was the last time you were able to sit in a nearly empty movie theater in the middle of the week? We’re going to guess that more than likely it was on one of your previous vacations, making it time once again to enjoy this guilty pleasure. The Cape Cinema was built in the 1930s and provides a peek back into those gentler times while providing modern cinema magic.

A cape with houses and person on the water

Cape Cod Museum of Art, 60 Hope Lane

The most beautiful spots in the world attract the most talented of artists and during your stay in Dennis, you can enjoy their works with a visit to the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Housed inside a classic clapboard sided New England cottage (perhaps on steroids as this museum is a large one!) this establishment is a celebration of art, beauty, and talent.

The Best Breakfast on Cape Cod?

Doctors always tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and when you are tired of scrambling eggs in our inviting and welcoming kitchens, a visit to Grumpy’s, located at 1408 Main Street in East Dennis, will make your taste buds cheer and fill your “tank” for a day of Cape Cod adventures. Open every day from 6 AM until 2 PM, this family owned roadside restaurant offers a menu filled with hearty classic breakfast dishes that will remind you of the meals your grandma used to make.

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Wherever You Go

 Wherever you decide to land during your unforgettable Cape Cod summer vacation, coming home to New England Vacation Rentals will bring you comfortable adventures and happy memories. Reserve your favorite escape today!