Over the years we have concluded that there are two types of travelers in this world. The first group is the more common one, a group in which travelers plan vacations to the places everyone wants to visit, exploring the standard landmarks, the usual beaches, and the regular hot spots that draw in people from everywhere. The second group, and today’s guide is geared to this group, loves the thrill of traveling off the beaten path, living like the locals in the regions they visit, and doing things that makes the rest of the world stand in envy of their daring. New England Vacation Rentals wants to help you find the hidden gems of Cape Cod, and as such, we have created this guide to traveling for a Cape Cod getaway and living like a local!

Day 1: Let the Adventures Begin

The first day of any vacation is always the one filled with the most excitement. The possibilities are endless and although many of the first moments on Cape Cod will be spent examining the comforts found in our New England Vacation Rentals sanctuaries, all travelers are eager to venture out and explore the first of their adventures. So, choose the room you will make your own, unpack your bags (or toss them on the floor of the closet, there will be plenty of time to unpack later) and let’s head to the beach; you know that is what you have been waiting for since you first began making plans for a Cape Cod getaway! And because you march to the beat of a different drummer, these beaches offer quiet, solitude, and the peace you seek, not crowds of rowdy vacationers.

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The Knob in Falmouth

This rocky causeway will not be a beach on which you will want to laze around on beach towels or chairs, but it will be quiet and serene while offering stunning sunset views and photo opportunities of the many birds that make this area their home.

Thumpertown Beach in Eastham

Eastham is home to a few of our charming cottages and although the town itself is popular for its lighthouses and the fact that more than one third of the town is on the National Seashore, this beautiful beach offers sandy shores for tanning and the opportunity to explore the sea life found in small tidal pools when the tide is out.

Crowe’s Pasture Beach in Dennis

Once upon a time, Cape Cod offered a more rustic “camp” experience for summer travelers, offering long stretches of pristine beaches, shacks with just the bare minimum of furnishings (and no air conditioning) a carefree vibe that encouraged the wearing of flip flops and tee shirts day and night. If you remember those long-ago days or have heard the tales, you may be delighted to know that you can experience something similar at Crowe’s Pasture Beach in Dennis. Take the trail that leads visitors and residents along marshlands and wooded areas in the conservation area and be amazed at the hidden beach found at the end of that dirt path. This beach offers large boulders, soft sands, and sea grass growing wild, and best of all, very view other humans will be there to muck up this Cape Cod travel experience.

Beach with people

A Taste of the Cape

After your explorations of the secret beaches listed above, you may be feeling the first pangs of hunger and although our fully equipped kitchens will definitely be used for meal prep at least a few times during your Massachusetts journey, on this first night, let’s dine out, exploring the culinary landscape of Dennis, Falmouth, and Eastham. You won’t want to travel far on an empty stomach and these local hot spots are going to be close to the beaches you just left.

The Quarterdeck, 164 Main Street in Falmouth

If you don’t order some classic seafood your first night on your Cape Cod getaway, will you really be able to say you have arrived? Open every day from 11:30 AM until 9 PM, the Quarterdeck is a Cape tradition offering “chowdah” (this is what we call chowder on Cape Cod) lobster rolls, and all the favored New England Classics. Pay particular attention to the décor as much of it was created from pieces of wood found at MacDougall’s Boatyard and some of it dates to the 1600s.

Mac’s Market and Kitchen, 4680 State Highway in Eastham

The kitchen of Mac’s Market is open every day of the week from 10 AM until 3 PM, offering a beautiful representation of Cape Cod. Serving both as a fish market selling locally caught sea food and a cozy restaurant offering places to eat on its shaded porch, picnic tables in its “yard” and seats at the counter inside. Also offering catering services, you may be tempted to order their ready-to-eat Lobster Clambake to go, although that might be for a different day, this fun meal needs to be ordered ahead of time.

Jason’s Tavern, 500 MA-134 in Dennis

For almost 30 years, Jason’s Tavern has provided a friendly bar and restaurant where the meals are creative, the drinks are always flowing, and while some people may know your name, they will mind their own business, because this is New England after all! All kidding aside, the tavern is where locals and visitors dine together peacefully, devouring a menu filled with seafood delights and land lubbers’ specialties.

Person pouring two drinks

Day’s End

This first day on Cape Cod is going to be filled with wonders you never imagined, your entire week will be, so as the sun sets on day one, you may be ready to retreat to your Cape Cod escape to relax and recharge. Tomorrow is going to be a full one and you and your family will want to feel refreshed and ready to undertake all the adventures that are awaiting.

Day 2: Living Like a Cape Codder

Just because you are a tourist doesn’t mean you have to explore like one, and our second day of adventures are going to be ones that our locals will easily recognize, starting with breakfast at the Moonakis, 460 Waquoit Highway. Open every day from 7 AM until 1:30 PM, the décor is simple, the specials are written on the walls, and the counter is where neighbors and friends sit, sip coffee, and share stories in between bites of the best omelets on Cape Cod. Today will be another memorable day, filled with adventures you will wish never had to end as you stroll off the beaten path in the villages and towns that make up what we consider paradise, so go ahead, order those pancakes to go with the meal! Fluffy, light, and so delicious you are easily going to need the extra carb power they provide.

A Tour of Lighthouses

There are 14 historic lighthouses on Cape Cod, and although visiting them is a typical touristy thing to do, there are three that we consider hidden gems. The Three Sisters Lighthouses are no longer standing over the sea providing safe harbor for vessels navigating rocky waters. Retired now, they have retreated to a wooded area off Cable Road in Eastham, spending quiet days welcoming tourists and reminiscing over the ships and boats they may have saved while sitting on the edge of the ocean at Nauset Light Station. Built in the 1800s and standing only 15 feet tall, they were quickly nicknamed the 3 sisters as they resembled women wearing white dresses and black hats.

A lighthouse on a hill

The Chatham Light Beach Shack

The Chatham Lighthouse is one of the region’s most iconic lighthouses, protecting its shores since 1808 and is actually still in operation today. Many a traveler has taken a tour of its interior, climbing its 44 steps to the top landing, and taking family pictures at its base, but have you heard of the Chatham Light Beach Shack? Also known as the “Occupy Chatham South Beach” shack, located on South Beach and although it isn’t far from the lighthouse, it seems worlds away. The origins of this dilapidated shack which spends every day of its light fighting for survival is unknown, but it has become Chatham’s pet of sorts, losing bits of itself every day as nature claims her for its own. Offering a quiet place to sit and savor the beauty of the beach, the sea, and its offbeat charms, ignore the Go Away signs, search for the guestbook (and sign it!) that is often buried in the sand, and share the pictures and stories of your time at the shack on its Occupy Chatham South Beach Facebook Page.

Time to Eat

After a day spent touring lighthouses and shacks (Don’t forget to explore Nauset Lighthouse, the most famous one on Cape Cod) it will be time to enjoy more sedentary adventures, including a dinner at Chatham Raw Bar. Located at 593 Main Street, this seasonal restaurant is one the locals are known to frequent, providing an elegant spin on classic New England seafood meals. The skies are stormy and angry inside Chatham Raw Bar, but don’t worry, it’s just a painted mural on the ceiling adding a moody charm to the meals that are about to become your newest obsession. The seafood they serve is locally caught, the vegetables are farm to table, even the pasta is handmade, showing the passion the chef has for food and for the guests who visit this wonderful spot.

A Sip Before Returning Home?

The bar menu at Chatham Raw Bar is an extensive one, but if you want to sip like a local and your Cape Cod adventures have taken you in other directions, there are more than a few watering holes in the area that will bring you joy, but perhaps the one that will be a favorite for our Hyannis guests will be Flashback Retro Arcade Bar & Grille. Located at 294 Main Street and offering a variety of arcade games that represent decades of fun, this spot will remind you of those long ago days when all you wanted to do was canoodle with your sweetheart and have your name at the top of the player’s list on the Pacman game! The only difference is now you can drink while doing so!

Wine glasses on a table

Day 3: Remember, This Is Just a Selection

We have filled these three days with so much excitement and fun, it would actually take a week or more to do them all in real life, so even though this says day three, don’t feel pressured, just stay for a week and enjoy! And as the sun rises on another day in paradise, maybe today will be the day you actually witness Mother Nature’s finest performance, that of the sun rising over the beaches of Cape Cod. As most people are not early risers, you don’t have to look for a hidden gem of a beach to enjoy peace and solitude while watching the fire in the sky, just head to the beach that is nearest your New England Vacation Rentals sunrise sanctuary. But if you are looking for something unique, Coast Guard Beach in Eastham is where the Mayflower first made landfall and the history of that area is indescribably fantastic.

Monomoy Island Excursions, 731 MA-28, Harwich Port

Monomoy Island is the best place on Cape Cod to see the seals and although this is more of a guide for living like the locals, we do recommend that a seal tour should be taken. The Monomoy Island includes narration by a naturalist and explains the history of Monomoy Island, as well as the Monomoy Lighthouse.

Cape Cod Saltwater Taffy Stand, 984 MA-28, South Yarmouth

For an authentic Cape Cod tradition, you simply must visit this low-key candy store in South Yarmouth. Offering a taste of sea and local traditions, their list of flavors is simply endless, plus they make wonderful and inexpensive gifts for the friends and family who weren’t able to join in on this trip of a lifetime!

Barrels of salt water taffy

Learn the Lingo

Although this last item on our itinerary of fun is not exactly an activity, it will be fun to learn how to speak like a local, starting with the term we call locals, a Year-Roun-dah, someone who lives on Cape Cod the entire year. Whooo-wee is our nickname for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (another place you should visit) and off cape, simply meaning you are sadly heading back to the mainland.

Every Adventure Leads Back to New England Vacation Rentals

Your very full days will be accompanied by very peaceful and restful nights when you come home every evening to our Cape Cod condos for rent! Reserve your favorite escape today!