Cape Cod may be very popular with young crowds looking to have fun. But its historical roots also make it a dream destination for history buffs.
Not many people know this but Cape Cod is more than just its beaches.
Yes, the seemingly never-ending shoreline does provide almost an endless supply of sandy beaches, diverse terrain, and perfect waters. But most attractions in Cape Cod have nothing to do with spending time on the beach.
Here are some attractions you might want to check out when you feel like exploring the region a bit more.
1. Martha’s Vineyard
It’s the most famous island and location in Cape Cod, and for good reason.
Six unique little towns make up the Vineyard and the island is abundant with exciting boutiques and art galleries. But many visit it for the high-end antiques on offer.
Consider a visit to Edgartown, one of the Vineyard’s oldest settlements. There you can tour the Vincent House, a local museum that provides a detailed look at the history of Martha’s Vineyard.
Oak Bluffs is another popular holiday town. The 19th-century cottages and gothic-style architecture give it a very eclectic appeal.
Although dated as a ride, the Flying Horses Carousel is still a major draw. It’s actually among the oldest in America.
Martha’s Vineyard is a casual destination for everyone, whether spending time at the beach or enjoying the diverse landscapes.
One of the top attractions to visit in Cape Cod is Sandwich, a small town in the western part of Cape Cod. But don’t be fooled by its name. Because back in the 19th century, the city was a massive glass-making center.
Even today, some collectors go crazy over Sandwich glass. But there’s not a lot left in the local shops, so you can check out the Sandwich Glass Museum if you want to see them. The museum displays over 5,000 glassware items produced in the town. It also has a fully functioning furnace that’s often used for demonstrations.
The Heritage Museums & Gardens is another popular stop in Sandwich. It’s a complex consisting of different museums that sits in a beautiful 100-acre garden. You can immerse yourself in American folk art, antique car collections, Native American artifacts, and much more in a couple of hours.
Some visitors even end up spending more time enjoying the serenity of the gardens.
Nantucket was once the most important city in the whaling industry. At one point, it had well over 125 ships. That’s why today you can visit the Nantucket Whaling Museum to see a whale’s skeletal frame, model ships, industry equipment, long books, and other artifacts.
There are other popular attractions to see in Cape Cod that are also found in Nantucket. For example, you can tour a 19th-century firehouse and see the last remaining structure built in the original English settlement – Jethro Coffin House.
Nantucket also houses the oldest functioning windmill in the US. So when exploring Cape Cod, a visit to Nantucket can take you on a fascinating historical journey.
Like most towns around Cape Cod, Provincetown also has a deep-rooted history. Because in 1620, it’s where the Pilgrims landed on the Mayflower.
It’s an iconic location in American history, and, today, one of the busiest resorts in Cape Cod. After all, it offers a massive shoreline, trails, cruises, and a lively atmosphere.
The hottest attraction remains the Pilgrim Monument. It’s still the tallest structure in the country that’s made entirely of granite and 252 feet. You can climb it to get a splendid view of the resort and beaches.
There’s also a local museum featuring collections of maritime and Native American artifacts.
5. Cape Cod National Seashore
Cape Cod has roughly 600 miles of gorgeous shoreline, of which a stretch of 40 miles is wild protected land called the Cape Cod National Seashore.
This untouched slice of paradise is most famous for its unusual park. If you stroll along the boardwalk, you can explore the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp.
It’s a beautiful piece of land filled with mossy hummocks and massive cedars. While it’s not the easiest place to explore freely, the location, terrific plantlife, and terrain make it a unique attraction to visit in Cape Cod.
The park also contains a bunch of historical buildings and plenty of room for activities like hiking, snorkeling, and canoeing.
Taking a walk through this area is among the unique things to do in Cape Cod.
6. Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary
You can find lots of whale-watching cruises in various harbors around Cape Cod. But an excursion to the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, running from April through October, probably trumps all other alternatives.
It’s a perfect opportunity to spot humpback, minke, and finback whales. Each ride has its own experienced naturalists that can provide some insight into the local whale behavior and unique characteristics of different species.
A cruise can last anywhere between two to four hours.
7. The Chatham Lighthouse and Marconi Maritime Center
Chatham now has one of the best beaches in Cape Cod. But in the past, it served as a Marconi/RCA Wireless Receiving Station at the time of the Second World War.
Today, you can visit the museum and check out interactive exhibits detailing the story of wireless communication.
A whole section of the museum serves a very specific purpose. It tells the Enigma machine’s story, its creation, and the vital role it played in code interception during the war.
Close to the white sandy beaches of Chatham is another interesting attraction – the local lighthouse. It’s a turn-of-the-century installation that you can visit.
Which Spot Do You Plan to See First?
The whole area has a lot to offer. That’s why it’s best to come up with some Cape Cod vacation ideas before booking a stay to make sure you can see as many things that interest you as you can.
Hopefully, the suggestions in this article will help you have an easier time planning your itinerary.
Remember that most towns in the region are very significant in American history. The sights and artifacts available helped raise Cape Cod’s profile to more than just a vacation destination that’s perfect for sunbathing.