Travel

Five Family-Friendly Things to Do on Cape Cod This Summer

There’s plenty of fresh-air fun to be had, from Dennis to Eastham.


monomoy national wildlife refuge

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Chatham, Cape Cod. Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Nothing can rob Cape Cod of its singular charms. Though your family’s Cape escape may look different this summer, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to forgo all the joys of a beach vacation with the kids. There’s plenty of fresh-aired fun to be had while keeping a safe distance from other folks. Ahead, find five family-friendly things to try this summer.

1. Sniff lavender at Cape Cod Lavender Farm

Give your essential oil diffusers a well-deserved break by sniffing the stress-relieving lavender plants at Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich. You can call ahead to purchase plants, candles, and more if you’d like, but the entire property is open for you to explore as long as you wear a mask. A short walk past the property’s ever-charming cottage and through its gardens are aromatherapy and pure delight rolled into one.

Cape Cod Lavender Farm, off Weston Woods Road, Harwich, capecodlavenderfarm.com.

2. Fly kites on the beach

Head for Dr. Gravity’s Kite Shop off Route 28 in Harwich Port, where kites of all shapes, sizes and colors hang from the walls and ceilings. (A puppy-shaped easy flyer, anyone?) Choose the kites that speak to you and the kiddos, then drive the 10 minutes to Hardings Beach in Chatham—good surf and whipping winds make it an ideal kite-flying spot. Bonus points if you go in the early evening: sunsets here are spectacular.

Dr. Gravity’s Kite Shop, 560 MA-28, Harwich Port, drgravitys.com.

3. Trace the edges of a salt marsh

While the Cape Cod National Seashore’s main visitor center has been closed due to COVID-19, the trails behind the center are still open, and rangers will be on-site most days throughout July and August. Try the 1.3-mile Nauset Marsh Trail loop to trace the edges of a salt marsh. After passing a saltwater pond filled with oysters, mussels, scallops, and quahogs, you’ll cross a bridge to see views of the marsh. Then, you’ll hike along the shore (keep an eye out for an old cement roller in the grasses—it’s one of the last vestiges of a golf course that once existed here) and duck into a pitch-pine forest before arriving back at the visitor center.

Salt Pond Visitor Center, 50 Nauset Rd., Eastham, nps.gov.

4. Get your sea legs ready for a seal cruise

Monomoy Island is an 8-mile strip of sand that juts off the Cape near Chatham. Huge groups of seals make their home at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge—and you can get up close and personal with them on a seal cruise with Monomoy Island Excursions. Board a boat to “glide through narrow channels and into isolated lagoons where hundreds, sometimes thousands of gray seals swim and lay out along the shore,” according to the company. Sharks sightings aren’t uncommon, either. Some white sharks have already been tagged off Monomoy this summer.

Monomoy Island Excursions, monomoysealcruise.com.

5. Pedal down the Cape Cod Rail Trail

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a 22-mile long bike path that follows the length of a former railroad. It’s a popular trail for families and experienced bikers alike, offering paved paths and mostly flat terrain. Rent bikes (with or without toddler seats) at the Dennis Cycle Center, which has direct access to the rail trail behind the shop. Pedal up toward Wellfleet for classic Cape Cod views. When you’re sufficiently tuckered out, you can turn right back around to return your bikes in Dennis.

Dennis Cycle Center, 249 Great Western Rd., South Dennis, denniscyclecenter.com.