Cape Cod Road Trip to Lighthouses, Lobster Shacks, and Beautiful Beach Walks
The attraction of quaint seaside communities and expansive coastal beaches has made Cape Cod Massachusetts a popular year-round destination. Stretching for 116 miles from Boston to the tip of Provincetown, the upward arm-shaped peninsula of Cape Cod has attracted vacationers for generations. “The Cape” has something to offer every traveler from growing families to beach-loving couples and retirees seeking to embrace nature.
Our friends at Hotel.com have asked us to pull together a fun road trip itinerary for travelers to experience some of Cape Cod’s most iconic spots. We’ll take you on a grand tour starting as soon as you cross one of the bridges that span the Cape Cod Canal, to discover some of the most favorite spots on The Cape. Come along as we explore the best of the Cape with stops at Cape Cod lighthouses, iconic lobster shacks, and beautiful beach walks.
Traveling on the 3 major roadways of Route 28, Route 6, and 6A you can reach virtually every corner of Cape Cod. Most folks decide to stay at one charming Cape Cod hotel or rental home and go touring from there. Once you cross the Sagamore or Bourne bridge, the leisurely Cape Cod lifestyle awaits. Heading south on Route 28 after crossing over the Cape Cod Canal, our first recommended stop in Pocasset won’t be far away.
Upper Cape – Pocasset and Falmouth
Wings Neck Lighthouse was originally built in 1849 and is perched along rocky slopes just inches from the water. This privately owned lighthouse enjoys some of the most famous views of Buzzards Bay.
The Knob Beach Walk Continue on Rt 28 south for 28 minutes to the Woods Hole community in Falmouth and to find the Knob Beach Walk on Quissett Harbor Road. This walk is particularly delightful as you will encounter stretches of beach on both sides of the trail as it winds its way through 12 acres of woodlands out to the trail’s end view. This walk is just a short distance away from beautiful Quissett Harbor.
The Nobska Point Light While you’re in Woods Hole, you should not miss a glimpse of the Nobska Lighthouse that is located one mile from the town center. The light has a dramatic view looking out to Martha’s Vineyard and Nonamesset Island. The lighthouse was strategically placed at the farthest southwestern point of land where Buzzards Bay meets the Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds. While the light is currently closed because of Covid restrictions, the non-profit Friends of Nobska Light hopes it will be giving tours again soon.
Seafood Sam’s, Falmouth Located at 356 Palmer Avenue, the popular Seafood Sam’s Restaurant is now celebrating its 47th season. Known for their large servicings of fresh seafood sourced from local waters, Sam’s offers lobster prepared an amazing 8 different ways! From lobster rolls to bisque, baked-stuffed, or ravioli, Sam’s has it all going on in a family-friendly casual atmosphere.
Image by: CapeCodChamber.org
Mid-Cape, Chatham, Eastham
Hasting Beach Walk is no doubt the most viewed lighthouse on Cape Cod and a visit to the very charming town of Chatham is a must. But before reaching Chatham Lighthouse, how about a nice walk on the beach past another lighthouse? From Rt 28 take a left onto Bear Hill Road and follow it to Hardings Beach Road on the right. Follow this road all the way to the end to reach the public beach. Stay on the walkways to cross over the dunes and enjoy endless views and miles of walking on the beach. You’ll also see the deactivated, privately owned, Hardings Beach Lighthouse which is also known as the Stage Harbor Lighthouse.
Flickr by: m01229
Chatham Lighthouse Follow route 28 through town and plan to spend some time poking around the very eclectic local shops. To reach the lighthouse by the most scenic way, when you come to the lights at the junction of Rt 28, Stage Harbor Rd, and Main St, take the Stage Harbor Rd option. This will lead you in a circular route to the lighthouse and fish market and then back to Rt 28. Take a left at Bridge Street just before reaching Stage Harbor. Take another left at Shore Road and the lighthouse will be on your left – you can’t miss it! Although you can’t enter the lighthouse as it is an active US Coast Guard Station, it is a very scenic spot to visit and you’ll like knowing that you are at the very outward elbow of Cape Cod. To see a lighthouse that’s truly at land’s end, consider taking the local ferry to visit the Monomoy Lighthouse on Monomoy Island.
Chatham Fish Pier Restaurant Continue along Shore Road while ogling all of the beautiful and expensive gray shingled mansions. Be sure to slow down and take a peek at the Chatham Bars Inn on the left, one of the most luxurious hotels on the Cape. Just a bit further you’ll come to the Chatham Pier Fish Market on the right. This is the freshest lobster you can get on the Cape since local lobster boats pull right up to the dock to unload their catch. You (and your kids) will be fascinated watching the fish and lobster catches being offloaded by local fishermen from mid-day on – so be sure to spend some time on the observation deck. This is a rough and ready lobster shack experience! Continue your drive to reconnect with Rt 28 and your journey on to your next stop.
Nauset Light and Beach – Eastham Nauset Lighthouse and Beach are part of the vast Cape Cod National Seashore that was commissioned by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The beach, sand dunes, and marshland stretch for miles from Orleans all the way to Provincetown. You should plan at least one full day to explore and play in this fascinating area. You can swim, hike, bike, canoe, surf and go on guided tours with park rangers, to name a few activities. After entering the park and stopping at the visitors center, you’ll probably want to go and see the iconic Nauset Lighthouse. This cheery white and red lighthouse was once a part of the Chatham Light structure but was moved to Eastham in 1923. The lighthouse is made of cast iron with a brick lining and stands 48′ high. As part of the National Park, it is free for the public to climb during designated tour times.
The Friendly Fisherman After frolicking at the beach why not stop by the Friendly Fisherman Seafood Restaurant and Fish Market in North Eastham. This quaint shingled seafood shack and picnic area are run by a mother and daughter team and no one leaves hungry. You’ll find fresh seafood and local lobster prepared in simple and delicious ways.
Lower Cape, Truro, Wellfleet, and Provincetown
Race Point Light Station and Walk – Provincetown Perched at the farthest point on the Cape Cod peninsula you will find the Race Point Light Station. Reaching the light may be a bit of a challenge, however. Usually, the lighthouse can be climbed and toured free of charge on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays from June through October. With Covid closings, you should check in advance if the schedule has changed for this year. The light can be reached in two ways. The easiest is by 4 wheel drive vehicle with a special park permit. The other option is to do a 45-minute walk over sand dunes to reach the light area. The light was first built in 1816 and then replaced with an iron-plated structure in 1876. The keeper’s home is also available for rent.
After your busy tour of the lighthouses of Cape Cod, it may be time to slow down and take the slower route 6A on your way back to the bridge. The lovely town of Brewster is worthy of a stop.
TJ’s Seafood Restaurant on Main Street in Brewster is a worthy place to stop for one last lobster feast. This restaurant is meticulously maintained with delicious seafood offerings in a casual atmosphere. The chef is Caribbean-born so you will find some unique dishes with a Caribbean flair. One of their most popular offerings is a ‘hot’ lobster roll. Instead of being filled with cold lobster meat tossed in mayonnaise, the hot lobster roll features piles of hot lobster basted in butter – yum!
Before heading home, consider one final lobster stop at Seafood Sam’s in Sandwich just before you cross over the Sagamore Bridge and leave the Cape behind.
Since the 2021 season is sure to have some unexpected adjustments to Covid-19 conditions, we would encourage you to make plans well in advance and to check with restaurants and attractions for new opening times and restrictions. Because of the pent-up demand for family holidays due to last year’s Covid restrictions, vacation bookings on Cape Cod have never been higher. It is very important to book your Cape Cod hotel in popular towns like Falmouth, Harwich, Yarmouth, Chatham, Orleans, and Provincetown, as quickly and early as possible. With everyone anxious to get out in the sunshine this summer, there’s no better place to reconnect with nature than a Cape Cod vacation!