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Things to Do in Cape Cod

Cape Cod is one of the most popular summer vacation destinations for New Englanders – generations of families have played on the same beaches for decades. But, of course, it's not just for the locals. The arm of Massachusetts that curls away from the mainland and reaches north again, like someone flexing an arm muscle, is called Cape Cod.

While many American schoolchildren learn that the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, their actual landing spot was closer to the place where Provincetown now sits, near the tip of Cape Cod. The Cape was one of the first area settled by newcomers from England, and by the 19th century, it had already become a summer escape for people living in nearby cities.

Today, vacationers head to Cape Cod for time on the beach. Other activities include hiking, whale watching, golf, cycling, boating, wine tasting, fishing and kayaking. There are also several historic lighthouses on the Cape, and you can climb to the top of the Pilgrim Monument
in Provincetown for a view out to sea.

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Provincetown
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The lively cultural hub of Cape Cod and among New England’s most beloved beach resorts, Provincetown’s popularity belies its small size and remote location. Perched at the tip of the Cape Cod peninsula and reachable by land or sea from nearby Boston, the affectionately nicknamed ‘P-Town’ is the ultimate bohemian retreat, renowned for its eclectic nightlife, numerous art galleries and thriving LGBT scene.

Long a favored summer retreat for artists and writers, the creative Mecca is also home to 30 miles of sandy coastline, with pristine beaches, calm swimming areas and waters ideal for fishing or whale watching cruises. Spend time exploring the myriad of shops, bars and restaurants along the central Commercial Street, take a scenic stroll along the picturesque MacMillan Pier or enjoy a catamaran cruise around landmarks like Plymouth Rock, before hitting the bars to experience Provincetown’s legendary nightlife.

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John F Kennedy Hyannis Museum
4 Tours and Activities

Devoted to the legendary President who passed many of his holidays at his vacation home on Cape Cod, the John F Kennedy Hyannis Museum now ranks among the region’s top attractions, offering a fascinating insight into America’s 35th president. Housed in the early 20th-century town hall and fronted by a sculpture of Kennedy by David Lewis, the museum features a series of multimedia exhibitions focusing on the President, his family and friends, and the time they spent on Cape Cod.

As well as the opportunity to peek into the Kennedy family’s home, there’s a sizable collection of videos, photographs and personal effects, dating back between 1934 and 1963 and including oral histories from friends and family, a Kennedy Family Tree and details of his final visit to Cape Cod, just months before his assassination. Somewhat incongruously, the museum basement houses a Hall of Fame for the Cape Cod Baseball League.

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Cape Cod Canal
1 Tour and Activity

Connecting Cape Cod to Buzzards Bay, the Cape Cod Canal was created as an artificial waterway in 1914. Today it is maintained by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and is utilized for both recreational and commercial boating. The scenic walkways on both sides of the canal are great for walking, jogging, or biking. Hiking the nearby trails, fishing, and picnicking are other activity options for along the water. It’s also a great place to relax and simply watch the boats pass by.

The canal is also home to two notable bridges, including the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge — one of the longest vertical spans in the world. In total the canal runs more than 17 miles long. Those interested in the history and technology of the canal and its operation should be sure to check out the Cape Cod Canal Visitors Center.

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Things to do near Cape Cod