Cyclists often ride their bikes alongside the Cape Cod Canal, enjoying the beautiful view. // © 2014 Kevin Burke
Feature image (above): Tall ship Corwin Cramer passes through the Cape Cod Canal. // © 2014 Matt Seuss
Cape Cod in Massachusetts comes alive in the summer when the beautiful weather and endless outdoor activities make this normally sleepy coastal region awaken between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
“The Cape,” as the natives call it, may be known for its famed lighthouses, but with nearly 560 miles of picturesque coastline views, it’s no wonder why it beckons generations of families to come back summer after summer. Originally made famous by the Kennedy clan, the Cape is home to nearly 240,000 year-round residents — a figure that triples during the months of July and August.
Provincetown is a must-see destination at the tip of the Cape. Branded as the “Key West of Cape Cod,” this walkable town is a noted art colony and boasts a lively bar scene. It’s also well-known for whale-watching. Local tour companies, such as Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, specialize in bringing landlubbers closer to these majestic sea mammals.
One Provincetown site that shouldn’t be missed is the 252-foot-tall Pilgrim Monument, which pays homage to the Pilgrims landing in the New World. Be sure to climb the 116 steps to the top of the tower, where unobstructed panoramic views of Cape Cod await.
It’s hard to visit Cape Cod and not taste its fresh fish, shellfish and chowders, most of which are pulled from local waters and then almost immediately brought to your restaurant table for feasting. Fish markets also abound in the Cape, enticing at-home chefs to attempt their hand at concocting a fresh seafood meal.
And what summer day would be complete without having a scoop (or two) of the area’s finest ice cream? Dozens of local stores, including Lewis Brothers Homemade Ice Cream and Four Seas Ice Cream, serve their tailored varieties with local fruit as an ingredient.
For the outdoorsy type, Cape Cod is a mecca for boating, kayaking and fishing excursions. Alongside the Cape Cod Canal is a 7.5-mile recreational path that predominantly attracts cyclists, runners and in-line skaters. Golfing is also popular in the Cape, with 42 premier golf courses just minutes away from each other.
Don’t forget to visit Plymouth Rock, the country’s most famous boulder. Located at Pilgrim Memorial State Park, Plymouth Rock welcomes nearly 1 million visitors annually. Also inside the state park is the Mayflower II, a replica of the famous ship that brought the Pilgrims to New England. Visitors are allowed to go on board to learn more about the perilous travels of the ship and its passengers.