Cape Cod has long been one of my family’s favorite vacation destinations. I’ve spent many glorious summer days enjoying all the fun of Wellfleet and the surrounding area of the Outer Cape, but until recently I had never explored the Upper Cape area. Interested in seeing how it compared, we spent a few weeks vacationing in Falmouth on Upper Cape Cod.
Although the Upper Cape is a little sleepier than the Outer Cape, there are still plenty of things to do for kids to fill a family vacation. We enjoyed a lot of our Cape Cod favorite activities, like eating ice cream and fried clams and biking along the beach, plus we discovered some new favorites, like the Barnstable County Fair, a great farm where the kids picked blueberries and gathered eggs, and lots of educational maritime activities. It’s also where you can grab the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, for an easy day trip. While you don’t get the giant sandy beaches of the National Seashore, the waters are calmer than on the Outer Cape, which can be good for small children.
The town center of Falmouth is cute and has a nice variety of shops while Woods Hole has more of a quaint beach town feel to it. Vacationing on the Upper Cape can be less expensive than the more traditional Outer Cape vacation and I would particularly recommend it for families with younger children who will enjoy all the nature activities, the calm beaches and don’t need as many distractions as tweens and teens might.
Here are the best things to do with kids in Upper Cape Cod:
- Walk out to The Knob in Quissett for beautiful views.
- While there, swim and play on Little Sandy Beach or one of the other public Quissett Beaches.
- Have a cone at Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream in East Falmouth.
- Chow on fried clams or your favorite fish at Cooke’s Seafood in Mashpee or Hyannis.
- Take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard from Woods Hole, Hyannis or Falmouth for a fun-filled day trip.
- Pet the animals, see shows, eat greasy food and then ride the rides ‘til you’re sick at the Barnstable County Fair in late July.
- Kids can pick blueberries, gather eggs and meet the farm animals at Coonamesset Farm.
- Ride the gorgeous Shining Sea Bike Path along the beach from Falmouth to Woods Hole.
- In salty beach town, Woods Hole get some ice cream or a lobster roll at Jimmy’s Sandwich Shop.
- Order divine pies, bread and other pastries at Woods Hole’s Pie in the Sky.
- Soak up some AC (and maybe a little wifi) while sipping on a cooling homemade Italian soda at Coffee Obsession in Woods Hole.
- Choose between the homemade chocolates or the giant ice cream cones at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Falmouth.
- Take a kayaking tour through the Barnstable salt marshes with Great Marsh Kayak Tours.
- Rent kayaks or attend kayaking kids camp at Cape Cod Kayaks.
- Find excellent, authentic Indian food at the Golden Swan Restaurant in Falmouth.
- Step inside the space-aged submersible that was used to discover the Titanic wreckage and learn about ocean ecology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
- Enjoy free outdoor concerts on summer Thursday evenings at the Harbor Band Shell in Marine Park in Falmouth.
- Take a whale watching cruise from Hyannis
- Pick up some good reading at Eight Cousins Children’s Books in Falmouth.
- Buy a family board game or craft kit at Kaleidoscope Toys in Falmouth.
- Spend a rainy day exploring the Cape Cod Children’s Museum
- Play or take a program in the discovery garden, ride the carousel, walk the gardens, see art and old cars all at the Heritage Museums and Garden.
- Drop in to the small, free Woods Hole Science Aquarium to see seals and explore the touch tanks.
- Learn about oceanography on a hands-on OceanQuest cruise.
- Participate in the Children’s Programs at the Falmouth Historical Society Museums on the Green.
- Take a nature walk or cruise at the Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The Falmouth Public Library often has children’s programs or just enjoy reading in the lovely children’s room.
- Participate in Wednesday children’s programs at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis.
- Swim in Long Pond, picnic or hike at 90 acre Goodwill Park in Falmouth.
- Enjoy the rides at the annual Sandwich Town Fair in July.