I’ve been traveling to Cape Cod my whole life. I started as a kid when my mom would take my sister and I to the Cape in the summers, and as an adult, I’ve been countless times in every single season throughout the year, including in the dead of winter!
To help you decide what the best time to visit Cape Cod is for your travel preferences, this post breaks down the pros and cons of each season, and what my overall pick is for the best time to visit this beautiful region.
So, let’s jump in and narrow down when you’ll be booking your trip to Cape Cod!
🚙 First thing’s first – you’ll definitely need a car to explore Cape Cod!
Click here to check out the best prices on Discover Cars!
Where To Stay On Cape Cod
First thing’s first – it may help you to decide where on Cape Cod you want to visit. Some areas are more expensive than others, and to help compare costs from month to month while you decide which season is best for your budget and plans, it’s good to have a general idea of where to stay on Cape Cod.
Good news! I have a super detailed guide about each of the towns, and a breakdown of which is best for every kind of traveler. Click on the link below to familiarize yourself with all of the beautiful 16 towns on the Cape!
When Is Peak, Shoulder & Off Season On Cape Cod & The Islands?
The next thing to know is when the busy seasons are on Cape Cod and the Islands, as that’s when you’ll find the most expensive accommodations. Here’s a breakdown of the tourist seasons in the region to keep in mind as you check out prices online.
Pro Tip: While tourist seasons are pretty aligned across the board with local businesses, they’re not always an exact science. For example, peak season and shoulder season can have a little overlap with certain hotels, depending on what kind of demand they’re seeing. While you’re comparing prices online, this is something to consider if you’re looking at dates that are right on the cusp of different tourist seasons (i.e. early September).
Peak Season: July & August are regarded as the peak tourist season on Cape Cod. Some accommodations will also consider the end of June and the first week or two of September peak season, and charge accordingly. This is generally when you’ll find the highest prices on Cape Cod for accommodations and rentals.
Shoulder Season: Memorial Day-July Fourth, and Labor Day – Indigenous People’s Weekend is considered to be shoulder season on Cape Cod. Prices for accommodations and rentals won’t be as high as July & August, but they still won’t be at their cheapest, either. Crowds are usually a bit thinner than peak season, too.
Off Season: Late fall-April is off-season for Cape Cod, and when you’ll find the cheapest prices. Since Cape Cod is also a residential area, many businesses like shops, restaurants and hotels are still open (however, some are closed down during this time of the year).
What about May and the second half of October? These are kind of those weird areas that could go either way. I’ve seen pretty cheap prices during these times, and I’ve also seen prices that were higher than expected for the time of year.
It could be because May typically has warmer weather than many of the other New England destinations, and late October is also still kind of warm on the Cape compared to the rest of the Northeast. But that’s just a guess based on my experience.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket?
Before I begin my breakdown of each season, as well as share my recommendations, I wanted to note that each breakdown includes the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard because tourist seasons are identical for them as well. So as you consider each month and recommendation, keep in mind that it also applies to the two Cape Cod islands.
If there are any differentiating factors for the islands, I’ve made special notes to help you plan 🙂
1. July & August
My personal recommendation and top pick for the best time to visit Cape Cod
is surprisingly peak season in July and August!
Generally as a traveler, I don’t really like to go places during their peak season, especially if peak season coincides with the hottest weather (I don’t tolerate heat very well!). But Cape Cod is a rare exception. It’s home to some of the best beach towns in New England, and it would be a shame to miss this perfect summer vacation destination.
July & August bring an undeniable buzz and liveliness to the air and completely encompass everything summer is all about. To get the full Cape Cod experience, this is the best time to visit.
Does this mean that I don’t recommend visiting the Cape during shoulder and off seasons? Absolutely not! But there are a few reasons why a July and August trip to Cape Cod may be best for you.
Why Is July & August The Best Time To Visit Cape Cod?
Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of Cape Cod during peak season.
Pros Of Visiting Cape Cod In July & August:
- Best weather. July & August provide the warmest days with the fewest chances of rain.*
- All businesses including restaurants and shops will be open, so you’ll have the most options when it comes to dining, shopping and ice cream.
- Lifeguards are working at most beaches.
- Tour companies and boat excursions are offering the most options for departures.
- General summer atmosphere, which is exciting and fun.
- Hydrangeas are at their peak in July (and sometimes through early August).
*While the weather is generally at its best in July and August, it’s good to know that New England weather is pretty moody. While visiting to Cape Cod in July, I’ve experienced lots of rain and even one tornado! But generally speaking, it’s the best bet if weather is your top concern.
Cons Of Visiting Cape Cod In July & August:
- Biggest crowds. Since this is the busiest season, you’ll encounter the most crowds everywhere, including beaches, restaurants and shops.
- Lots of traffic getting in and around. Traffic getting to Cape Cod in the summers is actually pretty famous, and is notably congested when approaching the bridges (Sagamore or Bourne) as you cross over into Cape Cod. Traffic getting around can also be pretty busy, but it’s also never really bothered me (I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as traffic around big cities!).
- Prices are at their highest at hotels and rentals.
- Minimum stays will apply at most hotels and rentals.
Despite all the usual cons of visiting anywhere during peak season, I still think Cape Cod is worth visiting during this time because of the weather, hydrangea displays, and businesses being open.
Who Should Visit Cape Cod In July & August?
- Anyone who wants to spend a lot of time at the beach, and also go swimming.
- Those who like lots of options when it comes to restaurants and dining.
- Those who want the best weather.
- If you’re hoping to see the hydrangea displays and gardens at their best.
- Those who enjoy a lively, summer vibe that’s still relaxed and casual.
Best Things To Do In July & August On Cape Cod
In short – everything!
The biggest reason the Cape is such a wonderful summer destination is because everything is open and ready for you to explore. So really, anything is up for grabs, including perfect beach days, your pick of restaurants, seafood shacks, homemade ice cream, boat tours and so much more. But for events that only take place during July and August, here’s my list of things you’ll want to check out:
✔️ See The Hydrangeas
Right at the end of June, the hydrangeas begin to really take off, and once July Fourth hits, they really take their stride. Many people find Cape Cod and hydrangeas synonymous, and I happen to agree. This is one of the best places in the entire world to see beautiful hydrangea gardens and displays, and most houses and shops will have them planted in their gardens and yards.
It’s hard to go anywhere on the Cape and not see hydrangeas, but if this is of particular interest to you, you’ll want to head to Chatham for the best displays. Another great option is the Heritage Gardens & Museum in Sandwich (admission fees apply).
✔️ Try All The Homemade Ice Cream
As mentioned, all restaurants will be open during the summer season, so this is the best time to visit if you don’t want to be limited on when and where you eat. And this, of course, includes homemade ice cream.
Ice cream on Cape Cod is really its own vibe, and there are so many places that make their own. One of the most fun things to do on a hot summer day is to try a few different places and pick your favorite. I also wrote my own guide on the best ice cream on the Cape & Islands, so be sure to click the link below to check that out 🙂
✔️ Attend A Chatham Band Concert
Every Friday night in July and August, the Chatham Band puts on a concert in Kate Gould park, and this is a really fun activity for couples and families. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic and enjoy the music! The best part, though? Its completely free!
✔️ See The July Fourth Parades & Fireworks
Most towns across Cape Cod have some sort of fireworks display and parade to celebrate the Fourth, and this is a really fun place to officially kick off the summer season.
✔️ Enjoy A Ball Game
Throughout July, you can catch a game starring the Cape Cod Baseball League! There are 10 fields across the Cape, so you have plenty of options when deciding which field to check out, and every game is completely free for the entire family.
✔️ Check Out The Barnstable County Fair
Held every year at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in July, the Cape Cod fair is the perfect summer activity to add to your itinerary. There are live music performances, fair food, carnival games, rides and everything you’d expect from a county fair.
Things To Know & Tips For Visiting Cape Cod In July & August
- Hotels and vacation rentals will have minimum night stays. For hotels, it can be a minimum of 2-3 nights, and 90% of vacation rentals will require a 1-week stay (usually Saturday-Saturday).
- All beaches will require either parking stickers or a pass. The Cape Cod National Seashore charges $25 per vehicle, per day (credit cards accepted), and each town beach has its own rules and fees. It’s good to have at least $30 cash on you at all times in case the beach you plan to visit only accepts cash.
- Crowded restaurants not your thing? Do what I do, and get takeout for a beach picnic! I do this a lot when I visit in July and August to avoid crowded restaurants, and it’s honestly wonderful. My husband and I will pack a blanket and a cooler with wine and cups, grab takeout from our favorite places, and enjoy it at the beach during sunset.
A close runner up to peak season as the best time to visit Cape Cod is September, after Labor Day. Or, as the locals call it, Second Summer.
Visiting the Cape during the month of September has a lot of perks, but one thing to keep in mind is that it’s important when in September you visit, depending on the type of vacation you want.
The first 2 weeks in September on the Cape are amazing, but it can still bring crowds, as more people have picked up on this little secret in the past few years. However, since kids are back in school, even if you do encounter crowds, they’re usually pretty chill.
The end of September is also wonderful, but the weather can start to cool down. Having been in late September twice, I’ve had summer-like weather, and fall-like weather, so the end of the month can be a bit of a gamble.
However, the ocean waters are at their warmest in September, and even if the air is cool, going for a swim always feels amazing in September!
Why Is September One Of The Best Times To Visit Cape Cod?
Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of visiting in September!
Pros Of Visiting Cape Cod In September:
- The weather is still warm and beautiful for most of the month.
- The water temperatures are often at their highest the first half of the month, after the hot summer days of July and August kept them warm!
- Many restaurants and shops are still open.
- Fewer crowds, as mentioned. In the past 2-3 years, I’ve started to experience more crowds in September than before, but still not quite like the summer crowds.
- Prices are a bit cheaper for hotels than in July and August.
- Traffic during the weekdays is better, but can still be pretty busy on the weekends.
Cons Of Visiting Cape Cod In September:
- Weather is a bit less reliable, as mentioned. The first half of the month often feels like summer, and while the second half can also feel like summer, I’ve experienced chillier, fall-like weather, too.
- Some seafood shacks and ice cream places begin to close down in September – usually toward the middle or end of the month.
- Days begin to get shorter, so fewer daylight hours.
Who Should Visit Cape Cod In September?
- Those who want a summer experience, but don’t want to deal with the crowds or summer prices.
- Anyone who wants to visit when the ocean water is at its warmest.
- Those who are okay with a bit more gambling when it comes to weather, especially later in the month.
Best Things To Do In September On Cape Cod
While many of the best things to do on Cape Cod in September are similar to all the summer activities (beach days, dining, shopping, boat tours, etc.), there are also some fun events happening in the area during this month. Here are a few special happenings that take place in September:
✔️ Cape Cod Canal Day
In September of every year, Cape Cod Canal Day takes place along the canal in Buzzard’s Bay, and showcases local food and craft vendors, live entertainment and hosts a 5K race and corn hole tournament!
✔️ Harwich Cranberry Arts & Music Festival
Typically held in mid-September in the cute little town of Harwich, the Cranberry Arts & Music Festival features local artisans, live music and a fireworks display.
✔️ Cape Cod Brew Fest
Usually taking place in late September each year at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds, the Brew Fest event is an exciting one! During the festival, brewers from all over the country gather together to offer pints, samples and flights to visitors, and there’s also live music.
June is another wonderful time to visit Cape Cod, and for many of the same reasons as September. The biggest difference between a June and September visit to the Cape is that the water temperatures in June will be much colder. While you can go swimming in June, it’s definitely going to be pretty chilly!
Besides this, the vibe is very similar to September.
Why Is June One Of The Best Times To Visit Cape Cod?
Pros Of Visiting Cape Cod In June:
- Good weather, especially in the second half of the month. You’ll often find warm days that feel like summer.
- Pretty much all shops and restaurants will be open for the season, but some may have limited hours in the beginning of the month.
- Traffic getting in and around the Cape isn’t quite as bad as summer traffic.
- Some accommodations may still be less expensive than summer season, especially in the first half of the month.
- Hydrangeas may begin to bloom toward the second half of the month.
- Early in the month, you likely won’t need stickers or parking passes at the beaches.
Cons Of Visiting Cape Cod In June:
- The weather in the beginning half of the month could be iffy, and feel more like spring.
- Ocean water will still be very chilly, and many may find it too cold for swimming.
- Prices for accommodations in the second half of the month may be just as high as July and August pricing.
- Crowds start to settle in, but not quite as bad as July and August.
Best Things To Do In June On Cape Cod
Since June is the first month of the year that really begins to feel like summer, you’ll want to add all the standard summer activities to your itinerary like visiting beaches, boat tours and whale watching (you just may not want to jump into the water quite yet!). In addition, here are a few June-specific events you’ll want to check out:
✔️ Pride Month In Provincetown
Pride in Provincetown is really something special, and this is one of the best places in the entire world to celebrate Pride month! Pride is celebrated year-round in Ptown, but the actual Pride weekend takes place the first weekend in June.
During the weekend, there’s a parade, rally, panel discussions, and all kinds of events and parties throughout the town’s lively nightlife scene.
Pro Tip: Accommodations will fill up especially fast during Pride Weekend in June in Provincetown, so if you want to stay right in Ptown, you’ll want to book well in advance.
✔️ Father’s Day Car Show
Hyannis hosts a special car show on Father’s Weekend every June, and during the event, you’ll find craft and food vendors, and special live performances at the Bandstand. And, of course, the streets will be lined will all kinds of fun and unique cars for all to enjoy.
✔️ Provincetown Portuguese Festival
Toward the end of June each year, Provincetown does an amazing job celebrating it’s deeply-rooted Portuguese heritage with a special festival! All weekend long during the event, you’ll find parades, dancing, live music and special food vendors.
Be sure to also enjoy the Blessing of the Fleet, where boats will line up to receive a special blessing for a safe and abundant season at sea.
May is another beautiful time to visit Cape Cod because it finally starts to feel like winter is officially over (yes, in New England, winter can last through April!). Rainy days and cold weather become less frequent, and the warm(ish), sunshiny days are more common. It’s a very exciting time in any coastal New England destination.
May weather is a bit of a gamble, and generally experiences some rain and temperatures averaging in the high 50’s-low 60’s (F). But the slightly cooler temperatures make activities like hiking and such very lovely! And it’s not uncommon to experience a day in the 70s in May, which is exciting.
Why Is May One Of The Best Times To Visit Cape Cod?
Pros Of Visiting Cape Cod In May:
- Cheaper hotel rates.
- Seasonal restaurants begin to open back up for limited hours.
- Pleasantly mild weather makes for beautiful hiking days.
- Whale watch tours begin to operate.
- Far fewer crowds the whole month (until Memorial Day weekend, of course).
- Rhododendrons begin to bloom at the end of the month and put on beautiful displays.
- Most beaches (including the National Seashore), won’t have parking fees or sticker requirements.
Cons Of Visiting Cape Cod In May:
- Cooler temperatures overall, with some rain.
- Popular ice cream places and seafood shacks are likely still closed until the end of the month.
- Some tour companies may still be closed, like sailing or boat tours.
Best Things To Do In May On Cape Cod
During the month of May, beach walks, hiking, admiring spring gardens are all front and center. But here are a few events that take place in May that are worth checking out:
✔️ Rhododendron Festival
Visit the Sandwich Heritage Gardens in late May for their Rhododendron Festival! The gardens will be bursting with color with over 100 varieties of these beautiful plants to see. You’ll even be able to purchase your own to take home during their plant sale.
✔️ Brewster In Bloom Festival
The first weekend in May typically brings the Brewster in Bloom Festival, which has been a Cape Cod tradition for over 35 years. During the event, there’s a spring concert, craft fairs, artisan showcases, a town parade, kid’s carnival, and the entire town is decorated in cheerful spring decorations.
✔️ Memorial Day Parades & Fireworks
Of course, we can’t forget about Memorial Day weekend festivities! Pretty much every town on the Cape will be hosting some kind of event to commemorate the holiday, including parades, fireworks and live performances. This is a great place to be to kick off warmer days ahead in New England!
Who Should Visit Cape Cod In May?
- Those who want pleasant weather, but don’t need hot summer days. You should also be okay with a little rain.
- Those who don’t need or want to go swimming (unless you’re very brave!)
- Those who are okay with some restaurant closures since some places won’t open for the season until Memorial Day.
- Anyone looking for cheaper rates at hotels.
- Those looking for flexibility to visit any beach without worrying about parking fees or requirements.
May On Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard
All this information also applies to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, but one thing I wanted to mention is that May could likely still have fewer ferry options. It’s a lovely time to visit the islands for cheaper hotel rates and pleasant weather, but one thing to keep in mind is that some ferries may not be operating on their full schedule just yet.
Why Is October One Of The Best Times To Visit Cape Cod?
October is a beautiful time to visit Cape Cod, and the only reason it’s a bit further down on my list is because it’s not a great destination for that stunning fall foliage color New England is famous for. If you’re visiting Cape Cod in October, the top attractions will still be the fresh seafood, breathtaking beaches and sand dunes, and the gorgeous coastline.
I happen to love the Cape in October, but for those looking to experience fall foliage in New England, I wanted to mention that since October is usually synonymous will foliage in the Northeast. There are a ew places to see fall foliage on the Cape, but they’re not as impressive as places like Vermont or New Hampshire.
Seasonal restaurants, seafood shacks and such will begin to close down or offer more limited hours, and October brings a very peaceful atmosphere. But fall is very much still in the air with cranberry harvest season, fall flavors at restaurants and farm stands, and pumpkin displays throughout the towns.
Pros Of Visiting Cape Cod In October:
- Beautiful fall weather that’s a bit on the chilly side, but can still be pretty warm in the afternoons (usually averaging around 60-56°F).
- Last month to go whale watching.
- Much less crowded than September.
- Hotel prices begin to come down even more.
- Last call for many sailing and other boat tours.
- Fun fall festivals.
- Most beaches (including the National Seashore), won’t have parking fees or sticker requirements.
Cons Of Visiting Cape Cod In October:
- Many seafood shacks and ice cream places have already closed down for the season.
- Cape Cod is not a big fall foliage destination, so fall color isn’t as spectacular as other New England regions.
Best Things To Do In October On Cape Cod
✔️ Cranberry Bog Tours & Harvests
October is cranberry harvest season on Cape Cod, and if time allows during your visit, this is a really cool thing to experience. There are only a few cranberry bogs that still offer tours during harvest season, with the most popular being Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tours, but it’s worth scoping out if you can.
✔️ Wellfleet SPAT Art & Oyster Crawl
For a very fun event that celebrates local artists and fresh oysters, you’ll want to time your visit to coincide with the Wellfleet SPAT Art & Oyster Crawl in October. During the event, local galleries in town will open their doors to host oyster and clam tastings, often paired with wine, which you can enjoy while you admire the work of resident artists.
The SandwichFest street fair in October is a really fun event to add to your itinerary! There are usually over 100 food and craft vendors, dog parades, live music and lots more for the entire family.
✔️ Pumpkin & Fall Festivals
While the Cape may not get the blazing foliage displays, it definitely makes up for it with all its fall and pumpkin festivals across each of its 16 towns. Every town has some kind of fall festival to celebrate the season, and if you head to Kate Gould Park in Chatham, you can enjoy a fun display of Pumpkin People that’s sure to put you in the fall spirit.
Who Should Visit Cape Cod In October?
- Those who don’t mind a New England fall getaway that’s lacking a bit in foliage (but makes up for it with stunning coastline views!).
- Anyone who enjoy chilly fall weather with a mix of warm afternoons.
- Those who don’t mind not going swimming, as the water may be too cold after the first week of the month.
- Anyone looking to save a bit of money of hotel prices.
- Those who don’t mind running into a few restaurant closures (especially in the second half of the month).
October On Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard
Similar to May, ferry service in October to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard will change a bit, and fewer options will become available. It’s best to plan accordingly.
And just like mainland Cape Cod, the islands will also start to experience seasonal restaurant and business closures. But since they are both residential communities, some places will be open, making this another great month to visit the islands.
6. Honorable Mention – Winter
It may seem crazy to suggest you visit a beach destination in the winter, but let me tell you, it’s actually really lovely!
Cape Cod has unique weather patterns that often make the climate much more mild than the rest of New England, and while it’s still prone to very cold and snowy days, it’s more than likely to be fairly pleasant by winter standards.
Average temperatures from January-February are about 38-40°F, and in March, it begins to creep to 40-50°F. This is actually a great time to take on some of the longer hikes, enjoy beaches all to yourself, and warm up with a comforting cup of clam chowder.
In fact, you’re not likely to experience snow during your visit (and if you do, it’s more like a dusting than a blizzard).
And since winter is the true off-season on the Cape, this is when you’ll find the cheapest hotel rates, but still get to enjoy all the iconic coastline views.
Why Is Winter One Of The Best Times To Visit Cape Cod?
Pros Of Visiting Cape Cod In The Winter:
- Awesome holiday celebrations, including the Nantucket Christmas Stroll, Christmas By The Sea in Chatham and Gardens Aglow in Sandwich.
- After the holidays, you’ll experience the fewest crowds the Cape will ever have.
- Many restaurants are still open since the Cape is a year-round community.
- You’ll have beaches and popular hiking trails all to yourself.
- The weather, while still cold, is often more mild than the rest of New England.
- Hotels will offer their cheapest rates of the year.
- Makes for a romantic Valentine’s Day destination.
- No parking fees or sticker requirements at the beaches (including the National Seashore!).
Cons Of Visiting Cape Cod In The Winter:
- Seasonal restaurants and seafood shacks will be closed for the season. Some shops may also be closed or on limited hours (sometimes only open on weekends).
- The worst time for weather, and you may experience snow and blustery conditions (although, it’s more often mild than blustery).
- Not as many hotel options, as some are closed for the season.
Best Things To Do In Winter On Cape Cod
The winter kicks off with amazing holiday celebrations throughout Cape Cod, so think tree lightings, parades, special shopping events, beautiful holiday decorations, and twinkle lights everywhere. Many of the towns host their own holiday events, so there seems to always be something fun to do during December.
I have an entire post dedicated to Christmas on Cape Cod, so be sure to check that out if you’re looking to plan a coastal holiday getaway!
Once New Year’s has come and gone, Cape Cod enters its truest off-season, so really, the best things to do are to simply embrace the chilly weather and possible snow, enjoy the beaches without any people around you, tackle some scenic nature trails and walks, and savor all the warm cups of hot clam chowder!
I also have an entire post dedication to winter on Cape Cod, so you be sure to check that out if you’re planning a winter visit!
Who Should Visit Cape Cod In The Winter?
- Those looking for true off-season rates.
- Anyone looking for charming holiday festivals and Christmas events.
- Those looking for the least crowds.
- Anyone who doesn’t mind the chilly weather and restaurant closures.
- If you enjoy beaches and hiking trails all to yourself!
Winter On Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard
The biggest thing to keep in mind when thinking about a winter visit to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard is that the ferry options will be at their most limited. So you’ll want to check out the schedules, and plan accordingly.
Ferries can sometimes be cancelled due to inclement weather, so if you absolutely need to get to or leave the island on certain days, this is also something to consider (it doesn’t happen often, but it can definitely happen in the winter).
Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard are year-round communities just like mainland Cape Cod, but you’ll also experience lots of restaurant and shop closures. Places will still be open, but this is something to think about. I’ve also found that ride share services are harder to access in the winter season on the islands, so you may want to plan to have a car to get around, or stay in a location that’s walkable to things.
And just like Cape Cod, snow is unlikely on the islands in the winter months. It can happen, but it’s not common to get lots of snow like the rest of New England.
Best Time To Go To Cape Cod For Whale Watching
The best time of year to visit Cape Cod for whale watching is end of April through October. However, some experts agree that June through September is the best time to spot whales, and their migratory patterns are most active during these times.
Once November rolls around, the whales have begun to migrate south for the winter season.
Is Cape Cod Expensive?
I hate to say it, but yes.
Much like New England in general, Cape Cod is no exception, and tends to be more expensive than other parts of the country. May-October, you’ll find Cape Cod prices for accommodations higher than average.
Cheapest Time To Visit Cape Cod
November-April is the cheapest time to visit Cape Cod, and you’ll find the best rates during the colder winter months like January, February and March.
In the off-season, you’ll find some awesome deals! And as mentioned earlier in the post, because winter doesn’t tend to be as frigid as the rest of New England, it’s actually a wonderful time to visit. You can often find moderate hotels priced around $150/night, and sometimes even less on weekdays.
Off-season is also a great time to splurge and book a fancier, luxury hotel, as they’ll be offering their lowest rates of the entire year. One of my favorite luxury hotels that makes for a perfect getaway year-round (yes, even in the winter), is the Chatham Bars Inn. In the winter, they offer the lowest prices of the season, but have beautiful rooms right across from the ocean, a spa and cozy, on-site restaurants.
Most Expensive Time To Visit Cape Cod
The most expensive time to visit Cape Cod is July and August, with June and September being slightly cheaper. May and October will offer the best deals in shoulder season.
May and June, you’ll want to expect to pay around $150-$200 per night for basic motels, around $200-$250 per night for nicer hotels, and then fancy hotels will likely start at around $300 and go up. This is all based on weekend pricing.
July and August, you’re likely to spend around $200-$250 per night for basic motels, minimum $300 per night for a slightly nicer hotel, and fancier hotels will start at around $350-$400 per night, and go up from there. This is also based on weekend pricing.
Vacation rentals in July and August will start at about $1500 for the week, but typically average about $2,000 per week. Sometimes you can find tiny homes or condos for less.
Of course, you could find some great deals and not pay this much, but generally speaking, this is about average. If you’re on a very tight budget, motels and campgrounds are your best bet. Another way to save money is to look at places further from the beaches. Those tend to be less expensive.
How To Get To Cape Cod
The closest international airport to Cape Cod is Boston Logan Airport, and from there, it’s about a 1.5-2 hour drive, depending on where on the Cape you’re staying.
There are also two regional airports on the Cape: Provincetown and Hyannis, and Cape Air offers connecting flights from Boston to these airports. JetBlue also recently started to offer service to Hyannis from JFK Airport in New York City.
I personally recommend flying into Boston, especially if you plan to stay for a week or longer. From Boston, you’ll have an easier time renting a car, and you can even spend a night or two in the city to enjoy everything it has to offer before driving to the Cape.
How To Get Around Cape Cod
Driving is the best way to get around Cape Cod. While there is a bus system that goes around the region, it’s not convenient for tourist stops like beaches, attractions, etc. For this reason, you really need to have a car.
The only exception is staying in Provincetown, as you can easily get around there without a car. There is a direct ferry that takes you from Boston or Plymouth to the heart of Provincetown, and from there, you can walk to your accommodations (or take a pedicab or ride share service).
In the summer season, there is also a shuttle service that takes visitors from Provincetown to two of the beaches on the National Seashore: Race Point and Herring Cove.
Best Time To Visit Cape Cod FAQs
What Is The Best Time To Drive To Cape Cod?
If you’re driving to Cape Cod in peak season, and are wondering the best time to avoid the most traffic, you’ll want to leave very early in the morning. I usually try to get to the bridges (either the Sagamore or the Bourne bridge, depending on where you’re coming from), by 9a.
Even if you arrive on the Cape before your vacation rental or hotel is ready, this will allow you time visit some sites, grab lunch and maybe even hit up a beach before check-in.
What Is The Best Day To Visit Beaches During Peak Season?
Surprisingly, I’ve found that beaches are the least crowded on weekends during peak season. Especially on Saturdays. It likely has to do with the fact that Saturdays and Sundays are big change-over days, as vacation rentals are typically Sat-Sat, and many weekenders pack up and leave on Sunday.
Monday-Friday, for me, have always been the busiest beach days in July and August. The exception to this would be holiday weekends like July Fourth and Labor Day.
Alternatively, beaches have been the most crowded for me on weekends in June and September, which is likely because most people aren’t renting for a week at a time during these two months (and therefore, not commuting during the Saturday change over day).
When Does Cape Cod Have The Warmest Water For Swimming?
Early-mid September has the warmest water for swimming, as the hot summer days have been keeping it warm throughout July and August. It can sometimes begin to cool down toward the end of September, but there have been years where it’s still been warm in early October. It really just depends on the year.
Does It Really Matter What Time Of Year You Visit Cape Cod?
Generally, yes, especially if you want to experience Cape Cod when everything is open and the weather is the best. Then, as I’m sure you’ve gathered after reading this article, June-September is the best time to visit.
However, if you’re not much of a swimmer, aren’t bothered by various weather conditions, and it doesn’t matter to you if you run into restaurant closures, there is no bad time to visit Cape Cod. Much of the appeal of the region is the stunning landscapes and coastline, which can be enjoyed year-round.
Here are some more helpful Cape Cod posts:
- What To Pack For Cape Cod (Plus, Things You May Not Know About Renting A Vacation Home!)
- Best Things To Do On Cape Cod For First Time Visitors
- Best Things To Do On Cape Cod For Adults
- Unique Things To Do On Cape Cod
- Best Sunsets On Cape Cod
- Best Things To Do On Martha’s Vineyard
- Best Lobster Rolls On Cape Cod
- Best Waterfront Restaurants On Cape Cod
- Summer In New England: Best Places To Go & Things To Do!
- Cape Cod vs. Nantucket: Which Is Best For You?
- Best Places To See Seals On Cape Cod
And here are some guides I’ve created on Cape Cod towns you may enjoy:
- Best Things To Do In Wellfleet, MA
- Best Things To Do In Harwich, MA
- Best Things To Do In Dennis, MA
- Best Things To Do In Falmouth, MA
- Best Things To Do In Brewster, MA
- Best Things To Do In Provincetown, MA
- Best Things To Do In Chatham, MA
- Best Things To Do In Sandwich, MA
That’s A Wrap On The Best Time To Visit Cape Cod
Hopefully now you’re feeling more confident on the best time to visit Cape Cod for your own vacation. Whether you’re ready to bask in all the summer glory in July and August, if shoulder season is more your speed, or you’re excited to experience the Cape in the winter season for the best hotel rates, one things’s for sure – a trip to Cape Cod is always a good idea.