If you’re looking to get off-the-beaten path while visiting the Cape, you’re in luck! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite unique things to do on Cape Cod during your visit. Whether you’re a seasoned visitor, and you’re looking to mix things up a bit, or you’re new to the Cape, but want to try and explore some things that most tourists don’t do when visiting, you’ll definitely find some things on this list that will be exactly what you’re looking for.
Unique Things To Do On Cape Cod
It’s hard for hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path things to exist in today’s world of geotagging and social media, so it’s worth noting that some of these things aren’t exactly hidden, but they’re far less popular than the main tourist sites. Some of them are also just simply really cool things to do that you may not have considered when planning your itinerary. And with that, here’s my list of the best unique things to do on Cape Cod!
1. Take A Seal Cruise
Most people consider themselves lucky if they spot some seals along the coast on a beach day, or down by Chatham’s Fish Pier. But the truth is, you can take a tour where you’re pretty much guaranteed to see lots of seals.
Monomoy Island Excursions is an awesome tour company that takes folks out on small boats to known areas where seals congregate, providing opportunities to see them both sunbathing out in the open, and in the water. You’ll also learn all about the life of a Cape Cod seal, including what they eat, why they live in this area, and what to do if you spot one out in the wild. This is always and forever been one of my favorite activities I’ve done on Cape Cod.
Tips for your seal tour:
- Wear waterproof shoes, as you may have to wade through the water to board the boat.
- Bring plenty of sunscreen.
- Pack some dramamine if you tend to get seasick.
- Definitely bring binoculars or a good zoom lens for your camera. You’ll get pretty close to the seals, but getting to see them even closer is such a treat.
2. Art’s Dune Tours in Provincetown
One of the most unique things to do on Cape Cod, and definitely the most unique that I’ve personally done, is go on a dune tour with Art’s Dune Tours.
For the past 75 years, this family business has been taking people out into the sand dunes of the Province Lands and explaining the important role they play in Cape Cod’s ecosystem, as well as sharing stories of their significant and exciting history.
With different tour options ranging from standard dune tours, to sunset tours and Race Point lighthouse excursions, it’s impossible to not find an experience with them that will be the most memorable of your entire trip.
3. Thumpertown Beach
A lesser-known beach along the bay side, and one of the more unique things to do on Cape Cod is to visit Thumpertown Beach in Eastham. While it provides gorgeous, sweeping views of the bay, it also experiences dramatic tide shifts, and visiting during low tide will allow you to walk out onto the ocean floor and sand bars for quite a while. This is also a wonderful place for sunset.
And if you’re looking to see some picture-perfect Cape Cod postcard moments, the view right at the top of the stairs that leads down to the beach is definitely shutter-button worthy.
To park at Thumpertown Beach, a beach sticker is mandatory from June 15-Labor Day. After 5p, you should be okay to park without a sticker, as lots are not normally monitored after that time. After Labor Day, and through June 14th, you’ll be able to park without a sticker.
4. Cape Cod Salt Water Taffy
It was a happy accident that I stumbled upon this awesome taffy stand in Yarmouth, and it’s the only place I buy my taffy now because I think it’s the best. And it’s definitely one of the more unique things to do on Cape Cod.
The Cape Cod Salt Water Taffy stand is very unassuming, and off Route 28 in a fairly commercialized area. But once you arrive, you’ll be greeted with a very simple set-up of bins full of freshly-made taffy in fun and classic flavors.
While everyone usually picks up their taffy at the popular candy stores throughout the Cape, I always come here. They allow you to buy as little or as much as you want, and have printed boxes you can fill up to take home as gifts. This taffy is a bit chewier, which is how I like it, so if you’re a fan of really soft taffy, this may not be your favorite. But the flavors are awesome, the prices fair, and I happen to love the very simple stand set-up right off the main road.
5. Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen
Located in Sandwich, this is a great place to stop on your way into the Cape, and is definitely one of the more unique things to do on Cape Cod. One of the reasons I love this little place so much is because it’s a garden, a country store and a nature center all in one.
Most known for its jam kitchen, the mercantile sells lovely little gifts, and of course, its homemade jams. They even offer private jam-making classes year-round, with a focus on the season’s flavors. But if you’re just looking to stop by and pick up some already-made jams, their most popular flavor is Beach Plum.
If you’re visiting with children (or without children, no judgement!), you should definitely consider stopping by the Green Meadow Forest, an indoor exhibit that brings to life many of the characters from beloved children’s author Thornton W. Burgess. The exhibit also includes information on how the animals from the books became native to the region. For more information on this experience, click here.
And if you’re planning your Cape Cod vacation closer to the Outer Cape, and still want to buy some of these famous jams, they often have a pop-up shack along Route 6 in Wellfleet, which can be found at 3073 US-6. They update their hours with Google, so be sure to check and see if the stand will be open during your visit.
6. Bound Brook Island Beach
One of my favorite, and more recent, beach discoveries is Bound Brook Island Beach, which is quite an adventure to get to, and I’ll be honest, may not be everyone’s cup of tea for that reason. But I promise you, once you arrive, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Located in Wellfleet, and almost on the border of Truro, you’ll find this secluded beach where you can just about see all the way to Provincetown. And since not even many locals know about it, there’s a very good chance you won’t experience any crowds, even on a summer weekend.
Getting there requires a bit more effort, though, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the correct way to go about visiting is. When I went, I followed my Google Maps navigation all the way to the end, and parked in what seemed to be a small, soft-sand parking area at the base of the trail head to the beach (there was only room for maybe 3-4 cars here). Some people suggest you park at the Atwood-Higgins House down the road, which will require a 20-30 minute walk to the trail head.
If you choose to drive to the trail head, prepare for a bumpy ride. The dirt road is in bad shape with lots of potholes, and it’s also very narrow, meaning you’ll have to pull over for oncoming traffic.
But once you arrive at the beach, you’ll be greeted with stunning paths through the sand dunes, and glorious views of Cape Cod Bay. This would also be an incredible sunset location.
7. Pamut Cranberry Bog Trail
While not a total hidden gem because the trail is rather popular, it’s definitely a unique thing to do on Cape Cod simply because most tourists aren’t looking for this trail system.
The Pamet Cranberry Bog Trail can be found in Truro, and is a very easy walk through both woods and sand dunes, and the view at the end of the trail is incredible. You also have the option to skip the wooded part, and go straight for the scenic view atop a tall sand dune if you’re short on time.
If you choose to view the wooded part, you’ll take a short loop to an old cranberry bog house, and finish at the dunes with sweeping views of the Atlantic.
8. Race Point Lighthouse
While Race Point Lighthouse is well-known, not many people venture out to see it, making it a unique thing to do on Cape Cod during your visit.
Most people don’t realize that Race Point Lighthouse is actually about 2 miles one-way down the shoreline of Race Point Beach, and walking on all that soft sand is pretty difficult. You are able to park at Race Point Beach, and walk straight to the lighthouse from the beach, but another (and I think better) option is to take the Hatches Harbor Trail, and walk through both salt marshes and secluded beaches to get there (bonus points because the parking is also free for this option!).
To read all about this hike out to Race Point Lighthouse, click the link below on the best hikes and walks you can take on Cape Cod!
9. Sandwich Heritage Museum & Gardens
Most people know about the famous Sandwich Glass Museum, which is also really fun and exciting to visit, but not as many people seem to know about the Sandwich Heritage Museum & Gardens, making this a unique things to do on Cape Cod.
While the museum is wonderful, and has great exhibits about the history of Cape Cod, classic cars and artwork using mediums like beach trash and old fishing gear (it sounds strange, but it’s actually really cool!), my personal favorite part of the museum is the gardens.
During the month of July, and into early August (depending on the growing season that year), you’ll find an incredible display of hydrangeas, a plant Cape Cod is well-known for. If you’re at all interested in breeding hydrangeas, they also have a hydrangea test garden, which is really exciting to check out.
Other garden displays include bee hotels, rhododendrons gardens, day lily gardens, herb gardens, nature trails, and a designated area for children’s learning and exploration. You’ll even find Old East Mill inside the gardens, a wind mill that’s over 200 years old. Plus, lots and lots more that make your price of admission more than worth it.
10. Colonial Acres Beach
Located in Yarmouth, a really lovely little beach that isn’t as regularly frequented by visitors is Colonial Acres Beach. Sitting along Lewis Bay on the calm waters of Nantucket Sound, this beach has a beautiful footbridge you cross in order to enter the beach, and then you’re rewarded with one of the quieter beach experiences you can have on Cape Cod.
While this beach can be popular, it tends to have a nice quiet and relaxed vibe, and still isn’t as crowded as some of the more popular beaches on the Cape.
11. Uncle Tom’s Bridge
One of the more unique things to do on Cape Cod is to go see Uncle Tom’s Bridge, which I promise, is more than just a bridge!
The footbridge is only the beginning of this really cool experience, and once you cross it, you’ll be on Hamblen Island, which has its own nature trails, and is a great place to spot some wildlife. This is a short walk from Mac’s On The Pier, a great outdoor seafood shack in town, as well as the shops in Wellfleet, making it an easy stop to make when exploring the Outer Cape.
Parking at the bridge is free year-round, which makes visiting even better.
12. Windmill Beach
Most people know of the Grist Mills in Chatham and Sandwich, but not as many people know of the windmill at Windmill Beach in Yarmouth. I love this little spot, and rarely find it crowded with people.
At this beach, you’ll find a beautiful windmill with the waters of Nantucket Sound as its backdrop. Now, one thing to keep in mind is that while the scenery here is really beautiful, I would say this is not the best beach to camp out at for the day. The shoreline is rather minimal, and it’s not the best beach for swimming, either. But for some beautiful scenery and a quiet moment to reflect, this is a great place to swing by, and one of the more unique things to do on Cape Cod, for sure.
13. Wellfleet Wildlife Sanctuary
While the Wellfleet Wildlife Sanctuary isn’t a secret, not as many people seem to know about it as I think should, making this an incredible and unique things to do on Cape Cod. The first time I came here, I was blown away at the stunning scenery that surrounds the grounds of the sanctuary, and each time I’ve come since then, I continue to be so happy that it exists.
There are about 5 miles of nature trails to explore here, but one of my favorites that I have to do each time is the Boardwalk trail, which leads you through the salt marshes, and out to the bay.
This is also a great place to take kids because inside the Visitor’s Center are kid-friendly aquariums and learning opportunities. And if you’re planning a longer stay on the Cape, they also have an incredible nature program in their Summer Camp.
14. Get An Ice Cream Sandwich At Ice Cream Cafe
Everyone knows about the popular Sundae School and Cape Cod Creamery ice cream spots (and I’m even a huge fan of them), but not everyone knows about the Ice Cream Cafe in Orleans, and specifically, the build-your-own ice cream sandwich option on their menu.
Whenever I’m in Orleans, I love to stop by and either my husband or myself will get the ice cream sandwich option if we’re hungry enough – it’s huge so you’ve been warned!
Using either regular chocolate chip cookies, or double chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked from The Cottage Street Bakery next door, you can fill your sandwich up with any homemade ice cream flavor you want, making your own, signature creation. They’ll even serve it up with a spoon because it’s that big, making this a really fun and unique thing to do on Cape Cod.
I recently went for their double chocolate chip cookie filled with strawberry ice cream, and it was awesome.
As a bonus, you can stop by The Cottage Street Bakery next door before or after for some extra sweet treats to bring back with you, or for a light lunch before you pack your stomach with delicious ice cream.
15. Eden Hand Arts
It’s a sad truth that most people will buy their famous Cape Cod bracelets elsewhere, but if you’re looking to buy the original and most authentic bracelet as a memento from your trip, then you have to visit Eden Hand Arts for one of the most unique things to do on Cape Cod.
Not sure what the Cape Cod bracelet is? Why it’s famous and how it gained popularity? Want to visit Eden Hand Arts? Click the link below for my detailed post on everything you need to know about the Cape Cod bracelet, and Eden Hand Arts.
16. Flashback Retro Arcade & Bar
If you’re looking for a truly unique thing to do on Cape Cod, and you love vintage arcade games, then you’ll want to consider visiting Flashback Retro Arcade & Bar in Hyannis.
If you’re looking to take a break from all things beach and nature, or you happen upon a rainy day on your trip, this is a really fun little place to spend a few hours. With a slightly upscale feel, and decked out in an 80s and 90s style, you’ll find retro arcade games here like Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac Man.
They also have really good food and full bar, so you’ll be able to grab some snacks and drinks while you play all the cool games.
17. Get A Goombay Smash At Beachcomber
The Beachcomber in Wellfleet is probably one of the more well-known restaurants on Cape Cod because of its incredible location right on Cahoon Hollow Beach, but did you know that you can also get a hard-to-find cocktail on their menu?
One of the more unique things do to on Cape Cod is head to The Beachcomber at Cahoon Hollow Beach and order a Goombay Smash. This is a cocktail that originated in The Bahamas, and is harder to find on menus in the U.S. Of course, you could always make one at home yourself, but that’s just not as fun, right?
Made with rum, pineapple and orange juices, this cocktail is super refreshing, and I couldn’t stop ordering it when my husband and I went to The Bahamas years ago. When I finally found it on the menu at The Beachcomber, I was thrilled, and they make it just right. It pairs perfectly with seafood dishes, making it an absolute win all around.
18. Get Freshly-Made Homemade Pasta at Montano’s
Cape Cod is well-known for its incredible and fresh seafood, but at Montano’s in North Truro, you can get some really authentic and freshly made pasta.
While Montano’s also serves up some great seafood, it’s gained recognition for making their pasta from scratch daily, and cooking it up to al dente perfection. They even make awesome pizzas, and bake their own, fresh bread. So matter what you order here, it’s sure to be a huge hit.
19. Scargo Tower
The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown is known for being an exciting tower to climb to take in awesome bird’s-eye views, but Scargo Tower in Dennis is a lesser-known option that also provides some really beautiful views. They won’t be quite as dramatic as the ones you can get at the Pilgrim Monument, but they’re definitely worth the effort.
The cobblestone tower was built on top of a hill in 1901 as a tourist observatory to enjoy views of Scargo Lake, and it would be a shame to be in the area and miss it. The views from the top are especially gorgeous at peak fall foliage season, making this one of the more unique things to do on Cape Cod.
20. Marion’s Pie Shop
There are quite a few bakeries all over Cape Cod, but one that you may drive by and miss if you’re not looking for it is Marion’s Pie Shop in Chatham.
Baking up both sweet and savory pies, I love to visit this little place during longer stays on the Cape. I’ll usually swing by and get an entire sweet pie to indulge in during my week-long stay, and it totally hits the spot each trip.
In addition to pies, you can also get cinnamon rolls, cookies and other baked good staples, summer side salads like pasta salad, lobster rolls, freshly baked breads and of course, lots and lots of pies. This is an all-around great place to stop that many tourists miss.
21. Hyannis Artist Shacks
If you’re looking for a unique thing to do on Cape Cod, and do a little shopping, a great option for you to check out are the Artists Shacks in Hyannis. Located right by the ferry terminal, this grouping of adorable little cottages is home to unique pieces from local artists, and you’ll find all kinds of things from pottery and photography, to jewelry and bags.
If you’re looking to do a lot more shopping on Cape Cod, and are wondering the best shops and boutiques to stop by, I have you covered! Be sure to to click the link before for my detailed guide all about shopping on Cape Cod, which includes my favorite stores.
You may also find these posts helpful:
- 15 Things First Timers Must See & Do On Cape Cod
- Best Time Of Year To Visit Cape Cod
- Best Towns On Cape Cod To Stay In For Every Type Of Visitor
- Best Things To Do On Cape Cod For Adults
- Best Ice Cream On Cape Cod
- Best Lobster Rolls On Cape Cod
- Best Waterfront Restaurants On Cape Cod
- Best Sunsets On Cape Cod
- Best Things To Do On Martha’s Vineyard
- Best Things To Do In Harwich, MA
- Cape Cod vs. Nantucket: Which Is Best For You?
- Best Places To See Seals On Cape Cod
That’s A Wrap On Unique Things To Do On Cape Cod
And there you have it! All of my favorite lesser-known and unique things to do on Cape Cod. If you’re looking to get a little off-the-beaten path during your trip, these are some great options. Keep in mind that while many tourists have a tendency to skip the things on this list, many are still well-known by locals (with a few exceptions!), so you may not find complete solitude. But for the most part, you’ll be sure to have a more unique experience.