Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Best Places to Retire in Massachusetts

Profile of Cape Cod

Cape Cod (population about 230,000) is a peninsula at the southeastern border of Massachusetts that reaches gracefully out into the Atlantic Ocean about 40 miles, like a giant’s arm bent at the elbow. This very popular and historic area has over 550 miles of shoreline and more than 360 lakes and ponds. Nearly 44,000 acres of its Atlantic coastline from Provincetown, south to Chatham comprise the federally protected Cape Cod National Seashore.

The Cape, as it is known locally, is both a summer tourist and second-home vacation spot. It is also a great place for retirees. It includes 15 towns, a number of which consist of as many as six or seven small villages. Many are both resort and residential communities.

They range from quaint, small settlements tucked along the coast, and quiet, charming residential communities, to bustling towns with many activities and amenities. In the summer season, the population on the Cape swells more than threefold with most of the tourism activity along the southern coast.

As the lyrics say in the popular song, “…You’re sure to fall in love with Old Cape Cod!” Its American origins date to 1620 when the Pilgrims first came ashore and saw the Nauset Indians at Encounter Beach on the Outer Cape in what is today the village of Eastham. They then proceeded on to Plymouth where they were greeted by friendly Mashpee Wampanoag Indians. The early settlers on the Cape learned from the Indians and lived largely off the sea.

Later they developed whaling and cod fishing industries that thrived. In the colonial period there were stands of great oaks and pine that eventually were used in shipbuilding or for fuel, and gradually the terrain changed to re-growth of smaller trees and even gave way to more open lands and salt marsh.

The topography of the Cape is varied with numerous picturesque natural harbors and inlets along the southern coast, stands of hardwood and gentle rolling terrain, pine forests, large areas of open and protected lands with scrub growth and sand dunes. There are hundreds of fresh-water ponds and lakes dotted here and there, and the cranberry industry thrives even today. You will find miles of salt marsh lands, tidal estuaries, and the Cape Cod National Seashore with beautiful high dunes and undisturbed natural seacoast.

The coastline of the Cape includes the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal, parts of Buzzard’s Bay, Vineyard Sound, Nantucket Sound, the open Atlantic, and Cape Cod Bay. Tourism is by far the major industry. The Cape has a seemingly endless supply of opportunities to enjoy life to its fullest. There are arts and cultural activities, outstanding golf courses and tennis facilities, every kind of beach and sea activity, and there are miles sandy beaches.

You will also find whale-watching cruises, many historic sites and landmarks, and miles of wooded bicycle and hiking paths, and riding trails. Casual and fine dining can be found almost everywhere. There is nightlife, entertainment, music, many civic activities and special events – so many that it would be challenging to name them all.

There is great shopping, quaint and interesting places to see, and many galleries and craft shops to browse. You will also find beautiful vistas with seascapes, sea birds, lighthouses, and even seals or a spouting whale. And there are magnificent sunrises on the ocean side, and sunsets on Cape Cod Bay. An art colony developed on Cape Cod as early as the1890s and the natural beauty that inspired those artists is just as attractive today. It is easy to understand why generations of families have been drawn to Cape Cod. Map of Cape Cod

The following (in alpha order) is information about the 15 distinct communities of Cape Cod. Additional information about the Cape in general follows the reports.

Barnstable (population 48,000), which is in the Mid-Cape area, consists of 60 square miles that front on both Cape Cod Bay to the north, as well as Nantucket Sound on the south shore. It is the largest town on the Cape, and the county seat.

It is made up of seven communities: Hyannis, Centerville, Osterville, and Cotuit all of which border on Nantucket Sound. Marston’s Mills is inland, and West Barnstable and Barnstable Village border on Barnstable Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. Hyannis is the commercial center, with many shops, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues. It includes the Main Street and Waterfront District, Barnstable Municipal Airport, JFK Memorial Park, and busy Hyannis Harbor.

A very active fishing fleet operates out of the harbor, as do large passenger and auto ferries to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. West Barnstable and Barnstable Village include beautiful countryside along a section of the Mid-Cape Highway where there are a number of beautifully restored homes, freshwater ponds, cranberry bogs, and great salt marsh lands. The Barnstable Harbor on Cape Cod Bay is an active harbor with private craft, fishing boats and whale watching cruise vessels. Marstons Mills has no oceanfront but there are a number of bogs, beautiful ponds and lakes throughout the countryside. Cotuit, Osterville and Centerville are a combination of quiet and residential, but also tourist oriented.

Their population swells dramatically in the summer. Barnstable operates 100 miles of public beaches. There are nine beaches on the south shore, one is on an inland lake. And there is the eight-mile long Sandy Neck Beach along Cape Cod Bay. You will also find good fishing in both the fresh and salt water. There are good golf courses, tennis and racquetball clubs, and biking paths in the area. Sports fans may enjoy cheering for the Hyannis Mets summer baseball team or the Cape Cod Crusaders professional soccer team.

There is excellent shopping and plenty of casual or fine dining. The Melody Tent offers world-class entertainers, and there are classical and pops concerts by the Cape Symphony Orchestra. Barnstable is also home to Cape Cod Hospital and Cape Cod Community College.

The town of Bourne (population 19,000) is located along both sides of the Cape Cod Canal, and is referred to as “The Gateway to Cape Cod.” Both the Bourne and Sagamore bridges are within the town and its borders extend the full width of the Cape, with water frontage to Cape Cod Bay and Buzzard’s Bay. It is bounded by Plymouth to the north, Sandwich on the east, Falmouth to the south and Buzzard’s Bay on its southwest.

This historic community, founded in 1884, offers numerous natural harbors and inlets for both boating and swimming. There are very good golf courses and good fishing waters. You will also find many parks in the area that offer a wide variety of facilities, including bike paths, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnic sites and more. Bourne is known for its Annual Bourne Scallop Festival, held each September. 

Brewster Brewster (population 11,000) is mid-way out onto the Cape (about 29 miles), on the Cape Cod Bay side of the peninsula. Town lands include 325 acres of beach and marshlands, and more than 20 good-sized ponds. There are eight town beaches fronting on Cape Cod Bay. Over one-third of the land in Brewster is in conservation, open space, recreation use, or watershed protection.

There are two fine 18-hole golf courses, over 400 acres of trails for hiking and biking, and fresh water ponds for fishing, swimming and boating. In addition, there are horse farms offering trail rides and instruction.

Brewster is also located along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which is a 22-mile paved route that follows a former right-of-way of the Old Colony Railroad and travels through Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orlean, and Eastham to Wellfleet. Brewster has more than 30 art galleries, shops to browse in, and good choices for dining. The summer population swells to nearly 25,000. 

Chatham (population 6,700) is located at the elbow of Cape Cod. It is approximately 37 miles from the Cape Code Canal. This picturesque community is somewhat hilly with wooded areas, and has generous amounts of protected waters. It offers beautiful vistas over salt marsh, meadows and wetlands, Pleasant Bay, the Atlantic, and Nantucket Sound. The Chatham Light (lighthouse) offers spectacular views of the coastline and the ocean.

The fishing fleet and sometimes playful seals can be seen in Chatham Harbor. The town operates nine beaches, two of which are for residents only. Town facilities also include soccer and ball fields, tennis courts, Chatham Seaside Links Golf Course (nine holes), walking trails, a skateboard park, and picnic and play areas for children.

You will find that bicycling is a popular mode of travel and a great way to explore the area and always have a parking spot! Chatham is known for its very popular Friday evening band concerts, which take place in Kate Gould Park on Main Street, from the end of June until September.

The event, which attracts several hundred spectators each week, also features dance numbers and community singing. Chatham is also home to the Chatham Athletics, one of the 10 teams in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Many of the town’s homes are occupied only seasonally, and it is a popular retirement destination. 

Dennis (population 16,000) is located in the Mid-Cape area, on Cape Cod Bay. It is about 26 miles from the Cape Cod Canal, and about eight miles northeast of Hyannis. The town is a quiet, beach-oriented community without much commercial development.

There are 10 town beaches, and it has hiking trails that are open to the public. The Cape Cod Rail Trail, which follows a former right-of-way of the Old Colony Railroad, starts at Dennis and runs for 22 miles (through Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet). It is paved, well-marked and has few hills. Dennis is the home of the Cape Playhouse, America’s oldest professional summer theater, and the Cape Museum of Fine Arts.

The Pines Golf Course, one of two in the town, was voted “Best Golf Course on Cape Cod” by Boston Magazine. You will also find a good selection of fine dining restaurants and a large number of family and casual eateries. The town of Dennis includes the villages of East Dennis, West Dennis, South Dennis and Dennisport. Hyannis, which is a major resource community, is only minutes away.

Eastham (population 5,700) is located on outer Cape Cod, just above the bend. It is 42 miles from the Cape Cod Canal, 24 miles from Hyannis, 8.5 miles from Brewster, and just over three miles east of Orleans. The town limits straddle the width of the peninsula, fronting on both the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay. It is bounded on the north by Wellfleet, and to the south by Orleans.

Eastham is a small, quiet community with both ocean and bay beaches, and a number of kettle ponds. It was incorporated by a group of Pilgrims in 1651. The terrain of the area is mostly salt-marsh lands and sand with plenty of open space, small country lanes, and panoramic views. The federally protected lands along the Atlantic coast are part of the National Seashore Park, and constitute about one third of the town of Eastham.

The preserved farmlands contain well-managed hiking trails with beautiful views of the ocean. The western border of the town is lined with six miles of sandy beaches along Cape Cod Bay that help frame breathtaking sunsets.

First Encounter Beach in Eastham is where the Native Indians first encountered the Pilgrims in 1620. Three of the original passengers from the Mayflower are buried in Old Cove Cemetery. The town has several harbors and boasts excellent shell fishing. It is also a part of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 22-mile paved trail running from Dennis to Wellfleet.

The trail is designed for hiking and bicycling, and has an unpaved portion for horseback riding. And no visit to the area is complete without a visit to the Nauset Beach Lighthouse. 

Falmouth (population 33,000) is located along the south coast, 14 miles south of Bourne, where you cross the canal onto the Cape. It is 21 miles from Hyannis. Falmouth is bounded by Nantucket Sound to the south and Buzzard’s Bay to the east. It is a short boat ride across Vineyard Sound to Martha’s Vineyard. There are many beaches, freshwater ponds, and semi-rural areas with open meadows and hardwood forests.

The town consists of eight distinct villages: Falmouth Center, East Falmouth, Hatchville, North Falmouth, Teaticket, Waquoit, West Falmouth and Woods Hole.  

There are great activities in Falmouth for almost anyone. Outdoor activities include water sports, swimming, inshore and offshore fishing, kayaking, and sailing. There is tennis, great golf, picturesque walking and biking trails, and even whale watching.

You will also find a curling club in Falmouth, an ice rink, and an active track club. Sports fans will enjoy following the Falmouth Commodores baseball team, a franchise of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Falmouth is also blessed with a very active arts community and enthusiasts can enjoy great music, art and theater from both permanent companies and summer theater. Shoppers will enjoy the many boutiques, galleries and specialty stores plus there is fine dining and nightlife.

Woods Hole, which is one of the villages in Falmouth, is a world-renowned center for marine, biomedical and environmental science, and home to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The port at Woods Hole accommodates large and small research vessels, scheduled ferries to nearby Martha’s Vineyard, and privately-owned power and sailboats.

Vineyard Haven, on Martha’s Vineyard Island, is about a 45-minute trip from Woods Hole, or 40 minutes from Falmouth.

Harwich (population 12,500) is located on the south side of the Cape, 31 miles from the Cape Cod Canal and 14 miles beyond Hyannis. It is just over five miles due south of Brewster. Like a number of other towns on the Cape, it consists of several small villages: East, West, North, and South Harwich, Harwich Port, Harwich Center, and Thompson’s Field. Harwich was settled in the mid 1600s with an economy that included both agriculture and fishing.

It was a part of the whaling industry until the mid-1800s when oil was discovered. It then switched to cod and mackerel fishing. Eventually big ships dominated the industry and its port could not accommodate the large ships. Residents developed the cranberry business and ultimately began to depend upon summer tourism. The town has an extensive shoreline on Nantucket Sound with eight beautiful sandy beaches and semi-rural lands dotted with beautiful lakes and ponds where cranberries are harvested.

There are also a number of fresh water beaches. It is a quiet residential and tourist community with good specialty shopping, fine dining, and many civic activities. Its well-protected Saquatucket Municipal Marina berths over 190 vessels, including charter fishing boats and private power and sailboats. The harbor entrance is maintained to six feet at low tide.

Harwich owns and operates a championship public golf course, rated at one time as among the 50 best public courses in the U.S. 

Mashpee (population 13,000), named after the local Indian tribe, is 14.5 miles from the Cape Cod Canal, and 11 miles west of Hyannis.

The Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge makes up 25 percent of the town. It has more than five miles of sandy beaches on Nantucket Sound and Vineyard Sound, and extensive waterfront on Waquoit and Popponesset bays. It also has four of the largest freshwater ponds on Cape Cod that offer boating, swimming and fishing. Mashpee’s location is such that it is minutes from the amenities offered in Barnstable and Falmouth.

There are 20 golf courses within a 15-minute drive, including three world-class courses right in Mashpee. There is hiking, biking, good shopping, and many dining choices. Mashpee Commons is a large regional shopping complex that has plenty of apparel and specialty stores. The area has a great deal to offer — and the town is growing. 

Orleans (population 6,500) is a residential and resort community located at the elbow of the Cape, 38 miles from the Cape Cod Canal. It spans the Cape peninsula between Nauset Beach on the Atlantic and Skaket Beach on Cape Cod Bay.

It is bordered by Eastham to the north, Chatham and Harwich to the south, and both Brewster and Cape Cod Bay to the west. Orleans is a small, quaint community in a beautiful setting of unspoiled seashores, forests and open lands.

It is inviting to a wide range of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, swimming, biking, hiking, bird watching, and more. It is on the Cape Cod Rail Trail which is a paved bicycling, hiking and horseback riding trail that utilizes an abandoned right-of-way of the Old Colony Railroad.

This wide, nearly flat trail starts at Dennis and runs for 22 miles, through Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, and Eastham to Wellfleet. It also goes through nearby Nickerson State Park in Brewster where it connects to eight miles of bicycle trails in the park. It also connects to the Salt Pond Visitor’s Center for the Cape Cod National Seashore, in Eastham. Orleans has live theater, good local shopping and many dining choices.

Provincetown (population 3,500) is located at the extreme northern tip of the Cape, about 62 miles from the Cape Cod Canal. There is evidence of its discovery and exploration by the Vikings as early as 1003 and European explorer Gosnold landed in 1602.

The first permanent settlers on the Mayflower came to the area in 1620. Its large, well-protected seaport grew to be one of the busiest commercial ports in America in the mid 1800s, with whaling vessels, merchant ships, fishing vessels, and shipbuilding. Provincetown had sail makers, caulkers, coopers, carpenters, and blacksmiths – all the necessary trades. For centuries it has been home to rugged sailors, pirates, fisherman, dreamers, artists, poets, and novelists. Provincetown continues to attract a very diverse population with many artists and free spirited individuals. It became the first art colony in America in the late 1800s and is known today for its art and bohemian culture, carefree spirit, and its warm welcoming of the gay lifestyle.

Many of Provincetown’s historic buildings have been preserved and some of its abandoned structures from the maritime businesses have been converted to living space and studios. Its most prominent landmark is The Pilgrim Monument, a 252-foot granite tower completed in 1910. More than half of the land area of Provincetown is included as a part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is a 43,608-acre preserve managed by the National Park Service. Visitors can walk the 40 mile sand beach as Thoreau once did, and enjoy its salt marshes, freshwater kettle ponds, the graceful dunes and the lighthouses.

The Outer Cape is also an outstanding place for bird watching, with over 250 species. The coastline of the area is known for excellent surf fishing, and sometimes whales are sited. There is also great biking with miles of trails, and you’ll find good kayaking as well. Provincetown is a charming village with narrow streets, many boutiques selling handcrafts and jewelry, clothing shops, dining establishments, galleries and art shops.

Much of the commercial and social activity can be found on Commercial Street, which runs through town, paralleling the shoreline. The nighttime scene includes theater, a stroll through the gallery district, a drag musical, a comedy or a cabaret show. There is music, dancing, or perhaps a reading by an author. The seasonal population of Provincetown is estimated to reach nearly 30,000. 

Sandwich (population 23,000) is a coastal community bordering the Cape Cod Canal and beautiful sand beaches of Cape Cod Bay. It is minutes from the canal’s Sagamore Bridge, and just 15 miles from Hyannis. Sandwich is the oldest incorporated town on the Cape, having been established in 1639. It is a charming and quiet seaside community with beautiful beaches and a seaside boardwalk, plus tennis, golf, hiking and biking, boating and sport fishing, great dining, boutique shopping, galleries, antiques and specialty shops.

The town operates Sandwich Hollows Golf Club, a championship 18-hole layout, and there are summer band concerts for everyone’s enjoyment. You can bike or stroll the seven miles of paved paths along the canal and watch the ships. You can also board the Cape Cod Central Railroad, either at the canal or in town, and enjoy a scenic ride into Hyannis. The town is very easily accessible and is somewhat less congested than other parts of the Cape at mid-season.

Truro (population) 2,100 is a rural community located in the last section of the Cape peninsula before you reach Provincetown, which is at the tip. It is 54 miles from the Cape Cod Canal and is bounded on the north by Provincetown, on the east by the Atlantic, on the south by Wellfleet, and to the west by Cape Cod Bay. Provincetown is less than 10 miles away, and Wellfleet is just four miles. Hyannis is a 37-mile drive.

Truro has great natural surroundings with 10 beautiful public beaches on both the bay side and the Atlantic. It has nature trails and bicycle paths, and its Highland Golf Links course is the oldest golf course on the Cape. It also is home to the beautiful Cape Cod Lighthouse, first erected in 1797, and replaced by the current structure in 1857. Highland House Museum is located on the same site. The lighthouse is on a high cliff, which offers spectacular views of the ocean.

Truro has most of the local services you would need, plus a half-dozen restaurants. More than half of the land area of Truro is included in the Cape Cod National Seashore managed by the National Park Service. The permanent population of Truro includes fishermen, tradesmen, and a growing number of retirees.

Wellfleet (population 3,500) is located on the Outer Cape below Provincetown and Truro. It is 51 miles from the Cape Cod Canal and bounded on the north by Truro, and Eastham to the south. Hyannis is a 33-mile drive. More than 60 percent of the land area of Wellfleet is included in the Cape Cod National Seashore, which encompasses the Atlantic coastline and uplands from Provincetown to Chatham.

Wellfleet remains one of the few working fishing villages on the Cape. Once known as a great whaling port, and later for it’s big mackerel catches, today it is renowned for its oysters and quahogs, many that are grown and harvested from Wellfleet harbor. Each fall there is a festival that celebrates its oyster harvests. Another highlight is the big Fourth of July celebration which includes a parade.

Wellfleet is known by many as “the art gallery town” with more than 20 galleries dominating nearly every block of its old New England downtown. There is nightly music in the summer and a friendly atmosphere. You’ll also find square dancing at the harbor on Wednesdays, and the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater which presents plays for all ages. And if you want to go to a drive-in movie, Wellfleet has one of few such theaters left in the country. Wellfleet’s ocean and bay beaches are considered among the best on the Cape.

Yarmouth (population 25,000), in the Mid-Cape area, is just beyond Barnstable. The town center, which is near the southern coast, is about 20 miles from the Cape Cod Canal. The town consists of 17 square miles and spans the Cape peninsula.

It is made up of three distinct villages: West Yarmouth, South Yarmouth, and Yarmouthport, which is on the north shore. Incorporated in 1639, it is the second oldest town on the Cape and it has retained much of that charm.

Most of the activities, including the summertime bulge in population is along the south shore, where Rt. 28 connects West Yarmouth, Bass River, and South Yarmouth. There are boutiques and outlet shopping, many dining establishments, and nightlife.

The town has 15 fresh and saltwater beaches, eight of them along Nantucket Sound. There are four golf courses – two in South Yarmouth, one in West Yarmouth, and one in Yarmouthport, and 14 tennis courts. Other town recreation facilities include walking/hiking, bicycle and fitness trails, picnic areas, ball fields, and facilities for youth. Yarmouth also has its own acute care hospital. 

Arts & Culture

Bourne Scallop Festival at Buzzard’s Bay Park each September features an art show, rides, entertainment, and of course plenty of good eating. It is a three-day event. 

Benjamin Nye House (Sandwich, MA) ,which dates to 1685 is operated as museum

Dexter’s Grist Mill, Sandwich, is a working grist mill built in 1654. If offers tours and sells products created by the mill. 

Boch Center for the Performing Arts offers concerts by professional artists year-round at a number of different venues, including Cape Cod Community College and Mashpee High School Auditorium. It also offers a festival series featuring local and regional performers, and youth and children’s programming.

Cotuit Center for the Arts offers a wide variety of artistic performances to encourage artistic development. 

College Light Opera Company is an educational theatre that offers Broadway stock musicals for summer audiences while giving young talent a career opportunity. 

Falmouth Chorale & Orchestra offers spring, fall and Christmas concerts.

Falmouth Artist Guild is a community art center for artists to create and learn.

Falmouth Theatre Guild is a community theater company that produces three or four productions each year between September and May.

Cape Cod Theatre Project (Falmouth) brings together playwrights of new American plays with professional directors and actors for stage readings.

Woods Hole Film Festival 

Woods Hole Theater Company offers performances year round.

Woods Hole Historical Museum preserves a collection of objects and materials of cultural, historical, and artistic value. The collection has grown to a campus of several buildings. 

Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich celebrates the American spirit. It preserves and shares the history, industry, art and horticulture of America. 

President John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum features a multimedia exhibit of the days he spent on the Cape, and his days relaxing with his family or sailing on the ocean.

Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis preserves and exhibits the nautical heritage of Cape Cod. It offers demonstrations and has a variety of interactive exhibits. There are educational programs, lectures and workshops.

Cape Cod Conservatory in West Barnstable and Falmouth hosts the Community School of the Arts. It offers music lessons, art instruction, drama and dance.

Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit has a permanent collection of primitive paintings by Ralph & Martha Cahoon, and 19th century American marine paintings. The museum is housed in a restored 1775 Colonial farmhouse.

Arts Foundation of Cape Cod in Centerville supports the arts on Cape Cod. Its programs include Pops By The Sea, Making Art & Making a Living, and Everything Arts Cape Cod.

Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis is a 2,300-seat theater-in-the-round with a revolving stage. It offers a summer concert series of entertainment that includes world-class performers. 

Cape Symphony Orchestra is a professional symphony that performs at the Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center in Hyannis. The orchestra offers a classical series and a pops series. Its season is from September through May.

The Cape Playhouse in Dennis has been offering performances since 1927. It is America’s oldest professional summer theater and is known for its professional performances. It also operates the Cape Playhouse Children’s Theatre. Performances feature dramas, musicals, comedy, dance, and entertainers. 

Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis focuses on the work of local artists. The museum offers seven galleries and a sculpture garden.

Cape Repertory Theatre, Brewster —

Monomoy Theatre in Chatham has a core company of graduate and undergraduate students, augmented by professional guest artists and teaching professionals. Many students come from Ohio University and are involved in the summer program.

Chatham Drama Guild in Chatham offers a season series of performances. 

The Academy Playhouse in Orleans offers drama, musicals, comedies and original works. 

The Salt Pond Visitor’s Center in Eastham was built by the U.S. Government in 1965 and serves about a half-million visitors annually. It is the main visitor center for the Cape Cod National Seashore and offers orientation movies, a museum and a bookstore.

Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill offers a wide range of instruction, holds exhibitions, lectures, forums, concerts and other activities.

Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro

The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum commemorates the arrival of the first settlers and preserves the history of the area. Millions of visitors climb this 252-foot granite monument each year.

Provincetown Art Association and Museum —


Cape Cod has recreation and sports opportunities for everyone. There are all the water sports, including swimming, kayaking, great sailing, fishing and whale watching. There are a number of fine golf courses, including some that are world-class, and there are many tennis facilities, both public and private.

You will also find many miles of well-designed and maintained bicycle paths and hiking trails, and there are a number of stables that serve the needs of equestrians. Sailors and power boaters can find a large number of well-protected, natural harbors on the south coast. A number of the towns issue permits for shellfishing for quahogs, mussels, sea clams, and scallops.

The Cape Cod Baseball League has 10 franchise teams that offer exciting professional baseball games throughout the Cape. No matter where you are on Cape Cod, you are only minutes from one of their home ball parks. West Division teams are in Bourne, Cotuit, Falmouth, Hyannis, and Wareham. East Division teams are in Brewster, Chatham, Harwich, Orleans and Yarmouth.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a paved bicycling, hiking and horseback riding trail that utilizes an abandoned right-of-way of the Old Colony Railroad. This wide, nearly flat trail starts at Dennis and runs for 22 miles through Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, and Eastham to Wellfleet. It also goes through Nickerson State Park and connects to eight miles of bicycling trails in the park.

The Cape Cod National Seashore is a 43,608-acre preserve managed by the National Park Service. It includes the Atlantic seashore from Provincetown to Chatham: the shoreline, salt marshes, the dunes, freshwater kettle ponds, and uplands. You can walk the 40-mile coast, as Thoreau once did, and enjoy all this beauty. The Seashore offers six swimming beaches, 11 self-guided nature trails and a number of picnic areas.

There are 25 or more golf courses throughout the Cape. Most of them are public or semi-private. 

Nickerson State Park in Brewster is a 1,900-acre preserve with more than 420 campsites, an amphitheater, eight miles of roads, hiking trails, eight fresh water ponds, and an eight-mile bicycle path that connects to the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail. There is swimming, canoeing, bird watching, fishing, and seasonal interpretive and recreational programs. 

Joseph P. Kennedy Skating Rink, Hyannis 

Charles Moore Arena (ice skating), Orleans —

Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises leave from the Barnstable Harbor on Cape Cod Bay.


Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA, is about 30 minutes north of the Cape. It is a four-year public college with a total enrollment of about 8,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students.

Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable enrolls about 4,000 students each semester. The main campus is just off the Mid-Cape Highway, north of Exit 6. There is also a location in downtown Hyannis. 

Massachusetts Maritime Academy is a four-year public college located at the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal. Its mission is to prepare young men and women for careers in both land based and seagoing vocations. The academy is the nation’s oldest co-ed maritime college. 

Senior Programs “Inter-Generations” is a web-based resource guide for services and programs for older adults on Cape Cod and the Islands. 

Sandwich Council On Aging

Mashpee Senior Center

Mashpee Council on Aging coordinates and carries out human service, educational, social and recreational services for the senior community. 

Senior Services Newsletter, published for Barnstable residents, is available on the town’s web site. 

Barnstable Senior Center is located in Hyannis. Its programs include exercise and wellness, recreation, educational, and social activities. These include tennis, travel club, numerous craft activities, and both professional and financial services. 

Dennis Senior Center in Setauket offers recreational and education programs as well as many health and social services. Harwich Community Center supports recreation and community functions, and is home to the Council on Aging.

Falmouth Senior Center 

Eastham Senior Center 

Orleans Council on Aging

Yarmouth Council on Aging

Dennis Council on Aging —

Hospitals Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis is a 225-bed full-service community hospital.

Falmouth Hospital is a 95-bed urgent care hospital with state-of-the-art facilities.

Airports & Ferry Schedules Barnstable Municipal Airport, Hyannis offers direct flights to and from Boston, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. 

Logan Airport, Boston, MA

TF Green International Airport, Warwick, RI

Car and passenger ferry boats sail from Woods Hole, Falmouth, and Hyannis to both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. 


The average temperatures on the Cape for January are a high of 40 and low of 25 degrees. By March the temperatures are reaching an average high of 42 and a low of 28 degrees. In May the average temperatures are 62 degrees with a low of 48, and by July the highs are 78 during the day and 63 at night. In general, the Cape stays cooler than the mainland due to the ocean breezes. 


Cape Cod Times 

Barnstable Patriot —

The Cape Codder

Mashpee News 

Property Taxes

Tax rates for each of the Cape’s fifteen towns on this site. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce periodically updates the site. All of Cape Cod is in Barnstable County. Cape Cod property tax info

State Taxes

Chambers of Commerce

(Barnstable) Hyannis Chamber of Commerce —

(Bourne),Cape Cod Canal Chamber of Commerce —

Eastham Chamber of Commerce —

Falmouth Chamber of Commerce —

Harwich Chamber of Commerce —

Provincetown Chamber of Commerce

Sandwich Chamber of Commerce —

Truro Chamber of Commerce —

Wellfleet Chamber of Commerce —

Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce —


(Distances are ALL from where you cross the Cape Cod Canal onto the Cape.) The mileage shown indicates how far out onto the Cape a community is located. Also shown are is how far an inland destination is once you leave the Cape. Distances to Cape towns from the Cape Cod Canal:

Sandwich – 6.5 miles

Falmouth – 14 miles

Mashpee – 15 miles

Yarmouth – 20 miles

Barnstable – 17.5 miles

Hyannis – 18 miles

Dennis – 26 miles

Harwich – 31 miles

Brewster – 34 miles

Orleans – 38 miles

Chatham – 37 miles

Eastham – 42 miles

Wellfleet – 51 miles

Truro – 54 miles

Provincetown – 62 miles

Distances from the Cape Cod Canal to inland locations:

New Bedford – 28 miles

Boston – 50 miles

Providence, RI – 55 miles

Mystic, CT – 104 miles

Nashua, NH – 105 miles

Portland, ME – 160 miles

New Haven, CT – 163 miles

New York City, NY – 235 miles

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