Escape to the Cape
The mere mention of Cape Cod conjures up the sounds of crashing waves, the smell of salt water and memories of summers gone by. But why simply reminisce on fabulous memories of this popular getaway locale when you can make new ones with your kids? No matter what, the picturesque destination never goes out of style and these attractions are not to miss.
The words children’s museum are music to any parent’s ears. Done right, they provide an opportunity for kids to unknowingly get an education as they play and have fun. Cape Cod Children’s Museum (577 Great Neck Road South, Mashpee, Mass.; 508-539-8788; capecodchildrensmuseum.org) doesn’t disappoint. The castle area is a fan favorite because little ones can pretend to be royalty as they use large Legos to build their own creations, while the tree house’s climbing opportunities provide thrills. Budding rock stars won’t want to leave the music room and the pirate ship is a prime location for imaginative play, as are the submarine and train.
Get the wiggles out at Cape Cod Inflatable Park (518 Main St., West Yarmouth, Mass.; 508-771-6060; capecodinflatablepark.com) that boasts attractions for nearly every age. Water rides, which are best for bigger kids, are perfect for cooling off on hot days while the interactive zone challenges them with oversized bouncy obstacles. The toddler zone is great for littles who aren’t quite ready to hang with the big guys, but offers bounce houses and water slides and is more suited to their size.
If your kids can’t get enough of the swashbuckling adventures of Jake and the Never Land Pirates, you’re going to want to take them on Cape Cod Pirate Adventures (180 Ocean St., Hyannis, Mass.; 508-394-9100; capecodpirateadventures.com) excursion. Recommended for kids 3 to 10 years old, the Sea Gypsy sails daily and is ripe with activities such as flag hoisting, water cannon blasting and searching for treasure.
Unless you come from a seafaring family, chances are fishing isn’t part of your normal repertoire of activities. Cape Cod Family Fishing (180 Ocean St., Hyannis, Mass.; 508-394-9100; capecodfamilyfishing.com) provides the perfect opportunity to get your crew out on the water in Lewis Bay. You’ll be out there for an hour and a half (fishing gear provided) as you engage in catch and release style fishing. Sorry, gang, you’ll have to find something else for dinner – no fish are taken home from this adventure.
Find the perfect hiking trail for your clan at Cape Cod National Seashore Park (50 Nauset Road, Eastham, Mass.) – there are nine to choose from! Regardless of whether you’re looking for an easy walk or more rough terrain, there’s a path here for you. If you’re looking for a brief outing, the half-mile Red Maple Swamp Trail in Eastham, which takes about 30 minutes to complete, might be your best bet.
For some outdoor fun aside from the beach, the Heritage Museums & Gardens (67 Grove St., Sandwich, Mass.; 508-888-3300; heritagemuseumsandgardens.org) has it all. Their Hidden Hollow area is a great spot for kids to play: climbing stepping stumps, building forts, balancing on log beams and more. The Adventure Park, which just opened in May, will be a favorite among thrill seekers. Their Aerial Adventure is exactly what it sounds like – trails “in the sky” with elevated platforms between trees, complete with zip lines and challenge bridges. Afraid of heights? Not to worry, there’s also the Forest Walk which features ground level paths that wind their way under the climbers. Take note that ticketing is separate for Heritage and The Adventure Park but combo tickets are available (and will save you money).
Take your aspiring PGA player to Sand ‘n’ Surf (3194 Cranberry Highway, East Wareham, Mass.; 508-759-3973; sandnsurfcapecod.com) for some mini golf action. It’s 18 holes of pure family fun and for just $7.50 per person you can play all day. Break for lunch at The Creamery for one of the eatery’s famous hot dogs or treat yourself to an ice cream cone containing one of their 45 flavors.
Bicycling is big here so get the gang together and rent some bikes from Cape Cod Rail Trail Bike & Kayak (302 Underpass Road, Brewster, Mass.; 508-896-8200; railtrailbikeshop.com) and hit the paved Rail Trail, which extends for 26 miles of the cape. They have a huge selection of rentals so you should be able to find a bike that fits the personality of each member of your group.
Go for a whirl on the Flying Horses Carousel (15 Lake Ave., Oak Bluffs, Mass.) in Martha’s Vineyard. Dating back to 1876, it’s one of two carousels left in existence that was built by Charles Dare and was originally an attraction at New York’s Coney Island. It moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1984 and has remained there ever since.
If a busy vacation schedule has left you in need of a little bit of zen, spend the afternoon at Mytoi Garden (Dike Road, Chappaquiddick Island, Mass.); its Japanese-style grounds will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed. A pine grove, salt marsh and small pond can be found about the property, which features native and non-native flowers and plants. Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
No visit is complete without hitting up the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory (100 Breed’s Hill Road, Hyannis, Mass.; 888-881-2447; capecodchips.com). Self-guided tours are free and available weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Learn how one of our country’s favorite snacks is made, just like nearly 250,000 other folks who take the tour annually do. Just be careful – you may feel the need to gobble up a bag of chips after witnessing this deliciousness.
Kelly Bryant is associate editor of Boston Parents Paper.
Where to Stay
Spend the weekend – or perhaps a week – at one of these locations:
• Cape Cod Family Resort – 512 Main St., Route 28, West Yarmouth, Mass.; 508-771-0101; capecodfamilyresort.com. Adjacent to the inflatable park, this resort offers stay ’n play packages that make for economical family fun. If you book through their website or reservation desk your family becomes eligible for their Kids Eat Free program. Call for details.
• Chatham Wayside Inn – 512 Main St., Chatham, Mass.; 508-945-5550; waysideinn.com. This beautiful inn sits on the Cape’s “elbow” and features Cape-style décor. Their Wild Goose Tavern restaurant is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat after a long day of sight-seeing.
• Four Points by Sheraton Eastham Cape Cod – 3800 State Highway, Eastham, Mass.; 508-255-5000; starwoodhotels.com. Containing two pools – one heated indoor and a seasonal outdoor – your kids will be able to swim here no matter the weather.
• The Nantucket Hotel and Resort – 77 Easton St., Nantucket, Mass.; 508-228-4747; thenantuckethotel.com. This hotel is all about families, with drop-in children’s programs so mom and dad can enjoy an uninterrupted meal or a little relaxation.