Pristine beaches, historic town centers, radiant sunsets and delicious seafood meals are likely enough to convince you to plan a vacation to Cape Cod. For the unfamiliar, the Cape is the hook-shaped peninsula that sticks out from Massachusetts and extends east into the Atlantic Ocean. There are more than a dozen towns that make up Cape Cod, organized into four regions: the Upper Cape, Mid Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape. Falmouth, one of four towns on the Upper Cape, is revered for its beach-town resort vibe. With 10 beaches, a charming downtown, a local winery and a quick ferry ride to nearby Martha’s Vineyard, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Falmouth, MA. And that’s just scratching the surface. Let’s dive in.
In the summer, people flock to the region to experience the iconic Cape Cod beaches. Many of the beaches in the region are private, either reserved for homeowners or hotels. Thankfully, there are 10 beaches in Falmouth accessible to the public. Here are just three of the 10 worth checking out:
Falmouth Heights Beach
There is plenty of coastline at Falmouth Heights Beach. Located along the Vineyard Sound, you can see Martha’s Vineyard from the shore. Lifeguards are on duty, and several portable toilets are located on the beach. If you don’t pack a cooler and picnic, head to the beach’s local food truck, Doggz and Hoggz, which whips up plenty of fried food, smoothies and treats. You can also take a beach break and grab a beer at the British Beer Company just across the street.
Old Silver Beach
Falmouth’s most popular beach lies on Buzzards Bay. It is also recognized as one of the best Cape Cod beaches! The long stretch of sandy coastline and soft waters attracts both travelers and residents. Like other Falmouth beaches, lifeguards are on duty (likely watching for the 150+ great white sharks swimming along Cape Cod). There is also a delicious snack shack that serves fried seafood, chicken fingers, burgers, etc., in addition to serving ice cream and other sweet treats. Clean public restrooms are located at Old Silver Beach, and they have outdoor showers. As of August 2019, the paid parking lot costs $20 per vehicle, but check the Falmouth visitor website for up-to-date parking information for the beaches in Falmouth. Most lots require vehicles to display a purchased parking sticker (which may be provided by your hotel or apartment rental).
Located right next to its much larger neighbor, Falmouth Heights, Bristol Beach is quiet and small. It, too, looks across the Vineyard Sound to Martha’s Vineyard. Bristol Beach is a good spot if you only have a couple of hours to spend at the beach. If you are wanting a true beach day, head to Falmouth Heights or Old Silver Beach.
Watch the Sunrise in Cape Cod
Heading to Cape Cod on a romantic getaway? Wake up early (like really early) to watch the sunrise from one of the town’s beaches. The coastline reminded me of walking along the rocky terrain while exploring Galway, Ireland. The sunrise over the water is certainly stunning, but it is also neat to watch fishing boats head out to sea for the day. The birds, too, are out fishing for breakfast. It’s a serene and peaceful way to start the day!
Cape Cod Winery
Wineries in Cape Cod?! I’ll admit: I was skeptical. Experiencing Italy’s Amalfi Coast raised my expectations and preferences in vino, but the Cape Cod Winery in Falmouth was a pleasant surprise. The ambiance creates the setting for a lovely evening out: white picnic tables, rustic decor, live music, beautiful sunflowers and rocking chairs. It’s low key yet lively. The owners produce a few wines on the vineyard, and the rosé takes the crown as the crowd favorite. Check the hours of operation on the website before heading over. The closing time is inconsistent throughout the week. During our weekend visit, the winery offered a small variety of Cape Cod seafood staples, like clam chowder, lobster rolls and scallops.
Historic Main Street in Falmouth
While not nearly as big, strolling along the main drag in Falmouth reminded me of traveling in Newport, Rhode Island. There is something for everyone: fashion boutiques, souvenir shops, a trendy bookstore and home decor shops. If you are traveling with kids in Falmouth, check out the playground across from the Falmouth Public Library (off Main Street). Many of the highly-rated places to eat in Falmouth are on Main Street, too.
Pickle Jar Kitchen
It’s no hidden gem. And Pickle Jar Kitchen is well worth the wait! The breakfast is heavenly. The pancakes are perfection. The yogurt parfait looks like it was prepared for the dang Queen. And the adorable interior is a bonus! Get there early.
Have you ever been below deck in a sailing vessel? Quarterdeck’s dining room was designed to create that feeling. And some of the wood in the dining area dates to the 1600s. Be sure to try the local seafood specialties.
Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium
Sweet tooth? This little shop along Main Street offers a variety of ice cream flavors and dozens of chocolates. Be sure to sample the lobster ice cream made with real lobster chunks! I am certainly not a fan, but when in New England, ya gotta try it!
Liam McGuire’s Irish Pub
Every town has an Irish pub. And the beer is flowing at this lively one on Main Street! On any given night, you may catch live music, trivia or karaoke. If you’re lucky, the owner himself – Liam McGuire – will be the one playing and singing!
Quahog Republic Dive Bar
While it appears to be your typical strip-mall kind of dive bar, the food and beer are exceptional! Order a beer flight to sample several of the local and regional beers. Note, this one isn’t located on Main Street.
Although it’s located away from Main Street, Seafood Sam’s is worth a stop. There are dozens of seafood platters to choose. Place an order to go or dine in.
Woods Hole Village
Spend an afternoon in the small, picturesque village of Woods Hole. This village in Falmouth is bustling with boutiques, cafes, restaurants and plenty of scenic coastal views.
Pop into Coffee Obsession for a cup of joe before making the 20-minute trek to the Nobska Lighthouse. If you prefer to make the journey on wheels, bike along the Shining Sea Bikeway or drive on the main road. Parts of the bike trail are open to pedestrians and vehicles, specifically the section along the Little Harbor.
The lighthouse overlooks the Vineyard Sound, Elizabeth Islands, Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard and the Woods Hole Harbor. It is free to visit, although tours were not being given at the time of my visit. There is a small (and free) parking lot, as well.
Why are sunsets over the ocean so dang romantic? If traveling with your honey, the Knob is the spot for the most enchanting sunset in Falmouth (dare I say the best view in Cape Cod?). It’s located in Woods Hole, and the sun sets over Buzzards Bay. The Knob has a few beaches, but most people sit along the rocks, similar to watching the sunset in Cinque Terre, Italy.
To access the Knob, you first must walk one mile through some vegetation and wooded areas. Even though you are on a walking path, wear comfy shoes! There’s a free parking lot by the harbor, and there is signage to direct you to the walking path.
Day Trip from Falmouth
A visit to Martha’s Vineyard is one of many great things to do near Falmouth. After all, Martha’s Vineyard is just across the water from Falmouth. And it couldn’t be easier to access.
Ferry from Falmouth to Martha’s Vineyard
Take the Island Queen ferry from Falmouth to Oak Bluffs in Martha’s Vineyard. This 35-minute passenger-only ferry leaves from the Falmouth Inner Harbor. Consider the Steamship Authority if you are planning to take a vehicle over to Martha’s Vineyard. This ferry transports vehicles and passengers from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard (specifically in Vineyard Haven).
What to do in Martha’s Vineyard
With only a day, you must decide what’s important to you because you can’t do it all. So, I suggest focusing on one or two of the towns. Do you want to spend the day at the beaches? If so, head to Edgartown. Want to see the colorful Gingerbread Cottages? Stay in Oak Bluffs. Take in the stunning views? Trek out to Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah.
Want a small taste of it all? Hop on a bus tour, join a biking tour or hire a private tour guide for the day. You’ll find plenty of tourist information when you depart the dock.
Places to Stay in Falmouth, MA
Choose an accommodation in Cape Cod that is on or near the water. We rented a house off Maravista Avenue, and the house nestled up against the “Little Pond” in East Falmouth. Ducks and swans greeted us each morning and the views of the water were lovely. It was a short walk to Bristol Beach and Falmouth Heights as well! This area is wonderful. You may also want to check out accommodations in Woods Hole that are on the water.
View all available rentals in Falmouth on a map using Booking.com.
What is the best time to visit Cape Cod?
If you want to spend time on the beaches in Cape Cod, plan your visit in the summer months. In August, the weather was in the mid-70s and the water is warm enough to swim.
What is the closest airport to Cape Cod?
Most travelers fly into the Boston or Providence airports.
How to get to Cape Cod?
From Boston to Cape Cod, you can either rent a car, take the train or ride on a ferry. Check the Chamber of Commerce’s transportation recommendations because some of the transportation methods are seasonal. The same is true for flying into the Providence airport. With so many things to do on Cape Cod, traveling via car offers you more flexibility. So, I recommend renting a car at the airport and driving the 75 miles to Cape Cod.
What to pack for Cape Cod?
Whether you are bundled up for the Zugspitze in Garmisch, wandering the ancient city walls in Dubrovnik or, in this case, visiting Cape Cod in New England, always bring a refillable water bottle! I always use one that rolls up.
You also need a good pair of sunglasses, an easy beach read and a beach towel! I always pack my quick-dry, thin towel when traveling. It takes up very little room in your luggage!
The weather should be fairly warm in the summer months, but you will want to pack a light jacket to wear in the evenings.
Although this travel guide lists the many things to do in Falmouth, MA, just remember that the best thing to do in Cape Cod is to simply relax. There is no shame in laying on the beach for your entire vacation in Cape Cod!