Cape Cod's calling! More than four million visited the Cape Cod National Seashore in 2020. That makes Cape Cod, Massachusetts one of the most popular destinations for tourists.
A Cape Cod vacation may invoke many images in your mind. Most of those visuals probably have to do with the summer.
Yet you can have a great time on the Cape during the winter. You just need to know about where you can go and what you can do.
So what is Cape Cod like in winter? Is the weather comfortable, and are important services open? What are some great holiday events and attractions?
Answer these questions and you can turn Cape Cod into your winter wonderland. Here is your comprehensive guide.
Winter Weather on the Cape
The Cape is a temperate area, meaning it's colder in the summer and warmer in the winter than most of Massachusetts. The Atlantic Ocean helps regulate the temperatures year-round, so the weather is fairly comfortable on the Cape.
Weather conditions can vary depending on where exactly you are staying. In general, temperatures are between 20 and 50 degrees throughout the winter. Some days can be windy, so you may want to bring a coat with you as you explore Cape Cod in the winter.
The Cape can experience nor'easters and snowstorms. But most storms only drop a few inches, and each town has snowplows to remove the snow quickly. You should drive slowly while it is snowy, icy, or overcast, and you may want to get snow tires so you have better traction.
The sun rises late and sets early during the wintertime. During December and January, you will have less than 10 hours of sunlight.
If you have trouble seeing in the dark, you should bring glasses with filters that help you see. Some backroads are not well-lit, but most areas of the Cape have streetlights for visibility.
What's Closed and What's Open
Many businesses on the Cape serve tourists, so they close after Labor Day. This includes many restaurants and tourist attractions.
However, all public services are available year-round. You can find grocery stores, post offices, and pharmacies in nearly every town on the Cape. Some restaurants serve year-round residents and remain open, though they may have shorter hours.
You can also find many places to spend a few hours or an entire day. Movie theaters, museums, and lighthouses are all open. Some have lower fees than they do during the summertime, which can make a winter vacation more affordable than a summer vacation.
Winter storms and random factors can affect business operations. Before you visit a restaurant or attraction, you should check their website to see if it is open.
Ask a local about things to do on Cape Cod in the winter, and they'll talk to you about the outdoors. Most outdoor attractions remain open during the wintertime. However, it can be hard to decide which ones to go to, so do your research before you visit the Cape.
Any beach that is run by a town government is open during the winter. You can also visit any beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS).
If you're new to the Cape, you can start with the CCNS. The area covers more than 40 miles of beaches, and each beach has something special to offer.
If you want a great view of the water, you should visit Marconi Beach in Wellfleet. The beach has a large sand cliff, letting you see for miles out into the Atlantic. Try to visit during sunrise and sunset and take some photographs.
Race Point Beach in Provincetown is another great spot for sunsets and photographs. You can take photos of windswept sands as well as dune shacks and lighthouses.
Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro is one of the least visited beaches on the CCNS. This makes it a great place to avoid crowds and spend the day in tranquility. If you go at low tide, you can spot the Frances, a shipwreck that is great to photograph and draw.
Once you've explored the beaches on the seashore, you can go to other parts of the Cape. Nauset Beach in Orleans is just south of the seashore, and it is one of the best Cape beaches for surfing. The beach has public restrooms and outdoor showers you can use free of charge.
Even during the winter, it can be hard to find a home near the beach. Try looking at beach homes with co-ownership, as you can pool resources with someone else and find more options for properties.
State Parks and Wildlife Refuges
All state parks and wildlife refuges on the Cape are open during the winter. Some of these parks have beaches, but they also have nature trails, bike paths, and guided tours.
Nickerson State Park in Brewster is a beloved spot for trout fishing. You can visit eight different ponds and then go for walks down nature trails.
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham offers pristine views. Its main nature trail stretches along the cliffs, and you can take photographs of the ocean and sand. Many people like to go for a picnic, and you can bring any food you want, as long as you don't feed the birds or litter.
Hawksnest State Park in Harwich is one of the least-known state parks on the Cape. You can go for a walk along a 2.5-mile trail and see many different species of animals. You can find turtles, blue herons, and fish.
Ponds and Lakes
Ponds and lakes are among the most underrated attractions on Cape Cod. Many ponds have small beaches you can go to, which most tourists don't know about. You can also go boating or fishing as long as the water isn't frozen.
The Lowell Holly Reservation in Mashpee and Sandwich has two ponds you can hike near. You can go for a swim if you like, though the water can be very cold.
If you have kids, you can bring them to Goose Pond in Chatham. The water is shallow, so they can go swimming or boating there. The area is relatively secluded, and you can go for walks through the neighboring woods.
If you want to spend time with your dog, you can go to Flax Pond in Dennis. You can walk your dog around the pond and go down wooded paths with it. Make sure you clean up after your dog, as you can get fined for leaving litter behind.
Cape Cod Winter Events
The year-round population on the Cape is more than 220,000 people. This means that the Cape is a hub for events, especially around the holiday season.
The Christmas Stroll in Chatham is one of the most popular events on the Cape. You can attend a tree lighting ceremony, ride in horse-drawn carriages, and sample homemade cookies.
If you like parades, you can visit the Christmas Parade in Falmouth on the first Sunday in December. You can watch decorated floats with costumed performances and listen to marching bands.
The Cape Cod Central Railroad runs train rides with a Polar Express theme. You and your children can meet with Santa Claus, listen to music, and hear readings of The Polar Express. You can find New Year's Day events throughout the Cape, especially in Sandwich and Provincetown.
Cape Cod Winter Activities
The Cape is also a hub for small museums. You can spend roughly an hour at most of them, so you can go museum hopping during the weekend.
If you like art, you can visit the Sandwich Glass Museum and see exhibits on blown glass. The Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis hosts many exhibitions that rotate throughout the year, letting you see new things each time you visit.
If you prefer history, you can go to the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth. You can take your children to both museums, then you can go to the Cape Cod Children's Museum in Mashpee.
When you're done with museums, you can attend performing art shows at a few local theaters. The Falmouth Theatre Guild is home to many musicals while the Skylark Ensemble performs choral works.
You can find hundreds of stores spread throughout the Cape. Most stores along Falmouth's Main Street offer winter and holiday sales. Provincetown's Commercial Street gets less crowded during the winter, and you can shop for clothes, paintings, and gifts for your family.
So What Is Cape Cod Like in Winter?
Many people have questions about Cape Cod. The most common one is "What is Cape Cod like in winter?" The answer is very comfortable.
Temperatures go down, but the conditions are not too cold. You can go grocery shopping and get everything you need for a happy winter vacation.
You can spend your day at a beach, pond, or nature reserve. When it's too cold or snowy, you can go to museums and theatrical performances.
You can also stay in a truly luxurious home. Lifestyle Asset Group provides premium Cape Cod properties. Contact us today.