Free Guide to All the Cape Cod Towns for Easy Trip Planning

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There are 15 Cape Cod towns that are further broken down into popular villages (for example, Hyannis is actually a village in the town of Barnstable…confusing, I know!). If you’re planning a trip to Cape Cod, you’ll want to make sure you book your accommodations in a town that meets your needs.

Families might want calm tidal pools or convenient resort pools, while couples booking a romantic getaway may want a stress-free/car-free location and delicious high-end restaurants nearby.

We’ll break down each of the towns on Cape Cod so you can decide where to book your stay to maximize your vacation time and minimize the planning stress.

Areas of Cape Cod

The Cape is divided into four areas:

The Upper Cape is the first region after you cross the bridges over the Cape Cod Canal from mainland Massachusetts. The Upper Cape towns include Bourne, Falmouth, Sandwich, and Mashpee.

The Mid-Cape is the next region and includes Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Dennis.

The Lower Cape is the elbow area, including the towns of Brewster, Harwich, Chatham, and Orleans.

The Outer Cape extends north to the tip of Cape Cod. The Outer Cape towns are Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown.

This guide starts in the Upper Cape and finishes at the tip of the Outer Cape in Provincetown, so follow these towns in order geographically if you’re driving or taking the bus.

If you fly or take the train (here are the ways to get from Boston to Cape Cod), then you will most likely arrive in Hyannis, which is located in Barnstable in the Mid-Cape.

Or you might start in Provincetown if you take the ferry or fly (there are two Cape Cod airports).

Quick Guide: The Best Towns on Cape Cod for…

Best Cape Cod Towns for Families: Sandwich, Brewster, Hyannis (Barnstable), Dennis

Best Downtowns: Falmouth Village, Sandwich, Chatham, Provincetown

Best Shopping Towns: Mashpee, Chatham, Provincetown

Best Beach Towns on Cape Cod: Dennis, Wellfleet, Truro

Towns on the Upper Cape

Bourne

Best for: budget travelers willing to drive to beaches and attractions

Bourne is the first town on Cape Cod after you cross the Cape Cod Canal via the Bourne Bridge or the Sagamore Bridge.

In Bourne, you’ll find the Aptucxet Trading Post, which is the oldest trading store location in the United States and is thought to have been established in 1627 for colonists to trade with the native Wampanoag (“People of the First Light”).

As the first town on the Cape, Bourne includes most of the major roads and is primarily residential rather than touristy.

There are fewer beaches here, too.

You can, however, enjoy the paved trail along the Cape Cod Canal if you’re looking to do lots of biking or walking during your trip!

Where to Stay:

If you want to base yourself in Bourne, book a budget stay at the Quality Inn or at the All Seasons.

The Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge Bourne Massachusetts

Falmouth

Best for: awesome Main Street vibes and easy access to Martha’s Vineyard

Falmouth covers a large expanse of the southwestern Cape, including the village of Woods Hole, where you can catch the ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard.

Falmouth also has some beautiful beaches that get the best sunset views in this part of the Cape.

In Falmouth, Falmouth Village has one of the best downtowns on the Cape.

Main Street offers those classic Cape vibes, with independent stores, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants alongside some big recognizable local brands, including The Black Dog.

I have family in Falmouth so I’ve visited quite a bit and highly recommend Maison Villatte for delicious baked goods — you’ll feel like you’re in Paris!

Elsewhere in Falmouth, another favorite family spot is the West Falmouth Market for pre-made meals to go or yummy sandwiches freshly made from the deli counter (perfect for a beach picnic!).

For attractions, check out Highfield Hall and Gardens for a pretty estate with interesting local connections, and stop by Spohr Gardens for a lovely stroll along the coastal botanical garden paths maintained by volunteers.

The estate of Highfield Hall in Falmouth Massachusetts

Nobska Lighthouse is another popular attraction in Falmouth that’s worth seeking out.

And definitely take a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard from Falmouth by hopping aboard the Steamship Authority ferry from Woods Hole; just be sure to book your car reservation early if you’re going during the peak summer season!

Where to Stay:

Book a stay at Falmouth Tides to watch the ferries come in and out from their private beach, or check out the lovely Sea Crest Inn to stay in North Falmouth for gorgeous sunsets.

View of Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth Massachusetts

Sandwich

Best for: families with school-age kids and history buffs

Sandwich is the oldest established town on Cape Cod and contains a variety of popular tourist attractions.

Here, you can visit the Sandwich Glass Museum, Hoxie House, Dexter Mill, and the Heritage Museums and Gardens.

The Sandwich Glass Museum in Sandwich Cape Cod Massachusetts

The Sandwich Boardwalk and beach areas are popular with locals especially, offering access to the bay side and views across the water to Provincetown on the Outer Cape.

Sandwich is one of the most quaint towns on Cape Cod; the historic main street area feels like a step back in time without any large stores or big brand names.

Where to Stay:

In Sandwich, book the Dan’l Webster Inn for an iconic stay in a historic location.

Alternatively, check out the Sandwich Inn and Suites for a more budget-friendly stay.

Front of The Danl Webster Inn in Sandwich Cape Cod Massachusetts

Mashpee

Best for: families with little ones who prefer lakes to ocean waves

Mashpee is a Cape town with multiple lakes, which offer a different Cape Cod experience if you’re not an ocean beach kind of person (like my sister).

Perfect for families with little kids especially, 

Mashpee is also home to an expansive shopping center at Mashpee Commons.

Mashpee is also the home of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum, where you can learn more about the native people who have called this land home for thousands of years.

Grab a local beer at Naukabout Brewery while you’re in Mashpee, too.

Where to Stay:

Book your stay at a Sea Mist Resort condo or apartment for a family-friendly stay right near Mashpee Commons.

Mashpee Commons in Mashpee Massachusetts

Mid-Cape Towns

Barnstable

Best for: a central location if you want to drive to lots of other towns on the Cape 

Barnstable is an enormous town — it’s the largest town on Cape Cod, in fact.

Cutting across the entire width of the Cape, Barnstable has both bay and ocean coastline, with Sandy Neck being the popular beach and marshland stretch on the Bay and the beaches of Osterville on the ocean side.

Hyannis and Hyannis Port are two popular villages within Barnstable; you may recognize Hyannis Port as the home of the Kennedy Compound.

From Hyannis Port, you can take a variety of boat tours, including a harbor cruise that’s ideal for little ones’ shorter attention spans.

Don’t skip the artist shanties — these local creators and producers make ideal souvenirs and gifts!

Hyannis serves as the commercial and transportation hub for the Cape, with the Cape Flyer train service terminating here from Boston, as well as numerous ferry services and boat tours departing from here.

There is also an airport in Hyannis; the only other airport on the Cape is in Provincetown.

Where to Stay:

The Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis is really popular with families because of its awesome on-site indoor water park.

Cape Codder Resort Water Park in Hyannis in Barnstable on Cape Cod in Massachusetts

Yarmouth

Best for: budget travelers wanting easy driving access to other towns

Yarmouth also spans across the Cape, but its bay-side coastline is primarily marshland with little beach or walkable coastline.

On the Nantucket Sound side, you’ll find a few stretches of beach in both West and South Yarmouth; Bass Hole is a lovely option for a picnic area with a boardwalk to enjoy as well.

The Edward Gorey House is a tourist attraction in Yarmouth, as are the Cape Cod Inflatable Park and Whydah Pirate Museum for kids.

Staying in Yarmouth offers easy access to a variety of different points on the Cape if you want to explore as much as possible during your trip.

Where to Stay:

The Ocean Club at Smuggler’s Beach offers both beachfront and a pool for a great combo!

Or, for a gorgeous Cape-style stay, check availability at the Inn on Main or the lovely Chapter House in Yarmouth Port by the Edward Gorey House.

Yarmouth also has a few awesome Cape Cod rentals with a pool if that sounds like the perfect vacation!

Chapter House hotel in Yarmouth Port in Yarmouth on Cape Cod in Massachusetts

Dennis

Best for: beach-loving families

Helpfully, all of the villages within Dennis actually include the name Dennis so at least they’re easy to identify!

Dennis also spans the Cape, so you can enjoy beaches on the bay or ocean side; Mayflower Beach and Corporation Beach are very popular on the bay side while West Dennis Beach is lovely on the Nantucket Sound side.

Dennis is also home to the Cape Cod Museum of Art and The Cape Playhouse, which are two of the most iconic and beloved arts institutions on the Cape.

In South Dennis, check out Devil’s Purse Brewing Company if you’re a beer drinker — they only have a small outdoor seating area but you can also just stock up on great local beers to enjoy back at home!

Where to Stay:

In Dennis, check availability at the Edgewater Beach Resort for a pool and beachfront option, or look at the Pelham House Resort for a more modern feel.

Lower Cape Towns

Brewster

Best for: those quaint Cape vibes and for families with little ones who can play on the tidal flats 

Like Dennis, Brewster is comprised of villages that all bear the name Brewster so it’s easier to know where you are!

Brewster is one of the best Cape towns for families due to the tidal flats on the bay side that are perfect for little ones to wander at low tide.

Personal note: I’ve done a family vacation in Brewster that the little ones loved; I highly recommend Point of Rocks Landing Beach (especially if you can time it for low tide at sunset!).

Sunset across the tidal flats at Point of Rocks Landing Beach in Brewster Massachusetts

Brewster also boasts some of the best small-town Cape Cod vibes, with gorgeous old sea captains’ homes, tons of vintage shopping options, and iconic stores and shops to check out.

Brewster Book Store is a local favorite that you won’t want to skip; perfect for a rainy day or to just get out of the sun for a bit.

The Brewster Store is an excellent traditional general store where you can buy beautiful locally-made souvenirs from your trip.

The kids will also love getting ice cream next door at The Brewster Scoop!

You’ll also find the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster, as well as Nickerson State Park; both are great spots to take the kids for non-beach days.

The Nickerson family was a wealthy banking family who spent summers in Brewster; the Nickerson Mansion is now part of the lovely Ocean Edge Resort.

Where to Stay:

If you’re booking for a special occasion, definitely check availability at the Mansion at Ocean Edge; a more budget-friendly option is to stay at the Villages at Ocean Edge.

If you’d prefer a classic Cape-style B&B, check out the utterly delightful Candleberry Inn.

Entry to Point of Rocks Landing Beach in Brewster Massachusetts on Cape Cod

Harwich

Best for: a budget stay with easy access to Chatham and plenty of beach options on the Nantucket Sound side

Other than Pleasant Lake, all the other villages in the town of Harwich use the name Harwich to make things easier for you.

Harwich Port is perhaps the most popular of the villages, with its Schoolhouse Ice Cream and Sundae School both vying for every ice cream lover’s attention.

Sundae School ice cream shop in Harwich Port Massachusetts

Also in Harwich is the lovely Cape Cod Lavender Farm, one of the most romantic things to do on Cape Cod.

Personal note: Harwich was a great base for another family vacation with lots of little ones; we regularly took advantage of the tidal pool just up the road at Ridgevale Beach in Chatham (pictured below) as well as easy access in the other direction to some fun Mid-Cape attractions for kids.

Where to Stay:

In Harwich, you could book a stay at the very popular Wequassett Resort & Golf Club or check out The Tern Inn for a quaint B&B option.

Tide pool at Ridgevale Beach on Cape Cod in Chatham Massachusetts

Chatham

Best for: a romantic Cape getaway or a higher-end stay with all the classic Cape Cod vibes

Even if you don’t end up staying here, Chatham is certainly one of the best towns to visit on Cape Cod that should be at the top of your list.

As one of the prettiest towns on Cape Cod, it’s also our top recommendation for a romantic Cape getaway destination.

Located at the elbow of the Cape, you’ll enjoy gorgeous natural beauty alongside one of the best downtowns on Cape Cod.

Chatham Lighthouse overlooks a lovely stretch of beach that you won’t want to skip — and you can walk to it from the town center.

View of Chatham Lighthouse Chatham Massachusetts

Stop by the Atwood Museum and Godfrey Windmill for historic sites, or enjoy the Chatham Orpheum Theatre for another cultural option.

Some of the best beaches in Chatham include Cockle Cove, Hardings, and Ridgevale — Ridgevale is particularly great for little ones due to the tidal pool before the ocean beach.

Monomoy Wildlife Refuge is just off of Chatham, so you can also enjoy boat tours to spot seals aplenty.

And do not skip a meal at Chatham Fish Pier Market — the fresh quality, gorgeous views, and regular seal sightings make for an idyllic evening meal alfresco.

Where to Stay:

For a classic Chatham stay, book the Chatham Bars Inn — it’s the most iconic hotel in the area.

Other exceptional options include the Chatham Tides Inn and the Captain’s House.

Orleans

Best for: travelers who want to drive all over the Cape — Orleans is a great base!

Orleans is sometimes called part of the Outer Cape, but we consider it to still be Lower Cape as it feels more similar to these neighboring towns than to the Outer Cape and National Seashore towns (more on those below!).

Orleans offers some gorgeous beaches and serves as a lynchpin location if you want to drive all the way to P-town while still having easy access to Chatham, Harwich, and the other Lower or Mid-Cape towns.

Routes 6 and 6A merge in Orleans at its border with Eastham before continuing up the Outer Cape as just Route 6.

Route 28 comes north from Chatham into Orleans, easily connecting the two for fun day trip adventures or evening activities.

Nauset Beach and Skaket Beach are two delightful options in Orleans; I can personally recommend Skaket Beach for sunset!

You can also enjoy a meal and a beer at locally-owned Hog Island Beer Company.

Where to stay:

In Orleans, check availability at Nauset Beach Inn or book at the adults-only Ship’s Knees for a lovely B&B.

Skaket Beach in Orleans Massachusetts on Cape Cod

Outer Cape Towns

Eastham

Best for: a beach-filled Cape vacation that still has plenty of dining and attraction options 

In Eastham, you should first stop by the NPS Salt Pond Visitor Center to learn about the Cape Cod National Seashore and get a better understanding of the environment and history of this stunning region.

And then, go out there and enjoy the natural beauty yourself!

As the home to some of the best Cape Cod beaches, Eastham might be the best area to stay on Cape Cod if you’re all about the National Seashore sandy stretches.

On the Atlantic side, Coast Guard Beach is regularly ranked as one of the best beaches in the entire US.

On the bay side, First Encounter Beach is a popular local spot to enjoy calm waters and lovely sunset views.

Where to Stay:

Check availability at Inn at the Oaks for a lovely Cape-style stay.

Coast Guard Beach Eastham Massachusetts Cape Cod National Seashore

Wellfleet

Best for: easy access to National Seashore beaches

Wellfleet offers more stunning beaches to enjoy with less infrastructure beyond Route 6, so you’ll most likely stay in a vacation rental if you want to just enjoy some beach time.

However, there is one iconic attraction here that you definitely can’t skip!

The Wellfleet Drive-In is one of very few drive-in movie theaters still operating in the United States; for a double-feature and enjoy those retro vibes on a delightful summer evening.

Wellfleet Drive In Theatre Cape Cod Massachusetts

Another Hog Island Beer Company location is in Wellfleet and this one has an awesome outdoor seating area, often with live music.

If you’re a beach bum at heart, you have to spend a day at The Beachcomber; located on Cahoon Hollow Beach, this beloved bar and restaurant is a destination unto itself.

The parking lot fills early so plan to go early and spend the whole day, or take the shuttle from the Chatham Fish Pier if you’d prefer!

The town of Wellfleet is small but really cute.

You’ll hear the ship’s time bells ringing and get to enjoy lots of fresh seafood right off the boat!

Where to Stay:

Book a stay at the delightful Copper Swan to be in the heart of town with easy access to all the beaches.

Truro

Best for: getting away from it all!

Truro is perhaps the most remote town on Cape Cod, with fewer amenities around but endlessly gorgeous scenery.

You can visit Truro Vineyards and Highland Lighthouse when you want some time away from the sand and sea, otherwise, just bask in the beauty of these National Seashore beaches.

Where to Stay:

Check availability at the Dune Crest motel for a classic stay or go even more into the old-school Cape style and book one of the quaint Truro Beach Cottages.

Stunning Cape Cod Highland Lighthouse in Massachusetts

Provincetown

Best for: walkability (great for travelers coming by ferry without a car), fun nightlife, and a great arts scene

Provincetown is a world apart from much of the rest of the Cape Cod towns.

With ferry access to Boston as well as an airport, lots of Provincetown visitors come without a car to enjoy this artsy town at the tip of the Cape.

P-town is by far the best walking town on Cape Cod and if you’re looking for nightlife, this is your best option with tons of restaurants and bars to choose from.

This is also the heart of the LGBTQ+ community, having been established as a haven decades ago that continues to flourish today.

View of Commercial Street with flags waving overhead in Provincetown Massachusetts

It’s not just art galleries, bars, and restaurants though — there are some absolutely gorgeous Provincetown beaches to enjoy, too!

And don’t write off P-town as a summer-only destination; the lobsterpot Christmas tree is one of the most popular winter attractions on the Cape.

Where to Stay:

Some of our favorite recommendations for P-town are Pilgrim House or the AWOL.

Check out our Provincetown accommodation guides for more details:

Rainbow flags in Provincetown Massachusetts

Final Words

We hope this guide helped you choose from the Cape Cod towns based on how you want your vacation to look.

If you need more advice, let us know in the comments below!

And please share your own travel tips so others can benefit.

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