For long weekends (think Labor Day, Columbus Day, Fourth of July) and other getaways that pop up spring to fall—a trip to the shore is all you need to relax and refresh.
Massachusetts boasts legendary coastal retreat Cape Cod, where travelers descend from all over—New York, France, Australia—to bask in its charms, and it’s only a stone’s throw from Boston.
Whether you’re a resident of this city or just passing through, take a few days to experience the Cape. From the canal to its tip, this peninsula boasts varied vibes, unparalleled seascapes and lots of beach. Plus, it’s really easy to get there, especially if you follow our guide.
Traveling By Air
For those who don’t want to waste any time traveling, there is no faster way to get to the Cape than by plane. Fly Cape Air directly from Logan Airport and have a bird’s eye view of Massachusetts’ magnificent coastline as you travel in style to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Hyannis or Provincetown.
Average Travel Time from Boston: 30 minutes
What to Do in the Area: The islands off the northeast coast are each serene and sophisticated, but manage to accomplish this in vastly different ways. Martha’s Vineyard is slightly more tourist-friendly, with family restaurants and souvenir shops on every corner. Don’t miss going to Oak Bluffs and seeing the famous Gingerbread Cottages, there since 1880.
Nantucket, considered the more glamorous of the two islands, features gray-shingled storefronts and cobblestone streets. Check out the Nantucket Whaling Museum or take a walk to Brant Point Lighthouse.
Going By Sea
If you love to smell the sea air and feel the wind in your hair, then perhaps traveling by ferry is the way for you. Two Boston cruise companies—Boston Harbor Cruises and Bay State Cruises—offer fast ferry trips from downtown Boston to Fisherman’s Wharf in the heart of Provincetown’s Commercial Street.
For those unfamiliar with Cape Cod’s geography, P-town is the last town in Massachusetts and sits at the final curl of the peninsula.
Average Travel Time from Boston: 90 minutes
What to Do in the Area: The Outer Cape—Provincetown, Truro and Wellfleet—is a lively retreat that maximizes a rough natural coastal environment, from rolling sand dunes to close encounters with protected wildlife like piping plovers and gray seals.
Cruising By Car
For luxury, convenience and privacy, there is no better option than booking a car service. Instead of renting a car and trying to navigate New England’s winding and sometimes illogical roadways, why not sit back and let someone else drive?
Green Shuttle, Cape Cod’s first and only environmentally responsible car service offers private hybrids from Logan Airport, Amtrak stations, and other points.
Average Travel Time from Boston: 1 hour and 10 minutes, depending on traffic
What to Do in the Area: At the Cape's most southwestern point—facing Vineyard Sound—the teeny Falmouth enclave of Woods Hole famously puts emphasis on the study of marine science.
Riding the Rails
Avoid the Cape’s notorious bridge traffic by taking the MBTA’s special commuter rail train, The Cape Flyer.
In operation since 2013, The Cape Flyer is quickly becoming travelers’ favorite way to head for the coast. Board at South Station in Boston and arrive in Buzzards Bay, Bourne. Sip a glass of wine along the route and enjoy scenic views of eastern Massachusetts.
Arrive to board early; trains fill up quickly and advance reservations are not available.
Average Travel Time from Boston: 90 minutes
What to Do in the Area: Visit small towns along the Cape Cod Canal. In Bourne, stop by Pairpoint, America’s oldest glass company and a Cape icon, and watch master glassblowers create beautiful works, like vases or candlestick holders.
Going By Bus
Economical and convenient, with a vehicle leaving every hour, traveling on the Plymouth-Brockton Bus is hard to beat for budget minders—$36 round-trip. Departs Logan Airport and South Station for downtown Hyannis, stopping at several places along the way, including Rockland and Plymouth.
Average Travel Time from Boston: 2 hours, depending on traffic
What to Do in the Area: Halfway into the Cape Cod peninsula, Hyannis in Barnstable County is easily the most tourist-friendly town on the Cape. Shop Main Street’s great stores and restaurants or catch a show at Cape Cod Melody Tent.
In nearby Hyannis Port, the famously favorite hangout of the Kennedy clan, you can visit the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.