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Visit Cape Cod in the Fall: The Best Time for a Cape Cod Vacation

It’s important now more than ever to take time in making the decisions of where, when, and how to travel. Research your destination and mode of transportation to be sure you’re aware of any restrictions or advisories you should be following. We also highly recommend booking transportation and accommodations with a clear and flexible cancellation policy. 

Disclaimer: This article was written in collaboration with which we personally use for booking accommodations. All opinions and suggestions are our own.

With the miles of pristine beaches and iconic sand dunes along the Cape Cod National Seashore, it’s no surprise that the warm summer months are the most popular time for visitors. However, we’re about to share why we think you’ll love visiting Cape Cod in the fall.

Unless your only desire is to sit on the beach and soak up the sun, we feel the best time for a Cape Cod vacation is during the shoulder season. The shoulder season in Cape Cod is generally considered spring (May/June) and fall (Sept/Oct)

Both spring and fall in Cape Cod are beautiful, and both offer the benefits of fewer tourists and often lower prices. But in autumn there are additional bonuses. Early in the season the sea is still warm from the summer sun and later in the season, there are the spectacular colors of a New England fall. 

Still need convincing that autumn is the best time for a Cape Cod vacation?

Here are 8 Reasons to Visit Cape Cod in the Fall

1. Fewer People in Cape Cod in Fall

If you prefer to avoid crowds, visiting Cape Cod in the fall is ideal. No getting stuck in long lines of traffic, no problem enjoying a quiet stroll along the beach, there’ll be no jostling for room on the sidewalks of Provincetown, and there will be very little wait time at your favorite restaurant. But just because there are fewer visitors doesn’t mean that everything shuts down in the fall. You’ll find plenty to do in Cape Cod during the shoulder season with just enough people to keep it interesting.

2. More Cape Cod Accommodation Options

There’s a great variety of couples, groups, and family-friendly accommodations in Cape Cod and when you book during shoulder season you may be pleasantly surprised at the savings compared to high season summer. Although Cape Cod will never be a budget destination, most hotels and vacation rentals do lower their prices after Labour Day. Plus, there will be much more to choose from meaning that you won’t have to settle for your second or third choice because you didn’t book months in advance. 

Tip: If you don’t want to drive it’s an easy bus ride from Boston to Barnstable, Cape Cod

3. Cape Cod Unspoiled Nature

Cape Cod National Seashore is 40 miles of protected wild area. Understandably this natural beauty is busy with visitors in the summer months but in the fall you may often find yourself blissfully alone, or close to it. This stunning area is a mix of beaches, dunes, woodlands, and the unique Atlantic White Cedar Swamp which you can traverse via boardwalk.

4. Cycling & Hiking in Cape Cod in the Fall

As beautiful as the coastline is there is more to Cape Cod than beaches. With an abundance of trails to explore and perfect temperatures for physical activity Cape Cod is an ideal location for cycling and hiking in the fall. There are close to 120 miles of bike paths in the area which meander past the ocean, lakes, meadows, towns, and historic sights. The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a favorite with 27 miles of paved, mostly flat, surface going from Yarmouth to Wellfleet. There are also 100 public walking paths and plenty of hiking trails in Cape Cod and if you pay a visit to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard you’ll find miles of lovely nature trails.

5. Fall Festivals in Cape Cod

The year 2020 will be an exception to this rule but in normal years fall festivals abound. There’s the Yarmouth Seaside Festival in early October with 3 days of parades, fairs, races, competitions, beach bonfires, and fireworks. As the name suggests the Wellfleet OysterFest is all for the love of oysters. Cultural events include Theatre Fests in Provincetown and Wellfleet. Then there are Pumpkin, Halloween, and Harvest festivals plus fall food and drink celebrations.

6. Cape Cod Seal & Whale Watching

Boats set out on whale and seal watching excursions through mid-October and the boats will be less crowded after Labour Day. There are different themes and departure locations around Cape Cod so do a bit of research to find one that suits your preference. Some focus on whale watching or viewing playful seals in their natural habitat, others are historic or educational with tales of pirates and Pilgrims. You can even cruise on a research vessel and learn about Oceanography. 

7. Wine Tasting at Cape Cod

Fall is a great time for wine tasting in Cape Cod. Falmouth is home to the family-run Cape Cod Winery where you can taste fun wines like Rose Mermaid Water and Reel Red and in the fall they produce wines using the abundance of cranberries grown in the area. Truro Vineyards sits in a beautiful hillside setting and does tasting in a restored 1930’s farmhouse. There’s also Coastal Vineyards with small-batch creative wines and Vineyard Winery on Nantucket. 

8. Cape Cod Autumn Colors

Of course, one of the best reasons to visit Cape Cod in the fall is the colorful scenery. Massachusetts and neighboring states are known for their magnificent display of fall foliage but Cape Cod offers a slightly different show. Not only do the leaves in the woodlands show off their rainbow of colors but so do the farmlands, bogs, marshes, and even the beaches. A chromatic kaleidoscope can be seen by land and sea, from bikes, boats, trains, horseback, and on foot during whatever activity you choose. One of the unique things to do in Cape Cod in the fall is to take a cranberry bog tour where you’ll be surrounded by shades of red and orange.

Honestly, Cape Cod is a great destination at any time of year but we hope we’ve convinced you that visiting Cape Cod in the fall is truly special.

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