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I can’t believe I’ve lived in Boston for over a year.
Even crazier is the fact that I’ve been here for so long and up until a week ago, had never been to Cape Cod.
Despite the freezing cold temperatures in Boston, I decided it was time to visit (yep, visiting Cape Cod in winter!)
If you aren’t a snow bunny or if you don’t live on the East Coast of the US, it may seem a little strange to visit this coastal region during winter.
After all, Cape Cod is a popular destination during the Summer. Cape Cod during the off-season, however? Not so popular!
But this doesn’t mean that visiting this beautiful area in Massachusetts isn’t worth the effort.
For those unfamiliar with Boston or Massachusetts, Cape Cod is a coastal region that is about a 1.5 – 2 hr drive from Boston.
It’s a hook-shaped peninsula and is super popular with US East Coasters during the summer. Known for quaint seaside towns, beautiful beaches, and delicious seafood – Cape Cod is “the” getaway spot for Bostonians.
To prove to you that Cape Cod in winter isn’t all miserable and grey skies, I wanted to share some photos from our trip. And if you’re feeling inspired, scroll down to read some of my tips for visiting Cape Cod during the winter!
1. Visit the town of Yarmouth:
This small town is famous for Captain’s mile, a street filled with beautiful historic homes and inns (some dating from the 1600’s!) I, unfortunately, didn’t capture any photos from my visit there, but it was a lovely spot to visit.
Also while in Yarmouth, I’d highly recommend visiting the boardwalk at Grays Beach. On a sunny day the area is photogenic (see my photos above!), and while you may not be lounging on the beach during winter, there’s something magical about visiting the beach in the winter!
2. Eat up in Provincetown (also known as P-Town!)
I loved P-town in the off-season. The streets are lined with adorable architecture, and the food is plentiful. While not all shops will be open over winter, as a major (and very popular tourist spot, even during the colder months!), you are bound to find something to tickle your fancy.
I loved having buttered lobster rolls at The Canteen. Service was quick, friendly and there was a quick turnover of tables! If you can handle sitting outside (we didn’t mind as it was sunny) there is seating both out the front and the back.
I also loved eating home-made donuts from Happy Camper (which conveniently is next door to The Canteen). We had an oreo crumbed donut and also got to enjoy a Nutella filled donut (YES NUTELLA – I’m still SWOONING with love for my hazelnut flavored donut)
There are also plenty fudge shops around town, and even if you don’t visit my recommendations above, there are plenty of options here!
3. Visit a Lighthouse while you’re on Cape Cod
Lighthouses are quintessential New England, no?? We visited the Highland Lighthouse (pictured above) which is about a 15min drive from Provincetown. While we weren’t there during hours where we could tour the inside of the lighthouse, it was still a beautiful spot to visit!
Especially magical is the lighthouse during sunset – the sky was a beautiful pink color when we visited!
Now we’ve got the practical things to do in Cape Cod stuff sorted; I also wanted to put together some tips for visiting Cape Cod in the Winter:
Be flexible with your dates
I’ve survived the last winter in New England (tho to Bostonians it was considered a “mild” winter), but as any New Englander knows, there are sunny winter days here AND cold, miserable snowy ones. Planning when traveling is important, but when it comes to winter here, you need to be flexible! Check the weather forecast in advance (yes, I do this on a regular basis when planning travel during this time of year!) and be prepared to change your dates for the sunny days (they do exist!)
And if you need your dates locked in? Hope for warm sunny skies. Or just embrace the cold!
Don’t kid yourself – winter is colddd
No matter how sunny it is, you won’t be lounging on the beach in a bikini. If you have visions of licking ice cream by the beach and going for walks in the warm sun… Please remove yourself from whatever fantasy you’ve got going on because it’s just not happening!
The upside of visiting Cape Cod during the off-season, however? There’s very little traffic, free parking and (largely) empty beaches!
Prepare your winter wear carefully
As I mentioned above, it’ll be cold here so wear lots of layers and rug up!! It is super important to wear a warm coat (I’m partial to down jackets as I find they keep me the warmest) and make sure you bring gloves, a winter hat, and scarf. If you’re planning on walking a lot outdoors, woolen socks and boots are also super important!
If you’d like more detailed advice on dressing for cold temperatures, make sure you check out my guide for surviving winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
And remember: the sun will set earlier in winter!
The days will be shorter (especially if you’re not a morning person) and the sun will begin to set a bit after 4 pm. This usually means it can be pitch black by 5 PM! Plan accordingly, and be prepared to re-prioritize activities if you run out of time. The upside of this means you don’t need to stay out late if you want to catch the sunset!
I loved visiting Cape Cod in the winter. It was peaceful and still a beautiful time of year to visit! If you want to visit, make sure to plan ahead, accordingly and be flexible with your travel dates!
Also, keep in mind that not all tourist spots will be open, and if there’s anything, in particular, you want to do (for example tour a specific lighthouse) look up opening hours in advance to check whether they’ll be open!
I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever been to New England during the winter?
What’s your favorite off-season travel destination?
Leave me a comment below!
Great little photo diary, the place looks very cool. Enjoyed the read.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Unta!
This is exactly what I imagined Cape Cod to look like. I would love to visit one day and have a yummy lobster roll!
I hope you get to visit Cape Cod soon, Michelle! It’s a beautiful weekend holiday location. I have to admit, it looked exactly like I imagined too!
Sounds like you had a great visit to the Cape! There are lots of things to do in the winter here even though many places close down for the season. More places are open year-round on the Upper and Mid Cape (closer to the bridges), like in Barnstable or Falmouth. I hope you can make it down for some summertime fun, too!
I was surprised when planning my trip that so many places were open for the winter (even though there a couple that close down for the winter). Thank you so much for the recommendations – I’ll need to visit again (maybe again later in the season!)
This is like a throwback to my childhood! My cousins live in East Sandwich, a half hour from Yarmouth. Just writing it, I read it back to myself in my uncle’s voice. And oh, those boardwalk pics! Takes me back to summers & Christmases on the cape with family. Thanks for all the throwback beauty. Next time you visit, make sure to check out Chequesset Chocolates in North Truro. They craft great bean to bar treats in all seasons! 🙂
I loved reading your comment, Max – I’m so glad you were reminded of your childhood! And thank you SO MUCH for the recommendation, I’ll definitely need to check out Chequesset Chocolates (I LOVE chocolate!)
Great pics thank you! and thanks for the tips on travelling somewhere cold – I’m heading to Norway in January – doesn’t get much colder than that!! Brrrrrrr…..
I’m glad you found the tips useful, Julie! Norway in Winter – what an experience! I was lucky enough to visit Sweden + Finland in winter one year, and while it was super cold, it was such a fun experience. I hope you enjoy your trip (and get to see the Northern Lights when you’re there!)
I’ve always heard about Cape Cod in the summertime but haven’t heard much about it in the winter! It looks just gorgeous! and you look super cozy in your adorable photos!! Also, I need that donut ?
You’re right, it’s definitely not much of a winter location (though it really should be more popular than it is!) And oh-my-gosh that donut was AMAZING I wish I had bought more!! 😉
Cape Cod looks and sounda amazing! I have been to Boston before and loved it! Next time, Cape Cod is on the list now, thanks for sharing!
Jacqueline, I’m so glad to hear you’ve added Cape Cod to the list for your next trip to Boston!
Awesome photos, makes me want to plan a trip.
Thank you, Sarah! Hope you get to visit Cape Cod soon 🙂
I always enjoy visiting places in the off season! You get such a different experience than you would otherwise.
Such a great point Leah! I often forget how amazing the off-season can be – cheaper rates, less crowds and lots of amazing photo ops!
Loved reading your article. I live in Yarmouth Port and you portrayed it beautifully! Many gems to find on the Cape despite the chill of the air. Makes for beautiful sunsets and sunrises if you are an early riser! Never tried those dining spots in Ptown, so on the to-do list!
Hi Nancy, reading your comment made me so happy – I loved my (short) visit to Yarmouth Port! I loved seeing the sunset, but I am partial to a good sunrise, so I’ll have to visit the Cape again soon. Also, I’m glad to hear you’ve added some to-dos to your P-town list!
Wow, I also saw pictures of Cape on worldee and its amazing place.