Cape Cod looks easy to do quickly. It’s not. With 15 towns spread over more than 1300 square miles, and don’t-miss highlights hidden everywhere, there’s much more to do and see than you may realize when you first come over the bridge. The Cape CAN be conquered when your time is limited though, IF you have a plan. Think as though “Martha Stewart Living” meets military strategy, and you’ll have more fun in 3 Cape Cod days than most folks do in 3 Cape Cod weeks.
Because driving times to and from the different areas of the Cape can add up to more than an hour (especially in summer traffic), the first and most important choice you’ll make to cover a lot of ground in short order is to stay in a central location. The towns that make up the “Mid Cape” are called that with good reason, and it makes one of them, specifically Barnstable or Yarmouth, a good place to temporarily call home while you’re here. Hyannis and West Yarmouth in particular offer lots of lodging options for all budgets.
Once your central spot is locked in, it’s time to plan your attack. And the key word is plan. Plot your stops on a map that can be accessed on your mobile device, and make one map for each part of the peninsula you’re going to cover. It may seem a little silly at first, but while you’re moving smoothly from place to place and enjoying the sights, the rest of humanity will be forever driving from one end of the Cape to the other, or worse, sitting in traffic. And speaking of traffic, if you haven’t discovered the Waze traffic app for your smartphone, your 3-day Cape Cod visit is a good time to get to know it! There are lots of back ways and short cuts to be had on the Cape, but only user-interactive apps like Waze are likely to send you down those roads.
Now that you’ve planned ahead and you’re up early (don’t sleep away your 3 days!), it’s time to explore. An Upper Cape day 1 focus could include breakfast in one of the quaint restaurants along Main Street in Falmouth, a tour of the historic Sandwich Glass Museum, then late afternoon shopping and dinner at Mashpee Commons. Maybe day 2 is your Outer Cape adventure day. On the way to Provincetown, your route is dotted with dining and souvenir options, plus don’t-miss attractions like the National Seashore. And when you get to P-town? Be sure to check out the Pilgrim Monument and Commercial Street’s quintessentially Cape Cod shops, galleries and restaurants. Then on day 3, set your sights on the Lower Cape. It’s your opportunity take in one of-a-kind sights like Coast Guard Light in Chatham and the Godfrey Windmill in Chatham.
That’s of course just a sample plan, but it gives you an idea of the amount of ground you can cover in a short amount of time.
A few tips from a local though:
1.) Flexibility is your friend. If you plan some beach time, and the weather doesn’t cooperate, call an audible and choose indoor fun in that area, or swap your days around and focus on a different section of the Cape. And
2.) Have a cooler and a change of clothes in your car. The change of clothes means you can stop at that must-dine restaurant for dinner without trucking all the way back to your hotel. And with the cooler in tow, (grab some ice on the road) you can pick up those pastries from the bakery everyone’s talking about for dessert, without the worry of them spoiling.
A little planning goes a long way, and if you want to see A LOT of Cape Cod in 3 days, planning is the ONLY way. So plan away, and enjoy your stay!