8 Off-the-Beaten-Path Things To Do on Cape Cod This Summer
Swim in a kettle pond
Tucked into the piney woods of Truro and Wellfleet are a string of pristine freshwater ponds, known as kettle ponds. Formed after blocks of glacier ice melted more than 15,000 years ago, the ponds are as cool and gentle as the ocean can be ferocious. Parking at Wellfleet’s ponds (the larger ones include Great, Gull, and Long ponds) requires a town beach sticker between 9 am and 5 pm. Truro’s ponds don’t require stickers but parking is limited; Hard-to-find Slough and Horseleech Ponds have only a handful of parking spaces; an easier bet for a quick dip is Snow Pond, which has barely a beach but is easily accessible off Route 6 just north of the Wellfleet line.
Explore Provincetown’s art scene
Mingle with local artists and collectors in the art galleries of Provincetown, an art colony for more than 100 years. In summer, Friday nights are gallery stroll nights, when the town’s art galleries hold opening receptions for new exhibits (go here for a calendar). And don’t miss the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, established in 1914 and today the Cape’s most widely-attended art museum.
Hike the Pamet Cranberry Bog Trail
For a moderate hike with stunning views, take this 1.9-mile trail in Truro, which goes down to an old cranberry bog and bog house and then up to a viewing platform on Bearberry Hill that offers stunning vistas of rolling hills, dunes, and the ocean beyond. Tack on a short detour and you can hike over a slight dune and onto a gorgeous stretch of deserted ocean beach. Parking is at the Environmental Education Center on North Pamet Road; the trailhead is across the street.
Tour a shellfish farm
Wellfleet oysters are considered some of the world’s best, and now’s your chance to tour a working shellfish farm and see how the magic happens. Wellfleet SPAT, a non-profit organization, hosts farm tours from June through August, where you’ll wade out into harvest areas, learn about this vibrant form of aquaculture, and see various species of shellfish in different stages of growth. Be prepared to get wet!
Have a food truck picnic at Truro Vineyards
Truro Vineyards is always a good bet to sample locally-made wine and spirits, but on most summer days you can combine your tastings of wine, gin, and rum with an al fresco lunch from the Crush Pad Food Truck. The truck is run by Truro’s beloved Blackfish Restaurant, and the creative menu changes daily: Check the Facebook page for menu and hours.
Kayak Nauset Marsh
There may be no more beautiful place for kayaking on Cape Cod than Nauset Marsh, a pristine estuary that lies within the Cape Cod National Seashore. If you’re a DIYer, put in your kayak at Hemenway Landing in Eastham to explore these deep and navigable creeks (and if you don’t own your own kayak, rent one at Goose Hummock Shops in Orleans). Or better yet, join a guided kayak tour of the marsh with the knowledgeable guides at Great Marsh Kayak Tours or Cape Kayaking.
Hike the Dune Shacks Trail
This challenging hike in Provincetown is worth the effort, taking you through the brush pines and up and down rolling sand dunes (some quite steep) all the way to the ocean, where you’re likely to spot seals. The trail is sand the whole way; if it’s not too hot, you can even do it barefoot. Whatever the weather, take plenty of water. Parking for the nearly 2.5-mile trail is on Snail Road.
Visit Provincetown’s Portuguese Bakery
Provincetown has been home to a Portuguese community since the 19th century when Portuguese sailors came across the Atlantic to work on Cape Cod’s whaling and fishing ships. Sample the local flavor at the Portuguese Bakery, known for its airy sweet bread, malassadas (fried sweet bread dough dipped in sugar), and its best-selling item, pasteis de nata, a lemon custard breakfast pastry that pairs perfectly with an espresso.