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How to Beat Cape Cod Traffic Jams
Tips, Detours & Alternate Routes

Cape Cod traffic jams are legendary!

But there's no reason to get stuck in a long line of barely moving traffic, whether you're coming or going or already here. 

Long line of cars and trucks waiting to cross bridge over the Cape Cod CanalSummer Weekend Traffic Coming Onto Cape Cod

With a little advance planning, and armed with my tips and detour suggestions below, you'll be miles ahead of other Cape Cod vacationers by avoiding the inevitable summer traffic tie-ups!

Tips for Avoiding Traffic Jams

Miss the Bourne and Sagamore Bridge Traffic

This might seem obvious, but it bears repeating ...

Cape Cod is surrounded by water. We're connected to the "mainland" by two traffic bridges: the Bourne and the Sagamore.

If you try to cross either bridge when everyone else is doing likewise, you'll have a long, frustrating crawl ahead of you.

The best way to avoid bridge back-ups is:

  1. Calculate your drive time to the bridge;

  2. Leave home early or late enough so you won't be approaching the bridge at the worst possible hour; and

  3. Keep your eye on a reliable traffic report along the way.

Alternate Routes to Cape Cod

Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, traffic happens.

That's when it's time to re-group and consider taking a little detour.

Should You Detour or Stay The Course?

Before I tell you about these alternate routes, I want to warn you: They have what I call a "crap shoot" factor to them.

Once you get off the interstate highway and onto local roads, speed limits are reduced. You'll have some some town traffic and stop lights to contend with along the way, too.

So, is it better to stay on the interstate and hope for the best? Or should you detour onto one of the side roads instead?

Who knows! Either way, it's pretty much a crap shoot.

With that caveat held firmly in mind ...

Here are some of my favorite detour routes:

  • Coming from Boston and the North Shore of MA

    Most people who drive from Boston to Cape Cod take I-93 south, to Route 3 south, to the Sagamore Bridge.

    But you can also hop off I-93 south and pick up MA- 3A southbound.

    Route 3A is the shore route. It's definitely not the quickest way to drive from Boston to Cape Cod. But it sure is pretty!

    Plus, Rte. 3A goes right through the historic town of Plymouth.

    If you're in the mood for some sightseeing, stop for a visit to Plimoth Plantation, go see Plymouth Rock, or walk along the harborfront and tour a replica of the Mayflower.

    From Plymouth, it's only about 15 miles to he Sagamore Bridge.
  • Coming from Rhode Island

    Take a look at US-6 as an alternative to the interstates.

    Route 6 goes south of Providence (Rhode Island), then parallels I-195 and MA-25 to Cape Cod.

    Route 6 will bring you to the Bourne Bridge, the Sagamore Bridge, and all the way down the center of Cape Cod.

  • Coming south on I-495

    If you run into Cape Cod traffic on the southern end of I-495, try detouring over to MA-28 south.

    Route 28 is part of the "old" Cape Cod travel route. It's the route we used before I-495 was completed.

    You can pick up Rt. 28 south from Exit 3 or Exit 10 off US-25 (the extension of I-495), and it'll bring you right to the Bourne Bridge.

    Once over the bridge, Rt. 28 meanders along the south side of the Cape from Falmouth to Orleans.

Beat Traffic on Our Local Roads and Highways

A few areas on our local roads and highways are notorious for travel tie-ups during the summer months. Especially on weekends and on cloudy days when many vacationers go exploring.

These are some spots to watch out for: 

  • From the "lane drop" on Route 6 (the Mid-Cape Highway), just after  Exit 78 in Dennis, to the traffic rotary in Orleans;

  • Portions of Route 28 through the towns of Falmouth, Barnstable/Hyannis and Yarmouth

  • The rotaries (a/k/a "traffic circles") near Cape Cod Gateway Airport in Hyannis and near Mashpee Commons in Mashpee

  •  Route 6 from Wellfleet to South Truro, where there's also a lane drop from four lanes to two.

These bottleneck areas are relatively easy to avoid - if you have a good street atlas to show you the side roads we locals use.

Related Pages:

Driving from Boston Logan Airport to Cape Cod

Aerial Maps of Cape Cod's Major Roads and Highways

  1. Home
  2. Getting Here
  3. Traffic
  4. Avoiding Traffic Jams