Things to Do for Teens on Cape Cod
Question: We're an 18 year old son and mom, looking for things to do on Cape Cod. Staying at Blue Waters Resort. Planning on whale watch and parasailing/jet ski. Anything else suggested? Fireworks to see?
Will be in Cape Cod 8/19-8/24. Also thinking of day trip to Boston. Thanks.
Hi Susan -
You have a good start already on activities for teens on Cape Cod! Parasailing, jet skiing, and whale watching would be at the top of my list, too.
Here are a few other teen-friendly activities and attractions to consider:
Biking - Cape Cod is blessed with some of the finest bike trails on the east coast.
If you and your son are at all into bicycling, then you'll love biking the Cape Cod Rail Trail bike path. It begins in Dennis (the town next door to where you'll be staying) and goes about 25 miles or so all the way to Wellfleet on the Outer Cape.
The Rail Trail is smooth paved surface, well marked, and for the most part it's flat enough that you can pedal for miles without getting at all winded.
It's also incredibly scenic, with cranberry bogs, salt marshes, nature preserves and kettle ponds along the way. As you get farther out on the Cape towards Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet, the trail gets a little hillier here and there. But the scenery just gets better and better the farther you go.
It's quite an endeavor to do the whole Trail in one day, but you can choose your section and bike as much or as little as you like.
If you'll be driving to the Cape, bring your bikes with you. Or, there's a bike rental shop in Dennis (Barbara's Bike Shop) that's handy to the Rail Trail, and other bike rental shops all over Cape Cod.
Kayaking - There are so many beautiful bays, inlets and rivers on the Cape that just beg for a mother-and-son son kayak adventure!
One of our favorite spots in the Mid-Cape region is Bass River, a saltwater tidal river that flows from Nantucket Sound through the towns of Yarmouth and Dennis.
Bass River is only a few miles away from Blue Water Resort, and it's a fantastic place to spend a morning or an afternoon kayaking, communing with nature, and taking in the area's rich history.
Legend has it that Leif Erikson sailed Bass River over 1000 years ago. And today you'll still see evidence of our early settlers as you paddle past the Judah Baker Windmill and the stately Colonial homes that line the river's banks.
You'll find kayak rentals at Howie's (Bass River) Kayak, on Rt. 28 in West Dennis, just over the Bass River Bridge.
If you're at all skittish about striking out on your own in unfamiliar waters, then maybe a guided kayak tour would be a better idea for you and your son.
Great Marsh Kayak Tours in Yarmouth offers a variety of guided kayak outings including nature tours, sunset tours and even kayak fly fishing tours. (www.greatmarshkayaktours.com)
Nauset Beach - As you probably know, Blue Water Resort is on Nantucket Sound, on the south side of the Cape.
The waters of the Sound are warm and pretty calm, overall. Often a little too calm for teenagers who want a beach with "real waves".
That's why I urge families with teens to spend at least one day at one of Cape Cod's Atlantic Ocean beaches.
For you and your son, I'd suggest Nauset Beach in Orleans.
It's an easy drive from your resort in South Yarmouth to Nauset Beach (it'll take you about a half hour to get there) - and it's well worth the drive!
Nauset Beach is one of the prettiest beaches on the Cape, IMHO. It's miles long and backed by sea grass covered dunes with a vista that'll take your breath away.
For teenagers, the draw of Nauset Beach is great boogie boarding, body surfing, surfboarding, and plenty of other kids to hang out with. And Liam's. The beach snack bar.
I've never met a kid (or an adult, for that matter) who didn't love, love, love Liam's. They serve everything from burgers and ice cream to special seafood dishes and the best onion rings in the universe. So don't worry about packing a picnic lunch. Liam's has your food and drink needs well covered - at relatively reasonable prices, too.
Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf - Yes, mini-golf (or putt-putt golf, as it's called in other parts of the US) is on my absolutely, positively "must do" list, whether you have kids with you or not.
But not just any old mini-golf course will do. It has to be Pirate's Cove in South Yarmouth.
This place is mini-golf to the max! 36 holes of pirate lore, water cannons booming, funky music playing, and some of the most fun water hazards you can imagine.
Just for kids? No way! My hubby and I have been known to take an afternoon off from work and head to Pirate's Cove for 36 holes, just for the pure giggles of it. And when we have company with kids, no question that a round or two is in order.
Ignore the "kitchy-ness" and give it a try. You and your son will have a hoot at Pirate's Cove!
Cape Cod National Seashore - The National Seashore is worth a full day of exploration, and then some.
From Orleans all the way to Provincetown, the National Seashore area has spectacular beaches, hiking and biking trails, fascinating historic sites and museums, and tons of ranger-guided activities for teens and adults.
If you have time, I really do urge you to take your son out to the National Seashore. It's definitely not to be missed!
Dennis Summer Festival Days - You asked about fireworks. It just so happens that the dates you'll be here include the Dennis Festival Days.
This is a big celebration in the town of Dennis with all sorts of entertainment - including fireworks over West Dennis Beach on Saturday night (Aug. 20th).
You might be able to see the display from the beach at your resort. But if I were you, I'd go right to West Dennis Beach for the best viewing.
You'll want to get there early just to be sure of getting a parking spot. So this might be the night to get takeout lobster at a local fish market, grab some potato or macaroni salad from the grocery store, and have a picnic dinner at the beach as you await the fireworks display at dusk.
FYI: Our go-to fish market in the area is the Cape Codder Seafood Market on Rt. 28 in West Yarmouth. Stop in or call them at 508-775-0054 in advance, and they'll have your lobsters steamed and ready to go for you, packed in a handy plastic tub.
Day Trips - Boston is an easy day trip from the Cape. My only caveat would be to consider your travel time and the ever-present traffic and parking issues in the city.
If you do decide to drive into Boston, I'd suggest that you park somewhere near Faneuil Hall. From there you can spend the day walking the Freedom Trail and seeing the historic sites.
Alternatives to a Boston day trip could be a day trip to either Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Each island is just a short ferry ride from Hyannis, and there's also a ferry from Harwich to Nantucket.
You can rent bikes or motor scooters on the island, and tour around to your hearts content. It's a fun way to spend the day!
I hope this information is helpful and gives you some more ideas of things to do with teens on Cape Cod.
If you haven't already checked them out, you'll want to visit my Activity Planner pages.
Virtually everything you'll find there (including the free activities and the "non-touristy" activities) would be suitable for teenagers.
Have fun on your vacation!
P.S. If there's anything else about Cape Cod that I can help you with, please feel free to post another question or contact me by email.