Exploring Upper Cape Cod: Falmouth, Woods Hole + Mashpee

by Jon Miksis
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For a New Englander, there’s nothing quite like crossing the Sagamore Bridge to Cape Cod. Looking out over the Cape Cod Canal, it’s hard to contain excitement about the sandy beaches and charming seaside towns that lie ahead. The thought of sandy toes after a day basking in the sun, followed by fresh seafood, copious ice cream, and Cape Cod sunsets. What’s not to love about this hook-shaped peninsula?

While many continue driving to the elbow and tip of the Cape—or hop aboard a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket—there’s a whole lot to see in that first stretch of land called the Upper Cape.

During my recent trip to Cape Cod, I explored Falmouth, Woods Hole, and Mashpee. Not far from Boston, these destinations are less transient/seasonal than the beach towns of the Mid, Lower, and Outer Cape. As such, you can expect restaurants and other attractions to stay open outside of the peak summer tourism season. Though I didn’t visit Sandwich or Bourne this time around, I definitely recommend checking out those parts of the Upper Cape as well!

Without further ado, here’s what you can look forward to during a visit to Upper Cape Cod!

Read also: Why You Should Visit Cape Cod in the Fall

Exploring the best of Upper Cape Cod during the summer
Disclosure: My visit to Cape Cod was in partnership with the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and AutoCamp Cape Cod. As always, all opinions are my own.

A Unique Stay at AutoCamp: Cape Cod’s Newest Glamping Site

On Cape Cod, you won’t have to look far to find a beautiful beachfront hotel or vacation rental. However, if you’re looking for a unique getaway experience like no other, consider a visit to AutoCamp Cape Cod.

Staying in a luxury airstream is a surreal experience!
Staying in a luxury airstream is a surreal experience!

Located in Falmouth, AutoCamp Cape Cod takes luxury glamping to a whole new level. The main draw is its classic airstream suite, but you can also stay in a luxury tent or tiny house. Each is equipped with top amenities, including a fire pit to cook up food and s’mores. What better way to experience the Cape than by sharing stories with friends and loved ones beneath the stars!

Airstream and luxury tent at AutoCamp Cape Cod.
Airstream and luxury tent at AutoCamp Cape Cod.
Inside the airstream.
Inside the airstream.

From your very own airstream, you’ll be just a short bike ride to the beach and minutes from Falmouth and Woods Hole. Though nestled near many attractions on the Upper Cape, this campground feels worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of nearby beach towns.

This 31ft airstream is decked out with a bedroom, bathroom sitting area, and fully-functional kitchenette.
This 31-ft airstream is decked out with a bedroom, bathroom sitting area, and fully-functional kitchenette.

If you’re looking for the ultimate glamping experience in a wild and serene setting, there’s no better basecamp than AutoCamp Cape Cod!

Read next: Top Weekend Getaways Across New England

With its stunning nature views, Vista X Suites are equipped with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living area,
Offering stunning nature views, Vista X Suites are equipped with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living area.

Shining Sea Bikeway

Bike riding along the Shining Sea Bikeway is a must when you’re visiting the Cape. Connecting North Falmouth with Woods Hole, this 10-mile bike path takes you past scenic coastlines, salt marshes, farms, cranberry bogs, and more. It’s just a stone’s throw away from AutoCamp. So, you won’t have to cycle far to experience the pristine landscapes of the Upper Cape.

Like the rest of Cape Cod, the Shining Sea Bikeway is super flat. So, minimal effort is required to enjoy its stunning scenery. Is this one of the coolest things to do in Upper Cape Cod? Absolutely!

This bike path runs just over 10 miles from the Steamship Authority ferry terminal in Woods Hole to North Falmouth.
This easy bike path runs just over 10 miles from the Steamship Authority ferry terminal in Woods Hole to North Falmouth.

Old Silver Beach

Nestled along Buzzards Bay in Falmouth, Old Silver Beach is a summertime favorite for Cape Codders and visitors alike. This sandy beach exudes a calm and refreshing atmosphere, offering warm and shallow water and epic sunset views.

When compared to other beaches on the Cape, this one is much smaller and “tamer”, making it ideal for families with small children. Because parking is limited, be sure to arrive early to get yourself a spot. Otherwise, come back for sunset and you won’t regret it!

Old Silver Beach in Falmouth, Cape Cod feels like a Caribbean paradise
Old Silver Beach makes you feel like you’re relaxing on a Caribbean beach.

If Old Silver Beach is packed and you’re looking for an alternative, consider checking out Chapoquoit Beach, Falmouth Beach, and Woodneck Beach. Each has its own special charm and is perfect for families!

Sunset Kayak Tour with Rideaway Adventures

Cape Cod sunsets never fail to disappoint. And catching these vibrant colors from a kayak makes the experience 10x more memorable!

Chasing the sunset from a kayak.
Chasing the sunset from a kayak.

I recently did a Sunset Kayak Tour with Rideaway Adventures in Mashpee and was totally left in awe! This two-hour guided tour takes you past some incredible waterfront mansions in Mashpee and jaw-dropping views of Popponesset and Ockway Bay.

The journey begins at a gentle pace as you glide through narrow waterways before ending up at a barrier island where you’ll see ospreys diving in and out of the water. As the tour progresses and the sun begins to set over the horizon, you’ll make your way out into the open water. At this stage, it’s easy to get excited and up the pace of your strokes to see the explosion of colors and clouds that lies ahead.

Even if the weather conditions weren’t as perfect as they were that evening, I still would have left the tour absolutely awestruck. There’s something super relaxing and peaceful about paddling on the open water. I certainly left the tour appreciating nature that much more!

Read next: Top Bucket List Experiences for Travelers

Kayaking adventures in Mashpee, MA.
Kayaking adventures in Mashpee, MA

Explore, eat, and shop on Main Street in Falmouth

Main Street in Falmouth is the perfect place for a stroll any time of year. It’s filled with charming restaurants and cafés, artisan shops and boutiques, gift shops and galleries, and much more.

Got a sweet tooth? Enjoy a cold treat at one of the ice cream parlors or visit a local candy shop. There’s also a variety of bakeries and brunch spots that can quickly turn your day into a self-guided food tour. Don’t forget to peruse the adorable little shops that line Main Street, before continuing on to explore more of Falmouth and Woods Hole.

Read next: Coolest Restaurants in Boston

Main Street in Falmouth is a great place for people-watching and a bite to eat
Main Street in Falmouth is a great place for people-watching and a bite to eat.

Enjoy a scenic seaside stroll to the Knob

Located in Woods Hole, the Knob is a must-see for nature lovers. This narrow strip of land, referred to as Cornelia Carey Sanctuary, overlooks Quissett Harbor and Buzzards Bay. It’s a great vantage point for bird watching and soaking in the sunshine and windswept coastline.

The Knob is one of the prettiest places to visit in Upper Cape Cod.
The Knob is one of the prettiest places to visit in Upper Cape Cod.

The nature walk leading up to the Knob is equally impressive, where you’ll encounter rocky shores, beaches, and woods along the way. The hiking path is well-marked and offers beautiful views all around.

When visiting the Knob, be aware that parking is limited, so plan to arrive early or rent bikes to get there instead. It’s well worth the effort, especially in the summer when you can enjoy the warm gentle breeze as you take in the lovely ocean views.

Read next: Coolest Hidden Gems in the US

The Knob majestically hangs in the ocean.
The Knob majestically hangs in the ocean.

Indulge in lobster rolls and other fresh seafood

Like the rest of Cape Cod—and New England, in general— the Upper Cape is known for its amazing seafood. In Falmouth and Woods Hole, there’s certainly no shortage of fantastic restaurants to choose from, but one that stands out is the Quahog Republic Dive Bar.

Pulled pork and lobster roll dishes
Pulled pork and lobster roll dishes

On the road, I’ve often found that dive bars offer good grub at unbeatable prices, and the Quahog Republic was no exception. The lobster roll and pulled pork were out of this world! There’s no way I could write an article about the best things to do on the Upper Cape without mentioning this local gem.

Quahog Republic has a relaxing local vibe.
Quahog Republic has a relaxing local vibe.

Marvel at a whimsical work of art at Highfield Hall & Gardens

If you’re looking to pair stunning scenery with vibrant history, look no further! Highfield Hall and Gardens is a restored, 19th-century Victorian mansion decked out with lush gardens and eccentric art exhibitions. It’s set on 400 acres of conservation land in Falmouth with lots of plants and walking trails.

Highfield Hall is a museum like no other.
Highfield Hall is a museum like no other.

For me, the most unique aspect of my visit was seeing the stickwork sculpture out front. Sculpted by Patrick Dougherty, this whimsical masterpiece will feed your imagination and make you feel like you’ve been transported into a fairytale. It’s definitely a great place to bring small children, but the child in YOU will equally appreciate it!

Read next: Most Unique Places to Visit in the USA

Walking through a whimsical work of art.
Walking through a whimsical work of art.

Check out Nobska Light, a Classic Cape Cod Lighthouse

Located on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod, Nobska Light is a must-see when you’re visiting the Falmouth/Woods Hole area. Its name comes from the Wampanoag Native Americans, meaning “rocky place” for the treacherous rocks and ledges that lie along the coast nearby.

Nobska Lighthouse looks out over the ocean.
Nobska Lighthouse looks out over the ocean.

This classic Cape Cod lighthouse dates back to 1829, providing safe passage to boats and ships passing between Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound, and Vineyard Sound. It’s free to enter and there are tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer months hosted by the Friends of Nobska Light.

Read next: Top MA Lighthouses to Visit

Best Things to do in Upper Cape Cod

I hope you enjoyed following my adventures around Upper Cape Cod! Though my visit was short and sweet, I already can’t wait to come back to discover more local gems.

If you’re looking to visit the Upper Cape, or anywhere else in Cape Cod for that matter, feel free to check out my Instagram and TikTok for inspiration, where I share more stories and photo/video content of my journeys! Best wishes and safe travels! -Jon

Visiting Upper Cape Cod, including Falmouth, Woods Hole, and Mashpee MA
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