How to celebrate the simple life in Cape Cod

The Cape is a very popular family vacation getaway for many Americans living in the North-East. Prior to our arrival we thought of it as just another nice beach destination, like many others we’ve experienced in the US. But we were wrong. It actually ended up being so much more than just that! This place has something magical, highlighting the beauty of the little things. We had three full days to celebrate the simple life in Cape Cod and get a sense of what the island is all about.

A man with a baseball cap sitting on a bench at a marsh near Falmouth in Cape Cod, admiring the landscape and enjoying the simple life in Cape Cod

If you’re looking for glamour, flair, drama and excitement then you need to go elsewhere. But if it’s purity you’re after then the Cape is for you. It’s the kind of place that’s not influenced by time, where every summer is the same. It’s the most boring place on earth in the most positive way. And that’s exactly what makes it the perfect getaway for families with young kids. This island frees you of all distractions, allowing you to reconnect and just enjoy life as it is. It’s the place where yours truly went swimming in our underwear (yes, all 4 of us) and shamelessly claimed our spot on the beach to build a sand castle! 🙂 Now tell me, would you try this in South Beach or Santa Monica?

If it’s just the two of you, then Martha’s Vineyard might be the best fit for a romantic day trip in Massachusetts.

Hyannis marina in Cape Cod as seen from the water

After our 2,5 week stay in Boston, where we enjoyed the culture and had some great summer fun, we were looking forward to escape the city. Cape Cod was just a 2-hour drive away. We left early enough to escape the traffic jams that are typical for a Friday in August. After all, the Cape only has a single major highway, making it notorious for bad traffic during summer weekends. Our hotel was located in Hyannis, right in the middle of the island. It was the perfect base to discover the island and understand the island’s lifestyle.

Here’s how we enjoyed the simple life in Cape Cod:

  • Biking

No better way to explore the island’s stunning landscapes than by bike. We opted for the Shining Sea Bikeway from Woods Hole to North Falmouth, on the Upper-Cape, following the prehistoric Wampanoag Indian trails.

A map indicating the Shining Sea Bikeway

We rented our bikes and trailer from Art’s Bike Shop. This was our second attempt to explore foreign lands with the girls in a trailer. Our first, in Switzerland’s Emme valley, wasn’t exactly a success with the girls bickering in the back. And unfortunately, this second attempt was no different. So once again, we didn’t get to complete the entire trail. We did however cycle most of it and the picture-perfect landscapes were breathtakingly beautiful. Marches, beaches and dunes as far as the eye could see.

Beautiful marshlands near Falmouth in Cape Cod

Yes, this is the part where we panty-dipped. We just couldn’t resist. So, you want proof? Yeah, we have a picture or two but these not for publication. We can only show you the scene of the crime. You just have to take our word on it. 🙂 Unless some witnesses caught it on camera… Seriously, what are the odds of getting caught in the act on a Cape beach by another Belgian family living only about 15 km (less than 10 miles) from our home?

A beautiful stretch of beach, a great place to celebrate the simple life in Cape Cod

  • Whale-watching

We booked a whale watching cruise with Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, leaving from Provincetown, located at the very tip of Cape Cod and making our way toward Stellwagen Bank. This is a protected marine sanctuary and underwater plateau. When the deep-water currents rise up, they hit the plateau, bringing nutrients and minerals from the bottom with them making it marine-life heaven.

A map showing the location of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

The cruise takes about 4 hours and passengers are accompanied by marine biologists from the Center for Coastal Studies. We learned several interesting facts about the magnificent creatures we were about to meet. For example, did you know that, unlike us humans, whales and dolphins are conscious breathers and that it is therefore impossible for them to be in an unconscious state as to sleep? They get their rest from switching off one side of their brain while the other half remains awake and then switch the role of each brain half until they are fully recharged. Pretty amazing, right?

Whales in the ocean, picture taken from aboard a whale watching boat from Provincetown, Cape Cod, to the Stellwagen Bank

The sea was rougher than anticipated on this summer day – luckily we didn’t forget to pack dramamine – and there were a few drops of rain. But we couldn’t care less about the weather because we saw plenty of mink, fin and humpback whales. It was spectacular! It could get quite rocky when the boat was anchored so we stayed close to the girls. Also, when a whale (or group of them) is spotted, all passengers head to the same area making it a bit tricky for the girls to see. This explains why I wasn’t able to take many pictures featuring both our clan and the whales. Note to self: Start thinking about investing in a more sophisticated camera rather than trusting on my iPhone. Looking at you, GoPro. What matters is that we were all truly amazed about our magical encounters.

Profile of a ittle girl looking at the whales during a whale watching trip from Provincetown, Cape Cod, to the Stellwagen Bank

  • Fishing

What better location for a first fishing experience than authentic Cape Cod? The girls couldn’t wait to try it out! To our surprise, quite a few fishing trips where specifically geared towards kids. But then again, it is what the Cape Cod lifestyle is all about. We hadn’t made any reservations prior to our arrival and were happy to learn that we could still join the Kids Fishing Hyannis trip. And to add to the fun, we wouldn’t take the trip on ’just another’ boat. We would take it on a duckmobile. You know, the amphibious vehicle? The trip, which takes place in protected waters, lasts for 90 minutes. This seemed just perfect for the kids’ first try but I have to admit that we all ended up wanting more!

Two girls on a fishing trip, one of them holding a fish she just caught while celebrating the simple life in Cape CodAnd yes, we caught a fish. Yeey for us! And yes, we released it. Yeey for the fish! 🙂 A fishing trip is the ultimate way to celebrate the simple life in Cape Cod.

  • Enjoying the sunset

Hyannis is such a cute and kids-sized town to explore. Our little fisherwomen were treated to a delicious bite from Little Miss Cupcape… and so were their chaperones. 😉

The counter of Little Miss Cupcape in Hyannis, Cap CodWe visited the John F. Kennedy museum, passed by the marina and enjoyed a stunning sunset at the John F. Kennedy Memorial site, overlooking Lewis Bay. It’s the most serene place to spend some time, the kind of setting that inspires reflection and silence.

Little girl standing in front of the JFK museum in Hyannis, Cape Cod
Little girl with a baseball cap, smiling on the pier at Hyannis marina in Cape Cod

Profile of a little girl overlooking Lewis Bay in Hyannis, at the JFK Memorial, during a beautiful sunset, in the company of some geese behind some flower beds

  • Picnic on the beach

The beaches you can find on Cape Cod, wow! Let’s just say that we’ve built an entire empire of sandcastles and baked enough cookies to feed the entire US army. 🙂

A little girl and her dad, posing with their pingpong rackets on the beach while celebrating the simple life in Cape Cod

A little girl playing ping pong on a beach in Cape Cod, striking a pose to hit the little ballWe then indulged in the best beach picnic ever, consisting of just one snack. Remember, it’s all the simple life in Cape Cod. We can’t think of anything can beat this lobster roll. This little box of heaven quickly became our beach survival kit.

A lobster roll in a white box held in front of the camera on a beach, a great way to celebrate the simple life in Cape Cod

Many beaches are reserved for residents, or at least for part of the day. At others, you pay a fee during the summer months. The water temperature was just right. And we’ve found this stretch where the water was clear and very shallow. What a treat for the kids!

Two children's feet, covered in sand and pointing towards the ocean in Cape Cod

This is our definition of the simple life in Cape Cod. Nothing fancy, just intensely enjoying the island’s amazing nature and bonding as a family. Taking a step back, letting go of all distractions and living in the moment.

Where to stay in Cape Cod

  • Hotel

Because our interests were literally spread around the island, we opted for the centrally located DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Hyannis. The interior may be a bit outdated but the poolside and service are excellent. Plus, there’s a fire pit on the cozy terrace. Oh, and let’s not forget the cookies! Other hotels we considered were:

– The posh Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in East Harwich

– The Chatham Bars Inn Resort & Spa in Chatham

Note that prices are through the roof in July & August!

  • Renting a house

But staying in a hotel is so very un-cape-cod-worthy, right? To truly celebrate the simple life in Cape Cod, you should be renting a house… or better yet, a mansion. You better start saving!

Did this article inspire you to discover the simple life in Cape Cod? Or do you want to share the place where you go to escape modern life? Then let us know in the comments!

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