The most westerly region of Cape Cod—Bourne, Sandwich, Mashpee, Falmouth, and Woods Hole—make up the Upper Cape. Life is a bit sleepier here than on the Outer Cape. The beaches are a bit calmer and prices a bit lower, too, which combine to make this an ideal getaway with kids. (See Cape Cod on a map.)
One of the area's most beloved and photographed sites, the Nobska Point Light has guarded the southernmost point on Cape Cod since 1826. The lighthouse tower is rarely open to the public, but you can visit the lovely grounds and enjoy the fabulous views. (Nobska Rd., Woods Hole)
Among the many beautiful beaches on the Upper Cape, Quissett Harbor is a particularly scenic and wonderful place for families. You can stroll out to The Knob for stellar views of the sea and Martha's Vineyard, and walk along Crescent Beach. Little Sandy Beach is an ideal spot to play in the shallow water and look for shells, crabs, and periwinkles.
For kids who love getting hands-on with nature, the small but marvelous Woods Hole Science Aquarium has touch tanks with lobsters, tautogs (hoodfish), quahogs (hard clams), crabs and starfish. And don't miss the ever-popular seal feedings, which take place twice a day. (166 Water St., Woods Hole)
AddressDepot Rd, North Falmouth, MA 02556, USA
A rail trail from North Falmouth to Woods Hole, the 10-mile Shining Sea Bikeway is a flat, paved route through woodlands and along the seaside. The name is a nod to "America the Beautiful," penned by Falmouth native Katherine Lee Bates. You can rent bikes from various outfitters in Falmouth and Woods Hole.
From Memorial Day through mid-October, you can take a 35-minute ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard aboard the Island Queen. Plan to spend a few hours in Oak Bluffs, exploring the town's restaurants, shops, beaches and adorable 19th-century gingerbread cottages. (75 Falmouth Heights Rd., Falmouth)
Of the many great ice cream shops on the Upper Cape, Smitty's Homemade Ice Cream is arguably the most famous. There are dozens of flavors, from the usual stalwarts to coconut almond, Oreo coffee, and more. (326 E. Falmouth Hwy., East Falmouth)
Grab a paddle and explore local waterways with Cape Cod Kayak, which offers a variety of tours for all ages and abilities from spring through fall. Tours last anywhere from two hours to a full day. (2 Williams Ave., Pocassett)
Marine biologist wannabes will love the 90-minute Discovery Cruise with OceanQuest, a unique journey into local waters to learn how everything on Earth is interconnected. With stations for physical oceanography, chemistry, and marine biology, families can experience real science in action. (100 Water St., Woods Hole)
For kids 8 and under, a trip to the interactive Cape Cod Children's Museum is the chance to play dress up, do science experiments, make crafts, and explore with all five senses. Guaranteed hands-on fun for little ones on a rainy day. (577 Great Neck Rd., South Mashpee)
Need a break from the sand and surf? Head for the shade at The Adventure Park at Heritage Museums & Gardens, a four-acre aerial park where you'll navigate through the trees through high ropes and zip lines. Minimum age is 7. (67 Grove St., Sandwich)
Love lobster? Seafood restaurants abound on the Upper Cape, but Falmouth's nautical-themed Quarterdeck Restaurant is a particularly great choice for families, with its friendly atmosphere, moderate prices, extensive menu, and great kids' options. (164 Main St., Falmouth)
At the esteemed Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, you can check out the submarine that was used to discover the Titanic wreckage and learn a ton about ocean ecology. Ask about public lectures and sessions held in the summer. (15 School St., Woods Hole)