Introduction to Cape Cod
Cape Cod is a hook-shaped cape, also known as a narrow piece of land that extends into water, that stretches 65 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean in New England, in the northeastern United States. A portion of Cape Cod is considered the Cape Cod National Seashore which was formed on August 7, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. The Cape Cod National Seashore accounts for 43,607 acres on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
According to the National Park Service, the Cape Cod National Seashore includes ponds, marshes, coastal pines and woods. Known for its distinctive lighthouses, dunes, and magnificent beaches, Cape Cod is paradise for people and their pets!
Cape Cod is beautiful annually, after all, the beautiful Cape Cod sunsets occur year-round! All season long, locals and visitors alike travel to the beaches at sunset- many of whom bring their dogs.
Top 10 destinations to visit when in Cape Cod with your dog!
Dunes Shacks Trail
The Cape is known for its Dunes- and there’s a reason for it! While the dunes are technically unmarked, there is a parking area off the side of Route 6 going towards Provincetown where you can park and explore the deserted and wide-spread dunes.
It’s not for the faint of heart, however. Exploring the dunes is strenuous and is similar to trudging through thick snow, but dogs are allowed.
Nauset Light Beach
Nauset Light Beach is an expansive beach contained by a steep glacial scarp that magnificently stands behind it. The glacial scarp towers over the beach in height.
The beach is also known for the French Transatlantic Cable to help develop undersea communication. According to the NPS, in 1879 a new French cable was laid and stretched 2,242 nautical miles across the Atlantic from Deolen, India to St. Pierre and then 827 nautical miles to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Marconi Beach, a part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, is a beautiful spot to swim, watch surfers, and walk your dog! You can also visit the observation platform at the Marconi Station for a panoramic view of the Outer Cape. Marconi Beach received its name from the Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. In Cape Cod in 1903, Marconi completed the first transatlantic wireless communication between the U.S. and England. He delivered a message from the U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII of the UK.
There are many places to whale-watch in Cape Cod! You can whale-watch from the dock or shore, or through tours like the Dolphin Fleet in Provincetown.
The whale watching season on Cape Cod is from mid April through October, but the best time to go whale watching is in June through September. So keep your eyes peeled for Humpback Whales as sightings are not a rarity on the Cape.
Great Island Trail
While pets are prohibited on most trails year-round in Cape Cod to protect e wildlife, the Great Island Trail in Wellfleet, MA is an exception to that rule! It offers a great view of marshes, pine forests, and the bay.
If you’re interested in exploring other trails, pets are also allowed on the Head of the Meadow Bike Trail year-round. Plus, from November 1 through April 30, dogs are allowed on the Province Lands and Nauset Bike Trails.
Known for its community, dunes, and being a charming but enthusiastic shopping town, Provincetown is at the northmost tip of Cape Cod. It is a small coastal resort and beach town that draws crowds in the summer season.
If you’re interested in history, Provincetown is where the Mayflower landed in 1620. That event was commemorated by the tall Pilgrim Monument which you can visit with your dog on the surrounding trail. While in P’Town with your dog, Provincetown offers wonderful beaches that are part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Within the National Seashore, you’ll find Herring Cove Beach and Race Point Beach. Race Point Beach is recognized for its dunes and whale watching right from the sand. Further, don’t forget to visit the beautiful Race Point Lighthouse. Herring Cove Beach, on the other hand, provides idyllic sunset views and has been recognized as one of the “best beaches on the east coast” by the Travel Channel.
Similar to Race Point and Herring Cove Beaches, the Beech Forest Trail is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. It’s open all season for hiking and walking your dog! Be aware that this trail is where seabirds migrate, so make sure your dog is leashed.
Martha's Vineyard is an island off the Cape known as a summer colony. Martha’s Vineyard is only accessible by boat or planes, so keep the dog-friendly Steamship Authority ferry in mind.
Lucky for you, Martha’s Vineyard is pet-friendly! Dogs are welcome to ride in cabs, busses, trolleys in the town of Edgartown where you can visit Norton Point Beach and the Edgartown Lighthouse.
If you’re interested in hiking, Manuel F. Correllus State Forest offers over 5,300 acres of forest to explore with your four-legged friend. You can also visit Trade Wind Fields Preserve in Oak Bluffs, the Caroline Tuthill Wildlife Preserve, or Lobsterville Beach. As for restaurants, those that offer outdoor seating often allow dogs.
Nantucket is a small, isolated island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a summer destination with dune-backed beaches. Nantucket is known for its unpainted cedar-shingled homes and buildings that are scattered across the island. Because it’s an island off of the main area of Cape Cod, you’ll have to fly or boat there. An option for this is a flight from Hyannis, MA on Cape Air with a $30 pet fee. Only one pet is allowed per airplane. Along with that, dogs ride free to Nantucket on Hy-Line Cruises and the Steamship Authority’s ferry.
Nantucket offers a multitude of opportunities for you and your dog on vacation. This includes visiting the Brant Point Lighthouse that is famously painted with an American flag, Brant Point beach, Surfside Beach, the trails at Sanford Farm through the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, and Squam Swamp.
As for where to stay, you can enjoy The Cottages at Nantucket Boat Basin’s “Woof Cottages” which will happily allow your dog and cat for an additional $45 fee nightly.
Cape Cod Lavender Farm
The Cape Cod Lavender Farm, located in Harwich, MA, is a family-owned business with expanding, bright fields of lavender. The lavender farm is open March through December and free! With over 7,000 plants, a peaceful garden, 75 acres of conservation land with trails, and a gift shop to purchase a variety of lavender products, the Cape Cod Lavender Farm is a must-have stop on your trip.
Be aware that the annual harvest time is in June and July where the lavender will be in full bloom. That is the ideal time to go!
Recognize this legendary lighthouse? That’s right, it’s on every bag of Cape Cod potato chips that you can get at the grocery store. It is a restored lighthouse on the Cape Cod National Seashore near Eastham, Massachusetts. Tours at Nauset Light are free to the public. Dogs are most likely not allowed inside the lighthouse, but it is just as beautiful from the exterior.