If the Cape isn't the Cape to you without going to the beach, you are in for a treat! Most of the beaches are open! Okay, you are probably not going to be laying in the sun but they are great places to go for walks or wildlife sightings. Most of the town beaches from Falmouth to Provincetown have their parking lots open and in towns like Barnstable (Hyannis, Osterville, etc.) dogs are allowed on the beach from mid-September through May. The National Seashore's Salt Pond Visitor Center, Eastham (508-255-3421) is open year round. In Chatham, the view from the parking area by Chatham lighthouse is great for spotting harbor seals - although on a sunny day you might spot them close up in most of the Capes harbors and town docks sunning themselves on buoys. Monomoy Island is home to a large colony of gray seals and they give birth to their pups in mid-winter there and there are group charters available to see them up close (none of the regular charters out to the island start until spring).
For other great outdoor places to enjoy, the Cape Cod Canal is a wonderful place to go for walks and watch the cormorants sunning themselves along the path. Paths run along both the Cape side and the Buzzards Bay/Sagamore side of the canal. While the visitor center is closed, the canal paths and parking are open year round. Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is run by the Massachusetts Audubon Society and has a great Nature Center and several trails. Trails are open every day, 8 a.m. to dusk. The Nature Center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. They are closed Mondays in the winter. At the Cape Cod Rail Trail you can go walking, biking or if it has snowed, cross country skiing. The trail starts at a parking area on Route 134 in South Dennis and there is over 22 miles of trail.
Going outside for fun a little too cold for your taste? Looking for indoor things to do? The Cape has that too. ZooQuarium is open weekends in January through mid February and then during February vacation time they are open daily. They have fun exhibits such as the tidal touch pool where your children or grandchildren can hold sea stars, urchins and hermit crabs. There is also a petting zoo with goats and deer to feed. The Cape Cod Children's Museum in Mashpee is fun for kids of all ages and includes a pirate ship and planetarium. They have several holiday and school vacation time events including events for Martin Luther King's day, Chinese New Year and even Ground Hog Day (no you don't have to relive the same day over and over).
If the world of art is more your thing, the Cape is full of things to do. Besides the many galleries from Falmouth to P-town that are open, the Provincetown Art Association Museum (PAAM) shows contemporary and historical art, hosts film screenings, and offers art courses for adults and children. The Cahoon Museum of American Art opens on February 1, with its new exhibit "Reawakenings". The Cotuit Center for the Arts offers awesome art exhibits including the Wild Things exhibit that has the art work hung to make it easier for children to enjoy. They also have theatre performances and other events to keep you entertained all winter long. Castle Hill in Turo is offering a winter long series of classes in clay broken into 3 parts and also include free open studio time. The Cape Cod Art Association in Barnstable is offering a series of classes and workshops all winter long for adults as well as some wonderful exhibits. There are some great concerts during the winter including several performances by the Cape Cod Symphony including jazz and great classical performances.
There are several great places on the Cape to stay the remain open all year long. Check out our friends at the Lamb and Lion Inn in Barnstable or Gabriel's at the Ashbrooke Inn in Provincetown as well as several other great places listed on AllCapeCod.com's Inns and Guest Houses. You can also check out places like the Cape Codder Resort & Spa with their wave pool and wonderful spa or the Dan'l Webster Inn and Spa on our Hotels and Motels page. So come enjoy the Cape and take the "bleak" out of your mid-winter!
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Great article and fully encourage people to discover Cape Cod off-season. No crowds but the beaches are still beautiful. Also the hiking trails are mostly open year round and are great for bird-watching.
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