Attractions and Activities to Kickoff your Summer Vacation

The allure, relaxation, and family fun of summertime on Cape Cod never seems to end, much like the gorgeous dunes stretching forever in every direction. Everyone in the family will love long, sun-drenched days at Provincetown beaches, biking around the Cape Cod National Seashore, spotting whales up close in their natural habitat from mid-April through October, and attending family-oriented festivals. It’s all just minutes from our Provincetown bed and breakfast, so plan your perfect summertime family escape to the outer Cape.

Informative sign in the dunes showing visitors how to spot whales

Herring Cove and Race Point – Pleasant Summer Afternoons on the Dunes

Provincetown beaches, a symbol of the summer months on outer Cape Cod, are a breeze to reach. With over 40 miles of dunes and beachscapes within the Cape Cod National Seashore, two of its most renowned beaches, Herring Cove and Race Point, are just a few miles from downtown Provincetown. Moreover, they are easily accessible by car or bike, ensuring a stress-free beach day for your family.  The Seashore charges entrance fees between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which are $25 per vehicle. But if you plan to visit the beach for over two days, get their annual pass for $60, which will grant unlimited visits throughout the summer, these are prices as of June, 2024 so check the website for the most up-to-date pricing.

Herring Cove, located on the west end of the furthest tip of Cape Cod, is protected by the peninsula’s geography, resulting in smaller waves and slightly warmer water, which is excellent for kids of all ages. Although it’s busy during the summer, the dunes extend far both north and south of the main parking area, so you’ll be able to find a spot to lay out a blanket on the sand and enjoy the sunshine. Kids will love searching along the shallow shoreline for seashells, which are numerous here and make great souvenirs. Beginning on June 19th, 2024, and continuing every Wednesday night through late August, stay for the free music at Herring Cove that takes place right on the sand starting at 6:30 pm, capped off by a spectacular sunset – because Herring Cove has the best sunset seats in the house.

Just on the other side of where the peninsula ends and Race Point Light commands the landscape, you’ll find Race Point Beach – one of the most popular summer destinations in all of Cape Cod, rated by AAA as one of the best beaches in New England, and where you’ll find beautiful dune scenery. Because Race Point faces the Atlantic, the waves here are more prominent, perfect if your kids want to get in some bodyboarding or learn to surf. Seals also gather along the shore here, which is always a charming sight and fun to play “spot the seal” with your little ones. Take long walks in either direction to check out Race Point Light (see our blog about Cape Cod’s many iconic lighthouses) heading north or the historic dune shacks just to the south. Along the way, your kids can observe rare piping plovers nesting in their protected and roped-off areas along the dunes from a distance.

Pedaling Together and Exploring More of the Seashore on Bikes

Once you’ve had your fill of soaking in the sun, rent some beach cruisers from Provincetown Bike Rentals and add kid-friendly nature exploration to your day at the seashore. Start at Beech Forest to see some of the most picturesque old-growth trees on the outer Cape, where a 1-mile loop winds around ponds and offers plenty of opportunities for bird-watching, and you may even spot a deer or fox, a thrill for kids and adults alike.

Continue pedaling on the scenic and winding Province Lands Bike Trail, which connects to Hatches Harbor, one of our favorite places to hike year-round. Your kids will love watching the impressive tide changes in action along this gorgeous stretch of salt marshes. Explore the naturally formed pools at low tide and have your kids use binoculars to spot majestic seabirds like great black-backed gulls, turkey vultures, and terns. The Province Lands Bike Trail and main routes through town, such as along Commercial St, are all relatively flat and make for easy riding, ideal for getting out with the whole family.

Whale-Watching – A Memorable Family Day Out on the Water

Bringing your kids out on a whale-watching excursion is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one they’ll cherish forever. Being able to see massive humpback and right whales frolicking just feet away from the boat’s deck is truly a wonder of nature. Join one of the daily tours offered by Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, true veterans of the seas around Provincetown who’ve been leading tours for nearly fifty years. Their 3-4 hour outings feature whale specialists – including trained marine biologists and whale researchers recognized by the national group Whale Sense for over 15 years for their expertise and focus on education and whale preservation – so your kids will gain a deep appreciation for these breathtaking marine creatures in their natural habitat.

Because the sprawling Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, a spring and summer gathering place for North Atlantic Right Whales and Humpback Whales, is just offshore, Dolphin Watch guarantees a whale sighting on every trip (if you don’t see any, which is very rare, you’ll get a voucher to take a future trip free of charge). Spring and early summer are the best time for seeing right whales, which are slow-moving and constantly feed near the water’s surface. Meanwhile, humpbacks are spotted continually throughout summer and into early fall, and are impossible to miss with their dramatic breaching displays. During your beach days at Herring Cove and Race Point, bring binoculars, as it’s relatively common to see whales from the shore at Provincetown beaches during the summer.

Kids on the 4th of July Float © Elizabeth G. Brooke

Celebrating Heritage and Equality – Summer Festivals for All Families

Provincetown comes alive during the summer with themed festivities and festivals from June through August, seemingly every weekend offering a different way to celebrate. On the last weekend in June, from 6/28-30, 2024, the Provincetown Portuguese Festival rings in its 28th anniversary, bringing together the community for lively music, excellent food, and unique traditions honoring the deep Portuguese heritage on Cape Cod. The center of activity is at Portuguese Square, walkable from your Gabriel’s room, and where the family fun includes a Beatles cover band on Friday, a kid-friendly arts & crafts fair on Friday and Saturday, and family field games at nearby Motta Field on Saturday morning. On Sunday, gather by the MacMillan Pier to watch the ceremonial Blessing of the Fleet, when local families march down to the marina in a festive parade, with their boats decorated colorfully and “blessed” for the upcoming year. Portuguese fishing families formed the bedrock of local culture for generations, so family appreciation is at the festival’s heart, making it great to attend with everyone in your family.

At Gabriel’s we offer a number of rooms that are suitable for children. Our Michael room is a private ground floor room with a full kitchen and fireplace. This room is also dog-friendly so perfect for guests traveling with a child and pet. Another option is Laurel, this is a spacious room with living room and dining area. The full kitchen makes it a breeze to create easy and simple meals for a child, at 475 sq ft it is ideal for a family with child. Finally Susan, has a lot of space with two entrances, large sitting area, big smart TV for a child’s favorite shows and is located on the ground floor this is also pet friendly. While all our rooms are very comfortable these rooms are our children friendly rooms and can offer the best quality of stay when traveling with a child.

Stay with us this summer, where the family fun extends from Provincetown beaches to bike outings, whale-watching adventures, and community-oriented festivals!