Uncrowded Beaches and the Plus Side of Visiting During Shoulder Season

Cape Cod’s beaches attract the most visitors during the warmer months, with endlessly sunny afternoons on the dunes, small-town streets packed with tourists, and quintessential summer scenes stretching from Falmouth to Provincetown. But seasoned travelers know that not only do the Cape’s beaches stay open year-round, but they are also far less crowded during the autumn and spring. Some facilities (like the Province Lands Visitor Center) close during the low season, which runs roughly from November 1 through April 30, but the Salt Pond Visitor Center stays open year-round. During these quieter months, parking areas are empty, and there are no visitor fees to access the vast Cape Cod National Seashore, making your shoulder season beach visits easy, low-stress, and cost-free.

Snow-Covered Dunes: Skiing, Bird-Watching, and Exploring the Seashore

After mid-winter storms, the wide-open dunes are blanketed with snow, adding a unique wintry beauty to the Cape’s famous beaches. You can even cross-country ski or snowshoe on public access roads throughout the 40-mile-long National Seashore, gliding along the snow-packed roads from inland to the shoreline. The off-season is also an excellent time for bird-watching, whether trying to spot a bright-hued purple finch or the elusive snowy owl. But keep in mind that even with the cooler temperatures, the sun still shines brightly along the Cape, so make sure to apply sunscreen and bring plenty of water on your winter outings.

Trek to Long Point Lighthouse: An Iconic Beach Hike and Must-Do During Your Visit

A must-add to your off-season adventure list is a hike to the Long Point Lighthouse, which sits on the very tip of the curved finger of land that creates the Provincetown Harbor. The storied lighthouse, built nearly 200 years ago, is a landmark embedded in the scenery and history of the Cape. Starting from the Provincetown Hotel, you are a short drive to Herring Cove Beach, where you can hike along the incredibly scenic shoreline, eventually ending at the lighthouse. An alternate and more adventurous route involves crossing the Long Point Dike, a rocky walkway directly connecting mainland Provincetown to Long Point. However, when taking this route, just check the water charts and head out during low tide, as you’ll need to make your way across the bay when the water level is lower. Whichever route you take, you’ll arrive at a classic Cape Cod beach landscape, but with solitude and serenity unique to the cooler months.

Plan your stay and shoulder season Cape Cod beach getaway!