The following packing list for Cape Cod was submitted by Katie Doyle. See all packing list posts here.
What’s not to love about the Cape? The sandy spit jutting out into the Atlantic, just south of Boston, has everything a traveling girl can want for a summer getaway: so much beach, so much ice cream, and an endless supply of fresh salt air.
I’ve been visiting Cape Cod since I was little, so the length of time I’ve spent there has varied from making trips for a short weekend to living there for half a year. A week is a good amount of time for a summer trip (between June and September), both in terms of packing and exploring. The Cape is a beach haven for relaxing in the sun, as well as a well-known camping destination and bike spot. If you’re a fan of the outdoors (and maybe a strong New England accent), I can’t recommend this place enough!
Here are a few things you need to make the most of your East Coast adventure during the warm months:
A bathing suit is a must. The Cape is known for its gorgeous summers, and I love the variety of swimming options that pop up everywhere. If you like surf and aren’t afraid of a little cold, the ocean is perfect. On the other side of the Cape, the bay is warmer and generally calmer than the Atlantic. Freshwater ponds are great for SUP action and a break from the salt. Tidal rivers allow for some fun kayak exploration at high tide. Take your pick!
Wetsuits are optional, but they’re a good idea if you want to go surfing.
Hat: Although a baseball hat sporting the Red Sox or one of the Cape Cod Baseball League teams is preferred (and packing-friendly), you won’t be out of place with a big, floppy sun hat at the beach.
Towel: Any one will do! Just as long as you have something to dry yourself off and sit on at the beach.
Flip-flops: You won’t regret these when you’re trying to navigate a scorching hot parking lot or run into the store to grab some picnic snacks!
Sunscreen: It goes without saying: summer = sunscreen, even on cloudy days! I like to use Neutrogena broad-spectrum lightweight sun protection.
Shades: Throw in a pair of sunnies and get some choice people watching done while you’re hanging out at the beach!
Two pairs of shorts will get you through the week – I usually bring a pair of workout shorts and a pair of “nice” shorts. The workout pair comes in handy for runs or bike rides to the beach, and it feels good to put on shorts and a top to go out for a lobster roll dinner after hopping in the outdoor shower.
Tops: I prefer to bring a sun-proof long-sleeved top for extended periods of outdoor activity (extra protection from the sun is always great!), and I pack a couple of options for tank tops and t-shirts.
Shoes: At least one alternative to flip-flips is crucial to give your feet a break. If you’re doing lots of biking, hiking, or walking, a pair of sneakers will do the job. Boat shoes are comfy and laid-back enough to wear for lighter activities during the day and for baseball games or concerts at night.
A raincoat is useful not only for rainy days, but for whale watching excursions and boat trips that will at least spray you, and at most, drench you.
A sundress or two, along with a pair of fancy sandals, will put you in fancy mode if you decide to go out for dinner or drinks in a ritzier town like Chatham or Provincetown. A maxiskirt that you can match with a couple of different tops may also give you some more flexibility. The Cape style is pretty casual, but a classy, understated look speaks volumes in certain neighborhoods.
Sweatshirt or sweater and long pants: Nights can get chilly on Cape Cod, and long-sleeved items will also help keep the bugs away as you’re doing any number of evening activities, like going to the drive-ins, playing mini-golf, stargazing on the beach, or watching the sunset (or the sunrise, if you’re feeling ambitious!).
Pajamas: Cape nights are notoriously hot and humid, so shorts and a t-shirt will get you a good night’s sleep.
Undergarments: Underwear and socks (if you’re bringing sneakers) and a sports bra are key, plus any bras you want to wear with your sundresses.
Camera (on your phone or otherwise), appropriate SD cards, and chargers.
**Bring plastic bags to protect your phone from the seaside elements — if, like me, you haven’t gotten on the bandwagon with Otterbox. Little sandwich bags are the perfect size for keeping your phone safe from the sand and, most importantly, salt/salt water that you can’t escape from when you’re at the beach or on a boat.
Editor’s note: Check out the waterproof Travelon pouch to protect your phone.
Notes on Visiting Cape Cod
Be sure to pack your appetite, because the seafood is incredible. And have I mentioned the ice cream?!
Sorting out your accommodation ahead of time is strongly recommended, because the Cape gets very busy during the peak season.
Bus or train transportation is available to get you there initially, and a ferry runs from Boston to Provincetown and from the Cape to the islands. You’ll have the most flexibility and accessibility if you have your own transportation. Keep in mind that payment is required to park at most beaches, but pedestrians and cyclists are usually free. Check with the specific town or beach when you arrive!
There’s always something to do, even on rainy days, and Cape Cod towns range from touristy and busy to remote and secluded. I hope you fall in love when you visit!
About the author: Katie is a writer and videographer who chronicles her travels on Where in the World is Katie Doyle? from wherever she happens to be, which is currently in the Rocky Mountains. A winter in France, a summer on Cape Cod, with road trips and fishing expeditions in between—she’s up for anything and will tell you the story about it later. Check out www.kadoyle.com and follow @katie__doyle.
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