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15 Rainy Day Activities

Believe it or not, every once in a while rain clouds do appear on the Cape and Islands, forcing us to seek alternate plans from lounging on the beach. But much of what makes Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard great is the multitude of other outdoor activities not requiring sunshine. Here are a few ideas for things to do in Cape Cod when it rains.

Rainy day on Cape Cod
Rainy day on Cape Cod
Chris Seufert
  1. All aboard!

    Take a ride on the Cape Cod Central Railroad and explore the beauty of Cape Cod (all while staying dry)! It’s fun for all ages, and options include the Brunch Train, the Gourmet Lunch Train, and the Elegant Dinner Train. The 2-hour, narrated, scenic train ride offers the option of a “whistle stop” in historic Sandwich – or continue on without stopping if you prefer.

    All trains start and end at the Hyannis Railroad Station and wind thru Barnstable and Sandwich along Route 6A, before coming south along the Cape Cod Canal. You pass cranberry bogs, salt marshes, and sand dunes along the way. Note that only the dinner train will cross the Cape Cod Canal.

  2. Go on a Pirate Adventure

    Has your sunny vacation day been pirated by some rain? You might want to head to the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth and learn about the pirate, Sam Bellamy, and the shipwreck of the Whydah. Although kids of all ages enjoy pirate adventures, the museum is best suited for older children and adults.

    pirate ship bell from the Whydah Pirate Museum and the shipwrecked boat from 1717 off the coast of Wellfleet, MA
    Bell from shipwrecked Whydah in 1717

    The Whydah Pirate ship was wrecked in 1717 off the coast of Wellfleet and went down with its treasure. The archaeological mission led by explorer Barry Clifford has uncovered treasure coins, weaponry and other objects that help tell the story of a pirate life.

    If you are out on the Outer Cape, you may learn more at Expedition Whydah Learning Center in Provincetown located at the end of MacMillian wharf. Since 1996, it has been the headquarters of Expedition Whydah’s diving operations.

    There are also numerous other museums in the area to explore where you can learn about everything ranging from maritime history to author and naturalist Thornton Burgess.

  3. Explore a local library

    We love our libraries! They have story times, puppet shows, author talks, and art exhibits. So if the raindrops are falling, head to a library near your vacation rental, and check it out.

    Even if it's not raining, consider visiting the local library, signing up for a library card if necessary, and check out a collection of books for the week. Cape Cod vacations don't have to be all about the beaches - get lost in a book, put down the electronic devices, and enjoy some summer reading.

  4. See what separates Cape Cod from the rest...literally

    Pay a visit to the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center and Museum . Explore the rich history, fascinating features, and vigilant operation of the Cape Cod Canal and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

  5. Public indoor entertainment

    The Cape and Islands region has an indoor water park, bowling alleys, arcades, ice skating rinks, and laser tag: all good ways to be active while escaping gloomy weather. View Cape Cod Amusements and Cape Cod Activities for Children

    In Eastham, an arcade is located next to Red Barn Pizza, while Orleans is home to classic candle pin bowling. The Orleans Bowling Center is great for families and kids of all ages. In addition to bowling, a house smoked BBQ restaurant provides food and drink. Grab lunch or dinner before or during your bowling games or just visit the restaurant for some authentic BBQ fare.

    Several locations for Ryan Family Amusements exist around the Cape, including the new facility opened in the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis. Ten Pin Eatery is is fun for all ages with bowling, arcade games, laser tag and a restaurant.

  6. Experience nature's umbrella

    The 100-year-old Weeping Beech Tree, located at the Captain Bangs Hallet House in Yarmouth, is a stunning example of a weeping beech, and, when in full leaf, those raindrops are going to have a hard time finding you.

    Rain rain, go away
  7. Check out a General Store

    Several General Stores can be found throughout the towns on the Cape. Venture into one for a variety of items - books, magazines, penny candy, souvenirs, toys and games, and many other local items.

    Popular ones include The Brewster Store (converted from a church to a general store in 1866), 1856 Country Store in Centerville, and Alley's General Store in West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard. If you are out on the Cape Cod bike trail, you'll find Pleasant Lake General Store on Rt 124 in Harwich which is a great place to stop for lunch and grab some sandwiches for the deli.

  8. Explore the lighthouses of Cape Cod and the Islands

    If the fog has rolled in, consider visiting any of the 15 remaining working lighthouses to see and hear them in action. Some, like the Edgartown Lighthouse on the Vineyard, even offer a lighthouse keeper happy to answer any questions.

    Highlight Lighthouse in Truro, MA
    Highlight Lighthouse in Truro, MA
    View of Atlantic Ocean from the top of Highland Lighthouse in Truro
    View of Atlantic Ocean from the top of Highland Lighthouse in Truro
  9. Take a Brewery Tour or Tasting

    For adults, a tour of a local brewery or winery is a fun way to escape the rain.

    The "Outermost Brewery" on Cape Cod, Hog Island Beer Company, is located in Orleans and is connected to the Jailhouse Tavern. Known for it's craft beer including White Shark Wheat and Outermost IPA, you can come for tours, enjoy a pint outdoors while playing lawn games, or take a growler to go.

    According to their slogan, "A Vacation in Every Pint", you must check out Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis on Phinney's Lane. There's a single tour a day, so plan accordingly, but can always come in for tastings. In nice weather, a beer garden tent is available, and you may either order food from a pop-up kitchen (during the summer), bring in your own food or order food to be delivered. As a bonus, dogs are allowed under their beer garden tent.

    Craft Brewery Devil's Purse in Dennis is tasting room only, but also allow outside food to be brought in. For a unique taste found on the Cape, try their Intertidal Oyster Stout. Yes, it is brewed with oyster's in the shell!

    On Nantucket, check out Cisco Brewery, and visiting Martha's Vineyard, be sure to visit Offshore Ale in Oak Bluffs, Bad Martha in Edgartown, or Wash Ashore Beer Company.

    Traveling with kids? Check out the classic Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory . Self-guided tours are free and will be re-opening after Memorial Day 2019 as their factory is being remodeled.

  10. Too windy to go to the beach? Well then, it is the perfect day to go to a windmill!

    The Old Mill on Nantucket is open to tours, giving you the opportunity to see the inner workings of a windmill. The 280-year-old windmill is sure to fascinate both kids and adults.

    Old Mill Windmill in Nantucket
    Old Mill Windmill in Nantucket
  11. Go on a scavenger hunt

    The Salt Pond Visitors Center in Eastham has scavenger hunts that take place inside the museum. Clues (and answers) are available online, or pick one up at the museum.

  12. Head to a movie theater for a matinee

    This is a great way to spend a rainy day on Cape Cod and escape less than perfect weather. There are 9 movie theaters on the Cape and Islands, including the refinished Chatham Orpheum Theatre!

  13. Cape Cod and the Islands are home to several performing arts centers

    Live theater, music, and dance are abundant. So head to one of our performing arts centers to chase those rainy day blues away.
  14. Dennis-arts-cinema-playhouse-performing-theater-art-museum
  15. Explore our bookstores

    Bookstores are wonderful places to wander through on a rainy day. Most have cozy nooks for reading and are kid and adult friendly!

    Brewster Bookstore
  16. Go to the Beach

    Yes, that's right - you can still head to the beach! If the day is not a total washout, grab an umbrella, raincoat and rain boots. The beach is beautiful and interesting even when the sun is not shining. As long as it’s not raining hard, take a walk, hunt for shells, play frisbee, or make sandcastles. There is plenty to do at the beach even when the sun is not shining – and it’s not too hot!

    View Cape Cod beaches

About Susan Hutchins

About Susan Hutchins: I joined the WeNeedaVacation team in 2012 and write website and blog content as well as promote through social media. Having grown up spending summers on Nantucket, I have a strong connection to Cape Cod and the Islands. I now live in New Hampshire with my husband, two children, and golden retriever, and we are frequent visitors to the Cape. I love running local road races, the Brewster in Bloom 5K being a favorite. My family enjoys biking on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, hiking in Nickerson State Park, and relaxing on the beautiful beaches (usually a dog friendly one!).