Featured Stories & Articles from Cape Cod Travel Magazine: Destination Imagination
Let’s face it. Kids know how to have fun. Their imagination always seems primed and ready to go. For the tiny traveler, and mom and dad, the Cape offers a kingdom full of adventure—and ample opportunity to play.
Explore New Lands
Heritage Museums & Gardens is 100 acres of gardens and nature trails on the banks of Shawme Pond in historic Sandwich. It’s the type of place where you can start out in a labyrinth and end up a bird perched amongst the trees overlooking a “Hidden Hollow”.
Hidden Hollow is the name of Heritage Museums & Gardens newest exhibit—a playground of natural wonders inside the belly of a two-acre dry kettle hole. It’s a place where families can explore nature, climb stepping stumps, navigate log balance beams, construct forts, create nature-inspired art, build with blocks, dig in the sand, experiment with water, make music, investigate plants together and whatever else their imagination can come up with.
The crowning glory of this new outdoor discovery center is the two-story tree house that is wrapped around a pair of sturdy oaks. The first-level deck, which has a ramp for wheel chair access, is 15 feet off the ground, and lends a birds-eye view of all the fun and excitement down below. Even higher still, the second floor makes you feel like you’re a bird aloft its nest.
Ride the Rails
Thanks to Thomas the Tank Engine and the animated movie The Polar Express, interest in trains has not waned; kids still love them. During July and August, families can take a ride on the Cape Cod Central Railroad and enjoy a bite to eat on the two-hour family-friendly supper train. Choo Choo Charley the clown and friends keep the party train’s atmosphere pumping with table-to-table magic, balloon twisting, face-painting, dancing to the “Hokey Pokey” and shaking a tail feather to the Chicken Dance.
Besides the rail-side views of scenic sea-side Cape Cod, parents will appreciate the menu—which can be modified for dietary restrictions—and the full bar. While kids munch on chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese, parents can dine on either chicken Francaise sautéed in lemon, butter, shallots and white wine and fresh dill or a perfectly pan-seared salmon.
Compete like a Champion
You don’t have to be a famous athlete to feel like one. Bass River Sports World Complex covers the most popular sports, with soft ball, baseball and soccer cages, a golf driving range, skate park and a go-kart course for family members to test their skill against themselves or each other. And everyone is a winner within the large onsite arcade; tickets can be redeemed for prizes big and small.
Similar to Bass River Sports World, Ryan Family Amusements pairs arcade games and physical sport together, offering ten-pin and candlepin bowling and a game room with prizes. Kid-friendly “bumpers” practically assure that every bowling ball will knock down a few pins, transforming even the meekest roll into a champion hurl.
Quack Like a Duck
For a more fast-paced adventure on land and sea there are Cape Cod Duckmobile tours. Families can climb aboard one of the company’s two military amphibious vehicles and ride down Main Street, while a talkative tour guide points out such memorable sights as the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and the popular outdoor carousel ride, which usually earns a round of quacking from passengers. Inevitably, a few get returned. The second half of the 45-minute ride will have kids wondering about the capabilities of their own family vehicles as the tour takes an aquatic turn into Lewis Bay, where they’ll cruise past boats and a lighthouse, and learn about the effects of Hurricane Bob in 1991. “It’s a fun way of sightseeing,” says Jon Britton who started the company with his wife in 1995. “It’s like a chamber of commerce on wheels.”
Slide on Over
New to the Cape last summer was the Cape Cod Inflatable Raft Park. It’s huge, it’s colorful and it’s totally fun! The park, located next to Cape Cod Irish Village, features supersized bouncers and massive inflatable slides depicting an array of creatures such as dinosaurs, King Kong and one very large shark, along with sports and games and even obstacle courses. This place is certain to make any kids Cape vacation memorable.
Act the Part
Visiting the land of make-believe is not just a childhood pastime. At Harwich Junior Theatre, it is a year-round pursuit for kids, young adults and adults alike. For the past 60 years, Cape Cod’s premier family theatre has been performing a mix of all-age stage productions, from fairy tales and musicals to contemporary drama and the classics. Each year more than 20,000 people savor a show at the cozy venue. But for those adventurous spirits who would like to get up on stage, Harwich Junior Theatre also offers classes for various age groups in acting, comedy improv, how to audition and the back-stage technical aspect of theatre like lighting and prop design.
Get Close to Critters
Stripers, llamas and deer…oh my! For a singular experience in getting to know all about animals, take the tykes to Zooquarium in West Yarmouth. Zooquarium features a tidal touch pool where the ‘look don’t touch rule’ has been tossed out the window in favor of a hands-on opportunity to explore hermit and horseshoe crabs, clams, sea stars and urchins. The petting zoo is home to llamas Wilma, Pebbles and Betty, as well as goats and deer. And the aquarium houses all kinds of Cape Cod sea creatures like lobsters, frogs and turtles. There’s also the “Zoorific Theater” with a host of fast-paced, informative films. Zooquarium even has resident owls and turkey vultures. With so much to see and do, the little ones will be begging to spend hours.
Faster and flashier than a regular round of 18 holes, mini golf can be played in around an hour and a half and usually includes fun themes and cool water features like cascading waterfalls or challenging water hazards. The Cape offers an array of course designs.
Holiday Hill Miniature Golf
352 Main St., Dennisport; 800-333-2569
On the grounds of Holiday Hill Motor Inn is a quaint 18-hole course, located right next to their popular ice cream shop. Open to inn guests and the public.
728 Main St., South Yarmouth;
The two pirate-themed 18-hole courses are open from early April through October.
Skull Island Adventure Golf at Bass River Sports World
934 Route 28, South Yarmouth
The challenging Swiss Family Robinson-themed course is a whopping 38,000 square feet and has 20 waterfalls, 25 fountains and a darkened cave.
Cape Escape Adventure Golf
14 Canal Rd., Orleans; 508-240-1791:
A nautical-themed course replete with large-scale boats, waterfalls and koi pond.
Arnolds Lobster & Clam Bar
3580 Rte. 6, Eastham; 508-255-2575
Before or after an ice cream cone or plate of fresh fried seafood, visitors can hit the miniature links for a round of 18.
51 Rte. 6, Wellfleet; 508-349-7176
A night of retro fun, families can play 18-holes of this colorful and campy course before taking in a double feature at the drive-in.
Whether you are looking for pirate adventures, water slides or searching for clams, seals, whales or sea critters, the Cape has plenty of aqua-centric activities that both parents and kids will enjoy.
Beachcomber—Sunset Cruises and Seal Tours
174 Crowell Rd., Chatham; 508-945-5265:
Captain John Boats—Whale Watching and Fishing Tours
10 Town Wharf, Plymouth; 800-242-2469
Dolphin Fleet—Whale Watches
132 Bradford St., Provincetown: 800-826-9300:
Ticket office at Provincetown Chamber of Commerce and at the Dolphin Fleet booth at the pier.
Flyer’s Boatyard Rentals
131A Commercial St., Provincetown; 508-487-0898:
Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises
269 Millway Rd., Barnstable; 800-287-0374
Hyline Cruises—High-speed ferries to the islands (220 Ocean St., Hyannis), fishing trips and Sunday Ice cream float harbor cruises (138 Ocean St., Hyannis); Cape Cod Canal three-hour and two-hour narrated sightseeing tours (184 Onset Ave., Onset).
Monomoy Island Excursions—Seal cruises and bird-watching excursions
702 Rte. 28, Harwich Port: 508-430-7772
OceanQuest—Oceanography Cruise & Private Charter Leaves from Waterfront Park, Water St., Woods Hole; 800-376-2326
Pirate Adventures Cape Cod—Interactive sea excursion
138 Ocean St., Hyannis; 508-394-9100
150 Main St., West Dennis
Viking Princess Harbor Cruises of Provincetown—Harbor sightseeing tours and critter cruises, where kids discover and learn about the marine life below.
Depart MacMillan Pier, Provincetown; 508-487-7323