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Where to Stay in Cape Cod: Best Areas & Hotels, 2018

Written by Alison Abbott

Surrounded by pristine beaches and just a stone's throw from Boston, Cape Cod is practically an institution for those growing up in nearby cities for summer vacations. It's estimated that more than six million people a year flock to Cape Cod to escape, soak up the sun, and take advantage of over 500 miles of beautiful coastline and charming historic towns in this New England playground. Hotels and resorts range from posh retreats to more affordable family-oriented establishments.

Visitors have the option of crossing either of two bridges. Once across the Cape Cod Canal, the region is defined by four distinct areas, which encompass 15 towns. Each is diverse and offers a unique vacation spot depending on your needs, but all have the common bond of a love for the sea. Do you want a relaxing secluded beach vacation or one filled with family-friendly activities? Cape Cod has a little something for everyone.

About the Area

Nobska lighthouse at Woods Hole

Nobska lighthouse at Woods Hole

The Upper Cape is closest to Boston and represents the area right over the bridge. The towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Sandwich, and Woods Hole (as well as Martha's Vineyard ferries) can be found here. This part of the cape is less commercial, and instead you will find centuries-old homes, historic inns, and charming tree-lined streets. Additionally, Mashpee is in this group, and the area has a lot of new growth and Mashpee Commons, a mall area with many brand names.

The area that borders the waters of Nantucket Sound make up the Lower Cape. Not only is it home to Nickerson State Park, it includes the towns of Brewster, Chatham, Harwich, and Orleans. These are family-friendly towns filled with beautiful vacation homes. In the town of Harwich, the beach is just steps from Main Street. The towns of the lower cape are all-American and reminiscent of a bygone era.

Hyannis and Barnstable are the big cheeses of the Mid-Cape, and this area is busy year-round with a bustling downtown filled with attractions. You'll also find the gateway to Nantucket, here. The other towns are Barnstable, Dennis, and Yarmouth. If you are looking for first-class restaurants and a busier vibe, this is the place to go.

The artsy Outer Cape is home to the Cape Cod National Seashore. This beautiful park is more secluded and filled with coastline stretching as far as the eye can see. Provincetown is unconventional and provides many attractions: the towns of Eastham, Turo, and Wellfleet are secluded getaways made for a more laid-back vacation. The sounds of the ocean will be your biggest distraction.

Where to Stay for Luxury

Sailing off Cape Cod

Sailing off Cape Cod

Actors, politicians, and the country's elite have long prized the Cape, so finding luxury accommodations isn't difficult. There are a few, however, that stand out. The Mansion at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club in Brewster is one of those exceptional properties. Perched on the ocean, this AAA Four-Diamond Resort has a private beach, luxury spa, Nicklaus-designed golf course, and every amenity you could ever want.

If you are looking for something a little more secluded, the Lands End Inn in Provincetown offers sweeping ocean views and luxurious rooms in a quiet, secluded setting.

In West Harwich, The Platinum Pebble Boutique Inn gives you more of a cozy, bed-and-breakfast-like stay, filled with five star amenities. This adults-only boutique property provides bikes for guests, as well as a personal concierge to experience life as a local in the Central Cape.

Chatham Bars Inn, Resort and Spa is a larger property with a well-known restaurant. The pool and beach are a big draw, as is the lovely spa. All of these luxury properties have pools and beach access.

Where to Stay: Mid-Range Hotels

Path to a beautiful Cape Cod beach

Path to a beautiful Cape Cod beach

One of the favorite mid-range properties is Brewster by the Sea. This bed-and-breakfast is just the place if you are looking for a quiet, low-key getaway. Don't let the peaceful, tranquil atmosphere fool you, its location is prime and close to everything that historic Brewster has to offer.

Another great choice is the Eagle Wing Inn in bucolic Eastham. This independently owned property is filled with amenities. The clean, quiet rooms make you feel like you are a world away from the bustling tourist areas of Cape Cod. Keep in mind this property is for adults only.

If you are staying in the Lower Cape, try Pleasant Bay village in Chatham. The location is filled with plenty of choices for activities, from whale watching to taking a stroll around the charming village.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Provincetown harbor fishing boats

Provincetown harbor fishing boats

Although Cape Cod has a reputation of being expensive, there are places to stay that won't break your budget. In South Yarmouth, The Escape Inn is a great choice for the budget conscious. Its location in Mid-Cape is prime, and the price tag can't be beat. What it lacks in luxury amenities, it makes up for in location. It's surrounded by exceptional beaches, unique shops, and delicious eateries.

Another great option is the Beach Breeze Inn. Located in the historic town of Falmouth, this inn gives you a home-away-from-home feel and is near everything that Main Street has to offer. It's also near the Shining Sea Bikeway, where you can take a 10-mile scenic ride through these charming towns.

Guests at the Quality Inn have their choice of rooms or suites with balconies. A pool and convenient location to the beach are additional features in this Upper Cape location.

Where to Stay for Families

Sailboat in Provincetown

Sailboat in Provincetown

Cape Cod is a popular destination for families, and finding the right hotel for your group to enjoy their vacation is key. Not all resorts are family-friendly, and you want to be close to fun activities as well.

A great choice is the Red Jacket Beach Resort and Spa in South Yarmouth. This resort is great for kids of all ages. Parents will enjoy the world-class spa. They have a jam-packed activities calendar, as well as indoor and outdoor pools and tennis courts. Kids from 5-12 can sign up for a special Summer Kids Club where they can participate in arts and crafts, magic, and science.

Parents will be happy with the value at the Upper Cape's Holiday Inn Cape Cod-Falmouth, with a Kids Stay Free policy.

Where to Stay for Romance

Cape Cod sunset views

Cape Cod sunset views

For couples looking to reconnect, Cape Cod has some excellent choices. Ocean waves and breathtaking views are so much better when you share them with the one you love. Yarmouth Port is well known for its selection of bed-and-breakfasts, all providing a central location for exploring Cape Cod.

Built in the 1800s by shipwrights, Liberty Hill Inn is an elegant destination with rooms offered in the main house, as well as a quaint carriage house. The warm hospitality and well-appointed setting have romantics returning year after year.

One of the best resorts for couples is Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich. With 120 lavish guest rooms and exquisitely manicured landscaping, this beautiful resort sets the mood for romance on the Lower Cape. After you and your significant other soak in the pool or play a round of golf, you can retreat to your luxurious room to relax and recharge. Splurge worthy are the rooms overlooking the water, complete with balconies. For added privacy, book a stay in one of the romantic weathered cottages.

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