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Summertime in Cape Cod is about as good as it gets. The famed Massachusetts peninsula teems with charm year round, but in summer you can enjoy adorable main streets with American flags blowing from nearly every front porch, kids running free along the cape’s beaches, taking a boat out, and sampling freshly shucked oysters at local restaurants. Cape Cod is simply a happy place this time of year. When you’re ready to breathe in the salty air and soak up the New England charm, here are 7 things you must do while on the Cape.

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Eat all the fresh oysters you can

You’ll see fishermen hauling in fresh-caught seafood each morning and a good portion of that catch is fresh oysters. Book a table at the Sacred Cod Tavern in Chatham and order a few helpings (trust us, one is not enough) of their baked oysters. Served in their shells and swimming in browned butter, they’re topped with toasted breadcrumbs. They’re addictive and delicious. If raw oysters are your thing, the old school Impudent Oyster serves some of the best in town!

Stroll the Cape’s most quintessential hamlet

If there is a more charming Main Street in America, we haven’t found it. The long drag in the town of Chatham is dotted with locally owned boutiques, souvenir shops, old school candy stores, and plenty of bars and restaurants. Spend the afternoon strolling the area, meeting the locals who own the shops and eateries, and chatting with other visiting families.

Explore the Cape by sea

Plenty of tour operators offer boat rides around the Cape. Decide what kind of trip you’re in the mood for—a fishing trip, watching lobstermen bringing in their traps, a sunset cocktail cruise, or simply a mid afternoon joy ride—and book your perfect excursion.

Watch the tide go in and out

Glimpse the sea at high tide and it looks like any other ocean you’ve seen. Wait a few hours, though, and you won’t believe your eyes. At low tide, the water recedes so much you can walk almost a mile into what was the ocean just hours before. Sand bars pop up seemingly from nowhere, bright green patches of sea kelp dot the sand and the ocean’s bottom reveals itself covered in smooth sea stones. A beach that started out just a few meters wide becomes a mile wide at low tide, giving you plenty of space to play, stretch out, sunbathe, and explore!

Ogle stunning seaside homes

Hours upon hours can be spent cruising or walking around the different neighborhoods on the Cape, no matter what small town you choose to ogle. Many of the homes are historic and have been passed down through generations. Weathered, shingled facades have red, blue, or even green shutters decorating the windows and perfectly manicured lawns and stunning flowers complete the picture-perfect scene. No doubt you’ll wish your family had passed one of these beauties down to you!

Stay at an oceanfront mansion

Nestled right in the heart of the town of Brewster, the Mansion at Ocean Edge is a lovely seaside property for an idyllic Cape stay. Located right on the water, it’s just steps from a private beach and several outdoor restaurants mean you can breathe in the salty sea air as you dine. Featuring more than 90 rooms to choose from, each room type is spacious and with lovely outdoor views. There’s a spa, a pool, and a golf course on property so you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your stay no matter how you chose to pass the time. (Learn more about this Roaming Gnome Top Pick!)

Gobble all the lobster you can manage

New England is known for its lobster so you just have to eat your fill while you’re here. Steamed with a side of drawn butter or tossed in mayo and loaded into a top sliced bun—whatever your pleasure, eat up!

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