Hotels.com asked me to share these accessibility suggestions for Cape Cod, so I’m thrilled to bring you this article! As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. If you are comfortable with traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulation. Any travel is at your own risk.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a popular summer vacation destination with its coastal views and clear waters, but it’s also a great place to explore throughout the entire year. There are so many outdoor things to do in Cape Cod that are wheelchair accessible, from spending a day at the beach to visiting lighthouses, state parks, and even camping. Cape Cod provides plenty of space to enjoy the area and learn about the rich history, making this is a great place to slow down, enjoy the day, and take in the salty sea air. Here’s a wheelchair accessible Cape Cod travel guide to make planning your own trip a bit easier –
Where to Stay
Cape Cod is an area that is somewhat known for its spectacular resorts and hotels. There are plenty of options available for accommodations and many are wheelchair friendly. Here are some of the best accessible accommodations to consider when planning your trip:
1: Sea Crest Beach Hotel
This hotel offers a range of rooms with accessibility, including four different king rooms with one king suite. The king rooms include a fireplace room, sun deck room, and oceanside suite. There is also a double room and a cottage. Most of the accessible rooms have a roll-in shower, while some may have an accessible tub. All of the main hallways and paths are wheelchair accessible as well, providing access to the front desk, swimming pool, gym, restaurants, accessible public bathrooms, and a business center.
2: Cape Codder Resort
ADA rooms at this hotel are located on the first floor of the 600 wing and offer wider doorways and a larger bathroom with a roll-in shower. These rooms are two queen bed rooms, offering lowered lightswitches and peep holes, in addition to the bathroom accessibility. Each room has an in-room coffee maker as well as a refrigerator. There is wheelchair accessible parking on site as well. The rooms have a modern look with beachy inspiration and there is plenty of room to move throughout the space.
3: The Coonamessett
This hotel offers 2 ADA king junior suites, which have an exterior entrance that is located next to the accessible parking, offering a unique addition to your hotel stay. Each room has an accessible bathroom with a roll-in shower, accessible doors, sinks, and closets, along with space in the room to move freely without having to move furniture. The king junior suites have a large king bed, along with a lounge area with a sofa and dining table. One parking space is included with the room. The lobby, front desk, and restaurant are all accessible with the use of a first floor ramp.
Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Cape Cod
1: Spend a day at the beach
Cape Cod is rather large, offering 15 wheelchair accessible beaches, one in each local town on the cape. These beaches are wheelchair accessible through the use of Mobi mats, Mobichairs, beach wheelchairs, boardwalks, and ramps. The specific beach accessibility offered depends on the season and many beach wheelchairs are only available when a lifeguard is on duty. Some beaches are accessible beyond peak season depending on the layout, with boardwalks available throughout the year, but beach wheelchairs may need to be reserved ahead of time outside of the summer months.
Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth is a popular beach destination, as it’s one of the prettiest. There is wheelchair access with the use of a ramp, the beach is smooth, and there’s a slight slope to reach the water. Seasonal amenities include a snack bar, lifeguards, and a bathhouse. Beach wheelchairs, along with Mobi-chairs, can be reserved via telephone. During the peak season, there is a fee for parking, with handicap parking spaces limited, as the beach is very popular.
For an offseason beach, consider Scusset Beach, which has a level parking lot along with a paved walkway leading to the boardwalk. In season, there are accessible restrooms, a snack bar, and lifeguards with the ability to reserve a beach wheelchair ahead of time. Off season, the pathways and boardwalk remains, giving you a nice beach walk/roll. It’s perfect for watching the sunset and enjoying the ocean breeze.
2: Visit Shawme-Crowell State Forest
On the western end of Cape Cod is Shawme-Crowell State Forest, a 700 acre pitch pine and scrub oak forest that offers 15 miles of hiking trails and 285 campsites. The most popular activities here are camping and hiking, with outdoor space for basketball, grilling, a playground, and a nature center. Both camping and hiking are wheelchair accessible.
Shawme-Crowell State Forest offers accessible camping, restrooms, and parking. It is a less frequented park, which is good for spending time in nature, as it doesn’t have the other additions like a pond or beach like Nickerson State Park does. The hiking trails are well marked and are not steep, but are not paved, so some wheelchair users may have some difficulty. The camp sites are maintained for a quiet and relaxing weekend.
3: Go Yurt Camping at Nickerson State Park
Camping is available in the State Forest as previously described, but for a full and rich yurt camping experience try Nickerson State Park. Yurt camping is a great alternative to RV or tent camping because the yurt is already set up on the site. Many of the yurts available in the park have attached decks, complete with ramps to provide smooth access to your site. The yurt is on a platform and can sleep 4 to 6 people, providing a unique camping experience that is also wheelchair accessible.
Nickerson State Park is a popular location, as it has lots of hiking trails, ponds, and even beach access. The Cape Cod Rail Trail passes through the park’s front entrance for even more hiking options. The bayside beach is a nice place to spend the day and a beach wheelchair is available. It’s best to make reservations at least 6 months in advance, as this park is a popular destination during the peak season and it can be difficult to get an accessible yurt on short notice.
4: Cape Cod National Seashore Salt Pond Visitor Center
For a look into the natural landscape of Cape Cod, be sure to spend some time at the Salt Pond Visitor Center, which is the orientation facility of Cape Cod National Seashore. The facility is open throughout the year and includes a theatre, gift shop, and museum. The lobby showcases Cape Cod’s glacial history and how nature continues to shape the coastline. This is a great location for amazing views in addition to an education about the landscape.
The Salt Pond Visitor Center is completely wheelchair accessible, including wheelchair and companion seating in the auditorium theatre. Outdoor exhibits are accessible to wheelchair users as well.
In addition to the visitor center, there are several walking trails. Many of the overlooks are wheelchair accessible. Nearby trails include the Buttonbush trail, which is a 0.25 mile multi-sensory trail that includes a guide rope and text panels with large letters in addition to Braille.
Doane trail is a 0.6 mile loop located one mile east of the Salt Pond Visitors Center. The trail is paved, which makes it smooth for wheelchair users, and winds through the forest with interpretive text. There is a picnic area near the parking lot and there are seasonally available restrooms.
5: Visit a Lighthouse
It isn’t really a trip to Cape Cod if you don’t visit a lighthouse, right? The Nauset Light is free to the public and while the lighthouse itself isn’t wheelchair accessible (there are many stairs involved to reach the top and see the view), it is a great place to explore the shore and a nice photo opportunity to make memories. There are tour dates and times where they run the free tours, but for wheelchair users, if you call ahead you may be able to schedule a tour to hear the interesting history of the lighthouse from the base.
Another interesting lighthouse is the Highland Lighthouse, which is the first lighthouse ever established on Cape Cod. A series of stairs are required to climb to see the top of the tower, but there are great views from the ground. There is also a Highland House Museum attached, which includes a shop as well as information about the history of the light. If you call ahead, you may be able to schedule an in-person tour to receive information about the lighthouse as well as the location.
6: Whydah Pirate Museum
Located in West Yarmouth, the Whydah Pirate Museum is home to the largest collection of pirate artifacts collected from a single shipwreck. There are multiple exhibit wings, along with a theater room and a complete replica of the Whydah Galley. In addition to the museum, there is a gift shop, bookstore, and the SeaLab and Learning Center. SeaLab and Learning Center is an on-site conservation laboratory. Pieces and exhibits are consistently being added to the collection as more artifacts are excavated. The museum is still very new, established in 2016, and has plans for more outdoor space and more exhibit wings.
The Whydah Pirate Museum is fully wheelchair accessible with ramps and railings throughout. There are also benches throughout the exhibits to provide a space to rest while enjoying the displays. The museum does not have any on-site wheelchairs or mobility scooters available to rent, so visitors will need to bring their own or another rental if needed while visiting. The museum takes at least 1 hour to tour with more time needed to fully explore each exhibit and piece. It is family friendly with the exhibits catering to older children, but there is a scavenger hunt for younger visitors to help them interact with the displays.
7: Commercial Street in Provincetown
A fun location for locals and tourists alike is Commercial Street in Provincetown. The street has cobblestone sidewalks, but the crowd often overflows into the street itself. This is a location to enjoy the small town neighborhood, from the row of homes to the art galleries and B&Bs or the conference center and seaside resort.
The East End is where the residents live and can be quiet in the morning hours. Historic homes dating to the 1700s make for a fun stroll and it’s also home to the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, along with a few neighborhood galleries for exploring local art. Along the street, there are also small coffee shops and places to stop for a snack, giving you more to do while you explore the quiet space.
The West End is home to the Provincetown Seaside Resort and Conference Center, which has great harbor views and picturesque neighborhoods with gardens, picket fences, and Cape Cod history.
The neighborhood is wheelchair accessible, but the sidewalks may be narrow in places and are cobblestone, which may be a bumpy ride. If you visit during peak times, there may be more of a crowd, but there may also be closed streets for easier rolling and exploring.
How to Get Around Cape Cod
Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority
The best way to get around Cape Cod is by using the local public transit service, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. There is a regular bus or trolley service with plenty of stops along the cape, but they also offer an ADA Paratransit Service. This service requires you to fill out an application, but once everything is squared away, you can travel the bus route within 3/4ths of a mile for any reason, medical or personal.
Using the service is fairly simple, as you call ahead the day before your trip and give them your route, both the times you’ll need a lift, and the addresses for your start and the end destination. They will give you a fare estimate and your trip will be booked. You can also travel with a companion and their fare will also be quoted.
Cape Cod offers a range of wheelchair accessible things to do, including plenty of outdoor activities and even a pirate museum. The activities along the shore, like spending time at the beach to camping in the forest and visiting the lighthouses, offer days of fun. Most of the things Cape Cod is known for, like breezy beach days and enjoying seafood at a resort, are completely wheelchair accessible, so feel free to plan your next trip knowing so much accessibility is available.