You might have had plans for sun, fun, waves, ice cream and lobster rolls, but now you are staring down a forecast of storms and showers. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. You are on a summer vacation and the day is a complete rainout. If you don’t have a back up plan, your vacation can quickly turn into bickering, boredom and second guessing.
Here are 11 things you can do with kids on the Cape to salvage that rainy vacation day.
Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory
If the rain falls on a weekday, the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory in Hyannis offers free, self-guided tours that show how the potato chips are made, from farmer’s field to your table.
Bowling / Arcade / Crafts
If the forecast only calls for brief showers, you can hit up a bowling alley or arcade. Have you ever tried candlepin bowling? The Orleans Bowling Center offers candlepin bowling and tasty treats at their Big Dogs Barbecue. The three Ryan Family Amusements locations on the Cape offer bowling and arcades.
If you’re family is more crafts than bowling, Color Me Mine in Mashpee is a paint your own pottery place to create a unique vacation souvenir.
Cape Cod Children’s Museum
For kids under 10, the Cape Cod Children’s Museum in Mashpee offers a place where parents and kids can play and learn together with hands-on exhibits. They offer daily programs and lots of special events. Art, music, science, history, and climbing are all available to help ward off the bad weather blues. Be sure to check out the museum’s programming calendar to see if there’s a scheduled activity your child might enjoy.
Woods Hole Aquarium
The Woods Hole Science Aquarium is a small, public aquarium that displays approximately 140 species of marine animals found in Northeast and Middle Atlantic waters. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted. The aquarium offers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to care for marine life. Harbor seals are among the aquarium’s most popular residents, and a touch tank filled with lobsters, hermit crabs, and starfish allows visitors to get close with some of the same creatures found at local beaches. Daily seal feedings are a highlight for guests of all ages.
Wyhdah Pirate Museum
The Whydah Pirate Museum is home to the mystery and treasure unearthed when the Whydah wreckage was discovered off the coast of Cape Cod 250 years after sinking. It’s believed that pirates aboard the ship raided more than 50 vessels in the eighteenth century. For generations, the Whydah was just a legend, but today, your family can see the riches and learn about its history first-hand.
Cape Cod Railroad
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.
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.
Live Music / Theatre
Cape Cod and the Islands are home to several performing arts centers. Summer offers plenty of opportunities to check out live theater, music, and dance. Check a nearby performing arts centers to see if there is a show, many offer weekday children shows, to chase those rainy day blues away.
Local Wineries / Breweries
If the kids are getting on your nerves, you can always check out one of the local breweries or wineries. The tours and samples might help the day pass more quickly!
Cape Cod Beer is one of the largest offering a daily tour and tasting room.
Take a whale-watching trip. Whales don’t mind the rain and neither should you! You’re every bit as likely to see whales when it rains as when it’s sunny, plus, the rain is likely to keep the crowds down and offer you better view. The big Provincetown whale-watching tour operator — Dolphin Fleet — offer these trips rain or shine, as does Hyannis’s Whale Watcher Cruises.
Head to the library. I love the library. Each town on the Cape has a public library, and many of these sponsor children’s programs, lectures, storytelling, art installations, and author readings. So if the raindrops are falling, head to a library near your vacation rental, and check it out.
Of course you don’t actually have to go anywhere. Most vacation rentals provide board games, puzzles, and decks of cards. When was the last time your whole family spent time putting together a puzzle? Or playing a game? Playing board games is a fun way to pass the time during a storm. Some properties even have common rooms that include a pool table, ping-pong, and foosball.
Ultimately, it’s all about attitude. Don’t let the rain ruin your vacation. You don’t even need it to stop you from going to the beach. Grab an umbrella, raincoat and rain boots. Change your perspective. The beach is beautiful and interesting even when the sun is not shining.
Take a walk, hunt for shells, play Frisbee, or make sandcastles. You won’t have to worry about a sunburn and parking should be plentiful! You can’t say that everyday on the Cape. Take advantage of the rain and make a unique vacation memory.