10 Things To Do In Boston and Cape Cod {with a teenage girl who loves photography}

I’m so excited to bring back my Things To Do With Kids series for 2015! I already have two submissions. If you would like to submit one for your area, or an area you love, feel free to email me at [email protected].

10 Things to do in Boston and Cape Cod

This post was submitted by a longtime blog reader and commenter. Susan lives in Texas, but she and her teenage daughter took an epic trip to Boston and Cape Cod last summer, and she is sharing their adventures with us today.

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Mother-Daughter VacationWe are Texans who found our way to Boston and Cape Cod in early June. I had a work-related conference and was pumped that my daughter was old enough to be on her own a bit while I was at meetings, so off we went. It is six months later, and my almost 16-year-old still agrees it was her “best trip ever!”

We were just two girls doing whatever we wanted in the big city and on the Cape. Our only rules were to see new things and keep electronics to a minimum. She is newly passionate about photography so I made a point of looking up areas that would have either a historical interest or unique photography presentation…which in retrospect would be anywhere in Boston or on the Cape!

10 Things To Do In Boston and Cape Cod

1. Enter the city via water taxi: Grab your luggage, make your way to ground transportation and they will guide you to the water taxi shuttle area. This was a fun way to enter the city and was quick and somewhat easy and dropped us off almost right in front of our hotel.

2. Eat at Faneuil Hall: what can I say, this is a teenage girl’s food dream come true. Bacon Mac and Cheese? Huge cupcakes? Ice cream? This place has it all, including  all sorts of seafood fare. We were there in the summer so we took our food outside and enjoyed an hour of people watching.

3. Hop on trolley tours: we spent an afternoon visiting various sites such as the Boston Garden (take a ride on the Swan Boats!) and the Freedom Trail, and the trolley was an easy way to get place to place. We didn’t hit all the spots, but the Old North Church was definitely a highlight for both of us. Her U.S. history came alive as she made the connection, and we both enjoyed the beautiful windows and pews of this historical old church. We exited through the back, wandered through a courtyard and found ourselves in Boston’s old Little Italy section.

Old North Church
Old North Church

4. Have a canoli at Mike’s Pastry: There was a line outside the building so we figured we couldn’t lose by stopping here. The canolis and cupcakes are fabulous. Have them box up a few for dessert later on.

5. Take a photo tour! This was a highlight of our trip. I booked the photo tour ahead of time via the website (Photowalks of Boston.) Saba, the owner and tour leader, was quick and responsive to my questions and super easy to work with. We chose the “Harbor Tour” because it started basically right outside our hotel, and the time and dates all worked out. My daughter has taken over our DSL and taught herself to shoot on manual mode so she was intrigued with all of the new angles and historical views Saba helped us set up. I had only my iPhone but still got some GREAT shots I normally would not have seen. We learned later that some of these tours are offered via local Groupon…I hadn’t thought of looking there. I would say this is a combination of a historical tour, a walk with friends and photography lesson combined.


6. Rent a car and drive to the Cape: We drove to Hyannis the next day and stayed at the SeaCoast Inn. This is an older inn we chose specifically for its great price (a total bargain at right around $130 a night for a double with a kitchenette!) This is a fabulous little inn, run by the sweetest couple ever (she will even help arrange ferry tickets, etc), offers a great breakfast and is within easy walking distance of ferries going to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and the downtown strip of restaurants. If I was travelling back to the Cape, I would stay here the whole time and use it as my base for exploring the area. We also used their free washer and dryer the next morning to get ready for the next leg of our journey.

7. Spend a day in Nantucket! Pack a backpack with water, snacks and a sweatshirt, reserve bikes ahead of time at Nantucket Bike Shop and take the early ferry. We walked off the ferry right to the bike shop. We had to stop and Instagram the moment: antique looking aqua bike with a Nantucket Basket Company basket on the handlebars = total teenage girl iconic moment.

We biked around town for a bit but quickly discovered the cobblestone main street area is not bike friendly (too bouncy!) so we headed out on Cliff Road to Something Natural for a picnic to take to Dionis Beach. This is a “don’t miss” restaurant with huge thick slices of homemade bread, fresh vegetables and homemade cookies. We popped our bags in our cute baskets, rode to Dionis Beach and spent the next few hours walking the shore, taking pictures and enjoying our picnic.

Dionis Beach
Dionis Beach, Massachusetts

The rest of the day was filled with a shuttle trip to Sconset; a walk along the outer bluff and then back to town to watch sun set over the harbor area. (Please note: we did not know until AFTER the fact that Nantucket is a heavily infested deer tick area, notorious for Lyme disease and other tick born illnesses. Yikes! Save yourself some sleepless nights and load up on the tick repellant if you are going to be out and about walking on the island.)

Summer Evening in Nantucket
Summer Evening in Nantucket

8. Spend time in Falmouth: We are both book lovers and we love an old-fashioned town square with walkable restaurants, cute shops and an independent bookstore. We found all of this in the wonderful town square in Falmouth. The pickle chips at Pickle Jar Kitchen are a meal in themselves. Eight Cousins Bookstore is a well-stocked bookstore, and we ended up there more evenings than I can count. This is a children’s bookstore, but they have a huge young adult section and stock adult books as well. They also feature many local authors and regional cookbooks. This was a perfect end to our evenings, and the cute cupcake store next door was the literal icing on the cake after a fun beach day.

9. Bike the Shining Sea Bike Path: We rented bikes at Corner Cycle in Falmouth, which is located about half a block from the Shining Sea Bike Path. We took our time on the path enjoying the cool breeze, the smell of blooming flowers in the air, the gorgeous beach-front areas we passed and the cranberry bogs along the way. I totally stopped more than once to imagine us living in the cute houses along the path. The path ends in the little town of Woods Hole, which could be a destination in itself. We walked up the hill to Pie in the Sky and had some coffee and fresh blueberry pie. We arrived too late to explore the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, but from reviews this is supposed to be a fabulous place.

Shining Sea Bike Path in Falmouth, Massachusetts
Shining Sea Bike Path in Falmouth, Massachusetts

10. Lounge on Old Silver Beach: To say I was stunned by the crystal blue water and white sand on Cape Cod is an understatement. I am a Southern girl through and through and was raised believing that Florida had dibs on the white sand. Old Silver Beach totally proved my upbringing to be wrong. The water was still a bit chilly in early June, but it was crystal clear, calm on the days we were there, and the white sand was beautiful. We stayed at the SeaCrest Beach Hotel for my conference, which was right on this beach. We did not really eat at the SeaCrest (we spent most of our evenings in Falmouth) but there seemed to be plenty of onsite restaurants, a great pool and beach-front service for chairs and towels.

Old Silver Beach
Old Silver Beach

My daughter and I had a wonderful time and hope to go back to Boston and the Cape in the future. We travel so well together, and her interest in photography involves her so much in our travel that we didn’t encounter any “bored teenager” attitude problems. The bike trails and outdoorsy nature of the trip did not lend itself to long stretches of phone/texting/techno time… which is exactly how this mom wanted the trip to be.

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20 Responses

  1. While we do many of these activities with the kids, it’s always fun seeing our hometown through someone else’s eyes. And though the Cape really is magical and special (we spend a weeks in Chatham every summer), might I suggest people check out the fun on my stomping ground — Boston’s North Shore. We’ve got witches (Salem) and whales & fishermen (Gloucester) and lot of cute shops (Rockport). It’s the place where movies are made — The Proposal, Perfect Storm, Grown-ups 1 & 2, Ted, and so many more!

  2. This is so timely! Hubby just got a line on a job (good chance of getting) and would have to do some Boston travel …and yes, the family is invited! Very cool, can’t wait to visit. Thanks for the tips.

  3. The cannoli I had sitting in Mike’s Pastry still ranks up there as one of the best things I’ve ever had in my life!

  4. I am planning on taking my family to Boston this summer so thank you very much for the tips! I’m filing them away for when we start planning!

  5. Thank you for all the information on Boston and Cape Cod! Would you be able to recommend some hotels in Boston, within a few miles of Feneuil Hall?

      1. Cindy, we stayed at the Harborside Inn. It was literally 3 steps from the Aquarium subway step and across the street from Faneuil Hall. It was a nice enough hotel (no breakfast) and while nice and clean, we just used it for sleeping. The location was awesome and within walking distance of everything.

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