8 Cape Cod Hotels on the Beach: Serenity on the Shores of Massachusetts

Local writer Jennifer Mattson takes you through the top Cape Cod hotels on the beach for relaxation and making family memories.

My day at the Cape starts with something I rarely do — waking up early, in a private two-room suite overlooking the Atlantic ocean to watch the sunrise. I roll out of bed, walk into my expansive living room, start the coffee machine, and pull back the drapes to see a yellow sun begin its ascent over the horizon of blue water. I see a white seagull, flying fast and low, just skimming the ocean’s edge, and hear a bird chirping in reply to the distant caws of other seagulls.

As the ocean wakes up, its waves gently break onto the sandy shore below my second floor hotel suite. Five minutes later, I’m outside on my private deck, in my pajamas, a big mug of coffee in hand, feeling the cool, ocean air on my face. The sun, now fully realized, paints the sky in a spectacular array of light — golden yellows, pinks, oranges, and baby blue.

Later, for lunch, I make my annual run for fried clams at Mac’s Seafood — driving down Route 6 through Wellfleet until I reach the pier overlooking Wellfleet Bay. I order clams and fries at the shack’s take-out window and find a seat at one of the communal picnic benches on the sand overlooking the water.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts hasn’t changed much since I first visited as a kid. Sure, there’s more traffic, but its still a place people come for the simple pleasures: to lie on the beach, swim in the ocean, bike along the National Seashore and eat seafood.

Summer, the most popular time to visit, is when families bring their kids and revisit their own childhood. You can still play mini-golf, or go to the Wellfleet drive-in, and get salt water taffy in Provincetown. So, pack your car, grab a map, and settle into one of these eight Cape Cod hotels on the beach.

The Grand Dame of Cape Cod Seaside Resorts

Built in 1914, this expansive property is known as the grand dame of Cape Cod seaside resorts. Chatham Bars Inn has coveted views of the Atlantic Ocean and a number of high-end amenities. All the cottages and suites have Bose radios, Nespresso coffeemakers, flat-screen televisions, and fireplaces.

This is a good choice for both couples and families seeking kid-friendly activities. Couples can enjoy romantic dinners in the formal dining room and treatments at the spa. Meanwhile, families can take advantage of CBI’s Kids Crew, the resort’s hands-on, innovative programming for children staying at the resort during the summer months.

For active, sun lovers, there’s a private beach with an oceanfront pool, tennis courts, and a fitness center. I ate all my meals on-site and my dinner at STARS, a Sous Vide Halibut, was the best meal I’ve had on the Cape. The restaurant grows its own food and highlights dishes made with fresh, seasonal vegetables from their farm. The Sacred Cod is a less formal alternative for those looking for a bar with sandwiches, fresh fish, burgers, and salads.

Shuttles are available to the National Seashore and downtown Chatham. I recommend walking to town instead and rewarding yourself with an ice cream cone or mint milkshakes from Buffy’s.

Hotel Chatham Bars Inn Resort & Spa

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (1562 reviews)

A Family Favorite For Generations

Set on 27 well-manicured, waterfront acres, the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club has been hosting generations of families since it opened. I loved the property’s iconic Cape-Cod style architecture and the flowers covering the grounds — from hydrangeas to tulips and azaleas. Adirondack chairs scattered throughout the property encourage you to take in the dramatic views of Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic ocean.

Located on the lower Cape, on Nantucket Sound, the resort has 120 rooms and suites. The Children’s Center offers a number of activities including sailing, swimming, tennis lessons, and game nights. Kids have their own nautical-themed playground and a stage for plays. If you like to swim laps like me, I suggest checking out the two on-site swimming pools. Guests also have exclusive access to Cape Cod National Golf Club, a private 18-hole championship course which overlooks cranberry bogs and has stunning views of the bay.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club

9.3 Excellent (287 reviews)

A Quiet and Peaceful Vibe

Owner Pamela Adam bought A Little Inn on Pleasant Bay 18 years ago and runs it with her sister. She loves what she does, and it shows in the property. The vibe is quiet and peaceful. Here, everything focuses on the waterfront. All nine rooms have views of Pleasant Bay and breakfast is served on the outdoor patio overlooking the bay. Adam brings a touch of English flair to the inn with her European breakfast buffet. There are cereals, juices, yogurt, fresh fruit, cold cuts, three types of cheeses, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and smoked fish. From the homemade jams to coffee and cheeses from Zabar’s, no detail is left unnoticed.

Adam caters to a New York and European crowd, so she has some food shipped in from Zabar’s in Manhattan. The bread is delivered fresh from Iggy’s in Boston. Each afternoon at 5:00 p.m., she puts out sherry and various aperitifs like Pimm’s for guests to sip on the patio and mingle.

For active vacationers, the Inn’s location right on the water with its private dock, make it perfect for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and sailing. Note that this beach is pebbly. If you’re looking for white sandy beaches, Nauset and Skaket are walking distance.

A Little Inn on Pleasant Bay

9.9 Excellent (161 reviews)

Unique in Cape Cod

For over 30 years, Winstead Inn & Beach Resort has been serving Cape Cod beachgoers in Harwich on the lower Cape. The property is unique among Cape Cod resorts in that it has two separate locations, one with 15 rooms, the other with 14. The Winstead Beach Resort is located right on the beach, while the Winstead Inn is located a mile and a half away in Harwich Center. Guests have full access to both properties and a car shuttles people back and forth.

There’s a long stretch of sandy beach at the Winstead Beach Resort and the staff set up beach chairs, blue and white umbrellas and towels for you daily. Only guests are allowed to sit here, so there is never a crowd. Both properties serve a generous breakfast that comes with special touches like fresh cherries (seasonal) and homemade blueberry muffins from general manager Doug Heywood.

The Winstead Inn has an outdoor, heated pool, and is located 100 yards from the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 30-mile bike trail that runs through oak trees, evergreens, marshland, and cranberry bogs. Here, no two rooms are alike. A new section of the inn has fireplaces, heated tile bathroom floors, and either a balcony or patio. These are large rooms, between 425-750 square feet. Although the resort does not serve dinner, the Winstead Beach resort is a seven-minute stroll to Harwich Port, where there are plenty of pubs, restaurants, and live music during the summer.

Winstead Inn And Beach Resort

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (308 reviews)

Private Beach and Concierge Service

This massive, 429-acre beachfront property is essentially two resorts in one — The Mansion and The Villages. Couples who want access to a private beach and concierge service will want to stay on the Mansion side of the property. While families and those with pets should opt for the villages’ condo-type rooms.

Hotel guests at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club are able to enjoy a number of perks including one of Cape Cod’s best seasonal beach bars, located at the private Bay Pines Beach. Order the Beach Bar’s specialty cocktail, the Beach Front Smash (Belvedere citrus, pineapple, strawberries, lemon juice), and watch the sunset over the water. Concierge service is available at the private beach, including a chair, towel, food, and beverage service during peak season.

Other amenities include bicycles, clay tennis courts, an 18-hole Nicklaus-designed golf course, your choice of four pools (two indoor and two outdoor pool), several hot tubs, and a spa with seven different kinds of refreshing facials.

The Mansion at Ocean Edge

8.2 Very good (2263 reviews)

Family-Owned For Generations

This West Dennis Inn has been owned by the Stone family since 1938 and passed down through three generations. The Lighthouse Inn offers stand-alone, Cape-style guest cottages (with multiple rooms), family suites, and guest rooms. There are 68 different types of accommodations, which cater to singles, couples, and families. In season, there are a number of activities for families, including mini-golf, tennis, basketball, and shuffleboard.

Ocean view cottages are great for couples looking for privacy and come with a fireplace. There are a number of stand-alone cottages scattered throughout the property. For beach front views, the ocean view cottages look out on Nantucket Sound. The ocean front accommodations are just steps from the Inn’s private beach.

There is an actual lighthouse on the property, the West Dennis Lighthouse, which is 159 years old. One great thing about this inn is that it has a restaurant right downstairs, so you can get all your meals while you sunbathe. My suggestion? Make like a local and order the clam bake and sit outside on the oceanfront deck.

Hotel Lighthouse Inn

Top rated
West Dennis
8.6 Excellent (248 reviews)

Day-Trip to Martha's Vineyard

Located in Falmouth, Sea Crest Beach Hotel is a beachfront property directly on Old Silver Beach. Staff provide chairs and umbrellas and there’s an array of activities from windsurfing, sailing, and kayaking to volleyball. Guests have access to indoor and outdoor saline pools, plus a baby pool for toddlers.

One of the benefits of staying in Falmouth is that you’re near the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, which takes less than an hour. Many guests take a day trip to the island during their stay.

Guests can eat on-site at Red’s Restaurant and Lounge, which serves seafood, salads, burgers, and pizza year-round on the oceanfront patio. In high season, Red’s opens an outdoor snack bar, next to the pool, that’s popular with families. There, you’ll also find an ice cream shop, The Scoop.

Sea Crest Beach Hotel

7.8 Good (2164 reviews)

Everyone's Welcome

Dyer’s Beach House is a centrally located, beachfront hotel in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. It caters to singles, couples, and LGBTQ visitors. This is a great choice if you’re looking for exceptional service and want to be on the beach in busy P-Town.

Dyer’s is a small, family-run hotel in the West End with only five guest rooms. There’s no breakfast at Dyer’s, but that’s just an excuse to head across the street to Joe’s Coffee where you can grab a coffee, yummy muffins, and scones.

There are fireplaces in the downstairs rooms, and each room is stylishly decorated with imported linens. The innkeepers are friendly and make you feel like you’re more than just a guest. They’ll happily supply beach chairs, towels, and even binoculars so you can watch the boats coming in. If you’re looking for a quiet beach house hidden off busy Commercial Street, this is the best option in Provincetown.

Dyer's Beach House

Top rated
9.5 Excellent (114 reviews)