The Nobska Point Lighthouse in Woods Hole (a village of Falmouth) offers panoramic views of Vineyard Sound, the Elizabeth Islands, and Martha's Vineyard. The "keeper's dwelling" is home to the commander of the southeastern sector of the New England Coast Guard. Families are welcome to explore the grounds year-round. Tours inside the lighthouse are led by the Woods Hole Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Located in southern Cape Cod, Falmouth's nine beaches cover 12 miles of shoreline. "During low tide, Wood Neck Beach has shallow warm wading areas and a marshy sandbar area with crabs and other little creatures," says Kimberly Kane, a mom of three in Bedford, New Hampshire. "My kids love this place!"
If you want to do more swimming than exploring, try Old Silver Beach, which isn't as rocky.
Hit the trails at the Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary. You'll see 65 varieties of holly trees, frogs and birds, and, if you come in late summer or early fall, rare wildflowers. ($3 for adults, $2 for children 2 to 12; babies are free).
Or explore the shops and galleries in downtown -- don't miss Eight Cousins Books and Bella of Cape Cod (all its jewelry and accessories are $25 or less).
Grab dinner at the Silver Lounge, where the family can eat in a railroad car.
If you're staying over on a Friday night, head to Coonamesset Farm for a buffet under a pavilion overlooking the fields.
Stroll through the Woods Hole Science Aquarium for an afternoon of hands-on fun. Children will love exploring the "touch tanks" filled with local marine life including lobsters, quahogs (hard clams), hermit crabs, and starfish!
Located on Old Silver Beach, the newly renovated Sea Crest Beach Hotel offers cupcake decorating, family movie nights, and a new kiddie pool. It also gives you a Plan B -- an indoor pool for days when the weather doesn't cooperate. (Rooms with two double beds start at $199 per night; seacrestbeachhotel.com.)
Book a room at the cozy Beach Breeze Inn, located just 100 yards from Surf Drive Beach, where your rock-and-shell collector will be in heaven. (Rates for a room with two full beds and a kitchenette start at $289 per night; beachbreezeinn.com.)
Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.
This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings and availabilities are subject to change. Please contact each hotel and attraction for up-to-date rates and information before taking your trip.