Although officially Barnstable is a town, it is by law also a city. The town is made prominent by its beauty. It is a place you’d want to revisit after going there. In the year 2007, Barnstable won the All-American City Award.
Based on the census conducted in 2020, the population is about 48,916. Its rate of development is moderate.
Hyannis village is the biggest in Barnstable. This is where many business activities go on in the region, and the airport also serves as a transfer point for passengers to get to their final destination, from which you can go to places like Nantucket and Martha’s vineyard.
The history of Barnstable dates back to the seventeenth century. The area was explored by Bartholomew Gosnold, an European, in 1602, and the pilgrims decided to reside there in 1638.
This made Barnstable one of Plymouth territory’s oldest towns.
In 1639 the pilgrims who settled there incorporated the place. Rev. Joseph Hull was their leader, and the foundation he left behind is still a memorial plate that marks his residence.
Even the rock he used to stand on whenever he preached or talked to his followers is still on the main road.
As a result of its many historical landmarks, attractions, and variety of shops, tourists come to visit every summer.
Barnstable has beautiful beaches like the Mayflower and historically rich and beautiful places like the museum of the Coast Guard and the Hyannis Cruises.
Around May to June and the month of September to October, the temperature in Barnstable is around 60 to 70 degrees, and this is the best time to visit because of the temp. It is good for outdoor events.
Indoor activities such as museums and restaurants are preferable for visitors during winter. This is because the water during winter isn’t fun to go swimming in. Winter in Barnstable is calmer in the cape.
This article explores the best things to do in Barnstable, MA.
Things to Do in Barnstable, MA
1. Ride the Waves at Sandy Neck Beach
If you are looking for an activity that won’t cost you a lot of money, Sandy Beach is the place to be. The beach has free parking and clean sands during off-seasons. You can enjoy activities like bird watching, going hiking, and enjoying the sun.
Another fun activity you can enjoy on the beach is boat watching as it slowly drifts along the shorelines. The waves also are calm enough for swimming in the water.
2. Know Your Presidents at the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
John F. Kennedy (JFK), the late president of the US, used to visit cape Cod regularly in order to rest, energize, and revitalize himself as he sailed the ocean. Their favorite place he used to visit was the ocean.
John F. was the 1st politician who understood mass media and television’s influence on voters.
Hyannis village started up the JFK Foundation in Cape Cod to celebrate his legacy.
The museum now offers a quick view through exhibits of how he used new technologies.
The exhibits include narrative history, photographs, and videos of John F. Kennedy.
There are also orientation videos where Walter Cronkite spoke about the experience of John F. Kennedy on the cape that you will find.
Also, there are presidential artifacts that you can find; you can also go to the compound of John F. Kennedy.
Address: 397 Main St, Hyannis, MA 02601, USA
3. Get Spooked on the Barnstable Ghost Hunters Tour
This activity is really scary and meant only for the brave-hearted. The tourists meet by 7:00 pm. You can even get the chance to see real ghost-detecting equipment. You are also free to select from a number of tours between couples or large groups.
Every Monday to Friday, the first tour for hunting Ghost is held. The participants are taken on a 3 hours adventure by professional ghost hunters to the local graveyard, the haunted house of Crocker Tavern, the courthouse, and the home of eleven ghosts.
You will get to watch how the hunters use sensory equipment to detect the activities of ghosts. Preparing yourself for the tour is truly scary.
Many have even decided to stop halfway to stop themselves from going into one of the country’s most haunted places, the old jail.
You can follow another tour called the Haunted and History Tour from Sunday and Tuesday to Saturday. This tour is not for ghost hunting; you will get to know the Barnstable hunting histories. There are ten places you will go to, Cobb hill cemetery included.
Another tour is the Love You to death, where you go with your partner for a 1h30m private adventure. In this tour, you will listen to lost love stories from the times of the extreme war.
Address: 3353 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, USA
4. Explore Barnstable along the Cape Cod Central Railroad
Touring the city of Barnstable on the train on the railway of Cape Cod Central is another fun activity you will enjoy; on this tour, you’ll be taken to the past when you see the beautiful and majestic city.
This trip is unique because you will be provided with views you can only see by train.
On this trip, you’ll pass the city’s marshes, magnificent dunes, and Cape Cod’s cranberry bogs till you get to the canal of the Cape Cod river banks.
The guide will also give you a detailed narration as you pass these places.
On this trip, there are special railroad foods you can try, or you can go for their superfamily menu, Sunday brunch, or gourmet luncheon.
Address: 252 Main St, Hyannis, MA 02601, USA
5. Study Local History at the Barnstable Historical Society
For its 300th founding anniversary, the town, in 1939, instituted the historical association of Barnstable.
The society has greatly been able to record through artifacts and documentaries the history of the seven villages in Barnstable.
The historical society works outside the Phinney Jones Historical House in front of the Sturgis Library. You’ll see many objects dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth century during your visit.
You’ll see things like the read ships logs and maritime paintings, leaf through vintage photographs, and look at the collection of scrimshaw and ship models.
There is also a collection of quilts, dairies, and recovered letters.
Address: 3087 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, United States
6. Learn Maritime History at the US Coast Guard Heritage Museum
The coast guard heritage has provided sights of the maritime agency’s history since 2005 for both those who reside there and tourists.
Exhibits of the coast guard are featured in the museum. The museum is found inside the US Barnstable Customs House. In the museum, the agency’s roots and history are showcased there.
Coast Guard Aviation, Lightships and Lighthouses, the Coast Guard at War, and Coast Guard Vessels are also exhibited in the museum.
More than a hundred airplanes and vessels are also displayed there.
Stories you’ll learn about include the United States Lighthouse Service, Revenue Cutter Service, and the United States Life Saving Service.
Address: 3353 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, United States
7. Explore Nature at the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary
There is a 110-acre property called Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary with spectacular natural tourist attractions in cummquid village, where you will see a lot of wildlife and trees. A trip to this wildlife will give you experiences that will be very memorable.
You will see lush Meadows, clean beaches, farm animals, and winding woodland trails.
The location of the Sanctuary gives tourists a chance to explore the area even more, when they go on a cruise or by kayaking.
For those who love hiking, you can do this along the trails to get to the harbor of Barnstable; you will even get to see the Sandy Neck beach dunes as you hike.
Address: 345 Bone Hill Rd, Cummaquid, MA 02637, United States
8. See the US’ Oldest Library at the Sturgis Library
The Sturgis library is the oldest in the United States and one of Cape C’s oldest buildings that still stand. The building is also the oldest American structure that held religious services because of the Lothrop Room.
But how did the building come to be? The building was built as a house by the Barnstable settlement as a house for their leader, Rev. John Lothrop, in 1644.
The front room of the house, referred to as the Lothrop Room, was also used by Rev. John as a room for worship during his lifetime.
The house was willed to the Barnstable village by Rev. John’s direct descendant, Captain William Sturgis, in 1863. This was because he wanted the house to be turned into a library by the village.
This was how in 1867, the Sturgis library opened. There were about 1,300 volumes. Contained in the library when it was newly opened. Many of the books were from the personal collection of Sturgis.
Throughout the year, the library now gives exhibitions to guided hosts and tours; the public can also access these events.
The volume of books the library now holds is over 65,000; included are photographs, a historical collection of Cape Cod, microfilms, and manuscripts.
The Sturgis library has also been listed in the records of the historic places National Register.
Address: 3090 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, United States
9. Bring Your Kids to the Cape Cod Children’s Museum
In the Mashpee village of Barnstable, there’s the Children’s Museum of Cape Cod. This is the only Cape Cod museum devoted to children. This massive museum is a great place to take your children for family fun in the afternoon.
There are various programs, exhibits, and play areas for the kids. So apart from the great fun your child or children will have, they will learn a number of things too.
In 1990, the museum was established by a group of mothers, and for more than 20 years, the museum still draws thousands of people.
The Cape Cod Children’s Museum is able to house fifty-thousand visitors each year. In addition, the museum gives visitors the avenue to learn and play with each other.
Address: 577 Great Neck Rd S, Mashpee, MA 02649, United States
10. Trace the History of American Crime at the Barnstable Old Gaol
We also have the Old Gaol of Barnstable, the oldest wooden jail in the US and one of the oldest buildings in the US that still stands.
The colonies of Massachusetts and Plymouth court ordered the jail construction in 1690. Until a new stone jail was built by the village, the jail accommodated prisoners (six prisoners at a time) till 1820 before the building of the jail was attached to a barn.
When the village rediscovered the jail in 1968, it was moved from the barn to the grounds of the Heritage structure of the Coast Guard.
In 1971, the building was acknowledged by the Historic places National Register, and in 1987, it was inducted into the historic district of the Old King’s Highway.
In America, this jail building has a notoriety as one of the most haunted buildings.
The jail is open to ghost tours at certain periods of the year.
If you’re lucky, you might see the ghost of the lover of the well-known pirate Samuel Bellamy, Goody Hallett.
Address: Barnstable, MA 02630, United States
11. Sample Craft Beer at Cape Cod Beer
Real craft beer, which is always fresh and delicious, has been served and is still being served to visitors since 2004.
Cape Cod beer can be found in Hyannis, where the brewery distributes the beers in both cans and on drafts. They supply them from Plymouth to Provincetown. The place offers different craft beers, from IPAs to Pilsners.
You can access the place for six days a week, and the place is also open for events, tours, and tastings all year round.
Address: 1336 Phinneys Ln, Hyannis, MA 02601, United States
12. Marvel at the Design of the Barnstable County Courthouse
Located on the main Street of Barnstable is the historic Courthouse building of the county.
Alexandra Parris designed the two-story building and Greek Revival styles, and in 1831, the construction was completed.
The expansions that ha be done on the building from 1879 to 1971 are about 5, and every addition conformed to the entire construction.
The building is now used as a courthouse; inside, you will find the superior court Barnstable.
In 1981, the courthouse building was listed in the records of the Historic Places National Register.
In 1987, 6 years after, the County Courthouse was named the Old King’s Highway Historic District.
Address: 3195 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, United States
13. Mayflower Beach
One of the most breathtaking views on the cape is Mayflower Beach. The beach extends in the east from Nobscussett Point and in the west to the Chapin Beach shoulder.
You have lots of playing space for fun games with your kids or walking on the shore because of the low tides on the beach.
Picnic areas, public bathrooms, and paid parking are found on the beach. Also, close to the beach, you can get different sizes of homes, whether mansions or even seaside shanties.
14. Craigville Beach
On Nantucket Sound, there is a beach that is not crowded if you visit during the off-season. Another bonus is that you won’t pay to park your vehicle.
The best time to go there is in October because the weather is comfortable and the water is temperate enough for you to swim in.
On the beach, you’ll find colorful seashells and enough space to walk around if you wish to stroll in any direction along the surf lines.
15. See the Whales with the Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises
In Barnstable harbor, around mid-April till October, watching the whale cruise starts. One of the ten top places to go watch the whales is Stellwagen, and tours are provided there.
The boats have a full-service galley and interior climate-controlled cabins. You can also comfortably relax and watch the whales as the boats have outside decks.
On Yelp and TripAdvisor, the ratings of the cruises are very high, and visitors say what they were expecting was highly met.
Arriving early so as to get a seat on the upper deck or outside near the front of the boat to get an amazing view and dressing warm or bringing a jacket were among the few suggestions the reviewers made.
Address: 269 Millway, Barnstable, MA 02630, United States
16. Cape Cod Bay Charters
The Cape Cod Bay fishing Charter in Barnstable is also done in sessions of four, five, six, and eight hours. The Cape Cod Fishing charter is a fun activity to do in Barnstable.
Fishes caught in the fishing Charter are the Blue Fish, Shark, Tuna, or Bass, and the services they provide to clean and bag your catch are very impressive.
You do not have to worry about where to catch fish as the captain of the boat knows the perfect places to fish.
Address: 186 Millway, Barnstable, MA 02630, United States
17. Check Out Masterpieces at the Cahoon Museum of American Art
In Massachusetts, the most creative and original art museum, called The Cahoon Museum of American Art, is a fun place to visit.
In the Crocker historical house, situated in a village called Cotuit in Barnstable, the museum showcases its contemporary and historical art collections.
So far, you are open to learning about its art and history; the museum will welcome you as its visitor, irrespective of age. In addition, there are family-oriented events you can attend where you can enjoy the creative events in the museum.
There are also gift shops for souvenirs you can go to after your visit.
Address: 4676 Falmouth Rd, Cotuit, MA 02635, United States
18. Barnstable Comedy Club
One of the most famous sites for entertainment in Cape Cod you can visit is the Barnstable Comedy Club. Time, many people who love to go to theaters come to visit. It is one of the oldest not only in Cape Cod but also in America.
People who perform in the club are so talented, and their performance is so wonderful.
The system for reservation in the place is so easy, has a lot of parking, and cash checks, except for credit cards, are accepted.
Address: 3171 Main St, Barnstable, MA 02630, United States
19. Bay Spirit Tours
Finally, the Bay Spirit Tours is another activity you can do to enjoy the beauty of Cape Cod. You will learn about the history of the lighthouse there, and the tours go through the inner and the outer Hyannis harbor.
There is also a bar where you can have a drink as you take in the view, and the tours last for an hour when the sun sets or in the evening.
The boats are able to contain 49 persons, and you can also get a private charter if you want.
The staff is very informative and welcoming, according to reviewers, and the boats run smoothly for people who easily get seasick.
Address: 180 Ocean Street Slip #1, Hyannis, MA 02601, United States
Barnstable’s history is so rich from the 17th century when it was discovered.
Through the historical buildings that still stand today, its heritage can be revisited, and you can view the town and all it offers, even ghostly ones.
You can also sail around the Cape in Reverend John’s footsteps.
You can start making your reservations now to enjoy all that this place has to offer.