Choosing Cape Cod as a vacation destination was a great decision. However, now you must determine which part of the Cape to visit and where to stay. Our 65 miles have different “sections”, each with its own special characteristics: the upper cape (closest to the bridges), the middle cape and the lower or outer cape. Although the Lower Cape is technically further north than the Upper Cape, it’s easy to remember the terms if you think of Cape Cod as your arm raised above your head. Your forearm may be higher than your forearm, but you can still remember the difference. (Illustrated using a real image of my arm!)

PLEASE NOTE: Some people are trying to divide Cape Cod into four sections: Upper, Middle, Lower, and Outer. If you hear these distinctions, the bottom layer refers to the “elbow” region of the layer, while the outer layer refers to the forearm, wrist, and hand. For most people, however, the terms “Lower” and “Outer” Cape are synonymous.

The Upper Cape was established first (if you don’t count the Pilgrims before Plymouth’s landing at Provincetown, around 1620). In the Upper Cape you will find many historic houses and classic architecture. The beaches are located on Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound.

Mid-Cape is the most populated part of the Cape. Our only city, Hyannis, is located there. Visitors who don’t want to be without the urban influences of shopping malls, neon, and nightlife should plan to stay there. The Mid-Cape beaches are located on Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay.

Lower Cape is the most remote and least populated part of Cape Cod. It is also the narrowest and is surrounded by water. The beaches of the Lower Cape are found on the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Cod Bay, and in the many crystalline freshwater ponds located throughout. These ponds were formed by huge chunks of ice left by our last passing glacier.

The Great Beach, which runs from Chatham to Provincetown, looks out over the Atlantic and is truly the best beach on the Cape. He inspired President Kennedy to form the Cape Cod National Seashore Project here in the Lower Cape and not in the Mid-Cape area, where he had his own summer home. It is the only place to go if you are a wave lover. Standing on the shore, under towering dune cliffs, one has a special feeling watching the sun rise from the ocean, knowing that beyond the horizon is Portugal. The North Atlantic is known for its violent storms and these produce some of the most majestic breakers here on the Outer Cape. Surfboards and their owners are seen trying to harness that power year-round here.

Due to The National Seashore, there are no motels on the ocean. Some motels can be found on the bay or on Nantucket Sound in other cities, but most of their guests end up traveling to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean anyway.

The Lower Cape has been described as the rest of Cape Cod that it used to be. Picturesque small towns, local fishing boats, and an abundance of undeveloped land in its natural state await you to explore.

The Lower Cape is a haven for hikers, a bonanza for bird watchers, and an oasis for city dwellers. The main motto here is … Life is a beach!

Lodging in Cape Cod offers rentals of motels, cabins and houses on the outskirts of Cape Cod.