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Cape Cod Family Vacation
$500 a Week or Under 

You can say "yes!" to a Cape Cod family vacation this summer, no matter how tight your budget might be.

With as little as a few hundred dollars, you and your family can easily enjoy a fantastic getaway to Cape Cod. Let me show you how, with a sample itinerary.

The budget for this one-week family vacation is $500. For the sake of this example, I've chosen the scenic, centrally-located town of Brewster as your vacation home base.

But, as you'll see below, you can have an equally inexpensive vacation like this in other towns on Cape Cod, and do it on an even tighter budget if you want or need to, without sacrificing any fun!

Budget for the Week 

Lodging $150
Grocery Store & Seafood Market $150
Restaurants $100
Activities $100
TOTAL $500

*This sample budget is for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) vacationing in peak season. Activity costs are estimated based on 4 adult admissions, and food costs on adult meals for 4.

Inexpensive Accommodations - ($150)

For a super-affordable place to stay, you really can't beat camping at Nickerson State Park.

Covering more than 1900 acres in the upscale town of Brewster, Nickerson is (IMHO) the premier state park in Massachusetts - and perhaps in all of New England.

At Nickerson, it's all right there for you. Swimming, boating, fishing, miles of walking and bike trails, plus lots of free family activities. All in one of the prettiest settings you can imagine.

A Summer Day at Cliff Pond


For around $20 a night, you can pitch your tent or set up your camper on one of 400 wooded or pond-view sites.

FYI: Prime spots sell out quickly. You can sometimes find a vacancy at the last minute, but I wouldn't risk it.

To be sure you don't miss out, it's a good idea to make reservations as soon as you decide on your vacation dates!

No spots available at Nickerson? Try one of our other state parks:

Managing Your Family's Vacation Food Costs

Dining In

"Self catering", as our British friends so delicately refer to cooking your own meals, definitely keeps vacation food expenses down.

But come on - this is a vacation, after all. And, in my humble opinion, vacation isn't vacation without a few special meals to sample the local fare.

So, I've included the cost of a lobster feast for the whole family in your Cape Cod vacation budget. (It's part of the $150 I've allocated for the grocery store and seafood market.)

From Nickerson State Park, several supermarkets are only a few minutes away. Call or stop by, order your lobsters, and they'll cook 'em up for you and have them ready to pick up at dinner time. Grab a few sides like corn on the cob, potato or macaroni salad, and some dinner rolls, and you're all set.

Seafood prices do vary from week to week, depending on catch conditions and market rates. But I usually get four nice lobsters for around $60.  (That's much less than you'll pay in most restaurants ;-)

Dining Out

When it comes to eating out, I've alloted $100 for the week. That's enough for a few  meals out, including lunch at Cobie's - my favorite food stop on the bike trail by Nickerson State Park ... 

Try their fresh fish sandwich. It's lightly breaded and fried, served on a soft roll. Soooo good!

Their sweet potato fries are to die for, too.

If you're driving instead of biking there, you'll find Cobie's on Main Street (Rt. 6A) in Brewster. 

You can't miss it. Look for the statue of the namesake, holding up the "Today's Specials" sign.

Lunch for four will run you around $40.


Free & Inexpensive Family Fun

In many other popular summer vacation destinations, the cost of entertainment takes a big whack out of the family vacation budget. But not on Cape Cod!

Around here, a fantastic family vacation can easily be built around the many free and low-cost activities and attractions our area offers. And the beauty of it is ... the kids will be so busy having the time of their lives, they'll never realize that you're going cheap :-)

Here are some cool things to do that're well within your $100 entertainment budget:


Just a short bikeride from Nickerson State Park are some gorgeous Cape Cod Bay beaches, including the one in this photo - Linnell Landing.

As you can see, Linnell Landing is more than just a lovely stretch of sand - it's handicap accessible, too.

During the summer months, non-residents need a special sticker to park at the Bay beaches in Brewster ($15 daily, $50 weekly). But the beaches are open to everyone, free, if you walk or bike in.

Family Programs & Activities at the Park

Nickerson has a full lineup of free summer family vacation programs, including birdwatching, guided hikes, geocaching, and lots more.

For the family that's not keen on "organized" vacation activities, you'll still find plenty to keep you busy around the park, at absolutely no charge.

Are you into fishing? The park's Cliff Pond is said to be a good spot for smallmouth bass. I can't vouch for that personally, as I'm a saltwater fishing girl. But I'll take the freshwater guys' word for it!

For family fun on wheels, Nickerson has 8 miles of bike trails in the park, connecting to the 22-mile long Cape Cod Rail Trail bikeway that runs all the way out to Wellfleet on the National Seashore.  Ride as far as you'd like, stop along the way for a picnic, and explore the area!

Family Bike Ride

Bring Your Own Kayak
or Rent One

Catch a Rising Star

Trivia time ...

Question:  What do these famous Major League baseball players all have in common?

  • Mark Texiera
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Ryan Braun
  • Evan Longoria
  • Buster Posey

  • Tim Lincecum
  • Craig Biggio
  • Chase Utley
  • Carlton Fisk
  • Thurman Munson

Answer:  Before they became famous, they all played in the Cape Cod Baseball League - the premier amateur summer league in the country.

Catch a Brewster Whitecaps home game at Stony Brook Field, and who knows ... you might be lucky enough to see a future MLB Hall of Famer in action!

Best of all, there's no admission charge to attend the games. Donations are appreciated, so I've factored a $10 donation into the entertainment budget as a good will gesture.  But you can certainly feel free to give more or less. Donations are entirely voluntary. 

Splash in the Atlantic Ocean

As nice as our Cape Cod Bay beaches are, there's nothing quite as spectacular as our Atlantic Ocean coastline, with it's huge expanses of dune-backed beaches and crashing surf. 

Here's a photo of Nauset Beach in Orleans, taken from atop the dunes ...

From Brewster, it's only about a 15-minute drive to Nauset Beach. 

Whether you take a spin down to have a quick peek and dip your toes in the water, or you decide to spend a whole day there, a visit to Nauset should be at the top of your Cape Cod family vacation "must do" list"!

Liam's, the snack bar at Nauset Beach, serves up the best onion rings known to mankind. And on Monday and Thursday evenings in July and August, there are free family-friendly concerts at the beach gazebo.

Your restaurant budget has room for snacks, lunch or a light dinner at Liams', and your activity budget can handle the $20 daily parking fee ... so go for it!

Saving Even More on Your Family Vacation

Believe it or not, you can actually cut another $45 off your lodging costs, if you have a self-contained camper that's equipped to travel oversand. Find out more, here. 

And be sure to check out my Activities and Events sections where you'll find lots more free entertainment to keep you busy all week long.

Best wishes for a wonderful Cape Cod family vacation!

** Important:  Lodging, food, activity, and event providers may change their rates, discounts, special offers, promotions, services,  amenities, dates of operation, availability, etc. at any time, without notice and without my knowledge. Before you make any travel plans, be sure to visit the provider's website or call the provider directly to verify all details! 

Related Pages:

Cape Cod Family Beach Vacation on a $1500 Budget

Money-Saving Deals & Discount Passes

Cape Cod Campground Directory

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