Cape Cod Traffic
The Worst Travel Days & Times
How bad is Cape Cod traffic ... really?
I'm not going to sugar-coat it. During the summer months, especially on the weekends, traffic conditions can be downright ugly traveling on and off-Cape.
Once you're here, you'll be fine - as long as you have a little patience in some notorious trouble spots, like the Rt. 6 lane-drops in Harwich and Wellfleet, the rotary in Orleans, and along much of Rt. 28 from Falmouth to Dennis. (That's where my favorite local street atlas comes in handy for finding alternate routes!)
In the off-season, traffic is rarely an issue, with certain predictable exceptions that I'll tell you about in a minute.
But first, let's begin with summertime ...
Heavy Traffic Times in July and August
These are the travel days and hours you'll want to avoid, if it's at all possible:
Coming to Cape Cod
- Friday - 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you'll be arriving on Friday during the summer, try your best to get here by early afternoon. Or wait until later in the evening. Anytime in between, I can just about guarantee you'll get stuck in heavy Cape Cod bridge traffic with the "weekenders" and daily business commuters.
- Saturday - 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
These are the hours when you absolutely, positively don't want to be approaching either of the two bridges onto Cape Cod. Saturday morning traffic coming to Cape Cod is right up there in nastiness quotient with departing traffic on Sunday afternoon.
That's why it's super-important to plan your road trip right, and keep up with the latest traffic report, if you're driving to Cape Cod on Saturday in July or August!
- Sunday - 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Traffic coming across the bridges from the mainland is generally a little lighter on Sunday morning than it is on Saturday morning. But it still gets busy. Especially on warm sunny days, with lots of day-trippers coming to hang out at the beach.
Leaving for Home
- Saturday - 8 a.m. to Noon (or so)
Traffic leaving Cape Cod on Saturday mornings is a lot busier than you might guess. That's because many visitors rent a house or cottage for their vacation. And most rentals run from Saturday to Saturday.
So, just as lots and lots of people arrive on Saturday morning - lots of people leave on Saturday morning, too.
- Sunday - 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
If I had to pick the worst of all times to try to leave Cape Cod, this would be it.
Almost everyone who has to be back to work on Monday morning leaves sometime Sunday afternoon or early evening.
FYI: Weather plays a big role in the Sunday exodus. If it's not a good beach day, traffic leaving Cape Cod on Sunday can get nasty as early as 10 a.m.
The day after Labor Day, it's like someone has waved a magic wand. It's quiet here. The summer traffic has disappeared.
The roads get busy again on weekends through Columbus Day, when visitors come for one last day at the beach, or to attend our fabulous September festivals and special events in October.
But even then, it's not nearly as busy here as it is on a summer weekend.
From Columbus Day on, everything goes back to normal ... until late June when the season begins again.
Traffic on Holidays
These U.S. national holidays also bring heavier than normal Cape Cod traffic:
- Memorial Day (May 26, 2014)
- Independence Day (July 4th)
- Labor Day (September 1, 2014)
- Columbus Day (Oct. 13, 2014)
- Thanksgiving (Nov. 28, 2013)
- Christmas (December 25)
When the official holiday falls on a Monday (Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day) traffic tends to be busy coming on to Cape Cod on Friday afternoon/evening of the holiday weekend, and again as visitors leave on Monday afternoon.
Driving to Cape Cod from Boston Logan Airport
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