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J1 USA / USA

Why you should go to Cape Cod for your J1

Known for its lobster rolls, sweeping beaches and relaxed New England atmosphere, Cape Cod is the ultimate destination for your J1. Summer transforms the Cape into a sun-kissed beach paradise – with long beach days and quaint towns lined with boutique shops, seafood shacks and ice cream parlours. If you’re looking for the beach life mixed with old American charm – Cape Cod is a total catch.

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Why Cape Cod over bigger cities

Sure, New York, Boston and Chicago are bigger, louder and brighter. But living in small towns and working with locals on your J1 will give you that true East Coast American summer experience. It’s the chance to create lasting memories, form meaningful connections, and relish in the simple pleasures of coastal living – an experience that will stay with you long after the summer sun has set.

Cape Cod is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and whale-filled waters - with most J1ers spending their evenings lounging by the ocean after work or having BBQs and beach parties with their new work friends. But it’s not just about the beach lifestyle. Cape Cod also has a bucketload of old towns to visit, each with their own unique charm which will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped right into a postcard.

Where to live

This is the hard part, because it’s different for every traveller! First off, the Cape is much bigger than most people think. It takes 90 minutes to drive along Massachusetts’s hook, from Falmouth to Provincetown, so it’s important to try find a town that your vibe with. The great thing about Cape Cod is its diversity, there’s busy towns, quiet towns, beach towns and more with two very different vibes often being next door to each other! For example, the party city of Provincetown is right next door to Turo, one of the Cape’s quietest towns. We’ve divided the Cape into categories to help you decide on where to base your J1 summer.

Fun Cape Cod towns with lots to do? Try Chatham, Provincetown, Hyannis, Chatham Pretty Cape Cod towns with bags of charm? Try Sandwich, Wellfleet, Brewster, Harwich, Yarmouth, Barnstable Cape Cod towns that are all about the beach? Dennis, Mashpee, Bourne Quiet Cape Cod towns for getting away from it all? Truro, Eastham, Orleans

Either way, wherever you spend your J1, you’ll have an amazing summer filled with beach days, events and local characters.

Where to visit: Provincetown

Otherwise known as P-Town, Provincetown is a vibrant and unique town at the very top of the Cape. Home to beautiful beaches, ice cream parlours, foodie places to eat and charming boutiques, Provincetown is also known for celebrating individuality and freedom of expression. During the summer, P-Town comes alive as its population swells from 3,000 to 60,000 as many Americans come here to spend their holidays.

One of P-town’s biggest summer events is its 4th of July parade, which begins at the Harbour Hotel and proceeds down Commercial Street to Franklin Street where thousands of people gather to join in the festivities. Parade entrants are judged on Most Patriotic, Best in Parade, Best Musical, Children’s, and Adult Floats. Then, at dusk, there are fireworks over Provincetown Harbour. Don’t forget to wear your red, white and blue for a truly American 4th of July!

Provincetown has a long history as a welcoming and inclusive destination community. Renowned for its open-minded and accepting atmosphere, it’s popular for LGBTQIA+ travellers. The town hosts the largest gathering of LGBTQIA+ families in the world during Provincetown Family Week – a week aimed at bringing families together as a way to build community and awareness of issues affecting us today.

Keep an eye out for P’town Carts, a rental agency for street legal golf carts that’s making it easier (and more fun!) than ever to get around town.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USIT Staff

Our content is shaped by our community. If you also have a way with words and a travel tale to tell, DM us about writing for USIT.

“Cape Cod in the summer is an idyllic destination that gives you that true all-American beach experience that everyone is chasing on a J1.”

Where to visit: Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket

Right on your doorstep, a day out to Martha’s Vineyard is a must on your J1 summer in Cape Cod. Only six miles from the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard offers beautiful scenery, history, and mouth-watering food. Walk through the gingerbread cottages, jump off the famous Jaws Bridge and ride Americas oldest carousel, the Flying Horse. Each town has their own unique character and charm, so explore and get a taste of everything the vineyard has to offer!

Only an hour ferry ride from the Cape, Nantucket is another beautiful island that is right on your doorstep while on your J1 in Cape Cod. This island feels like its own little world, where life goes at a slower place and one that National Geographic once named the “best island in the world.” Swimming, surfing, boutique shopping, fishing, and dining on fresh seafood are all glorious ways to spend a day here. Even though it’s a small island, there’s still so much to see and experience. One of the best ways of exploring is by renting a bike and seeing the true beauty of this island. With multiple bike lanes that connect all neighbourhoods and beaches, it’s a quick and inexpensive way to see what island living is all about.

Must do things on your J1 in Cape Cod

Wellfleet Drive-in Dating back to the 1950s, experience an American classic with a movie under the stars. This drive-in cinema is last of its kind on Cape Cod, and one of only 300 left in the entire US! With different movies scheduled each week, enjoy new releases or some old classics for a perfect night in the Cape.

Provincetown Carnival Week (August) Hands down, there’s no livelier place on the Cape in August than Provincetown. Where parties, art fairs, a costume ball, and other celebrations of LGBTQIA+ life all lead up to the vibrant spectacle of the Carnival Parade.

Barnstable County Fair (July) The Barnstable County Fair happens each July, promising that real American fun fair experience. The event includes great entertainment and musical performances, amusements, midway rides, horticultural exhibits, farm animals, food, crafts and more.

Bike the Cape Cod Rail Trail Pack a picnic, throw a preppy sweater over your shoulders, and cycle along the route of the old Cape Cod Railroad. The trail runs from South Yarmouth into Dennis, then winds through Harwich, Brewster (with a detour through Nickerson State Park), Orleans (through the beautiful Rock Harbor area), along a salt marsh to the Cape Cod National Seashore Centre in Eastham and then to Le Count Hollow in Wellfleet. The name stems from an old railroad right of way it follows from the original trailhead in South Dennis, which transported passengers and freight to Cape Cod in the early 1800s until around 1960. Hop off at each town and see what it has to offer!

Getting there: Boston to Cape Cod

The distance between Boston and the Cape is only 112 km, close enough that Bostonians and its visitors frequently enjoy an easy weekend getaway. If you’re in Cape Cod for your J1, Boston is an easy city break right on your doorstep which is a MUST before you head back to Ireland and is easily accessible by a number of different modes of transport.

  • Bus from Boston to Cape Cod Travel time: 90 minutes

Cost: from $17+ - One of the easiest ways to get to Cape Cod from Boston is by bus. New England bus carrier Peter Pan Bus Lines offers direct routes to several locations across Cape Cod for as low as $17.

  • Train from Boston to Cape Cod Travel time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Cost: from $15+. Unfortunately, there is no Amtrak train from Boston to Cape Cod. However, from around Memorial Day through Labor Day, the MBTA (Massachusetts’ public transportation system) offers a train line called the Cape Flyer that provides service to Wareham Village, Buzzard’s Bay and Hyannis. Be on the lookout for summer specials on tickets, which can drop as low as $15 for same-day travel.

  • Ferry from Boston to Cape Cod Travel time: 2 hours Cost: from $47.50- Boston Harbor Cruises offers a very convenient ferry from Boston to Cape Cod that departs from Boston Harbor and docks at Provincetown for as low as $57.00 one way. Most trips take about 90 minutes, but ferry rides to Cape Cod can take up to two hours. Not only is this ride nonstop and traffic-free, but you’re treated to a terrific view of Cape Cod Bay (as well as the Boston skyline) as you sail over into P-town.

    Also check out Cisco Brewers, a favourite gathering place for beer tasting, food trucks and live music. Other things to do on the island include the taking a stroll down the cobblestone streets of the historic downtown, visit the Old Mill and the Old Gaol, the Whaling Museum and walk the Sconset Bluff Walk - one of the most enchanting walking paths in the USA and one of the most photographed spots in Nantucket.

Climate

American’s flock from all over the country to experience the magic of a Cape Cod summer. Average daytime temperatures in the summer around 24-30°C. However, it's essential to note that Cape Cod's weather can be somewhat unpredictable, with occasional variations in temperature due to its proximity to the ocean. Ocean temperatures are warm during the summer which makes it very pleasant to swim in with average sea temperatures in July being 23°C.

Want to put your career or summer on the US map, but not sure where you can go? Book a call with the USIT team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USIT Staff

Our content is shaped by our community. If you also have a way with words and a travel tale to tell, DM us about writing for USIT.

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All our team have worked in the US

Not only that, but many of our team disappear on their J1 or camp each summer – returning to our Dublin HQ with fresh intel and inspo about working and travelling in the States. Good job!

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