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Things to love and not love about AutoCamp Cape Cod

Jul 19, 2023Jul 19, 2023

Nestled in the scenic landscapes of lower Cape Cod, AutoCamp Cape Cod offers an upscale camping retreat aimed at both outdoorsy adventurers and comfort-seeking homebodies. It marries the allure of the great outdoors with luxurious amenities, providing a unique East Coast getaway experience.

As someone who loves nature but lacks the physical skills and mental fortitude to face the elements, camping has never been for me. Glamping, on the other hand, seemed like a great fit, as it satisfies that desire to get outdoors while providing the comforts of home, such as clean linens and high-end coffee — minus the risk of waking up next to a snake.

AutoCamp Cape Cod delivers just that and more, ensuring that guests can reconnect with themselves and nature in a comfortable way.

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The first East Coast location for AutoCamp, an unconventional accommodation option that brings guests close to nature destinations like Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park and New York's Catskills Mountains, AutoCamp Cape Cod offers an upscale stay for travelers visiting Falmouth, Massachusetts, in lower Cape Cod. Guests can choose from tricked-out Airstreams, tiny house-style cabins and more traditional (but still chic) canvas tents.

While AutoCamp Cape Cod may not have all the amenities you'd expect to find at a deluxe hotel, such as a restaurant, bar or spa, it delivers on its goal of helping guests reconnect with themselves and nature in a comfortable way. You can choose from an array of experiences (some complimentary, some for a fee) designed to help you enjoy Cape Cod's sights, or you can simply borrow one of the property's bikes to get out and explore on your own — the choice is yours.

Related: How points and miles saved me over $2,000 on a trip to Nantucket and Cape Cod

AutoCamp Cape Cod offers a blend of natural beauty and modern comforts, appealing to those who are glamping "for the vibes" and seasoned campers who want to elevate their experience. There's a lot to love about the property, especially when it comes to its location, design and activities.

One of the standout aspects of AutoCamp Cape Cod is its location in the lower Cape. By strategically setting up shop in Falmouth at the base of the peninsula instead of closer to Provincetown at the very tip of Cape Cod, AutoCamp makes the beauty and tranquility of the region more accessible for travelers.

For visitors flying into the area, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) is the closest major airport. From Boston, you can reach AutoCamp Cape Cod by various means of transportation.

The camp is approximately 75 miles southeast of Boston, and the drive takes up to two hours, depending on traffic. You can rent a car at the airport and drive along the coast to reach Falmouth. Alternatively, there are options for public transportation. You can take a bus or train from Boston to Falmouth, and from there, you can finish your journey via a taxi or ride-hailing service.

Whether you choose to drive or use public transportation, getting to AutoCamp Cape Cod is relatively straightforward, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of Cape Cod without a long and daunting journey.

The property's prime location right off the 10.7-mile-long Shining Sea Bikeway — named for the iconic song "America the Beautiful," which was written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates — means novice bikers and avid cyclists alike can easily explore the area's salt marshes, cranberry bogs and lush woodlands.

During our short stay, we saw countless birds, including American goldfinches and gray catbirds, while out and about. We even had a rabbit come up and nibble on the chicory right outside our door.

When you need a break from nature, hop in the car and go for a short drive to Woods Hole or a neighboring town for a bite to eat at one of the region's charming eateries or a bit of retail therapy.

Arranged in rows with neighbors close enough to create a sense of community but far enough to offer a slice of privacy and tranquility, AutoCamp Cape Cod's accommodations should appeal to a variety of outdoorsy (or not-so-outdoorsy) travelers.

Entering our Airstream felt like being tagged in an Instagram influencer's feed. You're greeted by a well-designed, bright living space that is both functional and fashionable, with a futon that opens to comfortably sleep two, Bluetooth speakers for entertainment, a foldable TV tray-style table and a marble side table.

The living room shares a space with a small but smartly designed closet large enough to hide away luggage, as well as a kitchenette that blends efficiency and style. Hidden within the kitchenette's cabinets are a microwave and a minifridge large enough for storing about a week's worth of meals, plus a few drinks.

Should you wish to cook outdoors, you'll find a cast-iron pan to use over your personal outdoor fire pit, along with essentials like oven mitts and tongs. The only thing you need to bring is food, oils and spices (all of which can be purchased at the general store) since the kitchenette comes stocked with a full set of dishes, bowls, mugs and glasses. There's also Dripkit coffee to prepare with a provided electric kettle when you need a pick-me-up in addition to an outdoor table for alfresco dining.

The separate bedroom is a cozy sanctuary with adjustable shades and a firm double bed (a highlight for me, as overly plush hotel beds often leave my back aching). The light fixtures' Edison bulbs provide a warm glow throughout the space, yet standard overhead fixtures are also installed for when you need additional light. The nightstands are compact but offer enough storage to keep your essentials bedside, and several USB ports built into the nightstand make it easy to keep your devices charged.

To help pass the time indoors, there is a quote book from Henry David Thoreau (who loved visiting Cape Cod) beside the bed and an awkwardly fixed-mounted wall TV.

The bathroom — outfitted with a walk-in shower and a sink — is a mini oasis, both in design and function. Matte black finishes, creamy white walls and amber bottles made this bathroom undoubtedly nicer than most hotel bathrooms I've ever been in. Not to mention, the fogged glass on the windows created the right level of privacy without blocking out too much light.

While I loved the look of the space, the high-quality products from Ursa Major were what impressed me most. The amber, cedar and sea mineral blend of the soaps and conditioners smelled so good I had to remind myself I was in the middle of the woods and not at a luxe spa. After days of sweating on bike trails and walking in the open sun, showering in the Airstream provided much-needed rejuvenation.

One of the standout aspects of AutoCamp Cape Cod is the variety of on-site activities. In addition to a main lounge with unique games (think: a "Jaws"-themed board game and a massive wooden Connect Four), the camp offers a range of things to do that cater to different interests and age groups, including morning yoga and evening stargazing. Keep in mind, though, that some cost extra to enjoy.

While many of the activities sounded appealing, we unfortunately couldn't partake in any due to when they occurred. Since we had our young daughter with us, many of the activities weren't compatible with her sleep schedule. If we didn't have our daughter with us or she was slightly older, we likely would've participated in a few of the events as a way to engage with fellow campers and create a sense of community.

In keeping with AutoCamp's commitment to conservation, various property details were designed to be as eco-friendly as possible.

For example, the Airstream bathrooms feature low-flow faucets designed to conserve water. Additionally, the keycards are made out of paper instead of non-biodegradable plastic. These small yet significant details contribute to the feeling that every effort is made to limit the impact of the camp on its natural surroundings, despite the luxurious look of the Airstream.

The landscaping also puts conservation at the forefront. Native plants like echinacea and black-eyed Susans are planted throughout, and erosion prevention efforts like a retention wall surrounding the clubhouse are in place.

Related: Carbon offsetting: How to calculate your carbon footprint when you travel

AutoCamp Cape Cod offers a lot of opportunities for Instagram-worthy glamping moments, though some aspects might not appeal to everyone. Reservation annoyances got in the way of us fully enjoying our stay at times, and other details (like the eroding paths around the property and its limited food and drink selection) could be improved.

Prior to our arrival, there were a couple of reservation-related headaches we found ourselves dealing with.

Although booking our four-night stay was straightforward, after finalizing our reservation, an email confirmation never arrived. I cannot stress how anxious this detail made me. While I eventually found my reservation information by logging in to AutoCamp's booking platform through its website, the only other way I could confirm our booking existed was with the credit card receipt I received a week before our stay. No one at the front desk answered my calls prior to our arrival to confirm the dates, and a text reminder about our stay wasn't sent until 5:30 p.m. on the day we checked in.

The discrepancies with pricing could also pose a challenge, though they didn't in my case because I frequently monitored pricing before booking. Despite initially being quoted $700 per night for our late July stay when we first started considering the property in April, by June, the price dropped to $450 per night. Sensing there may be an additional price drop, I ultimately waited until early July to book our stay, as by that point, a weekday promotion became available. This brought our price down to $199 per night, saving us about $500 per night.

Related: 7 ways to save money on a trip you already booked — without canceling your vacation

As part of the camping experience, AutoCamp Cape Cod encourages guests to prepare their own meals at the campsite. The resort's Kitchen + General Store stocks a variety of food items, from a range of snacks to ingredients for a more substantial meal. However, on-site dining options are otherwise limited to a few items that can be heated and served quickly, such as chicken tenders and pretzels, since there is no full-service restaurant or bar.

While these basic offerings can satisfy a quick hunger pang, they're not enough for those who need a full meal. We arrived late on the first day of our stay and needed to put our daughter to bed almost immediately, so the best we could do for dinner was either eat the snacks we could purchase on-site or order DoorDash. We opted to order a small personal pizza ($15) and some chicken fingers ($9) from The Kitchen, which took a while to arrive after microwaving and were fine for what they were: reheated foods.

For breakfast, small pastries like cinnamon rolls ($7) are available to purchase to complement the free granola provided alongside coffee and tea. However, our Airstream was quite removed from the clubhouse (where the general store is located), so the trek uphill didn't feel worth repeating after our initial clubhouse visit.

Despite feeling safe in our Airstream during our stay, the stability of the structures needs some improvement.

Before our visit, I had seen Google reviews from guests comparing their stays to what it's like being on a boat because of the rocking caused by the camper's suspension system. Given that these units are vehicles, there's a noticeable sway whenever someone moves at either end. This can be a bit disorienting at times, especially for those with young children or who may be prone to vertigo, so implementing a system to reduce or eliminate that sway would be a significant improvement.

AutoCamp Cape Cod is a family-friendly destination designed for all kinds of travelers. However, families with young children and those with mobility issues may find certain aspects of the camp challenging, particularly in terms of terrain. The camp's hilly landscape, while scenic and beautiful, can pose difficulties for guests in wheelchairs and families navigating with strollers or toddlers who are still mastering their walking skills.

It's important for guests to be aware of these challenges before booking their stay. The hilly nature of the camp can make moving around the site a bit of an exercise, especially during hot weather. However, the camp does offer golf cart rides around the property, which can be a fun and convenient way to get around, especially upon arrival with lots of luggage.

Know, too, that the condition of the camp's pathways is less than ideal. The ongoing erosion prevention work happening at AutoCamp Cape Cod has resulted in some camp areas featuring loose gravel paths. When the gravel was compacted, we had no issues riding over the path with our Nuna Trvl Stoller; however, when the gravel was freshly placed or used to fill in a large divot, we had a hard time navigating over it. While this adds to the rustic camping feel, it can make moving a wheelchair or stroller more challenging.

In terms of accommodations designed for those with disabilities, AutoCamp Cape Cod does offer accessible options to ensure everyone can enjoy their stay. Some of the cabins and luxury tents are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, offering ramps to the entrances, widened doorways, roll-in showers with bench seating and lowered countertops and switches.

Related: Planning an accessible trip? These travel resources can help

Despite some drawbacks, AutoCamp Cape Cod provided a memorable glamping experience for my family. The blend of modern comforts and surrounding natural beauty, coupled with high-end finishes, made it a unique getaway. With some improvements, particularly on the booking and dining front, AutoCamp Cape Cod could elevate itself from an excellent stay to an unforgettable one.

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