The Outer Cape inevitably holds a special place in my heart. Aside from its reputation for delectable oysters, Wellfleet epitomizes the joy of a summer filled with seaside bliss.
The town’s laid-back attitude and vibrant New England character are undoubtedly rooted in Wellfleet’s longstanding mariner heritage. Quite fittingly, many of the locals have earned their description as “salt of the earth.” Enjoy this relatively small town, rich in the culture of food, art, and history.
Where to Eat & Drink: A Few Favorites
Flying Fish Cafe – Early morning walks on the beach should be accompanied by a freshly baked scone, no? Takeout and sit-down are both top-notch options at this cafe. Their outside order window and porch are ideal for indulging in your take- away croissants and coffee!
Mac’s Shack – It’s all about the local and seasonal harvest here. Mac’s Shack goes beyond simply serving the local catch (which they do, and cook to perfection!). Their sushi chefs also work with prime cuts of fish. Sit inside the restaurant or along their marsh-side oyster bar.
The Beachcomber – Above the tall dunes of Cahoon Hollow Beach stands the appropriately-dubbed Beachcomber seaside restaurant. A fun oyster bar and extensive concert list merely add to this eatery’s impressive location.
Bōl – Get your health kick with made-to-order açai bowls and smoothies! Not only are the owners super nice, their menu is incredibly refreshing on a sweltering summer day.
PB Boulangerie Bistro – Directly on your way to the beach, you can smell their freshly baked bread as you drive by. This cafe/restaurant is the perfect place to grab a loaf for the week, indulge in a morning pastry, or enjoy a special dinner out. Revered head chef, Philippe Rispoli, has successfully brought a little piece of France to the Outer Cape!
Things to Do: Explore Wellfleet
The Frying Pan Gallery – A true gem nestled into a corner of Wellfleet’s historic harbor area. Local artists are specially curated and displayed in this restored 1900s oyster shack.
Wellfleet Farmers Market – Held on Wednesdays from 8AM – noon, May through October. Join the community in securing local produce and perusing the goods of Cape Cod artisans. Be sure to visit Salt Cellar Shop for some handmade botanical salves and balms.
Great Island Trail – Wellfleet is located on the narrowest part of Cape Cod. As such, it takes a mere 5 minutes to travel from ocean to bayside. Most often secluded, Great Island Trail is an excellent way to experience the bay’s gentle waves and lively tide pools. Tip: try to visit during low tide, as portions of the trail are submerged at high tide. Note: This is a long hike involving sand and dunes. No restrooms so plan accordingly.
Duck Harbor Beach – The sun rises on the ocean and sets on the bay in Wellfleet. Duck Harbor Beach is a local favorite to sit and watch the sky light up as the sun goes down. You’ll need a town parking pass and a written proof of stay to visit this beach. Details here: http://www.wellfleet-ma.gov/beaches
Cape Cod National Seashore – Created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the National Seashore encompasses 40 miles of Atlantic-facing coastline. Pristine beach stretching from Chatham to Provincetown affords you the opportunity to trudge past the beach crowds and find yourself on secluded sands. Walk as far as your legs will take you on a coastline that epitomizes quintessential Cape Cod.
Marconi Wireless Station Site – Alongside Marconi Beach sits a pavilion which marks the first transatlantic wireless communication between the United States and Europe. The associated beach is named after famous Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. In 1903, a message from President Theodore Roosevelt was tapped out in Morse code and sent from South Wellfleet to King Edward VII in England.
A Few Other Recommendations from Fresh New England
Hatch’s Fish Market – Cliff Hatch started selling fish door to door back in the 50’s until he landed a coveted retail space in the center of town. If you have access to a grill or a lobster pot, this is where you want to be.
Catch of the Day – Fish tacos and sweet potato fries. They’ll pack your tacos to go so you can take them to the beach.
The Chocolate Sparrow – Classic American handmade chocolates in the center of town. Plus, lots of penny candy for you and the kids. Located at 326 Main Street. The main shop is in Orleans.
Cahoon Hollow Beach – Cahoon Hollow is a stunning, natural beach on the ocean side (big waves and dunes). Beach parking is $20. This is where the Beachcomber is located (see above).
Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary – This is one of Audubon’s best wildlife sanctuaries. Stroll along the salt marshes, take a kayak tour, a bird walk or sign up for one of their many classes. Mostly, breathe, relax and enjoy. Bring your camera.
The Wellfleet Drive-In – If you want to feel like you’ve stepped back in time, plan to see a movie here. Nothing has changed and it’s packed every summer. Get there early for a good spot. Vintage Cape Cod.
The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater – An award winning non-profit theater with performances that run year-round. Why not take in a show?
Uncle Tim’s Bridge – A beautiful old bridge that lets you stroll near the waters edge. Wonderful to visit throughout the year and a favorite spot for photographers. There is no website to link to but you can find it on East Commercial Street near downtown Wellfleet.
Wellfleet Preservation Hall – This has become a hub for art and culture in downtown Wellfleet. They regularly have art installations, events, performances, etc. Be sure to check out their calendar for upcoming activities.
Wellfleet Oyster Fest – The Oysterfest is an enormous event that occurs every fall. If you like oysters, this event is for you. They also have entertainment, music, arts & crafts. It is definitely Wellfleet’s signature event of the year. Held annually.
Lieutenant Island – Is a gorgeous and adventurous hike in South Wellfleet. Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, a hat and bring your camera. You’ll be walking mostly over sand and rocks. Read the details before you head out. Make sure you visit at low-tide or you’ll get trapped on the island! (Don’t ask how we know-lol). No restrooms.
A Glimpse of Wellfleet, MA
Did we miss any of your favorite places? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Kelby Cushman is a writer and photographer in mountainous New Hampshire. As the original contributor for The Jackson House Inn’s blog in Woodstock VT, she found passion in telling the stories of farmers, chefs, and makers through words and images. Follow her adventures and photography on her website.