WHY GO: If the Cape Cod town of Wellfleet MA seems vaguely familiar, it’s because Edward Hopper captured these scenes in many of his paintings and Henry David Thoreau penned his journals nearby. Besides the vast beaches of the National Seashore, you’ll find remnants of Victorian-era technology, one of the country’s last surviving drive-ins and a wildlife rich sanctuary. There’s a reason that Wellfleet Oysters are so popular around the world: come to the source and find out for yourself.
Things to Do in Wellfleet MA
VISIT: Marconi Wireless Station @ Marconi Beach. A Marconi Wireless Telegraph diorama is located in the spot where the first Telegraph Station once stood (its terminus was in England) and offers some idea about the precursor to the internet. Planks of rotted wood held down by rusty chains are all that remain of this now antique international communications center, where on January 18, 1903, Marconi successfully transmitted messages between Teddy Roosevelt, the president of the United States and King Edward VII of England.
VISIT: Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. For a taste of Cape Cod and its varied landscapes, don’t miss this former bird-banding station run by Mass Audubon. On 1,200 acres, you can easily spend a full day hiking along five miles of trails and boardwalks through a variety of habitats – woodlands, tidal marsh, beach, coastal sandplain, and fresh water ponds. You’ll encounter ospreys and otters, kingfishers and muskrats, crabs and hundreds of other miracles of nature. Walk into the LEED Certified (read: Eco-Friendly) Esther Underwood Johnson Nature Center and sit in a sling-back chair for a bit while gazing at bird feeding stations through a wall of glass. Open daily Memorial Day to Labor Day 8:30AM to 5PM, off-season Tues. – Sun. 8:30am-5pm
SURF/SAND: Cahoon Hollow Beach. Though it’s a hike to get to – down, down, down a huge sand dune, Cahoon Hollow is pristine, popular and pleasing to the eye.
If you need a pick me up at the top of the hill come late afternoon – the Beachcomer, in a former US Lifesaving Station, offers some good burger-type grub and award-winning cocktails. Stay later for live music – it’s quite the scene. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day.
WATCH: W.H.A.T Theater. WHAT is the acronym for Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theater, and if you happen to be in town for a show, you might just encounter a Hollywood star on stage. Summer is high season, of course, but there are other events throughout the year, including broadcasts of Metropolitan Opera productions and Yuletide fundraisers.
WATCH: Wellfleet Drive-In Nothing says summertime romance like a drive-in-theater; whether you’re 16 or 86, neck with your honey while watching a first-run flick from the comfort of your own car. Memorial Day – Labor Day, Adults $9, kids $6.
Where to Eat in Wellfleet MA
EAT/BREAKFAST,LUNCH: PB Boulangerie; This pastry shop/café appears to have been airlifted from Provence and plopped down in the middle of busy Route 6. For an equally toothsome, but unheralded option, walk across the parking lot to the Blue Willow Bakery, which specializes in terrific fresh from scratch breakfasts and lunches.
EAT/DINNER. The Wicked Oyster. Are oysters really wicked? Well, here in Wellfleet they are wicked-good just plucked from nearby oyster beds, that’s for sure. Though this top-rated restaurant specializes in fresh-caught seafood, chefs here know how to work magic with meats as well. Grilled Filet Mignon with Bourbon Caramel Sauce ($30) and Seafood Stew ($26) are delectable.
Where to Stay in Wellfleet MA
STAY: Aunt Sukie’s B&B. Most lodging in Wellfleet is of the family/motel variety. But this is an unusual animal – a B&B right on the beach, or at least a long boardwalk’s stroll to the bay. Though Sukie’s has just three rooms and one cottage, is open only July 1 – Labor Day and requires a 4 night minimum stay, this charmer gets booked up quickly, perhaps due to a private beach and the fact that two balconies face the setting sun. Rooms $305-$325/ night (4 night minimum) include a breakfast of home-baked treats.