DescriptionSituated along the scenic Cape Cod segment of US 6, Wellfleet—nearly half of which is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore—is a popular, yet quiet, summer retreat. In South Wellfleet, 5 miles of trails provide naturalists with access to Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, which shelters woodlands, a salt marsh, barrier beaches and heathlands.
An early whaling center, Wellfleet once was the leading oyster-producing port in New England. A town clock in the Congregational Church still strikes ship's time. Cultivated in the pristine estuaries of Wellfleet Harbor, the internationally renowned mollusks—their meat plump and mildly sweet—remain a coveted regional commodity. Not surprisingly, the 2-day Wellfleet OysterFest in October is one of the Cape's most well-attended events.
Walking tours of the town are provided by the Wellfleet Historical Society Museum on Main Street. The guided tours depart Tues. and Fri. at 9:30; the fee is $10. Nearby Wellfleet Preservation Hall, a beautifully renovated church building at 335 Main St., hosts various cultural performances, workshops and special events; phone (508) 349-1800.
Founded in 1985, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre (WHAT) puts on comedies, offbeat dramas and musicals at the 200-seat Julie Harris Stage on US 6. Family-friendly WHAT for Kids! productions starring both adult and child actors are offered in summer. Phone (508) 349-9428 for the WHAT box office.
ShoppingThough few in number, Wellfleet's Main Street businesses are jammed with knickknacks, clothing and whimsical gifts. Catering to the village's affluent residents are upscale boutiques like Karol Richardsonan (11 W. Main St.), which sells women's apparel a hop, skip and a jump away from the local thrift shop. In the market for a purple pashmina? Try Newcomb Hollow Shop (275 Main St.).
Inside Wellfleet Marketplace (295 Main St.), the old-timey corner grocery store with the red-and-white striped awnings, shelves are stocked with gourmet foods and high-end wines. For more picnic-worthy morsels, peruse the vendor tables at the Wellfleet Farmers Market, which takes place at Wellfleet Preservation Hall (335 Main St.) on Wednesday mornings from mid-May to mid-October.
Talk up urbane Cape Codders in summer and you'll likely be invited to a Saturday evening gallery opening in Wellfleet. Sellers of fine art and crafts, including Cove Gallery , The Eclectic Co. and Left Bank Gallery , are clumped together along Commercial Street near Bank Street. In a former oyster shack near Wellfleet Harbor, The Frying Pan Gallery (250 Commercial St.) presents a collection of modern metalwork—much of it inspired by the sea.
At the Wellfleet Flea Market (51 US 6), the biggest outdoor bazaar on the cape, you could score some vintage pottery or a box full of 19th-century doorknobs. About 200 vendors set up shop on the asphalt parking lot of the Wellfleet Drive-in Theatre, their shaded merchandise displays wooing customers to buy yet another weathered punk rock record or a shiny pair of knockoff Gucci shades. Most dealers only accept cash, so hit the ATM before you go. The year-round flea market opens Sat.-Sun. and Mon. holidays at 8 (also Wed.-Thurs., late June-late Aug.). Closing times vary seasonally; phone (508) 349-0541 for more information.
NightlifeIf you're searching for the quintessential Cape Cod summer beach party, look no further than the Beachcomber —or, as locals call it, the 'Comber. Situated on the dunes in a section of the Cape Cod National Seashore, the restaurant/bar is housed in a former U.S. Life-Saving Service station built in 1897. Needless to say, a sea of bikinis and beach shorts floods this scenic oceanfront venue come Memorial Day weekend. Get here early (before 11 a.m.), pay $20 to park, then spend the rest of the day chillin' on Cahoon Hollow Beach, sucking down steamers and fried clams. Just take it easy with those Goombay Smash cocktails, m'kay? One too many and you'll miss all the late-night fun, from the live music to the synchronized dance floor fist-pump action. The Beachcomber is about 2 miles east of US 6 at 1120 Cahoon Hollow Rd.; phone (508) 349-6055.
Attraction PlaceHoldersWellfleet Historical Society Museum