Your Destination Guide to Cape Cod

Destination Guide Cape Cod - Your Destination Guide to Cape Cod, MA

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Wellfleet Center

Wellfleet Center
Wellfleet Center

© Ted Kerwin

Even before the first settlers arrived, the town of Wellfleet, bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by Cape Cod Bay, was known for its abundance of oysters. During the nineteenth century, while it served as one of the leading fishing ports in Massachusetts, shell fisherman were shipping in oysters from surrounding bays and re-harvesting them in Wellfleet to gain the famous Wellfleet flavor. Soon the production of native oysters, quahog, clam and scallop harvests increased, securing the sea as an important player in the town’s economy. What was once a small harbor village is now a flourishing and festive downtown summer destination, rife with history and alive with activities.

Every October, Wellfleet Center comes together in celebration of the town’s famous oyster and shell fishing traditions. Oyster Fest, an annual two-day street party, offers a weekend of food, art, music and games along Main Street. Enjoy the local cuisine of shellfishers offering their freshest catch, as well as restaurants and raw bars serving up traditional New England fare and locally brewed beer and wine. The street is lined with over 100 artisans displaying handmade jewelry, paintings, sweaters, soaps, jams and more. Drawing the biggest crowd is the Oyster Shuck-Off, attracting commercial fishermen and chefs to compete for the $1,000 cash prize. Watch as 24 oysters are shucked and served in breakneck speed. If you can dodge the shells, audience members can bid on trays of the briny treats.

Travel through Wellfleet Center to find one of the Cape’s hidden gems, Great Island, now accessible by car. It is one of the longest continuous expanses of undeveloped beach on the Cape, making for some of the best walking/hiking trails around. Take a left onto Commercial Street at the Wellfleet Town Pier, right on Kendrick Road, and a left onto Chequesset Neck Road, and you will find the Great Island parking lot. From the parking lot, follow the vigorous trek around a salt marsh, through pitch-pine forests and over sand dunes. Travel the isolated sliver of pristine sand called The Gut leading to Jeremy Point, for spectacular vistas. The trip is about seven miles roundtrip. Make sure to plan according to the tides because Jeremy Point is submerged under water during high tide.

After a day of Cape exploration, what else does a weary traveler crave but seafood? From a delicate plate of oysters to the greasy excellence of a perfectly fried clam, and of course, “chowdah” (every restaurant claiming they have the best), you’ll find it all at the peak of freshness throughout Wellfleet Center. Some noted favorites include Pearl, The Bookstore/Restaurant and for a true Cape Cod experience, stop at Mac’s Seafood, located on Commercial Street directly on the water, an ideal spot to grab a fast-fried delicacy, before walking it off along the beach.

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