A Tank Away: Wellfleet

This world is your oyster

Get away for quiet fall break, or join the crowds for annual seafood fest

The dunes at Maguire’s Landing at LeCount Hollow beach. The dunes at Maguire’s Landing at LeCount Hollow beach. (Kathleen Burge/Globe Staff)
By Kathleen Burge
Globe Staff / September 28, 2011

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Summer in Wellfleet is idyllic, but so, too, are these early days of fall, when the air is still warm, but the crowds have disappeared from the beaches and restaurants. Soon, though, the tourists will return again, this time for a weekend to pay homage to the humble oyster.

This year’s Wellfleet OysterFest (, with seafood cook-offs and shucking contests and oyster jewelry-making for children, takes place Oct. 15 and Oct. 16. So take your pick: a quiet weekend away or a festive autumnal celebration of the sea.

STAY Nearby Provincetown has more lodging choices that stay open year-round, but most of Wellfleet’s inns and motels close for the winter. One that doesn’t take a hiatus is Oyster Cove B&B (20 Partridge Way, 508-349-2994,, rooms from $295/night) rents one studio room and a suite with three bedrooms in a sprawling house overlooking Wellfleet Harbor. Chez Sven B&B (2118 Old King’s Highway, 508-349-6823,, rooms from $150/night) rents two rooms in the main house and a cozy, private cottage on a dirt road in Wellfleet - and a short walk to Dyer Pond - until mid-December and reopens in February. Even’tide Resort Motel and Cottages (650 Route 6, 508-349-3410,, rooms from $89/night), a perennial favorite, stays open through mid-October. Surfside Cottages (LeCount Hollow Road, 508-349-3959,, cottages from $125/night) rents privately owned cottages, a short walk from the top of the dunes at Maguire’s Landing at LeCount Hollow beach, through the end of October, and opens up again in early April.

DINE Many of Wellfleet’s restaurants close in October and don’t open again until May, but a few stay open year-round. It’s hard not to become enchanted by PB Boulangerie and Bistro (15 LeCount Hollow Road, 508-349-1600,, dinner $21-$35), a relative newcomer to the scene. In summer, lines trail out the front door of the cafe, whose offerings include pain au chocolat, croissants, sandwiches, and coffee. The more expensive restaurant flows from a dining room into a covered porch in warmer weather and includes French cuisine, from escargot to rabbit. Finely JP’s Restaurant (554 Route 6, 508-349-7500,, dinner $11-$32) barely resembles the restaurant it was five years ago, before the renovation that turned a boxy dining room into a sleek, multilevel restaurant. The food is still as good, and the restaurant has an uncommonly sophisticated children’s menu, ranging from broiled chicken breast and sauteed pork medallions to simple pasta with marinara or butter. Wellfleet Town Pizza (55 Commercial St., 508-349-6400,, pizza $8.99-$19.99) serves very good thin-crust pizza - including gluten-free varieties - and sandwiches and salads. Like most restaurants on Cape Cod, The Wicked Oyster (50 Main St., 508-349-3455,, dinner $11-$30) is heavy on seafood, but also serves up an excellent breakfast.

DURING THE DAY No matter the season, Wellfleet’s beaches along the National Seashore are the most spectacular on the Cape. Once summer ends, with its crush of visitors, you no longer need to worry about beach stickers or admission fees or overflowing parking lots. As you walk along the beaches - Maguire’s Landing and Cahoon Hollow are our favorites - you might see seals watching you from the water. Nearby, the Cape Cod Rail Trail ( stretches from Wellfleet to Dennis, with free parking near the trailhead on LeCount Hollow Road. For hikers, the Great Island Trail is a spectacular, 8-mile walk through woods and beach land to Jeremy Point on Cape Cod Bay. Start at the parking lot at the end of Chequessett Road. The 944-acre Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Route 6, 508-349-2615, www. is open year-round, with guided walks and tours. The nature center includes two 700-gallon aquariums, and trails outside include a boardwalk that leads across a salt marsh and to the beach. The Left Bank Gallery (25 Commercial St., 508-349-9451,, filled with paintings, pottery, and mobiles from local artists, is also open through the winter.

AFTER DARK The play “The Ding Dongs’’ runs through Oct. 9 at the Harbor Stage of the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (also known as W.H.A.T.; 15 Kendrick Ave., 508-349-9428, Wellfleet Preservation Hall (335 Main St., 508-349-1800,, once a Roman Catholic church, is a new community cultural center that hosts dances, movies, and other events. The Manhattan Short Film Festival Screening will take place this week Friday through Sunday. Although the outdoor venue of Wellfleet Drive-In and Cinemas (51 Route 6, 508-349-7176, has closed for the season, the indoor theater is open year-round.

Kathleen Burge can be reached at

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