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Wellfleet and South Wellfleet
Still famous for its world-renowned and succulent namesake oysters and for having been a colonial whaling and cod-fishing port, Wellfleet is today a tranquil community; many artists and writers call it home. Less than 2 mi wide, it's one of the most attractively developed Cape resort towns, with a number of fine restaurants, historic houses, art galleries, and a good old Main Street in the village proper. The South Wellfleet section of town extends to the North Eastham border and has a wonderful Audubon nature sanctuary and a drive-in theater that doubles on weekends as a flea market. There's no village center here, just a handful of motels, restaurants, and businesses along busy U.S. 6.
Historic buildings that once housed oyster and fish-drying shacks or stately residences now contain upscale art galleries, designer-clothing stores, and restaurants. Wellfleet's small-town nature still somehow accommodates the demands of a major tourist industry; the year-round population of around 2,800 residents explodes to more than 18,000 people in July and August.
Tourism isn't the only industry, though. Fishing boats still head out from the harbor daily in search of scallops, cod, and other fish. Shellfishing accounts for a major portion of the town's economy. Whaling played a role in the 18th and 19th centuries; a raucous whaling tavern once thrived out on the now-sunken Billingsgate Island. Dozens of world-traveling sea captains found their way to Wellfleet as well, the effect evident in many of the grand old houses that line the narrow streets of town. The Wellfleet Historical Society is a fine stop for those who wish to see the town as it was in its early days.
Natural splendor, as well as history and sophisticated artistic culture, accounts for Wellfleet's popularity. The beaches are spectacular, with their towering sand dunes, bracing surf, and miles of unfettered expanse. Seemingly endless wooded paths in the domain of the National Seashore make for terrific walking and hiking trails, and the sheltered waters of the tidal Herring River and Wellfleet Harbor are a favorite destination for canoeists, kayakers, windsurfers, and sailors.
Wellfleet and South Wellfleet at a Glance
- Cahoon Hollow Beach
- Duck Harbor Beach
- First Congregational Church
- Great Island
- Indian Neck Beach
- LeCount Hollow Beach
- Marconi Beach
- Marconi Station
- Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
- Andre Pottery
- Blue Heron Gallery
- Chocolate Sparrow
- Cove Gallery
- Frying Pan Gallery
- Hatch's Fish Market
- Herridge Books
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