Ten Things You Might Not Know About Wellfleet

When heading to Provincetown, you’re lucky enough to travel through several beautiful and scenic towns along the way. The Town of Wellfleet is one such town, brimming with history and a quaint, seaside charm that is famous on Cape Cod. So, take a little detour next time you visit, and check out this gem. You won’t regret it. Here’s a little information about Wellfleet, to get you started.

• Jutting 45 miles out into the Atlantic, Wellfleet overflows with natural wonders, and is largely part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

• About 61 percent of Wellfleet’s land mass, in fact, is part of the Cape Code National Seashore. It has an intriguing history and a decidedly nautical feel to it, and is well worth the trip just to explore.

• The fresh water ponds are a particular delight in Wellfleet. Their tranquil surfaces shimmer in early sunlight, and their small sandy beaches echo with happiness in late afternoon as the shadows from the surrounding pines darken the water. The combination of a day on a stimulating and expansive backshore beach, and a leisurely swim in the warm water of one of the kettle ponds is a special luxury that Wellfleet offers.

• Wellfleet sits 14 miles south of Provincetown. You literally have to drive through it to get there, so stop and enjoy all that this charming seaside town has to offer.

• Wellfleet is the home of the Cape Cod National Seashore Headquarters, as well as the 1,000-acre Massachusetts Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary. Some of Cape Cod’s finest ocean surfcasting, fresh-water pond and boat fishing possibilities are found in Wellfleet. The town is well known for its plentiful supply of shellfish, including the famous “Wellfleet Oysters.”

• At the height of summer, the town’s normal population of around 3,500 explodes to over 17,000, all there to enjoy Wellfleet’s stunning, sandy beaches, spring-fed ponds, art galleries, shops and restaurants… and, yes, its famous drive-in, too.

• Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, which is run by Mass Audubon, has six trails for exploring different facets of nature. Bay View Trail winds through shaded pine/oak woodlands; The Boardwalk crosses over the salt marsh to the beach; Goose Pond Trail visits a diversity of habitats – great for birdwatching, and is all-person accessible from the Nature Center to Goose Pond; Silver Spring Trail borders a small fresh water pond; and Try Island Trail supports an oak/hickory woodland with views of Cape Cod Bay. All Persons Pathway and Sensory Trail includes an audio tour available for download.

• If you hear bells ringing at odd times of day, that’s the First Congregational Church’s bell-tower clock (known locally as the “Town Clock”). This is the only bell clock in the world that still chimes on “ship’s time.” Ship’s bell time originated in sailing ship days, when the crew of a vessel was divided into Port and Starboard watches, each on duty four hours, then off four hours.

• Marconi Beach is named after famous Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, who chose this area of Wellfleet due to its elevated, barren landscape, to set up Marconi Station – a site where he hoped to make the first transatlantic wireless communication (though that eventually occurred elsewhere). Marconi Beach is also a good place to see seals, as they seem to love gathering there. But remember, where seals congregate, sharks follow.

• The Wellfleet Drive-In is not only a drive-in. By day, it’s an open-air flea market as well. The flea market has many vendors in the summer, selling items ranging from old tools, T-shirts, African masks, tapestries and toddler cloths to Avon products, antiques, and so much more. There are also food vendors and a beer garden, because, why not?


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