Plan ahead: Wellfeet is two hours from Providence (195E to 25E to 6E). Wellfleet Chamber of Commerce has a complete list of lodgings, restaurants and attractions.
The Wellfleet Oyster Festival is a family tradition, not that we need an excuse to go to Wellfleet. I spent every summer there from age 12 to 26, when I married a Rhode Islander. My husband says I’m a beach snob because I compare every beach to Wellfleet. I’m okay with that label because although Rhode Island has great beaches, I heart Wellfleet.
In the summertime, Wellfleet has everything; surf on the ocean side, gentle bayside beaches, ponds dotted with lily pads and surrounded by pine trees. There’s hiking, biking, skateboarding, kayaking, yoga, shopping and the coziest library in existence. There’s reggae, square dancing, and Shakespeare. There are coves and marshes and secret, tropical inlets. I could write a love letter the length of an encyclopedia. I’ll stop here.
The Wellfleet Oyster Festival on October 15th and 16th comes at my favorite time of year, especially on Cape Cod. The air is crisp and smells of salt and falling leaves, perfect weather for chowder and beer. Main Street is lined with fine art and craft vendors, where you’ll find an array of unique handmade items, wearable, edible and otherwise. It is my personal tradition to ogle the jewelry of Twigs and Heather; their booth sparkles with bits of nature cast in silver. Though there is plenty of fresh, local seafood, there are many options for non-seafood eaters (does Kettle Corn count? that’s what my kids prefer to eat).
Behind Wellfleet’s Preservation Hall, there are FREE activities for kids, like a moon bounce, face painting, a steel drum workshop, crafts and more. A highlight for us last year was an ocean life exhibit, where kids could handle live creatures, scaly, slimy and slippery.
The weekend is packed with entertainment and activities, including live music, a 5k road race (including a “Fun Run” for kids, prizes for all participants), an oyster shucking contest and oyster tastings. You can meet a local fisherman and tour his/her grant to learn about aquaculture and harvesting shellfish (wellies are a good idea). Be sure to check out the shops, too. LunaSea Studios on Main Street features the work of local artists, including whimsical fairy doors inspired by my daughter’s fascination with fairies (my mom makes them!).
Public parking on Main St. is quite limited but there are several locations with shuttle service, every 15 to 20 minutes. Check out the Wellfleet Oyster Festival website for details.
One good tip: Pack for different weather conditions. Some years we’re in t-shirts, others we’re in mittens. After all, this is New England.