Things to Do
NOTE: There is a lot to say about Wellfleet, so we'll take
this opportunity to give you the basics and list some of our favorites. We'll give
credit where credit is due. Some information included in this page is adapted from the
Chamber of Commerce and National Park Service Web sites. Enjoy!
Wellfleet was founded in
1763 after the North Parish Meeting House was built in the Chequesset Neck area of
Eastham to serve the growing population in that area. Wellfleet applied in 1734 to become
a town but waited until 1763 to be incorporated. The Boston Court had wanted to call the new
town Poole, but the people rebelled, preferring instead to be called Wellfleet after the
Wallfleet oyster beds of England. Oysters were indeed important to the 'Fleetian way of
Wellfleet took up whaling in 1770 when a mysterious plague wiped
out the oyster beds. But, during the Revolution, Wellfleet's harbor was blockaded and its
whaling industry failed. After the war, commercial fishing became Wellfleet's
In the time after the Civil War, half the fish eaten in this
country were caught by Cape Codders and Wellfleet fishermen were second only to those from
Provincetown in hauling cod and mackerel into their schooners.
In the late 1800s Wellfleet became a summer resort, almost by accident. In 1870, a young
skipper named Lorenzo Dow Baker sailed from Jamaica to Wellfleet with load of bananas,
which spoiled by the time he arrived. The next year, having learned his lesson, he brought
home a cargo of green bananas. They turned to yellow gold.
In 1881, Baker and his brother-in-law, Elisha Hopkins, also of
Wellfleet, organized L.D.Baker and Co. In 1885, they offered stock to the public in their
Boston Fruit Company. This became the United Fruit Company in 1899.
With his amassed wealth, Baker decided to "improve"
the town of Wellfleet, making it a summer destination resort. In 1885, he bought
Mercantile Wharf and built on its pilings the Chequesset Inn and staffed it with
And so the summer fun
began...So what's in Wellfleet now?
Downtown Wellfleet is known for its MANY eclectic shops and galleries. Don't forget
the Left Bank and the Co-Op on Commercial Ave.
The entire eastern half of Wellfleet is now a part of the
National Seashore. Trivia/History: Two of the four towers used to send the first wireless
message across the Atlantic can still be found on Marconi Beach on the Ocean side.
There are several freshwater ponds -- great for swimming.
Spectacle requires 4-wheel drive, but it's worth it.
There is a drive-in movie theater right on the Wellfleet-Eastham
line that, by day, is a huge Flea Market.
The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (W.H.A.T.) occupies a
building next to the pier. They have interesting productions all summer.
The pier itself is the home to Wellfleet's fishing industry, but
also to several charters available for fishing and sightseeing.
The National Seashore (map)
also encompasses part of the west side of Wellfleet to include Great Island, the barrier
beach that protects Wellfleet Harbor from Cape Cod Bay (check it out in our view gallery).
The National Park Service and the National Audubon Society have programs providing nature
tours that meet just across the Herring River from the Lodge.
And finally, the
seafood is fresh and fabulous. You haven't been to Wellfleet until you've had a frozen drink and a dozen oysters on the deck at the Bookstore
In the morning, join the locals at Uncle Frank's for coffee and
fresh doughnuts (in the WHAT building near the pier).