Experiencing Wellfleet, Cape Cod, in Early Spring
By Kathryn Abbott and Kate Hartshorne
Busy working mothers don’t often get the chance to find relaxation close to home. So when the opportunity struck for this mother, daughter, and three-month-old granddaughter to take a three-day vacation in early April, our options were limited.
Where could two moms go to get away and relax in the early spring in New England?
We decided to head to the Outer Cape, the last leg of the journey out on the forearm of the Massachusetts peninsula that is Cape Cod. There was some concern about the possibility of cold weather.
New England can be notoriously chilly at any given time of year and April is no exception.
It has been known to snow on many an April day in this region, but was that enough to tamper our adventurous spirits? Definitely not.
Our trip began inauspiciously. We drove through rain and high winds, arriving just in time for the skies to open up with a crashing downpour. One saving grace was that baby Sofie slept the entire way from Boston, not her usual form.
Eco-Friendly Lodging in Wellfleet
We were fortunate to have reserved a cottage at Chez Sven, an eco-friendly B&B nestled in the woods in Wellfleet, a small town about 20 minutes from the tip of Cape Cod. In the off-season, Wellfleet has a population of around 2800, a number that swells to more than 12,000 during the peak of summer.
At Chez Sven, we had a choice of rooms in the main house that come with a full breakfast, but we opted for Seagull Cottage, a lovely two-bedroom cottage next door to the main house. Sven, one of the proprietors, is from Sweden, and Sandy, his wife, is from New England.
Despite the rain, Seagull Cottage was cozy and inviting with a fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen and a beautifully tiled bath with a deep soaking tub.
The owners of Chez Sven pride themselves on being one of the only totally “green” B&B on Cape Cod. From energy-efficient light bulbs, Trillium organic products (body soap, oils, etc.), and the “green” cleaning products, Chez Sven was an eco-tourist’s dream.
The most luxurious part for us was the bedding — down comforters and plentiful pillows. The owners even supplied a pre-packed complimentary fire in the fireplace, making the Sea Gull Cottage experience a cozy treat.
Massage in Wellfleet
After the long drive out to the Cape it was a delight to learn that Sandy had arranged for us each to have a massage that afternoon. A little before 4 p.m., we arrived at Quiet Mind Studio wet, cold, and ready to unwind.
Quiet Mind is a sleek, modern open-air yoga studio that offers several different healing arts including yoga for adults and children, massage therapy, meditation, a women’s singing group, and open studio practice. The proprietor, Zack, is a locally famous yoga instructor, whose classes attract many locals and vacationers alike.
Massage at Quiet Mind is a luxury no vacationer should miss out on while visiting Wellfleet. Therapists David and Sharon were warm, friendly, and wonderfully accommodating for our massage sessions.
Even with the baby, Kate was able to enjoy an hour-long massage with David as baby Sofie slept on her mommy’s belly for most of the time!
This was truly a testimony to the art of relaxation. (We began to think that we should definitely get away more often).
After our massages we sated our appetites at a local Wellfleet institution, the Wicked Oyster. This elegant white-linen establishment offers a delectable array of seafood and traditional American cuisine at diner prices. We were able to enjoy a prix fixe four-course menu for only $20 with everything from appetizers to dessert, including some of the best fried calamari we had ever tasted.
You definitely can’t visit Wellfleet without slurping down some of their famous oysters, originally dubbed “Port aux huitres” (Oyster Port), Wellfleet is known for this delicacy, and the Wicked Oyster has them listed first on the menu. Be sure to visit the Wicked Oyster; it is a gem in the heart of this classic town, but don’t go midweek during the off-season, they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. All in all, a delicious end to a deliciously relaxing rainy day.
We awoke the next morning with a chilly start to sun glistening over the sparkling blue Atlantic as we set out to explore the town of Wellfleet.
Chilly spring mornings are where the layers come in. If you are heading out to the Cape during the off-season, it’s almost impossible to overpack when it comes to outerwear.
You may have packed away those gloves and ear warmers, but, even in April, take them back out and put them in your suitcase! A good, windproof jacket is a must.
There are plenty of wind-protected trails to choose from, but you’ll want to have the option of bundling up.
We visited Great Island in Wellfleet, part of the beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS).CCNS was established in 1961 and is one of the real bonuses for the Outer Cape for two reasons: first, it is breathtakingly beautiful and very well maintained; and second, it ensures that the Outer Cape will remain relatively undeveloped in a tourist-driven area. Great Island offers miles of hiking trails with ocean views along the way, perfect for any season.
The CCNS in Wellfleet and surrounding towns includes several bikeways, including the Cape Cod Rail Trail at Lecount Hollow in Wellfleet where bikers can ride for miles on paved trails through the woods. Beautiful beaches and a number of hiking and walking trails make the CCNS in Wellfleet worth the trip.
Other Wellfleet Attractions
Wellfleet’s other prime attractions include numerous art galleries, shops, restaurants, parks, and gorgeous beaches that you can find surfers visiting in every season. Small hidden gems such as the Public Library and the Wellfleet Marketplace load this tourist destination with small-town charm.
During the off-season it is best to visit Wellfleet on the weekends, as many of the local galleries and shops are not open during the week.
During our stay in Wellfleet we took a couple of trips to Provincetown, the Outer Cape’s most touristy area, located just 20 minutes down the road.
Staying in Wellfleet offers a convenience to the bustling hub of Provincetown’s shops, restaurants, and nightlife, while giving you a quieter setting to come home to.
While touring Provincetown, don’t miss the many beautiful beaches, including Herring Cove and Race Point, at the very tip of the Cape. Provincetown is also much quieter during the week, but after May 1, the Outer Cape’s season slowly gets into higher gear.
To beat the traffic and enjoy the tranquility that comes from being in a great place with fewer tourists, the off-season is the way to go.
If you’re looking for a mom’s getaway or just a chance to relax closer to home, Wellfleet and the Outer Cape is the place to be.
While visiting Wellfleet here are some other notable attractions.
The Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre on Route 6 in Eastham/Wellfleet: (508) 349-7176. The only drive-in movie theater on Cape Cod, hosting a flea market on the weekends and including mini-golf and a snack counter for goodies.
Uncle Tim’s Bridge on East Commercial Street in Wellfleet. This often-photographed and painted boardwalk over a tidal marsh leads to beautiful hiking trails in a serene setting.
Wellfleet Oyster Fest in mid October: Enjoy local oysters, chowder, and other shellfish on Main Street in Wellfleet. Yum yum!
The Wellfleet Beachcomber: Voted possibly the best bar on Cape Cod this restaurant and bar at Cahoon Hollow beach overlooks the bluffs on the Atlantic.