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Camping in Cape Cod

September 21, 2009

The Cape has become one of our favorite summer destinations. When I think of Cape Cod, lobster rolls, natural beaches, sweatshirts and a chill kind of day come to mind. In the past we have based ourselves in areas like Chatham but we unanimously decided that we will always stay in Wellfleet in the future. Besides the fact that it is the town closest to Race Point where we retrieve our Over Sand Permit and enter onto the beach with the Jeep, it just has a calm vibe that suits our vacation style. Usually we choose to stay in bed and breakfasts and mimic a homey environment to return to each night after a day on the beach, but this Labor Day weekend we stepped outside the box for a camping adventure.

Our childless group of 4 decided to be economical and outdoorsy and embrace the camping environment that readily exists in the Cape, that you can easily miss if you aren’t paying attention. Luckily we didn’t have to spend a lot of time reseraching the various campgrounds since someone had previously stayed at one in Wellfleet and had a great experience to lead to instant reservations. And yes reservations are recommended.

Paine’s Campground is located in the heart of Wellfleet about a 15 minute drive to Provincetown. The campground caters to families, groups of friends and couples and is known for their site maintanence and enforced rules. The site is sectioned off by territory to keep the quiet couples together who don’t want to be disturbed and the families with children in the same place who are more than likely deaf to screaming and crying and even well-behaved children. I was surprised to learn there were only 2 bathroom locations and 1 bath house on premise when we checked in, but even during a holiday weekend, they were always clean and never crowded.

Each campsite is equipped with a fire pit, picnic bench and parking spot and only 1 tent and 1 family per lot. The list of rules you receive upon check-in seems lengthy at first, but you realize they are there to ensure for a pleasant and enjoyable stay for all guests and to remind people that you are sharing your space with others. Some key rules include:

1. Quiet hours are enforced from 10:00pm-7:00am.

2. No campfires started after 10:00pm and must be out by 12:00 midnight

3. No pets allowed (sad if you have a fun and well-behaved dog, but probably keeps the place clean and quiet)

4. Restrooms are closed for daily cleaning between 1:00pm-3:00pm, no dishwashing allowed in bathrooms.

We really enjoyed our stay at Paine’s and relaxed by the fire (bring your own chairs) and slept peacefully among the trees. I officially cannot wait for my next camping trip and will definitely consider camping in the future when we would normally choose a more luxurious B&B. I’m already ready to upgrade our gear; I never knoew what a pop-up was until now!

While in Wellfleet here are some recommendations to keep you entertained and well fed.

Paine’s Campground

180 Old Kings Hwy




Moby Dicks

3225 Route 6



Casual, family-friendly, family-owned, seafood shack. International summer staff, my favorite lobster rolls and great seafood variety. Plus, the cargo store next door is the place to get your Cape hoodie!

Picture 1











The classic Moby DIck's sweatshirt

The classic Moby DIck's sweatshirt













The Wicked Oyster

50 Main Street



Clapboard house on Main Street in Wellfleet serving inventive local fare.

Mac’s Shack

91 Commercial Street



Outdoor bar and oyster bar, sushi, classic clam chowder, variety menu with seafood twists and popular garlic french fries


Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre

How many places do you know that still have a drive-in?

Wellfleet Cinemas

Traditional movie theatre next door


Off-Road Vehicle Map and Regulations

Off-Road Vehicle Map and Regulations


You can retrieve your off-road vehicle permit at the Race Point Ranger Station Oversand Station. There your car will be inspected to ensure it is equipped for beach driving and you can apply for your appropriate permit.

Race Point Oversand Station

508.487.2100 x 110






Camping Gear resources:



2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2009 10:20 am

    your blogpost made me homesick for Cape Cod, oysters, lobster rolls, beaches, oversand permits, seals, fishing, incredible sunsets…thank you!

  2. October 15, 2009 10:12 pm

    +1 for visiting Wellfleet on any trip to the cape. One of my favorite destinations is Cahoon Hollow beach and the Beachcomber restauraunt/bar – a must visit!

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