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Home Travel Best things to do in Provincetown

Best things to do in Provincetown

Perched on the inside tip of Cape Cod’s curling peninsula, Provincetown (additionally known as P-town) has an extended and complex historical past as a secure harbor. For hundreds of years, the indigenous Wampanoag (that means Individuals of the First Gentle) lived peacefully alongside these shores till European colonizers introduced illness and destruction in the early 1600s. 

Then, in 1620, the Mayflower Pilgrims sought refuge right here, adopted by Portuguese fisherfolk and ultimately artists, who spent the previous century shaping the tiny enclave right into a inventive colony with metropolis sensibilities. 

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At present, P-town’s traditional clapboard structure would possibly infer Kennedy-style Americana, however its Go away It to Beaver seems to be get subverted by colourful townsfolk like native legend John Waters. It is a beloved haven for the LGBTIQ+ group, and when summer season comes, hundreds of tourists flip the city’s predominant drag into an all-inclusive Pleasure parade. 

Be a part of vacationers crowding Industrial Avenue between Could and September, relax on a windswept seashore in spring and fall, or cozy up inside a B&B to courageous winter. Regardless of who you’re or while you go to, there’s one thing thrilling to do in Provincetown. 

Rays from a setting sun highlight ripples on the shore of a beach in Provincetown, Mass.
There isn’t any scarcity of gorgeous seashores in Provincetown, Mass © Douglas Rissing / Getty Photos Plus through iStockphoto

Get pleasure from some sand and surf on P-town seashores  

There isn’t any scarcity of seashores in P-town. Step behind Industrial Avenue’s harbor-side companies, and you will find your self on sandy expanses. However if you happen to’re on the lookout for a full-day affair, head to two oceanside escapes removed from the primary drag. 

Race Level Seaside, perched on the Cape Cod Nationwide Seashore’s northernmost tip, boasts miles of sandy dunes, wild crashing waves and seemingly countless daylight. As night time descends, wrap your self in a blanket to admire the sunsets – there is a purpose panorama artists try to protect them in paint. 

For those who go to in springtime, maintain your eyes on the ocean – it is attainable to see whales breaching in the gap. 

Herring Cove Seaside, situated simply over a mile from Industrial Avenue, presents a gentler surf on Cape Cod Bay. On summer season weekends, households construct sandcastles close to the parking zone whereas homosexual males head south to a slip of sand referred to as Boy Seaside.

To entry the queer part, enter on the bike-lined wooden fence alongside Province Lands Highway and hike towards the distant grass-topped dunes. On sunny days, courageous sunbathers bask in their birthday fits, and the dunes grow to be a cruisy assembly spot. 

Plan your go to round low tide. For those who miss your likelihood, count on to wade via waist-high water whereas returning to the highway. 

High seashores in Massachusetts 

Hit the excessive seas in Cape Cod Bay 

Between April and October, the Cape Cod Bay and Stellwagen Financial institution Nationwide Marine Sanctuary grow to be a vital refuge for every type of whales, together with humpbacks, minks and the endangered proper whale. Be a part of a ship tour to spot the light giants, together with grey seals, harbor seals, and seabirds. 

Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch hosts 3-to-4-hour rides led by skilled naturalists. Carry a pair of binoculars for majestic creature close-ups, and think about popping a Dramamine to abdomen tough waters. 

For a laidback seafaring expertise, name on Canine Gone Crusing Charters. Lovably gruff Captain Rory brings 40-plus years of crusing expertise – and loads of tales about bygone P-town – to a breezy boat trip across the Cape’s tip. Pack a small picnic, relax together with your beverage of alternative, and revel in Cape Cod from a sailor’s standpoint.  

Cyling on the beaches of Cape Cod
 Skip automotive visitors and use biking as your means to get round Provincetown © MH Inventory / Shutterstock

Biking is one of the best ways to get round P-town

Park your automotive and hop on a motorcycle: biking is P-town’s go-to type of transportation. Cape Cod visitors is notoriously hectic in summer season, however with two wheels, you possibly can cruise via city with out worrying about congestion. 

For those who’re keen to break a sweat, race to the Province Lands Bike Path, beginning at Herring Cove Seaside, and glide over the altering panorama of white-sand dunes, scrubby pine forests, and cranberry-filled bogs. The hilly 6.6-mile loop is a welcome respite from Industrial Avenue’s fixed hum. White-tailed deer and cottontail rabbits outnumber rowdy vacationers, and if you happen to plan an early trip, chances are you’ll get the path to your self. Break up the journey by stopping on the Province Lands Customer Middle; take a look at the commentary deck for expansive views.

There are a number of spots to hire bikes in Provincetown, together with Provincetown Bike Leases and the Bike Shack. Safe a set of wheels earlier than arriving in city. Leases may be laborious to discover throughout peak weekends. 

Go gallery hopping on Industrial Avenue

Artwork appears to pour from each door in P-town. Amble alongside the buzzy predominant thoroughfare, and you will find over 40 galleries chock-full of every little thing from painted landscapes to fashionable sculptures. The best focus is on the East Finish – together with William Scott Gallery, a up to date outfit displaying Edward Hopper-style scenes by revered native painter John Dowd. 

Pop in every gallery all through the day, or be part of the throngs for Friday night time’s Provincetown Gallery Stroll (late Could to early October). The art work is perhaps costly, however perusing the work is free. 

Thanks to its countless vistas and dazzling mild, P-town has attracted over 100 12 months’s value of artists to its shores. Jackson Pollock, Ann Packard, Paul Cadmus and Willem de Kooning are a couple of large names impressed by the city’s picture-perfect backdrop. 

For a complete have a look at P-town’s arty historical past, peek contained in the Provincetown Artwork Affiliation and Museum, established in 1914. Admission is free after 5pm on Fridays. 

Store native at quirky boutiques 

P-town’s distinctive boutiques are as vibrant because the characters strolling down Industrial Avenue. Adam’s Nest – an uber-queer clothing-and-art retailer, sells graphic tees with an activist edge. Order a to-go tea on the Captain’s Daughters whereas admiring a hip meeting of attire and homegoods. 

Full Equipment Gear is a fetish-forward spot for males’s garments, and Toys of Eros is common for its sex-positive treats and grownup toy museum. For those who’re trying to find seashore reads by native bards, hunt the cabinets at East Finish Books for Mary Oliver’s poems and Michael Cunningham’s prose (Land’s Finish: A Stroll in Provincetown is a must-read). 

Maybe extra attention-grabbing than the retailers are the homeowners. These amiable and infrequently chatty entrepreneurs are like P-town’s caretakers. Cease in, say hey, and keep in mind to be variety. Chances are you’ll stumble upon them on the dancefloor later in the night. 

Participants with colourful balloons on their backs run through the streets at the annual Gay Pride parad
Have a good time every little thing from Pleasure month to carnival  in Provincetown © Cafebeanz Firm / Shutterstock

Discover your folks at a themed week

The P-town expertise modifications drastically primarily based on while you select to go to. Themed weeks and occasions all year long entice explicit members of the alphabet mafia, so if you happen to plan on being social, discover a theme that fits your model. 

For those who can suppose it, P-town hosts it. Single Girls’s Weekend is for unattached lesbians and non-binary of us. Males of Shade Weekend, and a separate Womxn of Shade Weekend, calls to the LGBTIQ+ BIPOC group. 

July 4th week is common with muscled get together boys, and people who stick round for Bear Week get greeted by a sleuth of hair-happy gents. There are weeks for households, the transgender group, and even leather-based lovers. The occasions round city usually cater to these visiting. 

To see the Cape at its most colourful, go to for Carnival – a midsummer pageant that’s equal components Mardi Gras mayhem and Pleasure celebration. Be sure you convey an outfit to match the 12 months’s theme – the occasion brings in roughly 90,000 attendees, and you don’t need to really feel disregarded of the enjoyable. 

Dive into American historical past 

Look towards the sky almost wherever in city, and you may spot the 252-ft tall Pilgrim Monument commemorating the primary touchdown of the Mayflower Pilgrims in America. (The Pilgrims spent 5 weeks in P-town earlier than crusing to Plymouth Rock in 1620). 

The constructing, constructed between 1907 and 1910, is America’s tallest all-granite construction. Climb its 116 steps and you will get rewarded with a wide ranging Cape Cod panorama. 

After absorbing the views, head to the adjoining Provincetown Museum, which chronicles P-town’s maritime historical past with movies, artifacts and dioramas. A brand new wing of the museum, added in 2020, examines the indigenous Wampanoag Nation, together with how 17th-century encounters with European colonists led to their demise. 

A group of people wearing fancy white outfits, attend a tea party in Provincetown.
Come gown to impress for certainly one of P-town’s common Tea Events © Joseph Prezioso / AFP through Getty Photos

Get rowdy at Tea Dance 

When the clock strikes 4pm, Pavlovian response takes over P-town. It is time for Tea, which suggests one factor – gathering collectively on the Boatslip Resort’s spacious out of doors deck. Tea Dances grew to become an LGBTIQ+  custom in the 1960s when things like same-sex dancing and serving alcohol to recognized homosexuals have been unlawful. Calling homosexual gatherings “Tea Dances” was a intelligent means to conceal from authorities. 

At present, P-town’s Tea Dance is a three-hour bacchanale the place folks mingle whereas consuming something apart from precise tea. Come dressed to impress – teams usually attend in matching apparel starting from baseball tees to drag regalia. 

The custom runs from Could via September; value is $5 from Monday to Wednesday and $10 from Thursday to Sunday. Arrive early to keep away from lengthy traces, significantly on vacation weekends. Carry money to expedite the method. 

Occasion all night time with the LGBTIQ+ group

Cape Cod locals have an extended historical past of partying laborious. Atlantic Home, or A-Home because it’s usually known as, began slinging drinks in 1798. At present, it is certainly one of America’s oldest homosexual bars and a part of a posh, together with a bigger dance membership and a males’s leather-and-Levi joint. 

Order a beer and toast the queer legends who got here earlier than you – Tennessee Williams was one – then transfer subsequent door to lower a rug. 

For one thing extra salacious, drop by Purgatory and strip down to your skivvies. The basement membership’s weekly underwear get together will get so sweaty you may be blissful you are not carrying garments. 

A rotating roster of themed events additionally takes place at Crown & Anchor all through summer season, hosted by skilled DJs with large metropolis pedigree. 

Shipwreck Lounge, a comfortable queer-forward cocktail spot, is a welcome respite from the thump of loud music. Sit by the roaring fire and unwind with a nightcap. 

Regardless of the place you find yourself, all roads lead to Spiritus. This late-night pizza joint, open until 2am on weekends, is the go-to for post-party munchies. 

 A lobster roll, pickle and bag of local potato chips in Cape Cod
Do not miss Cape Cod’s most beloved sandwich, the lobster roll © TRAVISBLUE / Getty Photos

Gobble up native grub 

Provincetown is full of locally-owned eating places and cafes catering to numerous palates. Eat your means down Industrial Avenue to pattern native taste. 

Style the city’s Portuguese historical past on the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery, courting again to 1900, and wash down certainly one of their creamy pastel de natas with a chilly brew from KōHI Espresso Co. The Canteen is greatest for tacos and salads (together with veggie-friendly choices), and Relish’s deli sandwiches are nice on the go. Place an order early and produce your treats to the seashore. 

When it comes to advantageous eating, Sal’s Place earns excessive marks. The elevated Italian fare is served in a harbor-side home or outdoors on the seashore, which makes for a romantic night. Ebook a reservation in advance to make sure you get a desk. 

For one thing low-key, cease by Provincetown Brewing Co. and pattern a flight of the in-house brews with names like Asphalt Glitter and CrandaddySour – they style pretty much as good as they sound. 

For those who’re craving surf snacks, throw again a lobster roll on the Lobster Pot or order crab truffles at Mac’s Fish Home. P-town was a fishing village lengthy earlier than it grew to become a queer artwork colony; you will not discover brisker seafood. 

Snort until your stomach hurts at a dwell efficiency 

Because the solar units over P-town, the stage lights go up. Waltz down Industrial Avenue post-dinner to the sounds of buskers, piano bars, and the distant laughter of audiences wafting via the air. 

Crown & Anchor, a historic leisure advanced, hosts two of the city’s big-wig drag artists. Dina Martina – a bedraggled chanteuse whose singing is as hilariously unhealthy as her lipstick – is a summertime must-see; comedienne songstress Varla Jean Merman offers off large Carol Burnette vitality. 

Throughout the road is the Artwork Home, recognized for Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Live performance Collection, that includes among the greatest names and greatest belters in showbiz. For smaller acts, together with up-and-coming drag performers, cabaret singers, and standup comics, seize a seat on the Publish Workplace Cafe and Cabaret. 

P-town is not any stranger to the stage. In 1915, the formation of the Provincetown Gamers ushered in an American theater revolution by birthing the profession of Eugene O’Neill. To catch a full-length play, snag a ticket to one of many chamber items on the Provincetown Theater, based in 1963 (open Could via early December).  

This fisherman heads to the water at the Cape Cod Natural Seashore to fish.
The Cape Cod Nationwide Seashore attracts nature lovers year-round.© Deb Snelson / Getty Photos

Seek for solitude on the Cape Cod Nationwide Seashore 

Journey simply past Provincetown to the Cape Cod Nationwide Seashore, the place a panorama of shifting coastal dunes attracts nature lovers year-round. Between spring and autumn, hikers take the Dune Shack Path – a sun-exposed 2.5-mile loop whipped by Atlantic winds and coated in sand. 

The path passes a collection of primitive cottages (dune shacks) initially constructed to home shipwrecked sailors, then transformed into artist retreats in the 20th century. Playwright Eugene O’Neill described it as “a grand place to be alone and undisturbed.” Carry sunscreen and correct footwear – the sand will get blisteringly scorching on sunny days. 

If you would like to see the dunes with out placing in the miles, plan a visit with Artwork’s Dunes Excursions. The off-roading expedition explores the seashore’s historical past and ecology whereas seeing a few of its most scenic locales. Strive the sundown tour or dune-and-kayak tour for a singular have a look at Cape Cod’s wilderness. 

Be a part of Halloween’s fright fest 

Autumn’s crisp climate means thinner crowds – except you are visiting for Halloween. Throughout October’s remaining weekend, P-town heats up with haunted homes, costume events, film screenings and all-night fêtes. 

The ghoulish gathering reaches its climax on Saturday, when guests stalk Industrial Avenue in Hallow’s Eve drag earlier than making mischief at Boatslip’s late afternoon Tea Dance. Head to A-Home or Crown & Anchor to dance till the satan’s hour. 

Halloween coincides with Spooky Bear Weekend – a themed get-together hosted by the Northeast Ursamen (a bear-centric LGBTIQ+ group). The weekend incorporates a market, dune tour, and costume ball. Though the group caters to furry homosexual fellows, the vibe is “all are welcome.” 

Get into the supernatural spirit by visiting Winthrop Cemetery, established in 1793, for a run-in with P-town’s oldest everlasting residents.

18 picture-perfect Massachusetts lighthouses 

Things to do in Provincetown in the winter   

Winter in P-town is a far cry from the summer season’s busy scene. Snow-white blankets cowl the seashore, and lots of Industrial Avenue shops shut for the season. It is a time of 12 months greatest fitted to curling up subsequent to a hearth in one of many city’s many inns or mountain climbing via barren dunes with out recognizing one other soul. 

December nonetheless attracts crowds thanks to Industrial Avenue’s month-long vacation market and the Christmas-themed Holly Folly weekend, however tourism winds down after New 12 months’s Eve. 

Profit from the gradual season by visiting spots normally overrun throughout summer season. Mac’s Fish Home, Provincetown Brewing Firm, and the little bar at A-Home are a couple of gems that stay open year-round, and it is nonetheless attainable to catch dwell performances at Tin Pan Alley. Winter can be the perfect time to meet locals. 

P-town’s inhabitants shrinks beneath 3,000 in the chilly season, and people who keep are a ragtag group of artists, fishers, and small enterprise homeowners blissful to extol the city’s virtues to anybody keen to hear. 


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