Provincetown

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View of Provincetown from harbor

Provincetown is at the very tip of the Cape Cod peninsula region of Massachusetts, USA. Perhaps due to being at the remote end of the Cape and because of its variety of beautiful scenes, Provincetown has attracted artists of all types over the years. One of the oldest artist colonies in America, it has produced a large number of excellent galleries, cutting edge theatre and many unique shops. There is also the persistence of an attitude of tolerance, making Provincetown a preferred home and travel destination for many gays and lesbians.

"P-town", as it is sometimes called, also has an intriguing history as the first landing site of the Pilgrims and the place where the Mayflower Compact was signed. Fishing and whaling have also been a huge part of Provincetown's past. Its large, safe harbor and prime location made it the Cape's fishing center, with thousands of ships calling it home port. The glory days of fishing are now gone and only a couple dozen ships continue the traditions. The Portuguese influence brought by the fishing era still lives in Provincetown.

Provincetown is also blessed with pristine beaches and dunes on the Atlantic side. Race Point Beach has often made the lists of top beaches in America. It is also one of the few spots on the east coast where one can watch the sun set into the water.

Understand[edit]

As the first stopping point of the New England settlers on the Mayflower, Provincetown was a colonial port, but remained small compared to other Yankee trading towns until the 19th century.

The town became prosperous in the 1800s as a fishing and whaling center. The population was bolstered by a number of Portuguese sailors, many of whom were from the Azores, and came to live in Provincetown after being hired to work on US ships. Today, the town is a hub for whale watching vessels, which provide excellent opportunities to see whales.

After the 1898 Portland Gale severely damaged the town's fishing industry, members of the town's art community took over many of the abandoned buildings. By the early decades of the 20th century, the town had acquired an international reputation for its artistic and literary output.

Some of the most famous literary lights and artists who lived in Provincetown included playwrights Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, and Susan Glaspell; Artists Marsden Hartley, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock; Norman Mailer, author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and co-founder of the Village Voice and beat poet Harry Kemp. Today, the town is well-known for off-beat, queer and left of center writers and media personalities, including filmmaker John Waters; Michael Cunningham, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours; Andrew Sullivan, author, columnist for the Daily Beast; and blogger Andy Towle, poet and founder of Towleroad.com; Kate Clinton, comedian and writer; Kurt Vonnegut, writer; and Anthony Bourdain, chef, author, television host.

Because of its status as the first artist's colony in the U.S., the town has a strong ethic of tolerance which supported the development of a large gay community from the 1960s on. Today it is quite common to see same-sex couples showing affection and one can expect to encounter men in drag, particularly on Commercial Street, which is the main string of restaurants, shops and galleries. In general, however, the town's attitude of tolerance extends to heterosexuals, who are increasingly present and are welcome in most establishments.

Read[edit]

Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown (ISBN 0609609076) by Michael Cunningham. This award-winning author and resident of Ptown writes an engaging travelogue about the city at the tip at of the Cape.

The Maytrees: A Novel (ISBN 0061239534) by Anne Dillard. Set in Provincetown, this novel examines family life and the mysteries of marriage, the effect of forgiveness and human development.

Ptown: Art, Sex, and Money on the Outer Cape (ISBN 0743243110) by Peter Manso. This (now) dated, gossipy take on the people of Provincetown and the lifestyles of the somewhat rich and barely famous would make a good beach read. Published in 2003.

Climate[edit]

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°F) 37 37 44 52 62 72 79 77 70 60 51 43
Nightly lows (°F) 23 23 29 37 48 56 63 62 55 45 38 28
Precipitation (in) 3.8 3.0 4.0 3.5 3.0 3.1 2.8 3.1 3.7 3.6 4.4 3.8

See Provincetown's 7 day forecast
View from the Pilgrim Monument

The water surrounding Provincetown has the effect of moderating temperatures in all seasons, such that the entire town is included in USDA plant hardiness zone 7a, which indicates an average annual extreme minimum temperature (1976–2005) of between 0 and 5 °F (-17.8 and -15 °C). The water also has the effect of delaying the onset of the seasons, by keeping spring temperatures cooler and fall temperatures warmer than the rest of the state.

The average annual snowfall is 19.5" per year. The record high temperature was 98°F in 1964. The lowest recorded temperature was -4°F in 1976.


Get in[edit]

Map of central Provincetown

By car[edit]

The fastest route from the Cape Cod Canal bridges is Route 6, the Mid Cape Highway. Travel time from Boston's Logan Airport (BOS) or Providence's T.F. Green Airport (PVD) is about 2.5 hours without traffic slowdowns. From the Cape Cod Canal, Provincetown is about 60 mi (97 km) and 1.5 hours. Eastham, with its 40 mph speed limit and two lane highway, is a notorious speed-trap.

By bus[edit]

  • Flex Bus, toll-free: +1 800 352-7155. Bus service on Cape Cod with direct service between Provincetown and Harwich and from there connections to other Cape Cod towns.

By plane[edit]

  • Cape Air660 Barnstable Rd., Hyannis, MA 02601, toll-free: +1 800 352-0714. Cape Air flies several times a day from Boston's Logan Airport to Provincetown Airport, 20 min flight; in the summer they also offer flights to White Plains, New York, which is accessible to the greater New York City area, 60 minute flight. Cape Air operates Cessnas and is currently the only scheduled airline serving Provincetown.

By boat[edit]

Ferry Service (Please note that ferry service is only seasonal—late spring to mid fall)

To/From Boston:

To/From Plymouth:

Get around[edit]

Car Rental[edit]

Taxis[edit]

Pilgrim Monument at night

See[edit]

  • Pilgrim MonumentHigh Pole Hill Rd. (off Bradford in the center of town),  +1 508 487-1310. 9:00AM - 5:00PM, open until 7:00PM between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Pilgrim Monument is a 252-foot tall granite tower based on the Torre Del Mangia in Siena, Italy. Visitors can climb to the top for fantastic views. At the base is the Museum of Provincetown. $12.00–adults $9.00–senior citizens (62 and older) $7.00–students (15 & older) w/ ID, $4.00–children 4-14.
  • Province Lands Visitor CenterRace Point Rd. +1 508 487-1256. Open May-Oct 9:00AM - 5:00PM. Observation deck with 360 degree view is open year round. Ranger guided tours, activities and exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area. Five and one-half mile bike loop. Free.
  • Lighthouse at Race PointCape Cod National Seashore +1 508 487-9930. The Race Point Light is a historic lighthouse. It was first lighted on November 5, 1816. Today visitors can stay in the keeper's house and the Lighthouse can be used for events and weddings.

Do[edit]

Museums[edit]

  • Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), 460 Commercial St. (directions),  +1 508 487-1750. Memorial Day to July 4: daily 12:00PM to 5:00PM and also F, Sa 8:00PM-10PM; July 4 to Labor Day: daily noon-5:00PM, 8:00PM-10PM; September: daily noon-5:00PM, F, Sa 8:00PM-10PM; October - May: Th, F, Sa, Su noon to 5:00PM. Really worth visiting. Excellent school for aspiring artists. $7.00 for entrance.
  • Provincetown MuseumHigh Pole Hill Rd. (at the base of the Pilgrim Monument),  +1 508 487-1310. 9:00AM - 5:00PM, open until 7:00PM between Memorial Day and Labor Day. a unique collection of exhibits that depict important events and people in Provincetown history. $12.00–adults

$9.00–senior citizens (62 and older) $7.00–students (15 & older) w/ ID, $4.00–children 4-14.

Festivals[edit]

Carnival Week in P'town
  • Bear Week Provincetown, e-mail: . July 12 - 20, 2014. Annual week-long party for bears and their admirers. Attracting the largest number of attendees in recent years. People come from around the world.
  • Carnival Week +1 508 487-2313, e-mail: . August 16 - 22, 2014. 35th Annual week-long party in August. Theme for 2013 is Viva Las Vegas. Features a street parade with outlandish costumes and high spirits. Sponsored by the Provincetown Business Guild.
  • Fantasia Fair +1 203 701-9676, e-mail: . October 19 - 26, 2014. Fantasia Fair is the longest running theme week in Provincetown, it will be celebrating 40 years in 2015. Fantasia Fair has progressed from a holiday experience for transgender individuals into a mix of practical, social, and educational opportunities designed to enhance the personal growth and awareness of one's own gender expression.
  • Family Pride Week, e-mail: . July 26 - August 2, 2014. Family Week is the largest national gathering of the LGBT-headed family community in the United States and this year marks the 18th year this celebration has been held.
  • Holly Folly +1 508 487-2313, e-mail: . December 5 - 7, 2014. Weekend celebration of the Yule season with toy drives, the Snow Ball and live music performances and sing-alongs. Most shops and restaurants are open.
  • Provincetown International Film Festival +1 508 487-3456, e-mail: . June 18 - 22, 2014. This 5-day festival presents a wide array of American and international narrative features, documentaries and short films, and makes a particular point to honor and preserve Provincetown's rich and diverse history as an arts colony, Portuguese fishing village, and gay and lesbian mecca-while never forgetting the area's original Native American inhabitants.
  • Snowbound Leather Weekend. September 25 - 28, 2014. Winter weekend featuring the leather community and dance parties, brunch and workshops sponsored by Full Kit Leather.

Theater[edit]

  • Art House Theater214 Commercial St. +1 508 487-9222. Presents high quality drag shows and Broadway divas all summer long. This is the home of Varla Jean Merman.
Within the Theater are two companies:


Whale Watching & Cruises[edit]

A humpback whale breaching off the coast of Massachusetts

Dune tours[edit]

  • Art's Dune Tours4 Standish St. +1 508-487-1950, toll-free: +1 800 894-1951. Over 60 years experience providing a wide variety of tours, including a sunset clambake and a lighthouse tour. The only way to see the dunes and learn the history and see the natural, unspoilt beauty of the Cape and her dunes.

Beaches[edit]

  • Herring CoveCape Cod National Seashore (Off Route 6.). Lifeguards, rest rooms, changing facilities, food, handicapped accessible. Usually calmer waters than Race Point
  • Long Point (Breakwater) (across the harbor from town). By some it's called "the end of the earth". An 1827 lighthouse graces the very tip of the Cape. Beware of poison ivy.
  • Race Point BeachCape Cod National Seashore (Off Route 6). Lifeguards, rest rooms, changing facilities. This is a nice, wide beach. The surf can be rough at times.
  • Town Beacheslocated on the bay side in town. A convenient beach, but not as nice as the others

Fish[edit]

Race Point and Herring Cove beaches are popular surfcasting spots.

The following companies offer charters:

Bike[edit]

A bike trail starts at Bradford Street in the West End and loops through the dunes to Race Point in the National Seashore. The trail is well maintained and marked. About 6 miles.


Buy[edit]

Art Galleries[edit]

Childe Hassam visited Provincetown and painted this impressionist work called Building a Schooner. Long known as an artist's colony, Provincetown continues to produce and market fine art in its many galleries.
  • Bowersock Gallery373 Commercial St. +1 508 487-4994. The Bowersock Gallery was established in 2004 as a venue to encourage and explore a deeper interest and enjoyment for contemporary, modern, abstract and classical works of art.
  • Egeli Gallery382 Commercial St. +1 508 487-0044. Arthur Egeli is an impressionist master artist producing beautiful Cape landscapes and insightful images of the human form
  • Albert Merola Gallery424 Commercial St. +1 508 487-4824. First established as Universal Fine Objects in 1988, the gallery shows a core group of artists, but always has an eye out for new artists

Stores[edit]

  • Birdie Silkscreen Studio355 Commercial St. +1 508 487-3338. A unique clothing store. All of Birdie's art is specifically designed with images of Provincetown and Cape Cod. One of the fun aspects of shopping at Birdie's is that you can watch her print while you shop - but don't ask her more than three questions, or she'll put you to work folding tee-shirts!
  • Coastline Tattoo290a Commercial St. +1 508 487-1147. Coastline Tattoo is dedicated to creating quality, one-of-a-kind tattoos and artwork in a clean, friendly, creative studio environment. Open Year Round.
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs184 Commercial St.. Mo-Sa, 11:00AM - 7:00PM, Su, 12:00-6:00PM. Provincetown outpost of top-tier fashion designer
  • Puzzle Me This290 Commercial St. +1 508 487-1059. Provincetown's only game store features challenging and cutting-edge board games, brain teasers, puzzles and card games. With a huge inventory of products, there is something for everybody here.
  • Roots200 Commercial St. +1 508 487-2500. Eclectic and high quality objets d'art and home decor shop for interior and outdoor spaces
  • Utilities393 Commercial St. +1 508 487-6800. Over 2000 modern & useful items for the home. Frommers: "A breath of fresh design..."
  • Yardarm Liquors38 Conwell St. +1 508 487-0700. The largest liquor store on the outer Cape featuring beer, wine, and liquor


Eat[edit]

Bakeries and coffee shops[edit]

  • Connie's Bakery205 Commercial St. +1 508 487-2167, e-mail: . The epitome of craft baking; delicious pastries and breads from scratch and by hand daily. Shane, who worked with Connie for five years, took over when she and her husband, Richie, retired. Besides great breakfast pastries and breads, they have sandwiches and coffee, too.
  • Far Land Provisions150 Bradford St. +1 508 487-0045. Mo - Sa 7:00AM - 6:00PM, Su 8:00AM - 5:00PM. Deli, breakfast bread, bagels and bakery. In the spirit of a general store, Far Land Provisions offers one-stop shopping for prepared meals, baked goods made in-house from scratch, deli sandwiches, wine & spirits, and full service catering.
  • Provincetown Portuguese Bakery299 Commercial St. +1 508 487-1803. Mar-Oct Breakfast and lunch all day. Until 11:00PM in summer. Try the malassadas, or the rich trutas. $10.00 - $16.00.
  • Wired Puppy379 Commercial St. +1 508 487-0017, e-mail: . Daily 6:30AM - 5:30PM. East End European Style Espresso Cafe with comfortable table seating, complimentary wi-fi and internet connection points.

Casual[edit]

  • Bayside Betsy's177 Commercial St. +1 508 487-6566fax: +1 508 487-5537. Days and times open. Bayside Betsy's is a casual American/Continental restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner in a waterfront location. entrees: $18.95-31.95.
  • Café Edwige333 Commercial St. +1 508 487-4020, e-mail: . We - Mo, Breakfast 8:30AM - 1PM, Dinner from 6PM. Previously run as two restaurants, one for brunch and one at night, it is now a single restaurant. The menu is thoughtful, the cuisine is continental and artfully presented. entrees $23.00 - 32.00.
  • Canteen225 Commercial St. +1 508 487-3800. 11:00AM - 11:00PM. An upscale fry-shack with fresh salads, interesting sandwiches and fresh seafood. Serves alcohol and oysters on the half-shell. entrees: $14 - 34..
  • Jimmy's Hideaway179 Commercial St. +1 508 487-1011. Open April - February, daily in season and Thursday - Sunday in winter. Inventive and well-prepared American fare on a very extensive menu. Good choice of cocktails and for wine lovers. entrees: $21-35.
  • Karoo Kafe338 Commercial St. +1 508 487-6630. Karoo Kafe serves South African food made from scratch, featuring an eclectic menu ranges from Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten free options to homemade burgers, fish & chips, native stews and exotic meats; serves wine and beer. entrees: $8.95-14.95.
  • Lobster Pot321 Commercial St. +1 508 487-0842fax: +1 508 487-4863, e-mail: . April - November from 11:00AM. Long waits in the summer for the back deck with a view of the bay. Lobster and all manner of seafood. A tourist magnet that doesn't have to try very hard. $25.00 - 42.00.
  • Local 186 (formerly Enzo's), 186 Commercial St. +1 508 487-7555, e-mail: . Daily 11:00AM - 1:00AM. Hip beers and burgers, salads and luxe starters like foie gras and oysters. entrees: $12.00-25.00.
  • Mac's Provincetown85 Shank Painter Rd. +1 508 487-6227. Daily 11:00AM - 11:00PM. New outlet of Cape Cod's premiere seafood restaurants. With delicious seafood and perfect sushi, this new entry to Provincetown's dining scene has made a big splash and become a favorite hangout. Try the oyster happy hour from 3 - 5 p.m. entrees: $22.00-39.00.
  • Spiritus Pizza190 Commercial St. +1 508 487-2808. 11:30AM-2:00AM (during season). Delicious pizza, open late. A large crowd gathers in front after the bars close at 1:00AM. $17.50-26.50 (whole pie), or available by the slice.
  • Victor's175 Bradford Street Ext. +1 508 487-1777, e-mail: . Open Th - Su, 4:00PM - 10:00PM. Victor's offers a delicious "small plates" dinner menu of New American cuisine, sized for tasting and sharing with friends and family. Excellent raw bar happy hour and don't miss the Drag Brunch every Sunday in July - August. small plates $9.00 - 24.00.

Fine Dining[edit]

  • Bistro at Crowne Pointe82 Bradford St. +01 508 487-6767. Tu-Su from 5:30PM (only in summer). Set in a historic mansion on a bluff overlooking Provincetown. Unrushed award winning dining, free parking, stellar wine list. $22.00 - 35.00.
  • Mews Restaurant429 Commercial St. +1 508 487-1500. Open year round.. Harborfront dining with 211 vodka selections from 29 countries. Good food (Italian) as well. Casual upstairs. Mondays in the winter features Coffeehouse at The Mews, an open mic for writers, playwrights, poets, singers, songwriters, comedians. entrees: $21.00-33.00.

Drink[edit]

The Atlantic House. One of the oldest gay bars in the United States
  • Governor Bradford312 Commercial Street +1 508 487-2781. Drinks and raw bar are the focus here.

Gay and Lesbian Oriented

  • Atlantic House6 Masonic Pl. +1 508 487-3821. Little Bar from Noon until 1:00AM, Macho Bar from 10:00PM until 1:00AM, and the Big Room from 10:00PM until 1:00am. Perhaps the oldest gay bar in the United States. Was frequented by Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill.
  • Gifford House11 Carver St. +1 800 434-0688. This inn contains three bars: Porch Lounge, the Lobby Piano Bar and Purgatory Dance Club.
  • Harbor Lounge359 Commercial St. +1 508 413-9527, e-mail: . Varies but usually open until 11 from April to New Years. Harbor Lounge is presided over by Liam McGonigle, a gingerbear from Ireland who makes kick-ass drinks and has a nice selection of beer and wines.
  • Monkey Bar149 Commercial St. +1 508 487-2879. Informal and fun bar with great martinis.
  • Paramount247 Commercial St. +1 508 487-1430. Provincetown's premier nightclub. Within the Crown & Anchor complex.
  • Shipwreck Lounge67 Bradford St. +1 508-487-9005. 6:00PM - 1:00AM. An upscale bar located at the Brass Key Guesthouse featuring an outdoor patio with lounge seating, beautiful fountain, stunning gas fire pit and delicious cocktails. Conveniently located in the center of Provincetown. Ample parking available at the adjacent municipal parking lot.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 200 dollars
Mid-range 200-500 dollars
Splurge Over 500 dollars


Budget[edit]

  • The Chicago House6 Winslow St. (Bradford St. to Winslow St.),  +1 508 487-0537. Check-in: 2 pm, check-out: 11 am. We are located in the center of town. Just steps from Commercial Street. We have FREE parking, WiFi, continental breakfast, an outdoor 5 person jacuzzi, bikes to borrow and we are one of the least expensive houses in Provincetown! $60 - 195.
  • Crew's Quarters198 Commercial St. +1 508 487-5900. Right in the heart of town. New guesthouse with great energy for those who want to experience the best Ptown has to offer. ~$125.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 8 Dyer Hotel8 Dyer St. +1 508 487-0880. Check-in: 2:00PM, check-out: 11:00AM. Award-winning contemporary boutique guesthouse in the east end. Features 7 rooms with air conditioning, robes, some with balconies. The hotel has a pool (which is rare for guesthouses here), jacuzzi and sauna; bikes are available to borrow. As a chef-owned B&B, the breakfast features local produce at a large buffet that includes fresh-baked items and eggs to order. Friendly innkeepers set a fun, upscale, relaxed tone. $95 - $365.
  • The Boatslip Resort Hotel161 Commercial St. +1 508-487-1669. Check-in: 3:00PM, check-out: 11:00AM. A gay-friendly hotel with a pool and the site of popular afternoon tea dances. $250 - 400.
  • Carriage House Provincetown7 Central St. +1 508 487-8855. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A blend of space, amenities, privacy and location. 13 rooms all with private entrances in the center of Provincetown. $125 - 395.
  • Carpe Diem Guesthouse & Spa12 Johnson St. +1 508-487-4242. Small luxurious spa resort featuring 19 rooms, gourmet breakfast, daily wine & cheese hour, 24 hour espresso coffee and tea station and numerous amenities to pamper you during your stay. Clothing optional spa with Provincetown's largest steam room, Finnish sauna and Hydrojet spa tub and spa deck. Full spa menu offering classic massages, scrubs & polishes, energy work and Thai Massage. $95 - $445.
  • Christophers by the Bay Bed & Breakfast8 Johnson St. +1 508 487-9263. Check-in: 2:00PM, check-out: 11:00AM. Award winning bed & breakfast close to galleries, shopping, dining and nightlife. Ten guest rooms, both private and shared bath available. An inviting common room, sumptuous continental breakfast and a relaxing sunny back patio. $70 - 285.
  • Prince Albert Guesthouse166 Commercial St. +1 508 487-1850. Check-in: 2:00PM, check-out: 11:00AM. Victorian home with a very large front patio that looks onto Commercial Street. Hot tub and gardens in the back. Each room offers a private bathroom, cable TV with DVD, iPod connections, air conditioning (in season), ceiling fans, mini fridges. $125 - 350.
  • Revere Guest House14 Court St. +1 508-487-2292. Check-out: 11 AM. A restored nineteenth century colonial house furnished with antiques and modern amenities. $85 - 375.
  • White Porch Inn7 Johnson St. +1 508 364-2549. Check-in: 2:00PM, check-out: 11:00AM. A boutique contemporary B&B in Provincetown. $99 - 325.
  • White Wind Inn174 Commercial St. +1 508 487-1526. Check-in: 2:00PM, check-out: 11:00AM. Built in 1845 as a sea captain's house, this award winning bed & breakfast is in the heart of Commercial Street. With twelve guest rooms and a "great" room with fireplace and grand piano, the breakfast is expanded continental. $85 - 275.

Splurge[edit]

  • The Brass Key Guesthouse67 Bradford St. +1 800 842-9858. Everyone is welcome at Provincetown’s premier gay luxury resort. Nine historically restored buildings enclose the terraced courtyard with its infinity edge pool and in-ground spa. Experience extraordinary lodgings, a gracious staff, full-service bar, on-site spa treatments, and our private rooftop ocean-view deck. The perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and make new friends; A short walk to the nightlife, museums, restaurants, shops, art galleries and bars of Provincetown. $130 - $679.
  • Crowne Pointe Historic Inn & Spa82 Bradford St. +1 508 487-6767. Central location walk to everything, great spa, wonderful rooms. Cape Cod Life Magazine Editors Choice, 2007. The Shui Spa is open to the public and offers great treatments, steam room, sauna, mineral soaking tub, 4,000 gallon exotic koi pond. $125 - $645.
  • Land's End Inn22 Commercial St. +1 508-487-0706. Panoramic ocean views and luxury accommodations located high atop a hill in Provincetown's West End. Provincetown's most luxurious guest rooms. $155 - 630.
  • The Sandpiper Beach House165 Commercial St.. Check-out: 11:00AM. Waterside residence available to rent by the week. Self-catering. $1900 - 8900/weekly.
Wood End Light is at the tip of Cape Cod and is one of three lighthouses in Provincetown

Campgrounds[edit]

Go next[edit]

Routes through Provincetown
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