From beautiful sandy beaches to lobster rolls, kids playing in the ocean, golden retrievers on the porch, clambakes with neighbors, houses with weathered shingles and white trim and an American flag waving proudly in the wind, Cape Cod is the quintessential New England experience. People come from all over the world to vacation here each summer, with house rentals usually booking up months in advance. Once you get to the Cape, there’s nothing else like it. Playing on the beach all day, having a barbeque, and sharing a beer with friends over a bonfire, its the perfect way to celebrate the summer. There are a lot of great towns down the Cape, and while you should try them all, it may help to get to know more about each one before you settle on your choice.
Provincetown, or Ptown for short, is best known its abundant gay community. But it is also frequented by lots of visitors, so don’t be intimidated from going. It’s one of my favorite Cape towns actually, because it has so much to offer!
If you’re looking at a map, Ptown is the furtherst out on the cape, the fist of the flexed arm if you will. You can drive there but it’ll take you awhile, probably 3 hours from Boston if there’s no traffic. Alternatively, you can get there on one of the ferries that runs from Boston, and that only takes 90 minutes.
On a beautiful sunny summer day, there are plenty of beach options in Ptown, extending all around the tip of this peninsula. Some are located right next to the downtown stretch, while others are better reach by the trolley. Some are more family friendly, while others encourage a more au natural spirit! But all are really lovely beaches that are kept clean and have easy access to the Cape waters that famously never warm up! The kids never seem to mind though.
Beyond just laying out for a tan and building sand castles, the beaches in Ptown have active sports to offer as well. Try kayaking or SUP-ing if you’re looking for some exercise. And scuba divers, you’re in for a surprising treat in the waters here. You’re bound to see sunken toilets that have been overtaken by the sea!
When the weather isn’t great or you’ve just had your fill of the sun, there are lots of shops, boutiques, and art galleries to enjoy on Commercial Street. Ladies, head to Life at the Beach for lots of sun dresses and jewelry, or Toko for a more boho chic selection. Try The Lily Pond for the cutest and most eclectic display of gifts and trinkets, and get all the seashells your heart desires at the pink Shell Shop. And for the best salt water taffy and fudge, you must check out Cabot’s Candy, and for the best sugar cookies in town, go to Connie’s!
If you’re up for the challenge, walk the 116 steps up the Pilgrim Monument, if not for the history of it then for the stunning, sweeping views over Ptown and down the Cape that you get from the top. The climb isn’t bad, it takes about 15 minutes. And entry gets you into the ground floor museum as well. Take a stroll through to learn more about the Pilgrims that settled here hundreds of years ago!
There are an abundance of excellent restaurants in Ptown, all serving up an irresistible menu of seafood cooked to perfection! You’re best bet is the Lobster Pot, where you can literally go into a food coma over all the seafood. They’ve been around for generations, and they know how to please the locals and the visitors alike. I would also recommend Bubalah’s By the Bay for an outstanding hot lobster roll, drizzled with warm butter sauce! The non-seafood-lovers in the group will find relief at Twisted Pizza, and you can’t leave town without trying the onion chunks at Mojo’s.
The bar scene in Provincetown is a lot of fun. Go to Aqua Bar for the best ocean view while you sip your summer ale. For karaoke led by the coolest drag queen in town, go to Governor Bradford’s, and for the best dancing home, check out Velvet!
The only way to do the Cape is by renting a house. It’s just not a hotel kind of destination. When you rent a house, you get to feel like a local, like this heaven is your home for a week. All Cape rentals operate on a Saturday-to-Saturday schedule, and they book up really quickly. A nice alternative that’s popped up recently is Airbnb, which lets you rent out a house or condo or apartment on a schedule agreed between the renter and host. It still gives you great beach access, the feel of the neighborhood, and a sense of home away from home, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
My final reason for loving Ptown is how dog-friendly it is! Lots of rentals allow dogs, as do all outdoor restaurants, and many indoor shops and restaurants. There are doggie water bowls outside every business for the many dogs that you’ll see out for a stroll with their owners in the downtown area!
When you’re considering your next trip to the Cape, I recommend that you check out Provincetown!