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Provincetown, Massachusetts is a community abundant in cultural, culinary, and natural delights. And it’s an extremely popular vacation destination in New England, for visitors near and far.
We can’t talk about Provincetown without mentioning its wonderful inclusivity and its year-round vibrant LGBTQ vibe and culture. This welcoming place is a favorite of many and you’re sure to find that PTown is driven by love, progressiveness, and acceptance.
Whether you’re on Cape Cod for a day or a week, be sure to head to PTown for a spirited and memorable vacation. And while you’re here, don’t miss these 20 great things to do in Provincetown MA.
Bites and Brews
Strangers and Saints Restaurant
Strangers and Saints offers a cozy atmosphere with a worldly menu. Cape Cod classics like oysters, clam dip, and kettle chips are featured alongside to-dine-for Mediterranean dishes. Situated in a historic sea captain’s house on bustling Commercial Street, Strangers and Saints offers a sense of place, both historic and modern through its mood and food.
Provincetown Brewing Co.
For hearty bar bites and beers from a venue that espouses an ethos of activism and a genuinely friendly vibe, head to Provincetown Brew Co. Here, the only thing that shines brighter than the stellar craft beer is the mission of its founders, who donate a portion of the profits (15%) to social, artistic, and environmental causes. Or as they like to call it, #draftivism. This activism extends to each PBC product, which highlights a cause or organization: from LGBTQ+ rights to conservation and more.
Although PBC is new to the scene, having opened in 2019, it has already become ingrained in the fabric of this Cape community.
If you haven’t visited Provincetown before, you’ll find that many of its establishments are community-oriented, steeped in values of acceptance, shared experience, and a sense of place. This is true of The Canteen, where fresh-caught seafood adorns the menu, where locals and visitors are welcomed with casual comfort, and where views of Cape Cod Bay delight. With the looks of a beach shack and the spirit of Provincetown, don’t miss The Canteen for a meal that will satisfy your stomach and your spirits.
Wired Puppy Specialty Coffee and Tea
If you’re in need of a morning or afternoon pick-me-up, visit Wired Puppy for a cup of the good stuff! Its cute building, located on Commercial Street, foretells of its amazing selection of beverages and snacks. With organic coffee and tea, fresh house-made pastries, and friendly service, you’ll be awake and ready to continue your adventure in no time!
Lewis Brothers Homemade Ice Cream
Is your mouth watering for a frozen dairy treat? Satisfy your sweet tooth with one of Lewis Brothers’ sweet delicacies. Open since 1997, this family-run establishment has an enormous menu of everyday flavors – from Maple Walnut to Mudslide Chip – plus premium flavors that change weekly! Ice cream is made daily, so you know it’s not only going to be scrumptious, but also super fresh.
If you’re seeking a sugary treat of the non-frozen variety, head to ScottCakes! When you arrive at this very pink shop, you won’t have to worry about deciding what to get because there are just two choices: classic vanilla with buttercream frosting and mini vanilla with buttercream frosting. Yep, it’s that simple! The menu doesn’t need to be big because these cupcakes are that good.
Herring Cove Beach
Part of the expansive Cape Cod National Seashore, Herring Cove Beach has a clear and calm surf. Located close to the center of town, it is popular but easily bike-able. Its spectacular, unhindered views offer mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets. You’ll want to stay all day, and with nearby marshes offering a chance to spy wildlife, a snack bar with a huge menu, and water perfect for a calm swim, why not stay all day?!
At the very tip of Cape Cod, Race Point Beach is a generous tract of sand with persistent waves. Because its shores are flat, unhindered by cliffs or vegetation, sunbathers will delight in the strong sunny rays shining directly overhead. A day here isn’t quite complete without a visit to Race Point Lighthouse, which graces the westernmost point of the Cape. If you’re transfixed by the images of lighthouses, waves, and beachgrass, you can even book an overnight stay at one of two houses beside the lighthouse!
Read Next: 14 Best Beaches on Cape Cod
For a getaway into nature, head to Beech Forest. Here, you’ll find a peaceful reserve with a trail, a picnic area, and wildlife to admire. The easy mile-long loop trail will take you through the lush beech forest, around a pond, and immerse you in an all-around blissful experience. The Province Lands bike trail is nearby, so you can continue on your trek if you’re feeling energized.
Province Lands Bike Trail
If you want to stay active on your trip to Provincetown, look no further than the Province Lands Bike Trail. Covering over five miles of hilly terrain, this paved pathway is the ideal spot to walk, run, or bike while enjoying the beech forest, cranberry bogs, and sand dunes of Cape Cod. Beginning at the Province Lands Visitor Center, it leads to both Herring Cove Beach and Race Point Beach. The Province Lands cover 4,000 acres of land, and are the perfect place to go for a contemplative journey or for a taste of coastal nature.
As a coastal community, Provincetown is abundant in opportunities to get in the water and to get out on it. Don’t miss your chance to get a dose of Vitamin Sea by hopping aboard! Provincetown Boat Charters offers daytime and sunset excursions, along with naturalist trips and special occasions, and Moment Sailing Adventures offers customizable chartered trips. If you prefer to get a little bit closer to the water, try out Provincetown Aquasports, where you can rent surfboards, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards.
Numerous tour operators based in P-Town offer boat rides out to Stellwagen Bank, a National Marine Estuary just north of Provincetown where whales can be found feeding many months throughout the year. Common sightings include humpback and finback whales, in addition to dolphins and seals. Being out on the water is a beautiful and awe-inspiring way to experience this special preserve and take in a new perspective of the Cape.
From a bench or a stroll along MacMillan Pier, you can take in the feeling of Provincetown. As the main port, this is where boats and ferries come in and depart all day long. The marina is alive with activity, there are seabirds swooping, and you can enjoy a breeze coming off the water. If you need a break or a place to eat lunch on the move, find a bench and enjoy the many sights and sensations of MacMillan Pier.
Arts & Culture
Provincetown Art Association and Museum
Provincetown is known for its arts and culture scene, so be sure to pay a visit to the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, which is centrally located on Commercial Street. Here, you’ll find the works of artists who have lived on the Outer Cape featured in the museum’s collection. Many of the works display a visual influence of Cape Cod’s coastal location and of Provincetown’s culture. You’ll be drawn back outside to appreciate the unique landscape and community some more. The museum is small but plentiful, so you won’t feel rushed to see everything.
Commercial Street is the heart of Provincetown’s business district. A narrow, bustling, pedestrian-friendly road, it is lined with restaurants, bars, shops, and art galleries that represent the flavor of P-Town. Spend some time window-shopping (or actually shopping) and grab a bite to eat, then head over to MacMillan Pier to watch boats coming and going.
Held in August each year, PTown Carnival is not your average event with a ferris wheel, carousel, and dunk tank. With a costume ball, parties, parade, art shows, and more, Carnival is a vibrant and memorable festival celebrating LGBTQ+ life. Many events are ticketed, so be sure to buy in advance if you want to secure your spot at an event.
Women’s Week has taken place for over thirty years in Provincetown. Hosted in October, its events encompass comedy shows, writing workshops, art showcases, outdoor activities, sports events, and more. While the event celebrate LGBTQ+ women, it is an inclusive event enjoyed by all who attend.
The Pilgrim Monument is a 252-foot tower commemorating the 1620 landing of the pilgrims in Provincetown (they stopped here first before moving on to Plymouth). Visitors can put their legs and lungs to work by climbing the monument, which offers stunning 360-degree views. Even if you don’t climb, you’ll have the opportunity to learn some historical pieces of intrigue, from the landmark’s architecture to the signing of the Mayflower Compact.
To gain a greater perspective of Provincetown’s past and present, visit the Provincetown Museum! The museum highlights the colonial history of Cape Cod, alongside the historic and modern presence of Wampanoag peoples and the maritime culture ingrained throughout Cape Cod life. Located on the grounds of the Pilgrim Monument, the Provincetown Museum is accessible and is open seven days a week.
Expedition Whydah Learning Center
Sitting along MacMillan Pier, the Expedition Whydah Learning Center features artifacts from the sole pirate shipwreck ever recovered. While it’s small, it’s not short in intrigue factor. There’s a ton to learn and a great little gift shop. This location is the headquarters for the ongoing expedition and research, but if you want to see more, head to West Yarmouth, home of the Whydah Pirate Museum.
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Mallory grew up in Connecticut, and after some time living in Ireland, Montana, and Virginia, she felt called back home to New England. She lives in Boston and writes about the intersection of urban living, outdoor adventure, and enjoying the simple things at SimpliCity Outside. Her favorite New England adventures involve hiking, finding ice cream shops, and exploring small towns.