Provincetown Travel Guide
Your guide to the best things to do and see in Provincetown
The cute and quaint town of Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod, is one of America’s oldest towns. It’s actually the site of the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620, before they went further to the Massachusetts shore at Plymouth Rock. The town has a long history as a fishing and whaling base, but since the 20th century it also attracted artists, writers, and performers—which eventually led to Provincetown’s development as an LGBTQ gay travel hotspot. Start here with my basic Provincetown travel tips, or jump down below to read my latest Provincetown travel blogs.
When to Visit
Because it’s a town famous for its art and culture, there’s seemingly something to do every week of the year in Provincetown, but in the summer, a handful of big events make the town especially popular. That means higher hotel prices and less space on the streets, but those events are probably worth it because they’re just so much fun.
The biggest Provincetown event/festival of the year, though, is the Provincetown Carnival—a week of activities, parties, and even a costume ball! Annually, the event gets over 90,000 visitors to the seaside town and the festival ends with a popular parade.
Other Provincetown festivals accommodate for every part of the LGBTQ spectrum, from a pride family week, to girls’ week, to the perennially popular bear week. Check the Provincetown tourism website for a full calendar of events.
Cool Things To Do
Eat lots of seafood — As a quaint seaside town on the Cape, the seafood in Provincetown is some of the freshest you’ll find. You can even take fishing tours and expeditions if you want to catch it yourself! Otherwise, visit favorite seafood spots such as the Lobster Pot for lobster, The Canteen for New England style lobster rolls, Pepe’s Wharf for the raw bar (and amazing views), and John’s Footlong for fried seafood specialities.
Rent a bike — one of the best ways to experience Provincetown is by bicycle. The main street, Commercial Street, operates legally as a 2-way road for bicycles and pedestrians, and a 1-way road for cars. And while the street can be crowded because of the various traffic, having a bike makes getting around so much easier. There are a handful of bike rental shops in Provincetown, but try the one at Ptown Bikes for top-quality gear and useful tips for exploring outside the city.
Discover more tips for Provincetown in my travel guide for first-time visitors to Ptown.
For things to do in Provincetown, most of it can be done on your own, but there are several tours available for the harder to reach places. One of the most popular things to do in Ptown is to take a whale watching tour. Along the pier, there are multiple boat tour companies operating various boat tours on and around Cape Cod, so find one that fits your schedule.
One of the most unique tours to do in Provincetown, though, is with Art’s Dune Tours. They operate several tours through the nearby dunes, the only company operating in the Cape Cod National Seashore park. The sunset tour is a good option for taking in the dunes as well as the harder-to-reach beaches (pack your own wine for a sunset drink on the beach!).
LGBT – Gay Ptown Travel Guide
Provincetown is one of America’s most LGBTQ-friendly and inclusive cities. With a long history as a gay travel destination, Provincetown has strong ties to the LGBTQ community. There are more than a handful of gay bars and clubs in town, catering to different interests. The Provincetown Business Guild is a local non-profit that produces a number of the city’s biggest LGBTQ events, including Carnival in August and Holly Folly during the holiday season.
The PBG website also has a useful guide for all of the local LGBTQ businesses in Provincetown at ptown.org.
More gay travel resources here.
Provincetown Hotel Deals
There are a handful of larger hotels in Provincetown, but many of the most unique Provincetown accommodation options are actually smaller bed-and-breakfast types. With so many cute houses and homes in the area, many have been converted to boutique hotels and b&b’s. I’ve found that using Booking.com can be useful for finding last-minute deals.
Recommended Ptown hotels
Stowaway Guesthouse — On the eastern side of town, near to many of the city’s art galleries and the local art museum, Stowaway is one of Provincetown’s newest guest houses. There’s a spacious yard and back patio, as well as lots of communal spaces. Don’t be surprised to find other guests playing croquet in the yard while a drag queen is getting glammed up in the front foyer! It’s a social yet relaxing atmosphere, and guests can use the bikes available to get around during their stay. See more photos of the beautifully designed Stowaway on their official website.
8 Dyer — On a quiet street just off the main drag of Commercial, 8 Dyer is a beautiful boutique property. The 7-room guesthouse, owned by a local chef (don’t miss their restaurant at the end of the street, Yolqueria), is both elegant and relaxed. A relatively large pool in the backyard serves as a comfortable chill-out spot, and a jacuzzi and sauna are also on-site. Check availability and see more photos of 8 Dyer on their official website.
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