There’s never enough time in the day to fully appreciate Provincetown, Massachusetts. This colorful spot on just the tip of Cape Cod welcomes all walks of life to fully be themselves. Regular shopping, dining, and beach lounging opportunities are abound. There’s also a thriving nightlife scene full of animated drag shows, pool parties, and more.
If you’re planning a trip for a good time but not a long time, here’s some great highlights to experience in Provincetown while everything is swinging in the summer and early fall.
How to get to Provincetown, MA
Being literally at the end of the Cape Cod arm, it can be a while to drive there. On a good day it’ll take you 2-3 hours from Boston by car. There’s a small airport nearby P-Town (PVC) if you’re feeling fancy.
However, there are accessible ferries from both Boston and Plymouth, MA that land you downtown Provincetown in less than 90 minutes. We often opt for the ferry from Plymouth and stay either just for the day or do a couple of overnights. They run almost every day from May through the beginning of October. If you’re lucky like us, a little rain in the morning kept the boat mostly empty!
Is 11AM too early for a drink?
When we get off the boat, it’s usually just in time for an early lunch and a cheeky beverage. Or, maybe we’ve had some P-Town Punch on the Captain John Boat ferry already!
A classic mainstay along the main drag is the Crown & Anchor. Part hotel, part bar, part club and part restaurant, it’s adored by most and can trace its history back to the late 1800s. We like to pop in for a quick morning bite at the outside bar by the street or get our late drink during happy hour before getting back on the boat. I leave the back pool and club rooms to the party guys!
We also had a quick bevvy at the Governor Bradford restaurant, which is famous for nighttime drag karaoke shows we’d love to stick around for next time.
Have a hearty P-Town lunch
I hope you like seafood, because Provincetown is a mecca for shellfish enthusiasts. Who doesn’t love a raw bar and a fruity cocktail? You can cruise down Commercial Street and find some wonderful alfresco restaurants to indulge in the summertime.
Patio American Grill
You could throw a rock from the ferry and practically hit the Patio American Grill, it’s so close. A little more modern and lots more outdoor space along the street allow for breezy and tasty dining all day long. We didn’t hesitate to order fresh lobster rolls and fruit martinis to start the day off right. The staff too was wonderfully kind and attentive too despite a lunch rush.
The Lobster Pot in Provincetown
This is the place to overhear quintessential New England accents and dive into some creamy, fresh and flavorful dishes. The Lobster Pot has some al fresco seating available, but strategize your time to avoid crowded noontime rushes if you want to be choosy about your table. They also have a walk-up express location down the street if you’d like a roll to go instead.
Provincetown Portuguese Bakery
For more than a century, this bakery has been filling the bellies of tourists and locals alike. We opted for the traditional pasteis de nata tarts, but they also offer fried dough, almond cups, linguisa croissants and even some Italian/French favorites.
Besides the bakery, there’s tons of local coffee shops, candy stores and even a classic Ben & Jerry’s to grab some more sweet treats and caffeine jolts throughout the day. There really wasn’t a spot that disappointed, so you can’t go wrong with a little impromptu sightseeing.
Notable Provincetown Shopping
Of course you can grab a seashell, a magnet, or a sassy t-shirt along Commercial Street, but we really love finding some special trinkets and supporting the local businesses best we can. Here’s a few shops where you can poke your head inside.
The Captain’s Daughters
A women-owned shop along the strip that has high-end sundries and textiles. You can shop and sip tasty teas at the same time.
Lots of little gift ideas and flora/fauna to check out in a historic old P-Town building, tied to mariner history. If you regret not taking home a candle or two, you can shop on their site as well and have things shipped to your home.
Christmas and holiday themed shop. Look a little closer and find some one-of-a-kind items, like hand painted Provincetown glass ornaments and a line of handsome mermen ornaments for every occasion.
Paws & Whiskers
Lots of homemade Provincetown-themed dog treats. You’ll notice this is a wildly pet-friendly place, as there’s just as many dogs as people walking along the roads!
More travel tips and guides for the LGBTQIA+ crowd in P-Town
While I would love to stay and party someday, we mostly stuck to the main drag during the day, as I often travel with family and my young baby. But we all know P-town has incredible nightlife, a fantastic LGBTQIA+ scene, lots of shows and special parties that boom all summer long. Here’s two great resources for even more to do, see, and fall in love with in Provincetown.