There are lots of adjectives one could land on to paint a picture of Provincetown: remote, raw, real, wild, fun, accepting, loose, indulgent, inspiring, open, artistic, picturesque, vivid, quirky, sweeping, entertaining, eye-popping, creative, gorgeous, quixotic, mercurial, engaging, alluring, relaxing, quiet, loud, salty, gray, blue, dog friendly, winsome, peaceful, and fiery are but a few. But if I had boil all those words into one it would most definitely be COLORFUL. This word happily and accurately rolls all of the aforementioned words neatly into one.
Nestled at the very tip of Cape Cod – Provincetown is embraced by the sea on three sides, which adds greatly to its scenic and salty allure. Natural exploits are as readily available as cocktails and one could keep quite busy with both, perhaps incongruent, activities. See what I mean? Colorful! We had but 2 nights and one full day to explore. With a careful balance of quiet moments layered in with our must-see list we took a pretty good bite out of this vivid seaside village. I can with a confident, colorful and jaunty swagger definitely recommend you grab your group and go too.
Did you know that the pilgrims spent their first 36 days in Provincetown prior to pulling up stakes and heading to Plymouth? It was decided that the sand dominant land was not conducive to farming which was necessary for survival. A solid assessment, but a little sad that P-town gets left out of the historic loop that is our US history.
You can learn all about this at the Provincetown Museum and Pilgrim Tower which might be how you want to begin your foray into this seaside town after a solid breakfast at either: Heaven, The Post Office, or anywhere your eyeballs and stomach fancy. You will need the sustenance to fuel your climb of the 142 stairs that wind their way to the top of the tower and the highest point in all of Cape Cod. From here you have an excellent vantage point to gain perspective on all the nature there is to explore in your super near future.
Inspired by the abundance of natural wonders, your next must make move will be to rent a bike. Do not go to P-town and not make a plan to tackle the many miles of trails for two wheels that abound throughout The Cape Cod National Seashore Park (which in total is 40,000 acres across a 40 mile stretch of shrubbery mixed with sand). Grab your bike, a map and go.
The trails are well marked and there are maps periodically and thoughtfully placed throughout the park. For those wary of the hills, E-bikes are available. Yes there are some hills to climb, but all in all, it is super manageable and the ideal way for you and your legs to pedal while your eyes gaze in amazement as your roll through this gem of the eastern seaboard. Hop off your bike often to go leave some shoeprints on the expansive and isolated beaches along the way. Hiking would be lovely too, but the ground you can cover on a bike to maximize the experience wins for me when time is at a premium.
After your bike tour, you will be hungry. The husband spotted a sign that said “oysters” in the window of The Squealing Pig so that is where we went for on-point oysters, truffle fries and our first sips of Whispering Angel of the season. Good spotting Don!
These perfect P-town snacks have us ready set go for our next must do while you are in P-town excursion: Art’s Dune Tours. While this is Touristy with a capital T, it is the #1 rated activity for three big reasons:
- This is the only way to tour these enormous and enchanting dunes (besides on foot with permits).
- You will learn and see a lot as you gracefully bob up and down the glorious dunes that compose one of mother nature’s better accomplishments.
- They have this thing built to maximum efficiency – one hour and done – perfect for our time efficient tour of Ptown.
Lots to admire on this 60-minute tour, but my fave part was learning about the beach shacks where a who’s who of artists have resided over the years to imagine and create art. Art is a defining feature of Provincetown. Gallery popping could define the better part of any visitor’s days. So many colorful treasures to discover that have been inspired by this unique landscape, so amble in and out in between all of the aforementioned activities to discover your next artistic obsession.
Finally, the term eat, drink and be merry may very well have been coined in Provincetown, so most definitely allocate time for that. We arrived early to The Lobster Pot a Ptown fixture and loved kicking off our vacay with indulgent amounts of butter and lobster. The early dinner left lots of time on the back end for gallery explorations and the boys acquired fun new shirts inspired by our canines.
Breakfast the next day at Heaven was just that and The Patio was a gracious way to close our robust full day in Ptown. We were all super happy to pop into the Portuguese Bakery for snacks. Ice cream, gelato, and açaí bowls are also readily available to keep peckish teenagers happy and moving towards the next activity.
Lodging! Lots to choose from here. Hotels. B&B’s. Motels. Guest Houses. We went with a 2 bedroom condo we found on HomeAway which was a great find and a huge value add to our visit. It was in the center of town, but it’s location right on the water offered privacy and much needed quiet and respite from the color and noise of the always busy Commercial Street. Would highly recommend for two couples or a family of three or four. Here was one snapshot of our constantly changing view from the condo’s large deck which we used for our 52 minutes of allocated “quiet” time.
Whale watching is also a popular way to spend time in P-town. We had our own boat so we tried that ourselves, but there are numerous whale watching cruises to choose from. Do your research and go.
Final tip – don’t go in July and August unless crushing crowds are your thing. I think June is ideal because everything is open in preparation for the throngs to arrive, but the crowd size is manageable. September and October would be pretty perfect too. Find some time and go be your colorful best self in Provincetown.