Provincetown, or as the locals know it as ‘P-Town’, is the furthest town on Cape Cod and is located on the very tip about 1 hour 30 minutes ferry ride from Boston harbour. This area is rich in history and natural beauty, making it a great place for a day trip if you happen to be staying in Boston. I always count myself fortunate as my trip to P-Town was courtesy of a very close friend living in Boston. What better tour guide?!
GETTING TO PROVINCETOWN
There are many ways to get to Provincetown. If you wish to drive then the journey will roughly take 2 hours if you are originating from Boston, along highway 3 South and then connecting with highway 6. If like me you wish to take the fast ferry across to Provincetown then return trips from Boston roughly cost US$90 (GB£70) and last roughly 90 minutes. Click here for the fast ferry schedule.
The area is best known for its scenic beaches, art galleries, and Pilgrim Monument. Many people do not know that Provincetown was actually the first landing area of the first Pilgrims coming across from England on the Mayflower in 1620, not Plymouth.
The Pilgrims explored this coastal community for a month before deciding to settle in Plymouth. Like me, you will learn this and more during your time here, especially if you make time for some of the museums in the area. I recommend exploring the Pilgrims monument, enjoying the exhilarating sand dune tour, and of course, taking a walk down famous Commercial Street.
The ferry that carried us to P-Town docked at its harbour and instantly you can smell the fresh air scented with that seaside aroma, and docked fishing boats galore. The short walk from the docks to the main drag, known as commercial Street, is literally a few minutes walk.
The next thing you will notice is the architecture. The vast majority of buildings are all low rise, wood framed and all painted in beautiful pastel colours. There are no commercial businesses allowed in P-Town. All businesses are independent restaurants, cafes, shops. There is no McDonalds, Hilton Hotel etc. All places to stay are stunningly decorated guest houses.
WHAT CAN PROVINCETOWN OFFER?
P-Town has so much to do depending on what you want from the trip. Here are a few of my favourites.
SAND DUNES TOUR
The sand dunes at P-Town are classed as one of the most remarkable natural wonders in The Cape and New England. The sand dunes are found all along Cape Cod, however, the most dramatic views are found in Provincetown.
The best way to experience the Dunes is to book the Arts Dune Tour. This is by far the most entertaining with great tour guides that dispense all the history of the local area. If you are fortunate enough you may spot deer, numerous birds and even seals splashing around on the Atlantic shores.
The tour leaves from Commercial Road near the ‘Lobster Pot’ restaurant and takes around an hour to do. Several 4×4’s are loaded with upto 6 people as you bounce up steep inclines and cross freshwater pools.
PILGRIM MONUMENT AND MUSEUM
This 252 foot tall monument was built between 1907 to commemorate the first landing of the Pilgrims from England in 1620. For a US$12 (GB£8) fee, you can climb up to the top of the monument and gain access into the small history museum. There are tremendous sweeping views of the harbour, the beaches, Provincetown, and, in fact The Cape. The climb to the top will take around 10 minutes at a leisurely pace.
At the base of the tower is an evocative museum depicting the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims and other Provincetown history.
This popular street in the centre of town features dozens of unique restaurants and shops. A narrated trolley tour is available for those interested in learning more about the history of P-Town.
Beautiful historical buildings and art galleries can also be found. There is a beautiful restaurant a short walk away called the ‘Red Inn’ that offers a great menu. Here you can additionally just sup cocktails on the veranda looking out over The Cape.
PROVINCETOWN TOWN HALL
Located on Commercial Street, outside the Town Hall you can find various street acts performing all sorts of tricks aiming to keep the passing crowds entertained. The town hall additionally houses various pieces of art donated by local artists.
PROVINCETOWN BEACHES AND HARBOUR
Just a short walk from Commercial Street, the harbour is a great area for taking scenic pictures, both of the ocean and the Pilgrim Monument. There is a wooden walkway leading down to the ocean, so you do not have to worry about walking in the sand.
In addition, Provincetown is home to two of the most well regarded beaches in Cape Cod: Herring Cove and Race Point. Herring Cove is one of the best places in the area for a sunset, while Race Point offers amazing views of a lighthouse.
EXPLORE ON FOOT
One thing you will notice when walking around Provincetown will be the beautiful decorated houses, cute shops and beach huts. Simply go and explore the surrounding area. It really is a feast for the camera.
I cannot begin to stress how beautiful Provincetown and Cape Cod really is. The laid back vibe, the cool people, great food, great places to party the night away, and, most of all the incredibly manicured building and gardens. Sadly, my time in Provincetown was all too short. There are other activities such as whale watching that are on offer.
You will leave P-Town with a protective love of the place.