Provincetown lies at the very end of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It has a reputation for its artistic, free spirit, and acceptance but also is full of history and natural beauty. I recently headed down and spent a nice day experiencing what to do in Provincetown, guided by my Cape Cod local nephew, Dominic.
The Cape is split into four geographical areas. The one around 60 miles down the cape is called Outer Cape. Unlike much of the cape is it fairly unpopulated with miles of sand dunes and open space. The exception to that is the bustling town of Provincetown, also known as P-town.
Things To Do in Provincetown
The town with a fishing and whaling history sits right on the water. The shops and restaurants are concentrated around Commercial and Tremont Streets.
Like much of the Cape, there are a lot of foods to chose from. Here are two of the stars for me:
Lewis Family Homemade Ice Cream
My family shared a few things from this spot right near the harbor. They have really tasty cocktail ice creams, such as a White Russian. I also enjoyed their housemade ice cream sandwiches with locally made cookies.
Provincetown Portuguese Bakery
We just got back from Hawaii, where malasadas are sold ubiquitously. I like the ones that this bakery makes infinitely more. They make this Portuguese donut right in the window and this sugar-covered treat is best eaten hot.
Explore the Arts
P-town is the longest-running artist colony in the US, so you can imagine there is a lot of art to check out. A free and fun spot to visit is the Bob Gasoi Memorial Art Alley filled with whimsical pieces such as Alice in Wonderland illustrations. It is off Commercial Street by Puzzle Me This. Also, be sure to walk by 4 Center Street, a private home whose yard is filled with a statue garden and whose stone fence is populated with precious stones and gems.
Visit the Pilgrim Monument
Provincetown was the first place the Pilgrims landed in 1620. They signed the Mayflower Contract here before leaving the sandy land for more fertile ground in Plymouth. To commemorate this, a 252-foot tower was built, the tallest all-granite tower in the US, as well as a museum. You can get an appointment to climb the tower and to tour the museum.
Although I haven’t been, I have heard great things and seen amazing pictures from friends who go on Captain Johns Tours.
Take a Sand Dunes Tour
Another item on my Cape Cod Bucket List is to take a sand dune tour. We did a similar drive on our own on Chappaquiddick on Martha’s Vineyard. I have to talk my nephew into taking me out here, but you can also book a tour.
Visit Race Point Beach
This is the most popular Provincetown beach and sits on the Atlantic Ocean. You may be able to see seals or whales from this beach surrounded by grass and sand dunes. You can also ride bikes here or take the 4.2-mile round trip hike to the lighthouse.
Things to do on the Outer Cape
Marconi Beach, Wellfleet
Marconi Beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. This place is neat for a lot of reasons. From the observation tower, you can see both the Atlantic Ocean and the bay, as well as much of the Outer Cape. The area is named after Guglielmo Marconi who near this spot completed the first transatlantic wireless transmission to England in 1903. There are numerous seals that dance along the waves of the ocean below and many birds you can see on the bluffs over the 40-foot sandhills (scarps).
Across the parking lot from the observation tower trail, you will find The Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail a pristine 1 1/2-mile walk through a swampy forest over wooden platforms. I would recommend that you wear bug spray for this hike.
See a Few Famous, and Easily Accessible, Lighthouses
Three Sisters, Eastham
These three lighthouses sit off the road on the way to the Cape Cod Potato Chip lighthouse. Before visiting them I never realized that lighthouses used to be placed in clusters to let sailors know where they were before lights could show this.
2 Nauset Light Beach Rd, Eastham
This is Cape Cod’s most famous lighthouse because it is the one featured on bags of Cape Cod Potato Chips. I find it a real treat to see the actual light in lighthouses and this one offers tours. Check their website to find available times. My favorite light in New England is the gorgeous Fresnel lens on Block Island, RI.
Nauset Beach is adjacent to the parking lot for the lighthouse. Even if you don’t want to spend time at the beach it is worth your time to take the small walk through the woods to the beach.
Have you been to Provincetown and the Outer Cape? What is are your favorite things to do around Provincetown?