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Day Trip to Provincetown

Provincetown Harbor
Provincetown Harbor

Provincetown, with its narrow streets and historic homes, offers a day trip like no other on the Cape. History, the arts, nature, shopping, dining and a taste of alternate lifestyles are all to be found here.

Provincetown is easy to find – just take Route 6 all the way up the “arm” of the Cape.

Your first stop might be one of the Atlantic beaches after arriving at the outermost tip of the Cape. Race Point is a good choice for its dunes, beautiful beach, and magnificent vista of the Atlantic.

Race Point Beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Visit the Province Lands Visitor's Center, the Race Point Light Station (open for tours on the first and third Saturdays from June until October) and the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station, which was built in Chatham in 1897 and moved by barge to its new location near Race Point in November 1977. On Thursday evenings in summer, breeches buoy rescue reenactments are conducted on the grounds. You can also arrange for tours through the dunes.

Back in town, the central meeting spot is in front of the Town Hall on Commercial Street, the town’s main commerce area. You’ll frequently find street performers here, and it is a good spot to get a flavor for this bohemian town.

Provincetown Pilgrim Monument
Provincetown Pilgrim Monument

Before you head out along Commercial Street to the shops, you might want to visit The Pilgrim Monument behind the Town Hall. 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the 252 feet, tallest all-granite structure in the United States. The monument commemorates the fact that the Pilgrims actually spent five weeks in Provincetown Harbor and exploring the mainland before deciding to sail across Cape Cod Bay, where they found a more protected area for settlement in Plymouth. The climb up 116 stairs and 60 ramps to the top is rewarded with spectacular views. The monument and Provincetown Museum are open daily between April and November.

From the East End to the West End, along Commercial Street, are the eclectic shops and dining establishments for which Provincetown is well known.

Since the 1910s, "Ptown" has been an artists’ haven. The Provincetown Art Association and Museum at 460 Commercial Street was founded in 1914. It houses a permanent collection of American art and offers frequent exhibitions of renowned artists.

Today, a diverse gay and lesbian community contributes to the unique shopping and art experiences along the heart of Ptown. While there are plenty of souvenir shops, you might find a piece of hand crafted jewelry, an original photograph or something for the home that you just can’t resist.

Provincetown Skipping Bay
Provincetown Skipping Bay

Dining in Provincetown means seafood, so take your pick among lobster rolls, fresh chowders, fried clams, and fish and chips for lunch. Eat in one of the harbor front restaurants, or take out from one of the spots near the wharf. Don’t miss the Portuguese bakeries! If you can stay in town for dinner, you won’t be disappointed in the creative cuisine you’ll find.

Before you leave town, take a stroll along MacMillan Wharf. Provincetown’s earliest history was as a fishing village, and there is still a fleet of boats that goes out daily. On the wharf you’ll find the Whydah Museum, where you can view the world’s only pirate treasure—together with weapons, clothing, and jewelry—that showcase the history of this famous shipwreck that went down off Marconi Beach in 1717.

By taking Route 6A back south through Truro, you will be rewarded with a shoreside route past yet another of Provincetown’s landmarks, its harborside cottages. You’ll be leaving with plenty of memories and, most likely, plans to return.

About Susan Hutchins

About Susan Hutchins: I joined the WeNeedaVacation team in 2012 and write website and blog content as well as promote through social media. Having grown up spending summers on Nantucket, I have a strong connection to Cape Cod and the Islands. I now live in New Hampshire with my husband, two children, and golden retriever, and we are frequent visitors to the Cape. I love running local road races, the Brewster in Bloom 5K being a favorite. My family enjoys biking on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, hiking in Nickerson State Park, and relaxing on the beautiful beaches (usually a dog friendly one!).