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20 Reasons You Need to Head Straight to Provincetown

Student Work Insider Guides
by Sofia Neilsen Sep 17, 2015

1. Its shops are unique and haven’t crumbled in the wake of corporate America chain stores.

As corporate America continues to strip away uniqueness, many small towns have gone under. Locals and visitors chose to support Provincetown’s individuality by buying local goods and even using cash over credit cards. Here you can still find vintage hat boutiques like Mad As a Hatter, businesses with shirts that read “I love my two moms” and home accent pieces, dog stores selling vegan cookies. There are also shops like Map selling one-of-a-kind clothing and textured belts, Kiss and Makeup’s cosmetics for men and women, and stalls selling quality handmade jewelry.

2. Go to show love and support for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Pride and diversity are part of the town’s DNA and everyone has a place. Ptown is a shinning example of love, tolerance, and respect for differences. Almost 400 years ago the Pilgrims came here in search of freedom. People still come to Provincetown to find liberation from antagonism. It’s not surprising that people come back here when they are feeling oppressed and misunderstood. This thriving community exemplifies values worth spreading everywhere. By coming to Provincetown you voicing your support for this peaceful way of life while also supporting the businesses owned by the LGBTQIA+ community.

3. Provincetown shows us how to be green and eco-friendly.

Recycling cans are as ubiquitous as trash bins, and the town is committed to a green lifestyle. For example Far Land, a concession at Herring Cove Beach in the brand new bath house, serves healthy food options in eco-conscious wrappings. They use paper straws, wooden forks, and corn-based plastics in case any trash ends up on the beach.

4. Pedestrians own the roads.

Pedestrians stroll through streets and look at cars like they don’t belong there. You’ll go all day without hearing a car horn, a siren, or any howling noise associated with city life. In Ptown you can get everywhere you need to go by walking. You can also bring your bike over on the ferry or rent one at PTown Bikes to take a pleasant morning ride on the bike circuit along the beaches and mystic sand dunes.

5. It’s disability friendly.

Diversity and inclusion is a part of the mentality of Provincetown so providing disability ramp access to buildings and beaches is not an afterthought, it is a forethought. The community works hard to send the clear message that everyone is welcome here.

6. Provincetown is jaw-droppingly gorgeous in the fall.

Few people realize that fall, better known as “Second Summer” in Provincetown, is an ideal time to visit. You still get the local flavor, great shows, and the unforgettable memories without the massive crowds, oppressive heat, or expensive prices. There’s plenty to do from diving into the Harbor Swim for Life and Paddler Flotilla benefit for AIDS and Women’s Health (Sept. 12), soaking up the live performance arts at the Afterglow Festival (Sept. 14), showing your pet some love during Pet Appreciation Weekend (Sept. 25-27), and enjoying the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival (Sept. 24-27), Halloween festivities, and more.

7. It’s super easy to get there.

Forget sitting in hours of weekend Cape Traffic. You can be in Ptown in an hour and a half by taking the fast ferry from Boston thanks to the Bay State Cruise Company, the oldest operator of this route. Taking the ferry from Boston is a tradition that goes back as far as 1840. The Bay State Cruise Company is family run, and they also have plans to start providing land transport in the winter for the same price as the ferry. Nothing beats the skyline view and the salty sea air on the top deck. Bonus: you may see a few whales.

8. Because contrary to what you might’ve been told, this was the first place the Pilgrims landed.

Your history book told you about Plymouth, but the Pilgrims actually spent five weeks in Provincetown scouting out the landscape before heading down stream. That’s why you’ll see the Pilgrim Monument, the largest granite structure in the U.S., towering over the town.

9. There’s lobster everywhere.

There are over 60 eateries in Provincetown that believe there is no such thing as too much lobster. Check out the outdoor Patio American Grill and Cocktail Bar serving lobster deviled eggs and lobster mac and cheese. If you are feeling traditional New England, try mouth-watering clambakes from Art’s Dune Tours on Racer Beach with a campfire and a striking view of the sunset. You can also devour a hot lobster roll at the Canteen with a side of their epic Brussels sprouts and feel like you’ve fallen in love again for the first time.

10. And did I mention dessert?

After experiencing the Canteen, drop by next door to the Happy Camper dessert parlor and treat yourself to happy birthday ice cream, bacon flavored donuts, or pumpkin popsicles for a discount. In Provincetown there is also no shortage of salt water taffy or homemade chocolates and custom candies. I’m partial to melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter fudge from the Provincetown Fudge Factory.

11. Breakfast is a communal affair that restores your faith in humanity.

Saying “good morning” in Provincetown is not a hollow expression. Even if you’ve come to Provincetown alone, breakfast is a time to meet others and connect about your experiences over peppermint tea and a tomato spinach frittata. People remember your name and greet you again with follow up questions the next morning.

12. There is something in Provincetown for everyone.

No matter the season, there is always something to look forward to in Ptown. Finding a week to connect with and annually commemorate is not hard with a year-round theater program and the variety of events scheduled almost weekly. Provincetown hosts everything from Bear Week, Carnival, Family Week, and the Ragnar Relay Race to celebrations such as the Portuguese Festival, the Tennessee Williams Festival, the Provincetown International Film Festival and more.

13. Ptown has over 60 art galleries.

You’d be hard pressed to find a community as supportive of the arts as Provincetown. Art is an integral part of Ptowns history as the oldest continuing art colony in America. Even with a small year-round population, the thriving artist community represents in a big way. Saunter down Commercial Street to weave in and out of world-class art galleries. Check out the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, one of the first green museums in the country, and see works by Charles Hawthorn, Paul Resika, Nora Speyer, Jackson Pollock, and other influential artists.

14. Here you’ll find the world’s only authenticated pirate treasure.

The Whydah Pirate Museum showcases artifacts retrieved from the Whydah, a slave ship captured by the pirate Sam Bellamy that sunk off the coast of Cape Cod during a terrible storm in 1717. You’ll learn about Bellamy’s compelling love story and the surprising amount of democratic rule and tolerance aboard pirate ships. Since 1984, explorer Barry Clifford has discovered over 200,000 treasures from the Whydah, including a bell with the name and date of the ship.

15. Because you haven’t lived until you’ve stayed in a boutique accommodation like the Salt Hotels.

Imagine cozy fireplaces, vintage bathtubs and natural sea salt scrubs, locally commissioned art, and honey poached pears for breakfast served on antique china. It’s impossible to have a bad time in Provincetown if you are staying at the Salt House Inn or Eben House, both run by David Bowd and Kevin O’Shea, a talented partnership who have extensive experience in design and hospitality. The Eben House, built in 1776 by Captain Eben Snow, is a Federal-style building with a history that inspires every thoughtful detail. You won’t find any plastic lobsters or cliché seashell décor here in these award-winning hotel chains, but you will be blown away by the nonintrusive hospitality complimented by a sense of artistic authenticity.

16. Provincetown is home to the Cape Cod National Seashore and historic dune shacks.

President Kennedy signed the Cape Cod National Seashore bill in 1961 to save the mystical sand dune landscape from impending development. It’s possible to visit this sandy landscape through Art’s Dune Tours, who have been operating since 1946. They also take you past some of the seventeen rustic beach shacks still looming in the dunes where famous artists and writers have worked for generations. A few rustic dune shacks are still open to artist residency programs run by the Provincetown Community Compact.

17. The public library is ranked #1 in the U.S. by Library Journal.

Provincetown’s breathtaking public library features free public computers and free 24/7 Wi-Fi for people who need to catch up on work or a little reading. They also host Wednesday free movie nights, author readings, the Writer’s Voice Café program, and dozens of monthly events. Don’t miss the panoramic views of town from the top floor.

18. You can camp near the beach.

Ptown has over thirty miles of pristine, gorgeous beaches. Extend your day trip into an affordable overnight stay by camping at the Dune’s Edge Campground or Costal Acres Camping Court.

19. You can be whoever you want to be in Provincetown.

There are few places in the world where you can strut through town in a sequin apple costume or dressed as your mother because no one cares. People walk around with an expression of freedom. This is a small place with big import. Provincetown gives people a safe place to be who they are and a setting to explore identity without judgment.

20. Because not all of these people could be wrong…

Provincetown is voted over and over again one of the best places to visit. Smithsonian Magazine declared Ptown one of “America’s Best Small Towns” while Travel and Leisure named it one of “America’s Most Romantic Destinations” and “America’s Quirkiest Towns.” Business Insider has also dubbed Provincetown one of the “Top-Twelve Gay Honeymoon Destinations” and Costal Living claims it is as one of the “10 Happiest Seaside Towns.”

[This piece was produced in partnership with the Provincetown Tourism Office]

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