by Andrew Villagomez
Provincetown, Massachusetts has been an exciting destination for the LGBT community since the Roaring 20s. According to the last US Census, P’town holds the highest percentage of same-sex couples, beating out the likes of Palm Springs and Manhattan. Summer, of course, is the high season for visitors in this gay mecca. The population increases from 3,000 to over 90,000 during the Carnival holiday in August. This year marks the 38th Annual Carnival Week (August 13-19. www.ptown.org/carnival/). The theme is “Back to the 80’s,” and participants can expect a week of parties, events, and the big parade on Commercial Street (the main drag).
When planning your P’town getaway, there are several other events you may want to schedule your trip around. CabaretFest (http://www.cabaretfest2016.com/) is returning to Provincetown this year with a tribute to a legendary writer of music, Cole Porter who for 20 years, had his own retreat right in Provincetown (June 2nd -5th). The annual Provincetown International Film Festival (www.ptownfilmfest.org), dedicated to showing new independent films and honoring the work of both acclaimed and emerging directors, actors, and producers, will take place this June and celebrated its 18th year.
In the off-season, there’s the Fantasia Fair (October 16-23. www.fantasiafair.org), the longest-running annual event for transgender individuals that includes shows, workshops, and fine food; a lively Halloween Week (October 30-November 1st. www.ptown.org/halloween.asp) with a pumpkin patch, haunted houses, cemetery walking tours, and costume parties; and a holiday weekend event, Holly Folly (December 2-4.www.ptown.org/holly-folly) that includes shop hopping, sing-alongs, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus concert, the Speedo run, drag brunch, and drag bingo.
Lodging options in P’town range from seasonal guest houses to year-round hotels and resorts that offer everything from the bare necessities to ultra-luxe amenities. Several of them get makeovers each year, and one of the latest and most improved renovations can be found at the Harbor Hotel Provincetown (698 Commercial St. Tel: 508- 487-1711. www.harborhotelptown.com). Previously, the Cape Inn, the gay-friendly Harbor Hotel is now one summer old and located at the end of Commercial on the quieter and artful east side. Offering 129 modern guest rooms and suites decked out in green and turquoise, amenities include free Wi-Fi through- out the structure and parking on-site. The hotel is also pet-friendly, and offers a seasonal out- door pool with Cabana Bar where several different cocktails and grill options are available. Inside the hotel’s lobby, you’ll find a complimentary deluxe continental breakfast (seasonal), and an all-day coffee bar. Also family-friendly, there are countless board games to choose from for the little ones or for you on those rainy days. The Harbor Hotel is also home to the Whaler Lounge, a local favorite that features a traditional Cape Cod menu and live entertainment that showcases local artists.
If you want to be closer to the heart of P’town, another newly renovated option is the seasonal Crew’s Quarters (198 Commercial St. Tel: 508-487-5900. www.crewsquartersptown.com). Formerly The Ranch, this boys-only guesthouse is open from April to January, and is noticeable on the main drag for its mustard-yellow outer shell with a rainbow flag waving from the second floor. They offer 17 rooms on four floors: six common rooms, a bar, lounge, a breakfast room, great front porch, and a second-floor deck. Also a fun fact, Days of Our Lives filmed a gay shower dream sequence at the Inn and it aired earlier this year.
For a luxury stay, the Brass Key Guest-house (67 Bradford St. Tel: 508-487-9005. www.brasskey.com) is a great choice. This longtime P’town favorite is a com- pound of nine restored historical buildings that enclose a terraced courtyard plus an on-site spa. Also, its infinity pool just got a makeover a couple summers ago.
Originally built in the early 1800s and host to famed visitors such as Henry David Thoreau, the former location of the Pilgrim House Hotel and The Vixen has been completely redone as the Sage Inn and Lounge (336 Commercial St. Tel: 508-487- 6424. www.sageinnptown.com). Open year-round, it is somewhat hidden off the main drag and offers a relaxing sanctuary in the heart of P’town. Three levels are filled with 19 modern rooms with queen-sized beds, each with a private bathroom. A newly designed lounge offers a mix of specialty herb-infused cocktails with a selection of small plates such as lobster knuckle sliders and the Meza Trio: herbed goat cheese, roasted jalapeno hummus, and olive caper tapenade with grilled pita.
Eating out in P’town? You’ll find a plethora of dining options. Gay New York City nightlife promoter Justin Luke shares the three things you “must eat” while in town: clam chowder, lobster mac and cheese, and a lobster roll. “Everyone has their favorite [lobster roll] at one place or another, but the truth is they’re fantastic anywhere on the drag, and everyone serves them. Sort of a Northeast staple, like pizza is in NYC.” For the freshest eats, literally as it just opened in May, try The Canteen (225 Commercial St. Tel: 508-487-3800. www.thecanteenptown.com). Opened for lunch, dinner, and late-night munchies, this American seafood joint was inspired by summertime dinner parties thrown for family and friends and offers communal seating, which is great for group travelers or a couple looking to meet other couples. You’ll find Cape Cod classics and favorites like the lobster rolls as well as fish and chips, grilled seafood, shrimp sliders, and a full raw bar.
For new American food and a selection of burgers, try Local 186 (186 Commercial St. Tel: 508- 487-7555. www.local186.com). Now in its second year in P’town, Local 186 has 11 burgers for you to try, or you can create your own with a selection of beef, kobe, lamb, or turkey. For non-meat eaters, they also have a great selection of homemade veggie burgers.
If you like Italian, head for 9 Ryder Seaside Dining (9 Ryder St. Tel: 508-487-9990 www.9ryder.com). Located at the foot of Cabral’s Wharf, with a great ocean view, 9 Ryder offers a selection of pasta as well as delectable meat and seafood options. Make sure you save room for dessert, as their tiramisu, sorbets, and cannoli are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
After dinner, dance off your meal or continue drinking at one of P’towns several nightlife options. Velvet Lounge & Cabaret (258 Commercial St. Tel: 508-487-2588) is among the newest nightspot in town. Offering a dark, red-walled lounge with gothic décor, their cabaret acts include the likes of local jazz songstress Zoë Lewis, who will be performing at a speakeasy night each month. The Aqua Bar (207 Commercial St. at the Aquarium Marketplace. Tel: 774-593-5106. www.aquabarptown.com) offers new American eats, but what makes this three- year-old bar really special is that it is on a waterfront deck with spectacular views.
A place that has it all: from accommodations to food and entertainment, the Crown & Anchor (247 Commercial St. Tel: 508-487- 1430. www.onlyatthecrown.com) just held its third-annual foam party during P’town’s lesbian-filled Memorial Day weekend.
Cape Cod consignment Vintage In Vogue (237-241 Commercial St. at the end of Whaler’s Wharf. Tel: 508-246- 2559. www.vintageinvogue.com) has opened up a shop that carries, you guessed it, vintage apparel and accessories from the 1870s to the 1970s for both women and men.
Longtime P’town resident Henry & Co. (210 Commercial St. Tel: 508-487-6215 henryptown.com) carries a range of modern apparel and funky footwear from the likes of Generic Surplus and Converse. Owner Tim Theriault recommended his new neighbor as another place to check out, Tim-Scapes (208 Commercial St. Tel: 917-626-4052. www.tim-scapes.com). Owner Tim Convery offers P’town-inspired clothing and art from the town’s “history, land- scape, people, and unique culture.” His colorful designs include simple duct-tape art using 70’s graphics, “specifically the works of Charley Harper and Corita Kent.” For the more adventurous, visit the urban, upscale boutique Full Kit Gear (192 Commerical St. Tel: 508-413-9676. www.fullkitgear.com) for leather, rubber, and other fetish gear and accessories. The shop includes a community space with a coffee bar, plus a gallery for community artists.
If you find your way to P’town this summer, make sure to stop by The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (460 Commercial St. Tel: 508-487-1750. www.paam.org) and check out its Pioneers from Provincetown: The Roots of Figurative Expressionism exhibit from July 19-September 2. Presenting a “missing link in American modernism,” the exhibit features several artists who’ve been “underappreciated and ignored by critics and art historians.” Take a look at art from the mid-1950s to early 1960s when P’town became one of the pioneer spots to chronicle American modernism. The PAAM is always a great start before you take a gallery stroll in the east end of Commercial Street where there are count- less galleries to explore.
Excellent resources to help you plan your trip and enjoy your stay in P’town include the Provincetown Business Guild (www.ptown.org), which has everything you need, including a big LGBT Guide; The Provincetown Chamber of Commerce which provides a detailed round up of the art and galleries, as well as an annual visitors guide; and Provincetown Magazine (www.provincetownmagazine.com). Printed weekly from April through end of October, it covers arts, entertainment, din- ing, shopping, and more.