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Escape Plan: Provincetown, Massachusetts

Where To Eat, Sleep, Drink and Play!

by Billy McEntee
Photo: Courtesy of Provincetown Tourism

You won’t have a hard time finding activities around Provincetown: there are beaches to tan at, whale watching trips to take, and fun shops to pop into.

Photo courtesy of Provincetown Tourism

Provincetown is a great place to visit anytime of year.

Around the holidays, enjoy the downtown spectacle of a Christmas tree made out of lobster traps wrapped in string lights. In the fall and spring, stroll down Commercial Street and peruse the unique shops that are less crowded, and score a reservation at one of the wonderful restaurants featuring exceptional local and international cuisine. During the summer, the high season in this LGBTQ+ mecca, thousands of people flock here for community, mischief, and themed weeks, from Bear Week to Family Week.

There is plenty to see, do, taste, and experience here. Whether you are a first timer or a devout pilgrim who makes the annual trek by car, ferry, bike, or plane, you likely know Ptown is famed for its food and festivities. Magic awaits in this vacation hotspot so we have assembled a list of unmissable activities, from crowd favorites to off-the-beaten-path gems.

EAT

When coming to Ptown, leave the diet behind and bring your appetite. Let’s start with the most obvious location. Long as the waits may be, The Lobster Pot (ptownlobsterpot.com) really is a must-do and has been a Ptown tradition since 1979. Located in the heart of downtown on Commercial Street, this casual seafood joint has all your fishy fixings. If you can, score a table upstairs on the second floor where the waterfront restaurant offers more expansive views of the Provincetown Harbor.

The Lobster Pot (Photo by Mike Potenza)

The Lobster Pot (Photo by Mike Potenza)

If you want something a touch more upscale, or for a cute date night, locals enjoy Strangers and Saints (strangersandsaints.com). Still on Commercial Street, but farther from the buzz in Ptown’s artsy East End, this cozier, more romantic spot has dark hardwood floors, nifty nautical lighting structures, and a welcoming bar you can dock at. The Mediterranean-inspired menu is offered inside or out on the veranda for private events.

For a bite at any time of day, and to venture off of bustling Commercial Street, head up to Bradford Street for Liz’s Cafe (lizscafeptown.com). Open for three meals a day, this is a fan favorite for brunch and dinner alike. This casual but warm environment by day transforms into a candlelit scene come evening. A chic spot anytime of day!

SLEEP

There’s no shortage of inns and B&Bs in Ptown, and many of them are owned by LGBTQ+ businesspeople. Also, since the town is so walkable and bikeable you’ll never really need a car. Over in the West End, you’ll find the lush but homey Land’s End Inn (landsendinn.com). Open year-round, Land’s End serves a deluxe breakfast, has spacious rooms with plenty of design touches and TLC, and an outdoor porch where you can enjoy a daily wine reception. It’s just a short walk from town, but far enough removed to get a blissful night’s sleep. For an extensive list of accommodation options Provincetown Tourism (ptowntourism. com) has you covered.

Lands End Inn (courtesy of Lands End)

Lands End Inn (courtesy of Lands End)

UNWIND

No need to wait until nightfall: the fun starts early in Ptown. Tea Dance, a gayer version of happy hour, kicks off the evening at The Boatslip (theboatslip.com), a seaside resort that also boasts a large patio and dance floor where visitors and locals mingle starting at 4 PM. These are held during the high season, from May to early fall, and keep in mind the bar is cash only. Guests sometimes dress in themed costumes, and drag queens are often milling about. Sip, swirl, and spin, honey!

Tea Dance At The Boatslip (Photo by Dan McKeon courtesy of the Boatslip)

Tea Dance At The Boatslip (Photo by Dan McKeon courtesy of the Boatslip)

Later on, Atlantic House (ahouse.com), commonly referred to as A-House, is the centerpiece for clubbing. Per the website, A-House has not only oomph but history: built in 1798, it is possibly one of the first discos in the country. Stay late, and then head to Spiritus (spirituspizza.com) next door for some late-night pizza to soak up the booze.

DRINK

Located on Commercial Street, but tucked away toward the water, Harbor Lounge (theharborlounge.com) is true to its name. Facing the deep blue sea and with an easygoing atmosphere, this cocktail bar has indoor seating, but the main draw is the wooden pier out back that juts out over the beach. Head over around happy hour to snap a sunset photo.

Stroll down Commercial and you’ll find gay bars aplenty. For something a touch more informal and family-friendly, The Squealing Pig (squealingpigpubs.com/provincetown) offers bites and beers at an affordable rate, or for some evening flirtation, descend to The Vault (onlyatthecrown.com/the-vault), which opens its doors at 9 PM. Needless to say, the night goes on from there.

DO

You won’t have a hard time finding activities around Provincetown: there are beaches to tan at, whale watching trips to take, and fun shops to pop into. Speaking of shops, stop by The Provincetown Bookshop (provincetownbookshop.com) in the center of town and pick up a beach read. The helpful staff has everything from new releases to gay classics. Shop local while supporting queer-owned bookstores!

Provincetown Bookstore

Provincetown Bookstore

For the arts lover, check out Provincetown Theater (provincetowntheater.org), which has everything from recent Tony Award-winning plays to classic musicals to more sensual cabaret acts. With events and productions year-round, there is always something to see. And if you have a favorite drag queen, there’s a good chance she’ll be playing somewhere in Ptown. Walk down Commercial Street and you’ll see performers handing out fliers, and venues touting the latest Broadway or RuPaul’s Drag Race star who’s coming to town!

Provincetown Theater (Photo by Bob Tucker Focalpoint)

Provincetown Theater (Photo by Bob Tucker Focalpoint)

Speaking of the arts, the East End of town has dozens of galleries full of sculptures, paintings, and fine art, and they feature everything from erotic works to sandy landscapes. For a fuller list of LGBTQ-friendly events, Provincetown Tourism (ptowntourism.com/events) puts together a comprehensive list of shows and activities. Whether you are seeking some much-needed downtime and R&R, or a bit of a more scintillating adventure, Provincetown is the place to go. It’s rare to find such a welcoming atmosphere for visitors no matter how they identify, and that’s why any time spent in this historical Cape Cod town feels magical. Partake in the wonder, and make the town yours!


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