Provincetown Travel Guide

Provincetown Travel Guide

At the very tip of Cape Cod, on a beautiful stretch of New England coastline, lies a colourful sandy outpost known as Provincetown. Clutching compelling history as the first point of landing for the Mayflower pilgrims in 1620 and since becoming an enclave for 19th Century Portuguese sailors, Provincetown has long been home to a thriving gay and artists’ community. A bustling but easy-going seaside community, Provincetown is one of America’s most beloved gaycation resort towns for good reason, with its abundance of independent shops, seafood-centric restaurants, acclaimed art galleries, and enthusiastic gay bars. Wondering what to see in Provincetown? Look no further than Mr Hudson’s Provincetown gay guide.

Mr Hudson Trip Design

Fancy a trip? Save yourself days of research by having us plan it for you. Discover Trip DesignMr Hudson Trip Design new icon

The best hotels in Provincetown

One of Provincetown’s many charms is its favouring of small, idiosyncratic inns over cookie-cutter chain hotels. If one-of-a-kind is your thing, you’ll find plenty to pique your interest in one of the luxuriously ornate suites at Land’s End Inn. Perched atop Gull Hill in the quiet West End, this rambling historic home with its over-the-top Art Nouveau décor and Victorian stained glass, also features expansive porches with ocean views to die for. Continuing a watery theme is the Carpe Diem Guesthouse & Spa, hosting rooms inspired by New England sea captains’ voyages to Asia. A fusion of refined nautical styles and elegant Asian accents, the guesthouse also boasts made-to-order breakfasts, wine and cheese mixer events and Provincetown’s best-rated spa, Namaste Spa.

Centrally located just one block from key Provincetown points of interest on Commercial Street meanwhile, is the vast Crowne Pointe Historic Inn, comprising of six restored Victorian buildings and a main mansion. Adults only for ultimate relaxation, hotel facilities include the exclusive Kiehl’s Shui Spa, fine-dining Pointe Restaurant, in-room fireplaces, and a small but lovely outdoor swimming pool. Across the street is the gay-owned and operated Brass Key Guesthouse, a luxury lodging with equally stunning grounds and an elegant yet laid-back atmosphere. Comprised of nine restored buildings, a terrace courtyard, spa and infinity pool, the Brass Key is also the happy proprietor of Provincetown’s trendiest little gay bar, the Shipwreck Lounge.

Another adults-only offering is the 8 Dyer Hotel, a tiny guesthouse tucked away on a quiet side street in a lively area of Provincetown. As well as complementary breakfasts and a brunch restaurant on-site, 8 Dyer is also outfitted with a pool, dry sauna and indoor Jacuzzi. Within the gallery district, close to all Provincetown points of interest, is The Waterford Inn, a guesthouse merging all the modern comforts with the considerable charm of 1850s sea captain’s mansion. Choose a room with a view of the harbour and surrounding historic landmarks.

Land's End Inn | Photo: Andrew Collins

Land's End Inn | Photo: Andrew Collins

CARPE DIEM Guesthouse & Spa

CARPE DIEM Guesthouse & Spa

i

Recommended hotels in Provincetown
Powered by Booking.com
Mr. Hudson highlight image

For a scenic jaunt to one of the most charming small towns on the Cape, drive 20 minutes south to visit Wellfleet

Things to do in Provincetown

As well as a plethora of outdoorsy spots, there are also a fair few cultural things to do in Provincetown. Step into the beautifully designed Provincetown Art Association and Museum to view the latest exhibits and stroll through the shaded sculpture garden. Or, to take in views of the Cape from above, visit the iconic 252-foot tall Pilgrim Monument, which commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims’ arrival in the New World in 1620.

For a scenic jaunt to one of the most charming small towns on the Cape, drive 20 minutes south to visit Wellfleet, a picturesque town with a colourful artists’ community. In addition to beaches on both the bay and the ocean, you’ll find galleries and boutiques—many set in historic buildings along Commercial Street—and, of course, local oysters and other delicious seafood. Take in the scenery and try the mouth-watering buttered lobster roll at the casual outdoor seafood restaurant Mac’s on the Pier, at the foot of Commercial Street, overlooking Wellfleet Harbour. For a more substantial dining experience and one of the best seafood meals in the Cape, try their sister restaurant Mac’s Shack, a 10-minute walk north.

Provincetown Art Association and Museum | Photo: Fernando Nocedal

Provincetown Art Association and Museum | Photo: Fernando Nocedal

Photo: Abel y Costa

Photo: Abel y Costa

Mr. Hudson highlight image

Going to Provincetown? The same team that brings you the content you love designs your perfect trip

What to see in Provincetown

While there are plenty of cultural activities to keep you occupied in town, it’s well worth your time to explore the unique geography and quiet charm of the surrounding Outer Cape and beaches at the Cape Cod National Seashore. A short distance from the West End of town, Herring Cove Beach has calm waters and white sand, while, just around the bend, Race Point Beach is an ideal spot to remind you that you’re at the edge of the continent, with nothing but azure Atlantic seas on the horizon. As well as the famed rolling dunes and deep blue waters that Cape Cod’s beaches are so well known for, if you walk far enough on Herring or Race Point, you’ll find a gay strip. Alternatively, for thrill-seekers, perhaps one of the best ways to explore the iconic sand dunes of Cape Cod National Seashore is with an off-roading adventure from Art’s Dune Tours.

Don’t dust the sand off your feet just yet, because the majority of Provincetown points of interest can be found at the coastline. The Long Point Lighthouse is a historic 38-foot tall structure on the Cape Cod National Seashore, built in 1875. While you can’t get inside, if you walk through the grounds you’ll get to see the lighthouse’s atypical square configuration and hear the blare of its automated foghorn. Providing contrast to the wide-open dune landscape, is Beech Forest on Race Point Road. Visitors who park up can take a short trail to a shady area of mayflowers, red maples, spotted wintergreen as well as beech trees, a rare sight in the area since European settlement.

Race Point Beach | Photo: Fernando Nocedal

Race Point Beach | Photo: Fernando Nocedal

Mr. Hudson highlight image

Seafood is the star of the menu, with plenty of options to suit your appetite: light (local oysters), rich (lobster and artichoke fondue), or hearty (pan-roasted local cod)

Where to eat in Provincetown

This historic fishing port is, not surprisingly, an ideal locale to feast on New England seafood. From lobster roll shacks to award-winning waterfront restaurants, you’ll find plenty of options for satisfying your craving. Provincetown attracts celebrated chefs from around the globe who both add their own spin to local cuisine and continue to expand the town’s culinary scene.

Serving some of the Cape’s boldest, most creative dishes, Joon showcases the region’s finest seasonal ingredients, prepared with a wide range of international influences. The inviting space is both cosy and elegant. Offerings may include wood-roasted wild mushrooms with miso bacon vin and wonton crisps or oxtail rillettes with horseradish cream. The sommelier also does a fantastic job pairing with the extensive wine selection. Even relatively standard items are given a different take—like duck sliders with apple turnip slaw and the bottarga (cured roe) Caesar salad with pan-fried duck egg—ensuring a finely executed, memorable dining experience.

James Beard award-winning chef Barbara Lynch’s Southern European-inspired take on New England cuisine at Spindler’s has quickly established itself as a welcome addition to Commercial Street’s East End. The menu includes seafood chorizo stew with tomato ragu and plump Wellfleet oysters on the half shell, plus lighter bar snacks like mini lobster rolls and moules frites. A softly lit outdoor deck and bar serves artful cocktails—such as the Naked & Famous (with mezcal, aperol, citrus, and yellow chartreuse) curated from Lynch’s Boston cocktail bar, Drink.

Strangers and Saints | Photo: Ken Fulk

Strangers and Saints | Photo: Ken Fulk

For a fine example of classic New England fare in a relaxed, romantic setting, take a stroll along Commercial Street to the West End’s upscale Red Inn. Arrive early and enjoy the lovely bay-side setting—a colourful garden and deck with rocking chairs overlooking the water. Seafood is the star of the menu, with plenty of options to suit your appetite: light (local oysters), rich (lobster and artichoke fondue), or hearty (pan-roasted local cod).

The playfully masculine décor and Mediterranean-inspired menu at Strangers and Saints create the quintessential tavern atmosphere—it’s a sophisticated spot for a fine cocktail and a delicious dinner. The contemporary design and historic interior elements, including weathered-wood floors, a fireplace, and copper fixtures, echo the building’s former life as a 19th-century’s whaler’s house. Offerings include oven-blistered clam-pancetta pizzas, scallop crudo, burrata with heirloom cherry tomatoes, and a stellar selection of house cocktails, well-chosen wines, and craft beers.

Red Shack | Photo: Andrew Collins

Red Shack | Photo: Andrew Collins

Shopping in Provincetown

You’ll find compelling and innovative art and design objects at Room 68, which features contemporarily designed home furnishings from emerging international designers and rotating art exhibits. The small and well-curated Adam’s Nest showcases a subversive, intriguing selection of art, apparel, books, and other hard-to-find-items from provocative queer artists. At Kiss and Makeup you’ll discover a variety of organic, vegan, and natural beauty and grooming products, many of them – beard oils and facial cleaners, for example – geared toward men.

For a quick, refreshing break from shopping, head to Kohi Coffee Company, which is tucked behind a storefront and faces the water, and brews outstanding single-origin beans from Portland, Maine’s Tandem Coffee Roasters. The sandwich shop and speciality grocery store Pop+Dutch is hard to miss with its cheerful sign selling “Sandwiches. Salads. Lube.” (a nod to the building’s past, as it was once known as the “S&M deli”). Don’t let the odd combination fool you—the food is good, too! Sandwiches include the Agent Dale Cooper (house-made turkey breast and avocado) and the egg and cheddar breakfast brioche with cherrywood-smoked bacon. 141 Market carries fresh produce and gourmet goods—an organic juice bar serves combinations like fennel-strawberry-mint and sweet potato-maca-almond butter and a vegetarian and vegan hot bar that features Thai, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and other international dishes on a rotating basis. To indulge in some local snacks and sweets, try the one-two punch that is Canteen and Happy Camper. Canteen has classic New England standbys like lobster rolls and clam chowder, while Happy Camper can sate a sugar craving with anything from black tea-and-plum crème doughnuts to honeycomb ice cream.

Canteen

Canteen

Mr. Hudson highlight image

Keeping it nautical is friendly gay bar Shipwreck Lounge, found in the West End area of Provincetown

Provincetown nightlife

Despite the summer allure of this seaside city, Provincetown nightlife is a year-round spectacle abounding with welcoming gay bars, popular among Boston and Providence city folk throughout the year. Grotta Bar is the first stop in our Provincetown guide for cocktails, live music and a sing-along. If you happen to be in the region on a Tuesday or Friday in summer, make it a priority to see Scream Along With Billy, where pianist Billy Hough and bassist Sue Goldberg work their way through diverse classics, from Eno to Nirvana. Those still feeling theatrical can take a trip to The Art House marquee for seasonal musical performances or off-season movie showings alongside pre- or post-show drinks at the bar, eatery or café. Bringing in talent from Broadway and featuring a roster of in-house acts, this is hands-down the best live theatre in town, worthy of its $60 ticket charge thanks to big-name regulars such as Neil Patrick Harris and Cheyenne Jackson.

On the beachfront with its own pier is Harbor Lounge a place where the cocktails do the talking while the bass-heavy house music and comfy loungers handle the chill vibes. As good in the afternoon as it is by candlelight, come here for a vodka-spiked blueberry lemonade or Mango Breeze refresher. Keeping it nautical is friendly gay bar Shipwreck Lounge found in the West End area of Provincetown. A relaxed and easy-going setting, the Shipwreck Lounge comes complete with an outdoor patio and exotic cocktails handcrafted by skilled mixologists.

Towards the early hours, Provincetown’s gay clubs may be calling. Paramount is a particularly good club to come to, as part of the Crown & Anchor Inn’s entertainment complex. In addition to Paramount nightclub with its glam pool patio out back, other neat sections of the complex include Wave video bar, a cabaret venue, a poolside bar, a piano bar and a leather bar known as The Vault. One other attention-grabbing club complex is Atlantic House (aka A-HOUSE) comprised of The Little Bar for jukebox tunes, The Macho Bar for leather and jeans and The Big Room for dance, dance and more dance, with top DJs and themed nights making for a little more excitement.

Provincetown

Introducing Trip Design

new

Introducing Trip Design

We plan your perfect trip, created entirely from scratch, exactly how you want it. You love our content, now let us go to work for you.

Learn more

Special Selection

Exclusive Mr Hudson offers

Subscribe to our newsletter

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.