If I had to choose my favorite place in the entire world, I’d choose Provincetown, Massachusetts (or Ptown as it is loving referred). If you’ve never heard of Ptown, that’s ok. About 6 years ago, when I was invited to Ptown, I had no idea where it was. I’d never heard of the place. But I’m certainly glad I decided to go and it is an annual tradition to spend some of the summer there every year.
In short, Ptown is a magical place. Whether you’re looking for a day trip from Boston, a short weekend getaway, or a proper summer holiday, Ptown has something for everyone. It’s a different kind of place and that’s what makes it so special. You will definitely want to add Ptown to the top of your list this summer. It’s perfect for all ages and is a veritable mecca for the LGBT community. That’s right, Ptown is extremely gay friendly…in fact, it’s one of the gayest towns in the United States. And the beauty of this is that everyone Ptown, regardless of orientation and identity, hangs out as a giant community. When you visit, you’re part of that community and you’ll definitely love the communal feeling in Ptown.
Ptown actually played a very important role in American history. How, you ask? Well, you might have heard of a group of colonists called the Pilgrims. Yeah, those Pilgrims. They landed the Mayflower in what is now known as Ptown in 1620 before they made their way to Plymouth and established the first colony. Later, Ptown became a home for many Portuguese fisherman hired to work the whaling ships. Eventually, the town would become a summer holiday destination starting in the 1890s. As a result, Ptown attracted many artists and writers. Fastforward about a hundred years later and the town began to attract a “hippie” population drawn in by inexpensive real estate. Then, in 1978, the town began to promote gay tourism and it has remained a major LGBT holiday destination since.
As you can see Ptown has always attracted those wishing to live their lives even if it is contrast to the norms of society.
How to Get to Ptown
Ptown is located at the very tip of Cape Cod, so you can tell your friends you’re holidaying in Cape Cod. It sounds fancy. It is also just a short 1.5 hour ferry ride from Boston. That means you’ll likely fly into Boston then take the fairy. You can also fly directly into Ptown but it’ll cost you a pretty penny more than the alternative I’ve just suggested. The last way to get to Ptown is to drive the entire cape which takes approximately 2.5 hours.
When to Visit Ptown
Summer: Most people visit Ptown during the summer months between May to September. This is also peak tourist season so you’ll need to book your lodging well in advance. We actually book our house nearly a year before our trip every year. Prices will be more expensive throughout the summer months and the temperatures will be nice and warm. It’s perfect.
September: If we factor in both temperature and money, then September is the best time of the year to visit Ptown. Temperatures are still warm at this time of the year so you’ll have a lovely summer experience but lodging is much cheaper. In fact, it can be as cheap as half the price of other summer months.
Winter: Winters in Ptown can be rather brutal with very low temperatures and plenty of snowfall. You’ll mostly experience the local population and a lot of the businesses close shop until summer. It isn’t the best time of the year to visit.
Ptown is GAY
You board a ferry in Boston and travel across the water for 1.5 hours. When you arrive at the harbor in Ptown, you step off the ship and you’ve entered a little piece of gay paradise. You’ll notice everyone seems to be super friendly and happy. Something about this town just makes people smile a lot. You’ll notice rainbow flags everywhere you look. Ptown is pretty much one of the gayest towns in the USA. The town’s efforts to attract LGBT tourists really paid off and now every summer gay boys and gay girls from across the country make their way to Ptown. You can definitely just be yourself here and you’ll notice leather daddies having lunch right along side families. Needless to say, attitudes are very liberal in Ptown.
During the summer months the town is lively as its local population of around 3000 is complimented by an approximate tourist population of 60,000. It’s during this time when every business reopens its doors and many celebrities and performers pay the town a visit for holiday or to put on a show. You’ll find plenty of gay-friendly entertainment including family-friendly and not-so-family-friendly.
20 Provincetown Dos and Don’ts, read more!
Where to Stay in Ptown
One of the things you need to realize about Ptown is that it is a super popular destination for the LGBT community. The other thing to take into consideration is that summer is the only real time to visit and it lasts from approximately the end of May to beginning of September. Combine these two things and you’ll understand when I say finding a place to stay in Ptown can be …interesting. If you are traveling on your own or with a companion then you might be able to find something last minute. But any more travelers than that will require advanced booking. Most people rent houses while visiting Ptown and travel in large groups of friends. This is how I visit Ptown and it’s lots of fun. We book our house over a year in advance to ensure we have a place to stay that is central. You can use a site like Airbnb to look for a rental.
If you prefer a hotel, you will not find pretty much any of the major chains in Ptown and that’s a good thing. Ptown has a focus on smaller, more localized businesses and the town tries to avoid a lot of the chains. There are plenty of small boutique style hotels though. Each one has its own charm. I have never stayed in a hotel in Ptown so I don’t have much to say about them. I’ve included a few below with their websites for your reference. These are recommended by personal friends of mine.
Boatslip Resort: I actually do have something to say about this place. The Boatslip Resort is, from what I hear, a nice hotel. You should understand that this is also the location of nightly Tea Dances which can be very loud and raucous. If you’re hoping to take a late afternoon nap then this might not be the place for you. Other than that, people say they love staying here.
Address: 161 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657
The Crown and Anchor Inn: Situated in the middle of town, this hotel is close to everything you’ll want to do. It offers 18 guestrooms with the typical amenities. This hotel also features a nightclub and an outdoor pool. Things can get a bit wild at night so be prepared.
Address: 247 Commerical Street, Provincetown, MA 02657
The Red Inn: This hotel sits on the water and has been around since 1915. It’s in a quieter section of the town but still very close to everything. The inn offers a total of 8 choices for lodging including three guest rooms, three suites, and two residences. All of the rooms face the water. There is a restaurant associated with the Red Inn that offers a fantastic happy hour!
Address: 15 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657
Getting Around Ptown
Once you get to Ptown, you’ll find there is a lot to explore and we’ll get to that here in a minute. But the first thing you’re going to want to do is figure out how you’ll get around. Walking is easy and good for your health. It’s also definitely a viable option in Ptown. While everything is fairly close in town, the place you’re staying might be located a bit further than you want to walk. And if you plan to head to the any of the beaches, you’re going to need get there and walking is definitely not much of an option. My advice is to rent a bike from one of the bike shops in town. There are multiple options (though, of course, I have my favorite). Once you have your bike, you’ll be able to explore the incredible dunes and see some of the sights on the outskirts of the city.
Here are the companies where you can rent a bike in Ptown. Be sure to reserve your bike ahead of time if possible by visiting their website. It’ll make it so much easier for you.
Ptown Bikes: Claiming to be Ptown’s most comprehensive bike shop, I can’t really disagree. I’ve been renting bikes from this place for about 6 years now and have never had an issue. The prices are competitive and it’s just a company I truly trust. Therefore, I highly recommend Ptown Bikes.
Address: 1338, 42 Bradford St, Provincetown, MA 02657
Provincetown Bike Rentals: With friendly staff and top notch bikes, you won’t be disappointed here.
Address: 136 Bradford St, Provincetown, MA 02657
Gale Force Bikes: Located on the outskirts of town, this is also a great place to rent bikes.
Address: 144 Bradford Street Ext, Provincetown, MA 02657
The Bike Shack: Located next Ptown’s grocery store, this small bike shop offers quite variety. If you are driving, you can also park your car at this location for free for the duration of your rental.
Address:63 Shank Painter Rd, Provincetown, MA 02657
There is tons of great eating in Ptown as you’d expect. As one of America’s favorite LGBT hangouts, the food needs to be up to par. You can definitely spend a lot on lunch or dinner at some fancy restaurant, though to be honest there aren’t very many high end restaurants in town, or you can get something super delicious at one Ptown’s many restaurants that won’t break the bank.
Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in Ptown. Check them out!
The Post Office: The Post Office is one of my favorite restaurants in Ptown because of its breakfast menu. They have an amazing breakfast menu that includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, linguica (Portugese sausage, and more. The menu is split into “post office boxes” because the building use to be the post office for the town. The Post Office’s Upstairs Cabaret also boast some of best acts on Commercial Street during the summer months.
Address: 303 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA, 02657
The Red Inn: Built in 1805, the Red Inn sits on Ptown Harbor and offers amazing views of the water. It’s a quaint and quiet location that you’re sure to enjoy. I love going to the Red Inn for their Happy Hour when they have great prices on drinks and variety of seafood dishes including raw oysters and boiled shrimp. Yum!
Address: 15 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657
Bubala’s By The Bay: Bubala’s offers great seafood and a substantially large outdoor patio for dining. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat and people watch right on busy Commercial Street.
Address: 83 Commercial St # 185, Provincetown, MA 02657
Cafe Heaven: The food here is excellent and the atmosphere is super welcoming. Cafe Heaven in Ptown serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What I love most about this place is how fresh the food is…you really can’t go wrong here.
Address: 199 Commercial St #10, Provincetown, MA 02657
Victor’s: I’ve not actually eaten at this place before but I’m including it because many of my friends have and they love it. Offering a, largely, seafood based tapas dining experience, Victor’s is a restaurant I can’t wait to try. I hear they have a great Happy Hour and raw bar. Victor’s in Ptown also put on a Drag Brunch.
The Canteen: Open 7 days a week all summer long, The Canteen is classic Ptown eating. Offering one of the best lobster rolls on the Cape, you’ll definitely want to stop in and enjoy their backyard atmosphere dining area overlooking the harbor. If you’re not big on lobster there is more than enough to fill your belly and keep ya happy. Don’t forget to order a Frosé to help cool you off and relax.
Address: 225 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657
Spiritus Pizza: Spiritus Pizza is far from fine dining but is definitely a Ptown staple. Open until late, it’s the perfect place to grab a slice after you’ve danced all night at the bars and clubs. It’s conveniently located near a certain dock you’ll likely here about too.
Address: 190 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657
Joe Coffee: Well, this is a coffee shop with an umbrella covered patio perfect for people watching and drinking coffee. The coffee here is excellent and they do offer some typical coffee shop snacks such as muffins and such.
Address: 170 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657
Ptown is the perfect place to just go and relax. You definitely shouldn’t feel any obligation to do more than that. But if you want to explore a little, there are plenty of things to do. You can definitely have some new interesting experiences in Ptown.
Here are some things I recommend you give a try.
Pilgrim Monument: As one of the most recognizable structures in town, you won’t be able to miss Pilgrim Monument. In fact, it’s one of the first glimpses of Ptown you’ll get as you come in on the ferry. Pilgrim Monument was founded in 1892 to commemorate the Mayflower Pilgrim’s first landing in North America in Provincetown in November 1620. They spent 5 weeks in the Provincetown area before moving on to Plymouth. It stands 252 feet tall and has small museum at its base.
Address: 1 High Pole Hill Rd, Provincetown, MA 02657
Pirate Museum: The actual name of this museum is Whydah Pirate Museum and it’s located on the pier. In fact, you’ll walk right past it as you get off the ferry. This museum is dedicated to artifacts and treasures from a 1717 pirate shipwreck and explores the history of the ship itself.
Address: 16 MacMillan Pier, Provincetown, MA 02657
Whale Watching: Ptown is located on the North Atlantic Ocean and that means its a great place to see some whales in their natural habitat. The whales come in close to peninsula to feed becuase the water is rich in krill. You can book a whale watching tour with a number of companies. I’ve included a link to the one I recommend below. Don’t forget your seasickness pills.
Sunset Cruise: Where there is the ocean and a large tourist presence, you are bound to find a sunset cruise company or two. There’s nothing better than hopping aboard a ship and watching the sun set on the horizon from the middle of the ocean. Most allow you to bring a few or provide beverages for your enjoyment too. Toast the sunset! Here is the link to the sunset cruise I highly recommend.
Art’s Dune Tours: This is a pretty unique tour you can book that will take you our into the Ptown Dunes which are part of the National Seashore Park. They offer a variety of different tours which are an excellent way to get in touch with nature and capture some beautiful shots.
Ghost Tour: Ptown has a long and storied history involving pilgrims, pirates, whalers, and hippies and with that comes a few ghosts, of course. Take the Ptown ghost tour to learn a little more about the town’s spooky history.
Shows in Ptown
During the summer months, Ptown comes alive with many visiting performers. You can see all kinds of drag shows, concerts, comedians, and even have an opportunity to meet some famous Broadway celebrities. The shows vary from year to year but be sure to check out who is coming so you don’t miss the great entertainment.
Ptown Events: Check out this web page for a complete list of the famous drag queens visiting over the summer.
Crown & Anchor: The Crown & Anchor hosts a lot of limited run drag shows as well as other acts. So check out their website to find out who is coming and to book your tickets. You can also book tickets to performances at the location.
Art House: You never know what kind of performance you’ll find at the Art House but I guarantee it’ll be something that is super entertaining. Check their website to see what’s going on.
Post Office Cabaret: Famous for high-quality drag and delicious food, the Post Office is a great place to see a fun drag show.
Provincetown Town Hall: More of a traditional theater, Provincetown Town Hall hosts all kinds of visiting acts. We saw Kathy Griffin as well Audra McDonald here.
Ptown Theme Weeks & Events
I do love a good theme and Ptown has more than enough theme weeks to keep you busy. The town comes alive all summer long with one party after another. In fact, you might find it difficult to plan a trip because you might want to visit for various events. If you want a full list of the different events and theme weeks happening during the summer than visit this website. Otherwise, here are a few that I think sound fun. Of course, dates change for these each year so make sure you look up information for them. Personally, we tend to avoid the major party weeks because it gets too crowded and you don’t get to experience the real Ptown. But to each their own.
Bear Week: This is one of the busiest weeks in Ptown and attracts (you guessed it) bears, otters, pups, and the like. During Bear Week, you will have the opportunity to meet thousands of other furry and fur loving men and attend dozens of parties and shows.
Family Week: During family week, Ptown welcomes a more mellow and less sexually charge grouped of people…families! The week is co-hosted by COLAGE and Family Equality Council . It’s a week intended to bring parents of all orientations together with their children for a week of fun and relaxation. Family Week is great if you, well, have a family.
Carnival: Carnival is a week-long celebration of all things LGBTQ that includes parties, a costume ball, and more! The culmination of Carnival is the parade where is feels like everyone is a participant. It’s one crazy party atmosphere that attracts more than 90,000 people annually.
Obviously the beach is a great way to spend a day in Ptown taking in the sun and enjoying your holiday. And since it is located at the tip of Cape Cod, Ptown has plenty of opportunity for a beach day. There are two main beaches in Ptown; Race Point Beach and Herring Cove Beach.
Race Point Beach is located on the Atlantic Ocean and is a great place for sighting wildlife such as seals and various sea birds. The dunes are much higher and the water is a little bit rougher. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset.
Herring Cove Beach is located on Cape Cod Bay with calmer waters. This beach has a parking lot and cash-only place to get food called Far Land Provisions. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.
Gay Beach: While there is no official gay beach in Ptown, many gay people head to what is colloquially called the gay beach. In reality the gay beach is actually part of Herring Cove. However, it is openly acknowledged as the section of the beach gay people tend to hang out on. And it isn’t easy to get to. You’ll have to hike through an unmarked natural obstacle course. The entrance to the trail to get to the beach is located on 6A Province Land Road between the intersection of Bradford Street and the main parking area for the rest of Herring Cove Beach. You’ll need to bring everything you need as their are no restaurants or stores near this beach. The hike to the beach will take you about 20-30 minutes and be weary of the tides. If you go during high tide then you’ll have to hold your belongings above your head. Once you’re at the beach, if you go left you’ll find the unofficial and technically not allowed nude section. Get naked at your own risk and explore the dunes if you’re really adventurous.
Check out these tips for traveling to PTown!
Ptown Gay Bars
Ptown is one of the gayest places in the US and, as a result, you’re guaranteed to find a bar or two where you’ll enjoy relaxing with a nice drink. There are a high concentration of gay bars so any given night is a great night to head out on the town…especially during the summer months. Here are a few bars I definitely think you should check out in Ptown.
Boat Slip Resort: You can actually stay here while visiting Ptown if you like but if not, then you’re bound to end up here at some point (or everyday) for Tea Dance. Each Tea Dance is themed so depending on the day, you might see folks in outfits from different decades or whatnot. Tea Dance happens everyday at 4 pm. Make sure to order a Ptown punch but be careful because it’ll sneak up on you quick.
A-House: Atlantic House (known as A-House) is one of the oldest bars in town and was bit by Ptown’s first Postmaster, Daniel Pease, in 1798. It’s been in continual operation for two centuries. The place is a bit sprawling with a decent sized dance floor inside and a nice patio outside. It is generally packed every single night and I love to go here and dance the end of my night away.
Macho: Located upstairs at A-House, Macho is a leather bar with a dark atmosphere. You’ll find cages and porn playing on screens near the bar. If you’re into the leather scene then this is abar you definitely need to check out.
Little Bar: Also located at A-House, this bar is open daily from noon and is a great place to just hang out and socialize. It has a neighborhood bar atmosphere and you’ll likely make some new friends when you go here.
Purgatory: Located below the Gifford House, Purgatory gets super packed for its themed nights such as leather dance party. It’s dark and grungy and I love it. My favorite night to go is for the underwear party. Plenty of men walking around in sexy undies and jockstraps…and of course hands are definitely curious. It’s a great time!
Shipwreck Lounge: This is an upscale lounge where you can enjoy a nice drink in a fairly quiet atmosphere located at the Brass Key Guesthouse. Featuring a large fireplace, barrel chairs, and a nice outdoor patio, Shipwreck Lounge is a perfect place to start the night out. Just don’t mind the staff who aren’t always very friendly.
Wave: Located at the Crown and Anchor, Wave is a fun bar to go to grab a drink and watch music videos/funny video clips. It’s also a nice place to dance for a bit. My favorite night to go is Broadway night when the videos and music is Broadway musical focused. Don’t be surprised to see people putting on their own shows to the music or singing along loudly in large groups.
Paramount: If you’re hoping to find a typical night club with familiar house music, large dance floor and more then Paramount takes the ticket. There is also a pool located out back and a large bar inside and outside. So head here to dance the night away.
Ptown is a magical place unlike any other destination you’ve ever been to. Offering great restaurants and amazing nightlife, access to some spectacular natural wonders, and being one of the gayest towns in America makes Ptown a perfect place for a gaycation. This little seaside town packs a lot in for the gay traveler and you’ll want to take full advantage of all the Ptown has to offer. It’s the perfect place for romance with your significant other or two find some fun along the way! Trust me, you don’t fully understand Ptown until you visit and I find it to be much more appealing then Fire Island or any other gay destination. If you want to learn more about gay Ptown, head over to the Ptown toursim website and check out the LGBT section.
There are a lot of interest
Time to book that Ptown vacation, don’t ya think?
Let me know if you plan to go in the comments!
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