Nowhere in New England has more name-brand cache as a summer vacation destination than Cape Cod. There’s no better way to experience the Cape than driving to its farthest edge — to the quaint, pint-sized town of Provincetown (or “P’town” as it’s affectionately known). Here are just a handful of ways to spend the weekend in Massachusetts’ most iconic seaside getaway.
The National Graphic Whydah Pirate Museum is, somewhat surprisingly, the world’s only museum dedicated entirely to a recovered pirate ship. The one-time slave ship sank in the early 18th century and was only recovered in the last few decades. It’s a small museum with a passionate staff and the installations — including recovered coins, a cannon, and other artifacts — are fascinating.
The sand dunes of Provincetown — a fraction of the breathtaking, 43,000-acre Cape Cod National Seashore — are undoubtedly the area’s most iconic geological standouts. The best way to explore them is through them via Art’s Dune Tours. Visitors can choose from one-hour, sunset, and half-day tours of the dunes in the company’s large, air-conditioned Suburban trucks.
Hiking P’town’s famous breakwater is one of the most beautiful walks in New England. The easy hike starts at the western edge of town, across Hatches Harbor, to the northernmost point on the Cape. It ends at the two-hundred-year-old Race Point Lighthouse — an iconic symbol of Cape Cod. Tours are occasionally available (though the schedule is unpredictable) and guests who book well in advance can spend up to a week in the restored, 1950s-era Keeper’s House.
Eat & Drink
At the southern tip of Commercial Street sits the two-hundred-year-old The Red Inn — equal parts bar, restaurant, hotel, and cherished P’town institution. Even if you’re not planning to overnight, it’s well worth a stop to grab a plate of fresh, local, Wellfleet oysters (likely plucked from the nearby water that morning) from their raw bar. Order a properly made cocktail (think Cucumber Martinis and Rye Old Fashioneds) and relax in the Adirondack chairs on the deck. The ocean views are arguably the best of any restaurant on the Cape.
Provincetown is best explored on foot and, thankfully, it offers no shortage of desserts to-go. Stop in at Provincetown Fudge Factory for a box of truffles or one of their locally famous dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Just steps away is I Dream of Gelato — a tiny coffeeshop and gelateria with the best sorbetto and gelato (including vegan varieties) on the Cape.
P’town is awash in quaint, picture-perfect New England B&Bs. But Land’s End Inn stands, figuratively and literally, above them all. Located high atop a hill off Commercial Street, this classic, garden inn offers stunning, panoramic harbor views and lavish, honeymoon-worthy guest rooms. The free deluxe breakfast alone is worth the stay.
For something completely different, the Harbor Hotel Provincetown is a one-time, Nixon-era budget motel that underwent a top-down renovation. The waterfront property tastefully blends bright, 60s-era Mod decor and Miami Beach chic with classic beachfront motel architecture. Be sure to reserve an ocean view room and partake in the nightly on-site bonfires with a cocktail from the nearby bar.
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