We love Provincetown (called P-town by locals) and visited this place on a few occasions. Instead of spending a week, we had only a getaway weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic. This summer on the Cape Cod was different. A lot of events and activities were canceled, and the towns were significantly less crowded than normal for the summer season.
Provincetown is a beautiful year-round and one of the most popular vacation destinations in New England.
It is located on the very tip of the Cape Cod and approximately 2.5 hours’ drive from Boston. But it will take longer to get there if you hit the road on Saturday afternoon instead of early morning. In high season, driving on Route 6 can be a traffic nightmare, but we were lucky, and the traffic was light. I think the coronavirus pandemic changed everyone’s lifestyle and how often people want to travel.
I love this small town. It has a unique blend of an old-fashioned fishing village and hip artsy community. When you walk around the town you can see its narrow streets are lined with charming old homes and little gardens around them. You will never be bored here because there is so much to do.
The National Historical Society has selected Provincetown as one of the top 12 historic places in the country.
The P-town has a big LGBTQ community and they have many parades and celebrations during the summer. But in the last two weeks of August, you will find mostly families with young kids, couples, and a group of friends walking Commercial Street.
In my opinion, there are 3 things to do in P-town if you are only heading there for a getaway weekend:
- Visit the beaches
- Shop and dine on Commercial Street
- Take a scenic drive
This is how we spent our getaway weekend in Provincetown on the Cape:
Day 1. Stroll Commercial Street
We were not yet hungry for dinner, so we started our slow walk towards Commercial Street. As we strolled, we found ourselves in the Gallery District where many artists live and create. We popped in a couple of them and were delighted to see the quality of artwork displayed. Most of the artist’s inspiration comes from the timeless New England scenery – lighthouses, sailboats, dunes, and beaches.
Commercial Street is the main shopping street in town and full of quirky shops, unique art galleries, great restaurants, and cafes. It is considered one of the most vibrant and bustling streets, and you do not want to miss it.
We arrived and checked into the Eastwood timeshare resort. The resort is located at the edge of the town and a long walk to Commercial Street where all activities happen every night. The complex is old and dated, but space was more than sufficient for the getaway weekend. The receptionist pointed us to a short strip of a beach located 5 minutes’ walk from the resort. We checked it out but did not like it because the beach was covered with a thick layer of seaweeds.
There are plenty of touristy shops filled with T-shirts, beachwear, jewelry, glassware, and more. If you want to bring home some items to remind you of time spent in Provincetown stop at one of many souvenir shops for lobsters, seashells, starfish, or lighthouses.
Provincetown Harbor is another place to visit and just a short walk from Commercial Street. I like this place because it has great views of the ocean and the Pilgrim Monument. There is a mat leading down to the ocean for visitors who do not want to walk on the sand.
We did not climb the Pilgrim Monument because I was tired after our long drive to the Cape Cod through Boston on Saturday afternoon. But we came closer and took a few pictures. The Pilgrim Monument is a 252-foot tower in the center of P-town with 116 steps. It was built in 1907 to commemorate the arrival of the Mayflower in 1692. Thus, Provincetown was the Pilgrim’s first landing in the New World.
Day 2. Beach time
We like to spend time on the beach and P-town is well known for its long and sandy beaches. On day 2 we drove to the Herring Cove Beach in the morning. It took us less than 20 minutes to drive to this beach from our place. The parking there is $25.
There are two parking areas to the beach: one is on the right and another one is on the left. The one on the left looked larger. But we choose to park our car on the right because it was closer to the beach and ocean. The beach has several facilities such as restrooms, showers, and a vending machine stand. However, I did not see any lifeguards on duty.
The Herring Cove Beach is part of the National Seashore and it was named one of the America’s best All-Time Beaches by the courtesy of the Travel Channel. The sunsets are stunning here. This beach is the most popular in Provincetown because it lies on the bay, so the water is calm and warm.
And we were not disappointed. It was a perfect sunny day for sun tanning and swimming. We wore masks as we walked to the beach where you might be close to other people. But once on the beach, it was not hard to maintain at least 6 feet distance. Most of the beach-goers were thoughtful about social distancing.
Walking and swimming are my two favorite activities while staying on the beach. But I like to read a good book as well. The temperature was in the low 80’s and the sun was out. The water was calm and clear so you can see the fish swimming around you. We did not see any sharks even there were warning on the news. We relaxed and soaked up the last days of summer. I would say it was a perfect beach day.
Visit the beaches:
- Herring Cove Beach
- Race Point Beach
Day 3. Scenic drive
While Provincetown is known for its vibrant downtown and artistic community, there are also amazing natural landscapes to explore. A great way to do that is to rent a bike at one of the rental bike shops. We did not rent a bike, but we saw people biking everywhere. There are tons of bike paths that take you through the pine forests, sandy dunes, ocean, and cranberry bogs. If you rent a bike it is easy to get to two popular beaches – Race Point Beach and Herring Cove Beach.
As I mentioned above, we did not rent a bike, because we decided to drive around to fully experience the beauty of this area. We took a relaxing ride along the spectacular Atlantic coast looking at the beautiful sand dunes of the Cape Cod. We found plenty of spots where you can pull over and take scenic photos.
Taking a guided Dune Tour is another way to experience the natural beauty of the Cape Cod National Seashore. It is considered one of the oldest attractions in Provincetown. The company Arts Dune Tours is family owned and operated since 1946. We took one of the daily tours a few years back and really liked it. Some of the dunes are 100-feet tall and simply gorgeous. We had a view of the legendary dune shacks where artists still go for inspiration and meditation.
Places to eat:
This summer, restaurants and cafes around Provincetown have adopted social distancing guidelines. I have noticed that some have expanded their outdoor area to provide additional seating, others adjusted their indoor seating to ensure the safety of their clients.
On the first night we had dinner at the Lobster Pot. We decided to go there because the reviews were great. However, the restaurant does not take dinner reservations only walk-ins. It was a Saturday night, so we put our names on the waiting list and walked around a one-and-a-half-hour before they texted us that our table is ready. You have to wear a mask walking inside the restaurant, but once seated at your table you do not need it.
I did not really like the ambiance of the place, but we were lucky to get a table on the upper floor outdoor terrace and the view to the harbor was spectacular. We did not order any appetizers and started with a few drinks. Then, I ordered the Portuguese fish from the dinner menu and Roman had the grilled halibut. The food was delicious.
321 Commercial Street, phone: 508-487-0842
On Sunday evening many restaurants we wanted to go were closed. We stopped at the Squealing Pig restaurant which had decent food reviews, but I did not feel covid safe to eat there. Then, we walked across the street to the Patio American Grill & Cocktail Bar and they found a table for us on the patio.
The place looked stylish with comfortable cushioned bench seating. There is a plexiglass barrier between tables to keep customers safe during the pandemic. The restaurant is perfectly located on the Commercial street in downtown and a great spot for people-watching. You feel like you are in the middle of the action. The service was good and fast, but they limit your time being there. We were warned that we have only an hour-and-a-half to stay at the restaurant.
I had one of the popular hand-crafted cocktails and Roman had one draft beer. My black raspberry mojito was refreshing, and oysters were plump and fresh. We tried the linguini carbonara with lobster and streak frites au poivre. Everything was tasty.
328 Commercial Street, phone: 508-487-4003
More places to eat:
The Mews – a very popular beachfront restaurant with a cozy upstairs lounge, bar, and coffee shop. Unfortunately, the restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday.
429 Commercial Street, phone: 508-487-1500
The Canteen – great location, the amazing view of downtown, good food reviews.
225 Commercial Street, phone: 508-487-3800
Strangers & Saints – this restaurant looks unique with the charming gardens around the old but tastefully renovated house. We did not call in advance for the reservation and the place was full when we walked in. We will try to visit this place next time because it has great food reviews.
404 Commercial Street, phone: 508-487-1449
More places to visit:
Explore the Provincetown Museum.
Watch a sunset at gorgeous Race Point Beach and take photos of a lighthouse.
Hike or bike the Beech Forest Trail.
Go on a whale watching tour with Seasalt Charters.
Go on the sailboat tour with Dog Gone Sailing Charters.
Saying goodbye to P-town
Our getaway weekend in P-town came to an end. It was time to leave this unique and charming Cape Cod town. We did not want to leave before grabbing some delicious pastries from the Portuguese Bakery on Commercial Street. Then, we took Route 6 and drove home, back to reality.