provincetown whalers wharf
Massachusetts,  Travel,  USA

13 Best Things to Do in Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Located at the very tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA, Provincetown is known for its eclectic mix of artists and writers, the fishing community, and the LGBTQ+ community. With a thriving downtown on Commercial Street, beaches, resorts, and historical sites, it’s a popular place to visit. The year-round population is around 3,000 people and that number jumps up exponentially to about 60,000 in the summer months. And it’s easy to see why! There’s nothing quite like P’town, as it’s known, with all there is to see and do. I’ve been visiting P’town since I was a child and now my children love it, too. Here are some of the best things to do in Provincetown, a lovely seaside town:

1. Go for a hike in Provincetown.

old colony nature pathway provincetownold colony nature pathway provincetown

There are many trails like the Old Colony Nature Pathway to escape to when you want to get away from the busyness of the tourist season (Provincetown is insanely busy in the summer). A train used to run through the area, so the trail is nice and wide and also quite flat and easy. You can even see remnants of old railway ties in sections along the way.

Another incredible yet quite strenuous hike is along Sand Dune Trail. This trek takes you up and down high desert-like dunes and through parabolic dunes which look almost like craters filled with sand. You must be physically fit to do this hike and bring LOTS of water. If it’s hot and sunny outside, this hike will be all the more difficult. But when you get over the initial tall dune, look around at the view – you can see Pilgrim Monument and other parts of Provincetown from there.

Eventually, the trail leads through some of the historic dune shacks which once served as housing for shipwrecked sailors. And you’ll eventually see the ocean as well. The otherworldly landscape in this section of Provincetown is like no other you’ve seen. If you can’t do the hike, consider taking a tour with Arts Dune Tours where you can see this area in the comfort of an air-conditioned SUV!

2. Stop by the Province Lands Visitors Center.

Province Lands Visitors Center is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and offers plenty of trails, some of which lead to the dune shacks, and plenty of ranger-led nature programs. The center has an observation deck where you can get some of the best views of the ocean. If you have any questions about the area and the National Seashore, just ask one of the friendly rangers who are more than happy to help!

3. Walk down MacMillan Pier in Provincetown.

Along the pier, you’ll see the many Portuguese flags that point to the Portuguese fishing heritage as well as art shacks where you can pick up a handmade trinket or art piece. This is where you can also take a whale watch boat. It’s also a great place to get a different vantage point of Provincetown and see the Pilgrim Monument towering over the town. (Also, if you’re looking for a less expensive place to park in the summer, MacMillan Pier is one of the cheapest in town.)

4. Take some touristy Provincetown shots.

Around the pier, parts of downtown, and along the beach, there are plenty of photo ops. There’s a whale, an anchor, a large Adirondack chair, and other places for some fun (and slightly cheesy) vacation photos! But this town is so picturesque you can’t help but take photos everywhere you go!

5. Celebrate Pride in Provincetown!

P’town is one of the most open-minded communities in the country which is one reason why it’s so popular among the LGBTQ+ community. Each year, a Pride festival along with several themed weekends are held around town. Visitors can also take in a drag show, visit one of the many LQBTQ+-owned businesses, hit up the bars and clubs, and just enjoy being themselves without the worry of being judged.

6. Have a meal at one of the famous Provincetown restaurants.

 

P’town has several well-known restaurants along Commercial Street. Governor Bradford Restaurant, The Mayflower, and the Lobster Pot are among the most popular casual spots to grab a bite to eat. Or you can go for a fancy lunch or dinner and drinks al fresco at Patio, a trendy eatery on the main drag. A few of my favorite spots in town are The Crown & Anchor, Bayside Betty’s, and The Canteen where you can drink and dine right on the sand!

7. Visit the Provincetown Public Library.

This is no ordinary library! Provincetown Public Library is housed in a former Methodist church built in 1860. Inside on the second floor, you’ll find a half-scale replica of a ship. I love visiting this hidden gem library, especially to escape the crowds in the summer.

8. Take a walk down the colorful Bob Gasoi Memorial Art Alley.

Located next to Shop Therapy on Commercial Street, you’ll be intrigued by all the colors and the slightly strange, macabre scenes depicted throughout the alley. While there are plenty of whimsical pieces of art here, there are some R-rated scenes — so keep that in mind before letting children take a look.

9. Visit Cabot’s Candy on Provincetown’s Commercial Street.

Set in the heart of Commercial Street, Cabot’s Candy has been around since 1927, so they may know a thing or two about saltwater taffy! With dozens of taffy flavors to choose from, a stop at Cabot’s is a must. If you don’t like taffy, don’t worry! There are plenty of other sweets like their award-winning fudge, chocolate, and both modern and old-fashioned candy to satisfy that sweet tooth of yours.

And don’t forget to head to the back of Cabot’s to grab some souvenirs from The Shell Shop. I have such fond memories of coming here as a child and love that I can now bring my children!

 

10. Climb to the top of the Pilgrim Monument.

Standing tall at the height of 252 feet, visitors can climb 160 steps and 60 ramps to get to the top for an epic 360-degree view! This tower was built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the Pilgrims landing here in 1620 and offers the best views on Cape Cod.

While here, take a look at the exhibits of the Provincetown Museum which you have to walk through anyways to get to the Monument.

 

11. Marvel at some of the architecture around Provincetown.

There are several churches and other historical buildings you’ll want to photograph, so don’t forget your camera!

 

12. Explore the shops of Provincetown’s Whalers Wharf.

This open-air landmark building is home to several shops, galleries, an independent movie theater, and The Nut House, a whimsical sweets shop where you can grab coffee, candy, ice cream, and baked goods.

 

13. Head to a Provincetown beach.

Whether it’s a beach downtown by the marina or you take a drive to Race Point or Herring Cove, Cape Cod Beaches are a must-visit no matter what town you’re visiting.

 

Provincetown comes alive during the summer months and it’s welcoming to everyone from all walks of life. This Cape Cod town is certainly worth a visit for the sites, history, restaurants, nightlife, and everything else it has to offer. Experience some of the best things to do in Provincetown for yourself! You’ll find out why it’s one of my favorite places to visit on Cape Cod.

If you’re looking for tours to get to know P’town and all it has to offer, check out what’s available on Viator. And if you happen to live on the other side of the U.S., check out. my top 3 Must-See Places in Palm Springs.

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