Assuming you’re not already staying in Provincetown (which we plan to do next trip), you’re not going to want to miss making a visit. If you’ve never been, take our word for it – if you have you don’t need us to tell you. Provincetown is like a West Village to the Lower Cape’s Midtown, and it’s practically the only town on the cape that’s walkable.
The purpose of this post is to outline a potential day trip, with a couple of strategies.
At the top of the hill, and visible from many parts of the cape, is the iconic Pilgrim Monument. It’s one of the few tall things the ascent of which is not a waste of either time or money, but here’s the hack – it also has an all-day parking lot. Park until 11pm for $10, and a ticket to the museum and monument, usually $12, is included. You would probably spend that anyway to park in town, because there’s precisely zero street parking. Come early, visit the museum, scale the tower, leave your car there, and set off on foot.
The view from the tower is worth the climb – the whole cape seems to unfurl downward from right underneath you. Off to the southwest you can barely make out Scargo Tower in Dennis. Squint, and you can see the Boston skyline in the other direction.
After your walk up and down the monument, you’ll probably be hungry, so follow the exit sign out of the parking lot (on foot) and find Commercial Street below.
Commercial Street combines some of the crazy energy of Key West’s Duval street or Venice Beach, but with a level of sophistication more resembling Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. There’s an art gallery, high-end home decor store, or artisanal cosmetics shop every 50 feet. Pedestrians hold sway, walking brazenly down the middle of the road, and the few drivers brave enough to attempt passage have to follow their lead.
Grab a meal in one of Commercial street’s many eateries (we recommend Karoo Kafe), and walk off the food coma window shopping and people watching for the rest of the afternoon. Among the many species of artists the cape attracts is potters. We watched this guy give a free class from his wheel as he created piece after piece.
Continue as far as you like – like Venice, Commercial street runs parallel to the beach, which offers several public access points, allowing you to switch from street to beach, and back.
To my chagrin, though probably to its credit, Provincetown had yet to legalize open containers on the streets. It may be among the things keeping it classy. There are plenty of watering holes, though.
Ready to call it a day? Save sold energy for the walk back up the hill to your car.
We hope to report far more on Provincetown, including bar recommendations and places to stay, after our next visit. Until then we leave if to you to discover.