24 Hours in Provincetown – What to Do

KA_Ptown_provincetown_march_commercial street off season_030916_056If Hyannis is the commercial hub of Cape Cod, Provincetown is certainly the cultural hot spot. The community, where the Pilgrims first anchored, began as fishing community and transformed into a haven for diversity and culture.

For first time visitors, a trip to Provincetown may seem overwhelming. But a little insider knowledge will help you make the most of a day spent in this beautiful seaside community.

Check out our guide to spending a day in P-Town.

8:00 to 9:00 a.m. – Breakfast
Joe’s Coffee (170 Commercial Street) offers a simple set of breakfast sandwiches, quiche and other morning favorites, served with strong coffee and specialty drinks. You can also expect a smattering of sweets, from croissants to cakes to cinnamon buns.

Chach (73 Shank Painter Road) is more of a sit-down establishment, with concocted beverages like watermelon limeade and hearty plates such as huevos rancheros and fresh eggs benedict.

9 a.m. to noon – Morning Strolls or a Sail on the Sea
Race Point Lighthouse (accessible via Race Point Road) is a beacon for all who arrive in town by boat, but is surely not to be missed no matter how you arrived. It was constructed in the mid-1800s and is surrounded by beautiful beach scrub and sands. Morning light will cast colorful shadows throughout the landscape, making for a very peaceful outing.

If you’re up for a bit more of a walk, try seeing the Wood End Lighthouse (accessible by foot off of Rt. 6A, near Herring Cove Beach). You’ll need to go during low tide, since the long walk to the lighthouse requires fielding a jetty. But all of the effort is worth it: you’ll be rewarded with stretches of grass-covered dunes and an intimate look into some of the first lands the Pilgrims stepped foot on.

Although Provincetown feels like a small city, there’s plenty of wildlife to observe in the area. Art’s Dune Tours kicks off at 4 Standish Street and brings groups through the dunes surrounding town in 4×4 SUVs. Expect to see and learn about bright beach roses, coyotes, deer, foxes, bats and a plethora of birdlife.

KA_Provincetown_Ptown Tavern Food sign commercial street_11315Noon to 1:30 p.m. – Lunch
Finding food in Provincetown is far from difficult, but choosing your next meal in-the-moment is. Not a bad problem to have, though.

The most sumptuous spot for lunch in town has got to be the Purple Feather (334 Commercial Street). This sweet spot’s purple-trimmed exterior acts as siren call for its inner delights, ripe with sandwiches, yes, but also divine cakes, confections and the best gelato you’ll find outside of Boston’s North End. There’s no reason whatsoever not to load up on a little sugar to help power through your afternoon excursions.

Relish (93 Commercial Street) is the place to go if your aim is to please a multitude of palettes. From their Italian-style tuna sandwich, to the turkey-filled “Mexican,” to the vegan-friendly Quinoa and Chickpea wrap, there’s a menu item for everyone. Don’t miss the banana pudding for a sweet ending.

A staple in town is Farland Provisions (150 Bradford Street), which doubles as a corner store and deli counter and offers an array of sandwiches and a rotating selection of prepared foods.

1:30 to 6:00 p.m. – Afternoon Excursions
By this point, you’ve observed plenty of the local wildlife, but there is one experience still available which is unlike any walk in the woods. Provincetown is widely regarded as the destination for whale watches, and for good reason: Stellwagen Bank, the body of water between the tip of Cape Cod and coastal Maine, is one of the most whale-populated areas in the Atlantic. There are five primary species to see, and the tour boats available out of Provincetown’s harbor all feature excellent educators with regards to whale behavior. Sightings are almost always guaranteed! The Province Lands Bike Trail is yet another opportunity for excellent views – this time, be prepared to coast down a dune while you’re taking it all in. Begin at the Province Lands Visitor Center (171 Race Point Road) and traverse acres and acres of the quiet dunes, stopping now and then to admire bogs, marshes and kettle ponds.

The 1.2 mile Beech Forest Trail off Race Point Road is a haven for birders, since nearly 200 species can be found there at different points throughout the year.

You could also just spend the entire afternoon wandering up and down Commercial Street, and nobody would blame you: the incredible diversity of shopping opportunities impresses even the most finicky of window shoppers. But, as you will soon see, that may just be an activity best saved for nighttime.

6 to 7:30 p.m. – Dinnertime
Napi’s (7 Freeman Street), like many of P-Town’s eateries, offers a wide selection of fare to choose from, with plenty of vegetarian, seafood and other multicultural dishes – all surrounded by an art-filled setting.

Kung Fu Dumplings (293 Commercial Street) offers exactly what you think they will – and it’s fantastic to pair with one of their entrees after a long day of adventuring.

If you need to completely chow down, though, Big Daddy’s Burritos (205 Commercial Street) has fresh guacamole and a burrito for all kinds. Plenty of vegetarian options abound, but the place also serves up some classics and even a seafood selection.

7:30 to ??? – Sights and Sounds
You could’ve been tempted already to spend some serious time and money along Commercial Street, but we hope you’ve exercised some degree of restraint. It’s hard to pass up a walk along the “main drag,” which is full of revelry and excitement.

Enjoy the smells, sounds, lights and – of course – the shops, as you take it all in. It’s the perfect way to say goodbye to a town which offers so much to every visitor charmed by it.

By Adam Forziati

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