Provincetown, Massachusetts is a small coastal town located at the tip of Cape Cod. It’s a town that feels like you’ve reached the edge of the world. Where you can walk out to isolated and desolate landmasses, the Atlantic Ocean surrounding you. A town that is so small that all the locals know each other and can spot a tourist from a mile away. Provincetown is where you can get killer seafood, walk safely through the streets day and night, ride through sand dunes, and layout on the beach all day long. Heading to the Cape, specifically, Provincetown is a fun and exciting way to spend a summer on the east coast. Luckily, Provincetown is close to Boston and easily explored in one day. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about spending one day in Provincetown.
How to Spend One Day in Provincetown
I had just signed my seventh travel nurse contract, packed my bags, and moved to Boston a month prior to visiting Provincetown. Already itching to get away, feeling complacent and restless, I pulled out a map. Where can I go for a one-day trip outside of Boston? Do I visit Newport, Rhode Island? Do I eat lobster rolls on the coast of Maine? What about the eery town of Salem where the witch trials took place? What ensued was hours of research and after coming upon “Provincetown” time and time again, I booked a car, booked a hotel, and set off for a 2.5-hour drive down southeast until I arrived in Provincetown.
Although I arrived in Provincetown (also known as P-Town) a week too early – most bars and restaurants close up for the winter; I immediately felt the charm of the city. Although it was dead quiet, I felt the character radiating from the shop fronts, even the ones that were closed. Colorful signs jumped out at me. American flags waved proudly in the wind. Multiple houses were painted in bright colors – yellow, blue, purple. It’s no wonder that this town that 3,000 people call “home” quickly jumps to a town that 60,000 people vacation to in the summer months.
How to Get from Boston to Provincetown
Depending on which month you choose to visit Provincetown, there are different routes to get there. While you can get to Provincetown quickly from Providence, RI; approximately two hours by car. Here I’ll be focusing on arriving from Boston.
Provincetown does have an airport, Provincetown Municipal Airport, located at the end of Cape Cod. From the airport, it’s a short ten-minute drive to the center of Provincetown. If you’re looking to save money on flights, the cheaper option might be to fly into Boston and go from there.
If you choose to arrive from the Boston airport, you can rent a car from numerous agencies located at the airport. After comparing prices, I chose to rent a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which was a quick and easy transaction. Upon arriving at Enterprise (located on the second floor), you can get your paperwork for the car from an agent. However, if you rent your car ahead of time on the website, you can print your paperwork from the kiosk located in front of the Enterprise desk. Upon receiving your reservation paperwork, simply head to the third floor, hand your paperwork over to an agent, and he/she will escort you to your rental.
Upon leaving the airport, without traffic, it will take you about 2.5 hours to get down to the Cape. You’ll be driving south, and making your way east. Upon arrival to the Cape, you’ll head north to get to the very tip of Massachusetts, which is where Provincetown is located.
If you plan on visiting Provincetown from May through October, you can take a ferry from Boston. The Provincetown Fast Ferry runs seven days/week, round trip tickets costing approximately $100, however, prices vary depending on holidays and departure times. There is also an option to take the traditional ferry, running from July-October costing approximately $60 round trip. Seeing as Provincetown is a small coastal town it is very walkable, and parking is limited. The ferry might be your best option.
Where to Stay in Provincetown – The Benchmark Inn
Although small, there is no shortage of places to stay in Provincetown. Most popularly, you can find multiple bed and breakfast-style hotels to stay in. I chose to stay at the Benchmark Inn, a seven-room bed and breakfast standing since 1850. It’s owned and operated by two men from Sweden, and located right off of the main street, Commercial Street. The Benchmark Inn is a homey, cozy, and welcoming B&B. With fireplaces in each room, ocean views, and an open dining room set up, it’s perfect for a solo stay, or if you’re traveling with others. The Inn also serves daily continental breakfast and has parking available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Best Time to Visit Provincetown
When some people (like me) think of Cape Cod, they may things of the beach. While Provincetown is a beach destination, remember that Cape Cod is still in Massachusetts, and still gets all four seasons – winter, spring, summer, fall. During the “off” season, Provincetown is absolutely desolate. Most bars, shops, hotels, and restaurants close their doors for the winter. Instead of the lively, crowded beach town you get in the summer, Provincetown is more of a ghost town in the winter.
Come mid-April, shops begin to open again. On Memorial Day things really start to pick back up. But the real busy season is from the Fourth of July until Labor Day weekend. During this time each week will be themed. From “Bear Week” to “Carnival Week” there is always something going on in Provincetown. For a full list of events, look here.
How to Spend One Day in Provincetown – Restaurants & Things to See and Do
Once you arrive in Provincetown and check into your hotel (if you’re spending the night), head straight to the main street in town – Commercial Street. On Commercial Street you’ll find many boutique shops, bars, and restaurants. You’ll even find the town library and if you pop in you may just find a strange attraction on the second floor.
I also recommend walking down to the harbor amongst the boats and seeing Pilgrim Monument. For a lively lunch, eat at The Squealing Pig – where you can find simple, but great, bar food.
A town that was settled in 1620 by the Pilgrims coming to America on the Mayflower, Provincetown has expanded tremendously. Originally a fishing and whaling village, the Portuguese came to Provincetown to work on American ships. Since then it has become an art town and an LGBTQ haven. With one of the highest rates of same-sex couples in America. From what I know of spending one day in Provincetown, it’s the perfect friendly beach town, with an artistic vibe, and killer seafood. Spending just one day there, was well worth my time.