Provincetown, a.k.a. Ptown, has long been a favorite LGBTQ+ destination, a place famed for celebrating individuality and freedom of expression. Visitors are drawn to this remote Massachusetts town 60 miles out to sea at the tip of Cape Cod for its beautiful beaches, colorful LGBTQ+ festivals, and for its reputation as a safe haven for everyone.
The magical light that Provincetown is famed for is one reason that it emerged as an art colony more than a century ago, a creative refuge for artists as diverse as Hans Hoffman, Robert Motherwell, Max Ernst, and Jackson Pollock. The town gave birth to The Provincetown Players and became a summer haven for countless writers, among them Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, John Dos Passos, and Norman Mailer. Today it’s creatives like John Waters, Tony Kushner, Andrew Sullivan, and Michael Cunningham who call Provincetown home in the summer.
The hallmark of Provincetown is that it’s welcoming and inclusive, a haven for tourists and townies, weekenders and full-timers, gays and straights, singles and couples, families and friends. Many of them come for its extraordinary festivals, such as Provincetown Pride, Carnival, Bear Week, Girl Splash, Family Week, White Party, Holly Folly, and First Light, major events on the LGBTQ+ calendar.
The town is known for its quaint late 19th and early 20th-century shingle-style buildings, many of them housing charming guesthouses, boutique inns, and bed & breakfasts. On Commercial Street, the main thoroughfare, are gift and clothing and antique shops, ice cream shops, and a wide array of restaurants. There are 60 –plus galleries here in the oldest continuous art colony in the country. On Friday nights, many of them stay open late, as does the 100-year-old Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), which is free Friday nights and features exhibitions and workshops year-round.
Daytime means heading to Herring Cover Beach or Race Point Beach, renting a bike to explore the Provincelands Bike Trail, or signing up for a whale watch or exploring the towering sand dunes. Every summer evening, from 5 – 7, is the Tea Dance at the Boatslip Resort At night, there’s an array of drag shows, cabaret performances, dance, musicals and plays at The Provincetown Theater.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival. The Pilgrims landed here first before continuing on to nearby Plymouth. The Provincetown Museum chronicles the town’s maritime history and is housed in the tallest structure in town, the 252-foot tall Pilgrim Monument, which offers views across the Cape and as far as the Boston skyline.
A two-hour drive from Boston and five hours from New York by car, Provincetown can also be reached via Cape Air flights from Boston Logan and on scheduled 90-minute ferry service from downtown Boston.