Photo Credit : Massachusetts Department of Travel & Tourism
There are few more entertaining destinations in the country than Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the height of summer, when this small coastal resort town’s population swells from about 3,000 to closer to 60,000. You can pass a day simply people-watching on Commercial Street, the three-mile-long living carnival of homes, shops, and humanity that runs parallel to Cape Cod Bay. But there are plenty of diversions to be found off the main drag, too, including many that take you into the spectacular land-and-sea-scape of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Ready to explore? Here are some of our favorite ways to spend a summer weekend in and around Provincetown. For even more travel inspiration, check out episode 10 in season three of Weekends with Yankee, in which we take an unforgettable ride into the dunes outside Provincetown with the only company permitted to give driving tours of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Plan Your Perfect Weekend in Provincetown, Massachusetts
5 Essential Things to Do in Provincetown, Massachusetts
At 252 feet, the Pilgrim Monument is the tallest granite monument in the country. Built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the landing of the Mayflower in 1620, Pilgrim Monument rewards those hearty enough to climb its 116 steps with panoramic views.
From April to November, humpbacks, finbacks, and minke whales frequent the feeding grounds at Stellwagen Bank, six miles out to sea from Provincetown. Get up close and personal with these gentle giants aboard one of the daily Dolphin Fleet boats out of Provincetown Harbor.
Founded in 1914, PAAM has weathered the storms of all the artistic “isms” of the modern era and continues to show the enduring and intriguing works in every style by painters and sculptors who found their inspiration on the Outer Cape.
Located at the very tip of Cape Cod, this is one of the nation’s best beaches, offering swaths of white sand and a historic lighthouse. But the real magic happens when the sun goes down: People arrive with blankets, and those with permits stoke bonfires, as they settle in for one of the best sunset views to be had on the East Coast.
Commanding panoramic views of Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean from its hilltop perch, this shingle-style mansion is close enough to the water that from its many decks and lookouts you can spot whales feeding offshore.
Tucked away on a leafy side street and featuring clean lines, a soothing white-on-white palette, and thoughtfully collected antiques, Salt House Inn is a handsome respite from the Commercial Street crush. On the lovely sun deck or in the shaded garden, you can tuck into daily breakfast treats such as homemade blueberry doughnuts.
Simple decor with retro touches is a reminder that this beachfront motel was originally built as a Holiday Inn. Rooms are set aside for pet owners, and various configurations, including connecting rooms, ease family sleeping arrangements. Bring sticks and marshmallows to toast at the firepit.
5 Restaurants to Try in Provincetown, Massachusetts
The lovely harborside deck at this New American bistro is perfect for dining alfresco on a summer day. Seafood is the star — from dayboat scallops to lobster sliders to pan-seared halibut, and even fish and chips — but don’t miss the creative cocktails.
A pared-down American bistro menu (seasonally changing selections, such as whole wood-grilled fish and sausage flatbread with grilled corn) makes the perfect dance partner for a well-chosen list of wines by the glass.
Devotees swear by these baked-from-scratch treats — cinnamon rolls, scones, pies, and more — and hearty sandwiches like the Ballston (rosemary ham, apple, bacon, cheddar, honey mustard) and the Herring Cove (roast beef, garlic herb spread, roasted red pepper).
Revered by local residents for staying open 363 nights of the year, this beachfront institution also happens to serve some of the best meals on Cape Cod. Choose from dishes that are refined but not fussy: wild mushroom ravioli, duck breast with pumpkin and mushroom risotto, gourmet burgers.