Fishing boats in Provincetown Harbor
Cape Cod’s most popular destination, Provincetown, is on the furthest tip of the peninsula and offers New Englanders and travelers alike a relaxing spot to refresh and recharge. A 90-minute ferry ride out to Provincetown provides a worthwhile, memorable day trip from Boston.
I arrived at the pier in Boston with just enough time to buy a ticket and savor a photo-worthy view of the Boston skyline. A refreshing sea breeze on the catamaran and a quiet spot on the deck where I could finish my paperback made the journey to the cape a pleasant one.
Once the ferry reached Provincetown, many visitors simply relaxed and wandered about the cosmopolitan town, exploring shops and restaurants. Others opted to rent a bike at Provincetown Bikes or Arnold’s Bike Shop. I chose to hike inland, preferring to explore Cape Cod’s natural scenery on foot.
Provincetown’s interior wilderness is refreshingly undeveloped and preserved as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. This reminded me somewhat of Catalina (although there are no bison in Provincetown). The trails and seashore make it a draw for visitors who appreciate the outdoors.
It took me longer than I expected but I hiked to the opposite side of the cape, passing through a beech forest to beautiful Race Point Beach. Along the way, I crossed by some huge, formidable-looking sand dunes. These dunes are an integral and fragile part of the ecosystem, and it's highly encouraged to take the trails around them rather than climb over them. It’s less work as well! Art’s Dune Tours can take you on a 4WD sunset tour of the dunes.
Once on the beach I relaxed and soaked in the rays of an unseasonably warm, sunny day. There are historic dune shacks scattered about where various writers have stayed and worked to the beat of a pounding surf – most notably Eugene O’Neill, who launched his career here. O’Neill’s plays show a love for the sea, but, judging by their dark tone, he most likely found greater inspiration from a dreary New England storm than from the gorgeous weather that accompanied me here. John Dos Passos, Norman Mailer and Jack Kerouac also later stayed in the shacks.
There are a variety of ways of getting around the peninsula. You can take a trolley tour, bike, or if you’re a walker like me, you can hoof it. Several trails for bikers and hikers wind through the area. Be aware of the schedule if you’re taking a same-day ferry back. I barely got back into town in time for the last ferry back to Boston.
The Provincetown Museum provides information on the proud history of the area. Provincetown dates back to the landing of the Pilgrims in the 1620s after a harrowing 63-day voyage from England. Pilgrim Monument greets the visitor to the cape and, should you desire, it’s possible to walk to the top of the monument. The annual lighting of the monument takes place around Thanksgiving each year.
The locals are proud of their artistic and cultural heritage. In the early 1900s, Provincetown was known as Greenwich Village North. It’s long been a draw for poets, artists and writers. The Provincetown Theater carries on the tradition of O’Neill with its fine productions.
In recent years, Provincetown has been a popular spot among the gay and lesbian community, and several festivals and events throughout the year celebrate this heritage.
Some other popular activities in Provincetown for the visitor to consider include the art galleries, a lighthouse tour at the Race Point Lighthouse and humpback-whale watching off McMillan’s Wharf.
As the locals proudly claim, “Every day is a gift in Provincetown.”