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Provincetown Dos and Don'ts

Provincetown Dos and Don'ts

Provincetown Dos and Don'ts

Provincetown, the original gay destination. Often imitated, never duplicated.

Provincetown, Mass., the original gay destination. Often imitated, never duplicated. Whether you are a circuit boy, refined scholar, tree-hugging lesbian, or any combination of the above, P-Town has something for you. Here are some tips for first-time visitors and old pros alike. 

1. DO take the ferry. While driving the Cape is a beautiful experience, high season traffic makes it a crapshoot. You don’t need a car in P-Town, and honestly, we’d prefer it if you didn’t have one. The ferry is comfortable and it’s a quick shuttle ride from Logan Airport. BONUS: After two mimosas the idea of a ferry full of faeries is hilarious. Lead art courtesy of Flickr/Dylan.

2. DO plan your week. Provincetown has a multitude of themed weeks throughout the summer, and the feel of the town changes dramatically with each. Make sure to Google the schedule before booking. There’s nothing worse than planning a relaxing vacation and realizing you booked that B&B during Family Week. Bear Week is a notoriously good time, and Carnival is when the locals let their freak flags fly. Image courtesy, photo by Paul Specht.

3. DON’T take a queen’s picture without tipping. If you think standing in heels in a full sequined gown in 85-degree heat is something the fine ladies of P-Town do for fun, you are one diamond short of a tiara, honey! If you don’t have any cash on you, no problem. Walk right into the box office behind the lovely lady who is barking and buy a ticket to her show. (Pictured,:Dina Martina)

4. DO go see a show. Provincetown is a community of artists. The summer schedule features everything from Broadway stars to underground sensations. Hit Ryan Landry’s Showgirls Monday at the A House to start your week, Dykes of Hazard Wednesdays at Crown and Anchor, and then scour Provincetown magazine for weekend options. Jinkx Monsoon and Dina Martina are local favorites!

5. DON’T freak out when you see a celebrity. You can’t have shows without talent. Just recently, Neil Patrick Harris, Margaret Cho, and John Waters were all seen walking/biking on Commercial Street. Provincetown attracts amazing celebrities, so if that planter’s punch goes to your head and you beg for a photo, you will probably luck out. But try to resist, K?

6. DO go to Tea Dance! It’s notorious! It’s legendary! You just have to do it. Tourists and locals alike are ready to shake it by 4 p.m., and the Boatslip’s giant deck and breathtaking views make T-Dance a great time to check it out. If you aren’t a dancer, it’s still the best place for people-watching every day all summer long.

7. DO shop on Commercial Street. It's the main drag in town (see what I did there?), full of shops, restaurants, and galleries. If you’re looking for amazing art, start in the East End Gallery District and work your way west to the Marc Jacobs flagship store. Photo courtesy of

8. DON’T call it “Providencetown.” That’s not the name. As a matter of fact, you will get fewer sideways looks if you call it Providence, because at least that place really exists. If you’re unsure, just stick with P-Town. Photo courtesy of Meanwhile Back in Peoria.

9. DO get rid of that hangover at the Post Office Cafe. It has an amazing breakfast and, in my opinion, the best Bloody Mary in town. There is a great patio for people-watching, and the staff is friendly and professional. BONUS: While having breakfast, peruse the lineup of shows at Post Office Cabaret, which boasts legendary talent six nights a week.

10. DON’T fall off the wagon! Listen, we know that our people can toss ’em back with the best of them. But sometimes even the biggest party boy/girl decides to do other things with their time (and money, amirite?) Have no fear! P-Town has a vibrant and caring recovery community. Just so you know, we are about to get into the fun things you can do without drinking. I waited until now because I know sober people have more patience.

11. DO take a tour! In addition to having all its fun shows/parties/people, Provincetown is also one of the most beautiful places in the world, surrounded by miles of seashore. Mayflower Trolley (pictured) will give you a wonderful 45-minute tour of the seashore and the town’s natural beauty. Art’s Dune Tour will give you an up-close tour of the dunes, which are not only beautiful but do the important work of protecting our tiny little town.

12. DO rent a bike! Not only does P-Town offer miles and miles of trails twisting along the national seashore; bikes are also a great way to get to and from dinner and a show. DISCLAIMER: Commercial Street is a hotbed of pedestrians, cars, and bikes. Pay attention, keep it slow and steady, and you will be just fine.

13. DON’T worry about what anyone else thinks of you. P-Town celebrates individuality and diversity (this means straight people too). The most P-Town thing you can do is be yourself. Feel like wearing a tiara for no particular reason? This is the place to do it. Folks at home tell you that face painting is just for kids? Screw them. You are at the edge of the continent. Feel free to act like it. Photo via Flickr/Art N.

14. DO Get back to nature. Give your liver a break and spend some time unplugged. Race Point and Herring Cove beaches offer stunning views and questionable cell service — a perfect combination for any vacation. Stroll the breakwater to Long Point and watch for whales or seals, or head to Race Point for sunset over the water; it's one of the few places on the East Coast that offers this incredible view.

15. DO go whale watching! Provincetown sits very close to Stellwagen Bank, where humpback whales show up to eat every spring. This isn’t some tourist trap but a great opportunity to see some of earth’s most amazing creatures from just a few feet away. Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch has been offering this service for generations, so its people are extremely knowledgeable.

16. DON’T bug the locals. By locals, I mean the wildlife. P-Town is surrounded by protected lands. It’s not uncommon to see foxes, turtles, wild turkeys, seals, and many other creatures. Treat them like you would a celebrity — be in awe of their beauty and maybe take a discreet photo, but don’t approach or bother them.

17. DON’T complain about the price of taxis. The price is $7 per person in town, $8 if you are going to Herring Cove beach or the Pier, and $9 to the airport or Race Point Beach. That’s the price of a beer, so relax. Or walk. Unlike in other places, taxis in P-Town can’t charge based on distance because the community is only 17 square miles in size.

18. DO people-watch at Joe Coffee & Cafe while having a cup. The patio sits on a corner, and it is the place to watch the town go by as you begin your day. It features baked goods and sandwiches, which help soak up any poor decisions you might have made the night before. Also check out Kohi Coffee Company, which is known for its refined pour-over coffee experience. Try the New Orleans Iced cold brew; you won't regret it.

19. DO stop in at Far Land Provisions and grab a sandwich or some delicious baked goods to take to the beach; I've never had a better scone. No trip is complete without popping in to grab sustenance and chat with the friendly folks at the register. They make amazing cakes to celebrate weddings, birthdays, or any other occasion you might want to commemorate. Far Land concessions are also available at the stand at Herring Cove.

20. DO pamper yourself! There's yoga on the deck at the Boatslip, facials, waxing, and the best personal maintenance supplies at Kiss and Make Up, massage therapists, Reiki, stand-up paddleboard yoga — the list is endless. Take a day and give some goodness back to your mind and body. Photo courtesy Yoga Town.

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