It's hard not to love Provincetown. Perched at the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this charming seaside community is one of the world? most popular summer gay beach resorts. It?s easily reached from Boston by car, high-speed ferry or a lovely 20-minute flight via Cape Air.
By day, relax by the pool or hit the beach. Other activities include shopping, dune rides, nude sunbathing, whale watching, biking, and art gallery hopping. By night catch music, comedy, or cabaret acts by nationally known performers.
The scene less sexualized and more couples-oriented than Fire Island and P-town (as it is called) is very popular with lesbians as well as gay men.
With gay marriage legal in Massachusetts, P-town has is also popular with couples celebrating weddings or honeymoons. You can find also romantic isolation here, especially in the off season, settling into a quaint guesthouse with a good book and your lover.
With lodging options ranging from bare bones to ultra luxurious, there?s a guesthouse for every taste and budget. At the higher end you?ll find beautifully renovated historical properties packed with amenities ranging from indoor saunas to pools to private decks with drop-dead views.
Come with an appetite: In addition to the area?s seafood and Portuguese specialties, the town also offers plenty of stellar restaurants turning out creative food on par with some of the best restaurants in New England.
Have at least one meal at one of P-town?s best restaurants, like Ross? Grill, overlooking the bay; The Red Inn in its historical, romantic setting; or the Mews with eclectic Regional American fare. If it?s a nice day, just grab some gourmet take out at Angel Foods, hop on your bike and head to the beach.
While much of P-town's nightlife has been unchanged for years, the bars here continue to feel fresh and fun during the summer, with new visitors every night. Things get going early, running from T-dance which starts at 3pm until 1:00 a.m. when the bars and clubs close.
Women flock to the Pied after 9:30pm or head to Vixen. Open 365 days a year (and a gay bar since the ?50s), the Atlantic House, or A-House, is a complex of bars, a dance floor and cruisy outdoor spaces. The A-House has historic charm whereas the Crown & Anchor offers a more urbane and pulsating night with hot bartenders, great lightshow and an outdoor poolside scene.
After 1, the crowds migrate the street in front of Spiritus Pizza.
As far as entertainment goes, summertime also draws top-name gay and gay-popular performers, drag performers and DJs like Varla Jean Merman, Margaret Cho, and Patti LuPone.
Be sure to enjoy life outside the bars though: Rent a bike in town and hit the Cape Cod National Seashore's bicycle trails which cover some amazing terrain, pristine forests, the dramatic coast and ancient lighthouses. You may even spot whales from the shore.
The National Seashore Visitors Center (Race Point Road, 508-487-1256) offers a number of interesting ranger-led hikes (all free) that explore the Seashore's flora, fauna, and history.
A beach bonfire is one of the most romantic things to do in Provincetown. Get a free, first-come-first-serve beach fire permit at the visitor?s center. Buy something to grill, a thermos full of your beverage of choice, and your own firewood.
Walk along the famous breakwater, constructed of massive flat granite boulders stacked one atop the other, stretching across the bay created by the curvature of the Cape's tip.
Book a dune and dune shack trip with Art's Dune Tours. Climb the Pilgrim Monument which is the tallest all-granite structure in the U.S., built in 1910 and affording a 360-degree view from its stairway-accessed summit. The adjacent Provincetown Museum chronicles the town's history.
Herring Cove Beach is the most popular with the strand nearly evenly divided by lesbian and gay men. Race Point is more beautiful, wider and sandier than Herring Cove and is family friendly. There?s also a nude beach 1.5 miles from Race Point.
For such a small out-of-the way resort, there?s some unique shopping and culture available. You?ll find most of the shops, art galleries, book stores and unique boutiques along Commercial Street, the main strip running several miles from east to west through the center of town.
The town is at its busiest during the summer, with mid-June through September offering the best weather. But P-town is increasingly becoming a year-round resort, with more and more guesthouses, restaurants and stores staying open into or through the winter months welcoming gay and straight visitors.
P-town's annual gay and lesbian holiday festival, Holly Folly, is always the first weekend in December and locals claim it's one of the best events of the year.
Whenever you come to Provincetown, expect to be charmed. P-town is magical: a small New England fishing village forming the backdrop for one of the most diverse, integrated and vibrant gay and lesbian scenes in the country. You?ll definitely come back for more.