Ptown Heats up the Summer
Story and images by Ed Salvato. Above: Chris shows his patriotism and pride at the Pier Dance.
Provincetown, Massachusetts -- the gay beach resort par excellence -- kicked off its peak summer season with its annual July 4th weekend activities. This is the weekend that's most popular with the New York City and Los Angeles party set. Town bar owners and event planners step up to the plate with a series of only-in-Provincetown parties.
David Flower's Summer Camp marked its 12th anniversary of July 4th celebrations with a raucous late-afternoon Pier Dance and a beautiful sunset party cruise on the old three-deck slow ferry that used to ply the waters between Boston and Provincetown in three hours (replaced mainly by 90-minute high-speed catamarans).
But it wasn't all fun and games for this intrepid travel writer. I took some time to investigate a few new venues. I wasn't able to conduct an exhaustive research of everything new and improved in Ptown this summer (which provides me a convenient excuse to return), but here are several noteworthy new venues.
If you're looking for an upscale, friendly, well-run guesthouse to call home while in town, check out the White Porch Inn. Lovingly restored by the affable owner Tom Shirk, the property retains the best of what makes New England so charming (picture white porch, natch, bunting for July 4, solid woods and wainscoting. Yet he's added all sorts of welcome modern touches like soundproof flooring (those old Ptown guesthouses can get kind of creaky), contemporary furnishings and a friendly beer/wine hour.
Joon Bar is a small wine bar on the second floor of the Pilgrim House above Vixen. Run by the lovely Audrey, it has become a favorite of locals, Boston holiday makers, and other visitors. Joon Bar offers a wide selection of wines. The owner is incredibly knowledgeable, and you can sample tastes, full glasses, or bottles of course. Joon Bar also offers small plates of food and cheeses, as well as a few beers, cognacs, spirits.
An incredible -- and not-yet-discovered -- new gem is Harbor Lounge located on a pier just to the east of the
center of town at 359 Commercial Street across from where Johnson Street meets Commercial. Tucked at the end of a long entrance, it's a little hard to find, which may explain its current lack of popularity but it's just a matter of time before this lovely lounge is discovered. The bar faces an open airy, comfortable lounge, which gives onto a long deck that stretches towards the water. (Right: Two cocktails enjoy the view from Harbor's deck.)
Aqua Bar, at 207 Commercial, is another new open-air bar at the rear of the food court in the Aquarium Mall in the center of town. This space used to consist only of a few picnic benches. Now it accommodates a full bar and snazzy new bar and picnic tables, new decking, and new fencing. The views are just quintessential Ptown: all fishing boats, wharves, and in the distance the Long Point Lighthouse.
You'll need some caffeine to recover from all this cocktailing. Check out Joe Coffee & Cafe for some Java and light sandwiches at its new, much expanded location at 170 Commercial Street. Joe was located in a tiny cottage a bit further west prior to this. While it has lost its intimate charm, it more than compensates with the vast people-watching deck.