Six Things to Do in Provincetown: Pilgrims to Whale Watching

Provincetown offers a unique culture and history from the first Mayflower Pilgrim landing to today’s vibrant gay population, whale watching, and seafood.

Provincetown, Massachusetts has its share of flamboyant people living and visiting there. There are also people with different hairstyles, tattoos covering the body, and unique choices of clothing like a cowboy hat, tighty-whities, and rollerskates.

It’s also known as a gay-friendly place. In addition to the large resident gay population, many others come to the area for events such as Gay Pride Week and Bear Week (big, burly, hairy gay men).

The street performers include a young teenager playing at saxophone to a mime painted in gold paint to a 78-year-old transvestite singing karaoke and “living his dream.”

Watch people watching people, and see the reactions some people have towards the more unusually turned-out individuals.

The Pilgrim Monument

Climb a series of 60 inclined ramps and 116 steps to the top of the 252-foot Pilgrim Monument for a great view of Provincetown. On clear days, Plymouth and the Boston skyline can be seen.

With construction finishing in 1910, the monument became the highest point on Cape Cod. The monument commemorates the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620 in Provincetown. They only stayed five weeks because the sandy ground was not fertile enough, but wrote the Mayflower Compact while there.

Eat Seafood

In a fishing town, seafood is always a must and there are so many places to go to. Try the Lobster Pot. The seating is a bit cozy, even crowded, but that gives an indication about what people think of the food. Try the Shellfish Algarve – shrimp, mussels, littlenecks, scallops, fish, and calamari, steamed in a delicate blend of olive oil, butter, garlic, bay leaf, and a hint of crushed red pepper; served over noodles. Also, try the broiled scallops.

There’s also a full bar, lots of drinks, and a view of the harbor. If you are not in the mood to sit down to eat, along the harbor there are pick-up windows to order some fast, delicious seafood. Don’t forget to try the clam chowder.

Commercial Street

An eclectic mix of bars and restaurants, houseware and home decor shops, art galleries, wine stores, clothing stores, and souvenir shops line Commercial Street. Governor Bradford’s is a bar/restaurant located in the center of town that has good food and at night usually has interesting entertainment from cross-dressing karaoke to drag queen shows.

Hocus Pocus specializes in all types of piercings and, in Provincetown, that means all types of piercings. There’s Himalayan Handcrafts and Chadwick’s of Provincetown who bill themselves as having a “fascinating and unusual collection of home décor, accessories, and antiques.” Then there are Cape Treasures that has nearly everything under the sun.

Go to the Beach

Basically, five beaches exist in Cape Cod. There’s Race Point Beach (Cape Cod National Seashore) on the Atlantic Ocean, a great view of the sunrise. Located on Provincetown’s West End, Breakwater (Provincetown Harbor) allows for hiking to the very tip of Cape Cod at Long Point Light House.

Herring Cove (Cape Cod National Seashore), located along the Massachusetts Bay side of Provincetown, has miles of sandy beaches and Town Beaches (Provincetown Harbor) extends along with the town. Enjoy the beaches and even rent a boat or kayak to explore. Be aware the waters around the town are sometimes strong – physically and aromatically.

Whale Watch

Try one of the whale watching tours. The Portuguese Princess gives three-hour tours that usually find whales. The boat leaves from Macmillan wharf in Provincetown. On their website, they say, “Because we work with whales in the wild, each trip is different. The special habitat we visit is the summer home to such species as the Humpback, Finback, and Minke whales. The North Atlantic Right Whale is one of the most endangered species in the world, and may be seen in and around the waters of Provincetown and Cape Cod Bay. Toothed varieties such as pilot whales, white-sided dolphins, and harbor porpoise are often seen as well.”

Additionally, if it’s hot on land, a trip to the ocean will cool everyone down. If you get seasick or car sick, Dramamine might be good to take before the voyage begins. On the trip, a knowledgeable marine biologist talks over a microphone about the whales and, when whales are in view, she acts as a spotter and directs people around the boat for the best view possible.

Then relax, put an arm around a loved one and check out the sea and the lighthouses on the way back.