If you think you know Provincetown, Massachusetts, think again! The gorgeous town is filled with rich history, fun museums, great dining and plenty of cool places to hang out. Here are the 10 best things to do in Provincetown, MA.
Last month, my teen daughter and I hit the road to Cape Cod. It was the first time for both of us and I was utterly excited at the list of things to do in the area. Most importantly, we really wanted to dig into the history of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the amazing American history it has to offer.
I couldn’t believe how such a small town could pack in such a big punch for both locals and visitors. Here are our favorite things to do in Provincetown and what you need to put on your short list when you visit.
Things to Do in Provincetown: Pay Homage to Provincetown Natives and Pilgrims
I know I mentioned earlier that we were big history Buffs and seeing all the American history each town has to offer is a big deal for us, so when we got the invite to visit Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum there was no way I was turning it down.
The first thing you’ll notice is the Giant, 252-ft. tall granite monument that’s been standing for over a hundred years in honor of the pilgrims. I know, most folks think that the pilgrims originally landed in Plymouth Rock, but the truth is that their first steps onto American soil were in Provincetown Massachusetts.
Not only is it gorgeously tall, we were able to climb 116 steps and 60 ramps to get to the top viewing area and, man, was it worth it! There’s a 360-degree view from the top and we could see everything from the water to the harbor to the sand dunes near the ocean. If you do climb clear it to the top, make sure to grab a special sticker at the admission desk to highlight your visit.
As for the museum section of PMPM, this year a brand new exhibit called “Our Story: The Complicated Relationship of the Indigenous Wampanoag and the Mayflower Pilgrims” debuted and it’s well worth a visit. Both interactive and accurate, the exhibit really delves into which side were the true savages.
During our visit, my daughter and I grabbed some headphones and sat and listened to each station’s story. Not only poignant, the stories were based on truth and are actually spoken by indigenous Wampanoag people. It really does put a new spin on the pilgrims.
Things to Do in Provincetown: Get Some Sand on Your Feet Via the Dunes
Until our visit I really didn’t know a ton about Provincetown. and up until this time that I actually got to take a tour of the city’s sand dunes, I had no idea just how gorgeous it would be. Art’s Dune Tours took us up and over and in and around the dunes while giving us a history of the area and how the dunes were formed and have changed over the years.
Our Sunset Tour included two and a half hours of gorgeous views. Before dinner we even had time to take off our shoes and dip our toes into the ocean which I couldn’t have asked for A more relaxing time. For the sunset tour, you can choose from a few different ways to enjoy it including having dinner made for you and even a bonfire at the end.
For us, it was super convenient to buy dinner ahead of time, pack it in a small cooler, and enjoy it right there on the beach.
Things to Do in Provincetown: Check Out the Spot Where the Pilgrims Actually Landed
I know I touched on this a little bit earlier, but in truth the pilgrims actually landed in Provincetown Massachusetts and not Plymouth Rock. Essentially, They only stayed in Provincetown for 5 and 1/2 weeks and, during that time, The Mayflower Compact was signed right on the boat!
So it’s only proper to stand on the place where the pilgrims actually hit soil on November 11, 1620, right? Right near Provincetown Inn (where we called home for three nights – highly recommend!), head to Pilgrims First Landing Park. you want to look for the large Stone with the small bronze plaque showing where the pilgrims stepped foot on American soil because it’s a cool place for a photo.
After you’ve stepped foot on Pilgrim soil, If The tide Is low you can walk out on the rocky walkway called Long Point near the water’s edge. There are plenty of water fowl and animals to spy so make sure to bring your camera or a set of binoculars to really make the walk worthwhile.
Things to Do in Provincetown: Head to the Coolest Alley Way in the City
In Downtown Provincetown, there’s an alley filled with kooky, quirky art and it’s a must-see when you visit, especially if you love modern art. Officially called the Bob Gasoi Original Art Gallery, Each inch of wall Is filled with creativity and beauty.
Things to Do in Provincetown: Watch a Mind-Blowing Sunrise
During our visit, I made it a point to wake up before the sun and head to the beach. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was only steps away from it. The view of the sun peeking out from the water combined with the harbor boats and birds was stunning in a way I could have never imagined.
I mean, I usually think of the South for gorgeous sunrises and sunsets (think Clearwater Beach) but the ones in Provincetown are simply beautiful, too.
Things to Do in Provincetown: Have Some Commercial Therapy
Sometimes, heading out and window shopping is pure retail therapy for me. And when I’m in a new city, picking up a few souvenirs is a must. If you’re like I am, Commercial Street is THE spot for browsing and buying. It’s filled with stores, art galleries, and mom and pop restaurants, making it one of the busier spots in town.
As for parking, there are a couple of pay lots around the boardwalk area and meter parking on the streets if you can find it.
Where to Eat in Provincetown
When I’m traveling, I want to dine at cool, local restaurants and do whatever I can to avoid the chains. Thankfully, the city has plenty of the former and none of the latter. Here are my top picks on where to eat in Provincetown.
Provincetown Brewing Co.
Such a cool place to grab a beer and food. Provincetown Brewing Co. is all about brewing delicious, creative beer (my husband loved the Crandaddy Sour) and giving back to the community. In fact, it’s so passionate about giving back, a portion of each product’s sales goes to worthy causes in the LGBTQ+ rights community.
PBC has both indoor and outdoor dining and it’s so laid back it’s nearly horizontal. Add in the fact the dining menu is pub food with a kick and it’s a place I’ll happy visit again.
THE spot for breakfast and brunch, the eclectic-styled cafe has a line out the door until it shuts off the griddle at 2pm. If you want a tip, go for the chicken and waffles. Personally, I’ve never had such fluffy, crispy Belgian waffles and I’m already itching to go back.
At Liz’s Cafe, it’s a no-frills type of dining and that’s perfectly awesome for me. Having written that, the atmosphere is cool and laid back and it’s a place the locals love, so you know it’s great food.
If I had to give an award for best view while dining in Provincetown, Fanizzi’s gets it. Heavy on the seafood dishes (as expected), the atmosphere is beach bar meets upscale, if that makes sense. But no worries if you’re not a seafood lover, they have chicken and salads, too.
Another popular hang for the locals, the view of the tide combined with residents’ homes and boats, is absolutely lovely. We sat by the window and I couldn’t take my eyes off the water.