Things To Do in Provincetown
The Best Provincetown Attractions in Cape Cod
Provincetown is unlike anywhere else. Site of the Pilgrims’ first landing in 1620, the town is rich in history and culture. Located at the very tip of Cape Cod, it is home to the oldest artist colony in the country. This once thriving whaling port is now home to dozens of art galleries located along Commercial Street, as well as The Fine Arts Work Center and The Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Also located along Commercial Street are a variety of retail shops, restaurants, clubs and boutiques.
The town is renowned for its diversity and acceptance. It is a haven for the LGBTQ community and every summer it celebrates this with a variety of events culminating in the annual Carnival Festival in August.
For the outdoor enthusiast, almost three-quarters of Provincetown are protected and part of The Cape Cod National Seashore. Consisting of breathtaking beaches, paved bike paths and hiking trails, it offers something for everyone.
Whether you consider yourself an outdoor enthusiast or simply enjoy relaxing, there is never a shortage of things to do in Provincetown. We’ve compiled list of all the best things to do in Provincetown, from exploring the many beautiful beaches to enjoying a night out on the town.
If you haven’t already, be sure to download our FREE Provincetown Vacation Guide!
One of the town’s hidden jewels is the bike trails. Eight miles of paved trails weave through the dunes and Beech Forest with dramatic views of the ocean. You will also discover many hidden ponds in the valleys of the forest. There are many trails—you don’t have to do the entire eight miles. If you enjoy biking, this is not to be missed. This is also a great way to get to the beach. For bike rentals, check out Ptown Bikes.
There are two gyms in town:
- Mussel Beach – 35 Bradford Street, 508-487-0001
- Provincetown Gym – 81 Shank Painter Road, 508-487-2776
Treat yourself to a relaxing massage. Here are a few that we recommend:
Provincetown has two tennis clubs:
- Bissell Tennis Courts, 21 Bradford Street Ext., 508-487-9512
- Provincetown Tennis Club, 286 Bradford Street, 508-487-9574
Golf can be found nearby in Truro.
- Highland Golf Links, Highland Road, 508-487-9201
It has great views in the shadow of Highland Lighthouse.
If you arrived in town by air, you may have noticed that the town actually occupies a very small part of what is Provincetown. The National Seashore owns about three quarters of the land which is preserved and known as the Provincelands.
There are many trails to hike. The closest is a one-mile hike in the Beech Forest around a pond covered with water lilies. They have a parking lot just off Race Point Road. For the more adventuresome there’s a beautiful hike around Clapps Pond. This will take you about an hour at a brisk pace.
One of the best Provincetown attractions is the Dune Shakes. The Dune Shacks have a very special place in Provincetown’s history. After being abandoned for many decades, in the 1940s and 50s they became home to many writers and artists. At any rate, there are two ways you can see the shacks. First, you can hike out to them. It will take you about an hour each way. Bring water — on a warm day, the dunes can seem like the Sahara. Please respect the privacy of the current occupants. People still live there — that’s another story.
An easier way is to have an actual guided tour. Art’s Dune Tours will take you there in a van and tell you their complete history. I highly recommend the Sunset Tour. He stops on the beach and everyone hangs out and watches the sunset.
Speaking of sunsets…two places to go are Herring Cove beach to the right of the parking lot. You can also get a permit at Town Hall and barbeque on the beach. Another option is to go to “High Head” in Truro where you’ll see the sun set behind the Provincetown skyline. Just ask us for directions.
Art / Museums
Provincetown was established in 1899 as the first “plein air” art colony by the American Impressionist Charles Hawthorne. Today the art world flourishes with several art institutions and a thriving gallery scene as well as working art studios. The Provincetown Art Association and Museum recently opened their new wing. Friday nights, beginning around 7pm, the galleries host weekly openings. Here you can meet the artists at several wine and cheese parties. Galleries are open generally from about noon to about 11pm.
The Pilgrim Monument and Museum has an interesting collection of art, theater and overall Provincetown history. This year marks the centennial of the Monument. You can also climb to the top of the monument (mostly ramps and some stairs) for a great panoramic view of the tip of Cape Cod. You’ll find discount coupons in our brochure rack.
Theatre and Performing Arts
Provincetown has a long history in the world of theatre. The performing arts are is major Provincetown attractions for both locals and tourists alike. Eugene O’Neill wrote many of his early plays here. Tennessee Williams was living in a cottage near Beachpoint, putting the final touches on “A Streetcar Named Desire” when Marlon Brando hitchhiked to Ptown to read for the role. At the “Little Bar” at the Atlantic House, you’ll notice some photos from those days. Our new theater is now open with works performed by The Provincetown Theater Company and The Provincetown Repertory Theater year-round. Many independent plays are also produced at different venues around town.
You’ll find just about everything here from comics, drag shows, cabaret, plays and concerts. Some of the shows this year will include: Kate Clinton, Pam Ann, Judy Gold, Randy Roberts, Lea Delaria, Margaret Cho, Miss Richfield 1981, Suzanne Westenhoeffer, Varla Jean, Jimmy James and Ryan Landry’s Showgirls. Most shows are performed at The Crown & Anchor, The Art House, or The Provincetown Theater. Each year there are special concerts throughout the summer. Some of the entertainers who have performed during past seasons are; Jane Olivor, Lisa Lampanelli, Jennifer Holliday, Linda Eder, Bea Arthur, Elaine Stritch, Barbara Cook, Eartha Kitt, Michael Feinstein and Betty Buckley.
If none of the above interests you there’s always Shopping, a Movie or People Watching!