You have so many places to choose from in Cape Cod, but I dare you to drive right to the tip to Provincetown. It’s perfect for a weekend as it’s so small, but you won’t run out of things to do, especially with the history it has behind it. Welcome to Provincetown and your guide to what to see and do!
Built between 1907 and 1910, this building was erected to commemorate the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims on 21 November, 1620 in Provincetown (yep, they landed here first before moving on to Plymouth). Always one for a challenge and great views, walking up it was a must. Ok, so at 116 steps and 60 ramps, taking just 10 minutes, this doesn’t sound like much of a challenge. But I will admit, I was a little out of breath. It didn’t help that I kept reciting the cities and towns inscribed in the walls of the Monument (especially when they sounded funny or had an entirely different pronunciation to their phonetic spelling… I am an English Literature graduate after all). The views are worth it and there’s a tranquil stillness in the air up there. It just whistles through you, reminding you that it’s winter and chilly but conjuring the feeling of a summer breeze. The beach and ocean scene spanning out around you definitely helps, too.
On mine and Alan’s visit, we were lucky enough to see the Monument lit up (fittingly calling this event the Lighting of the Monument, taking place the eve of Thanksgiving) – lengths of fairy lights are draped like a tent is pitched, which I suppose makes sense. The Monument is like a tent, paying an homage to the first place the Pilgrims set up camp. They may have moved on but it’s their roots: their campsite they’ll never forget.
This is actually right at the base of the Monument where you buy your ticket to walk those
trecherous steps. I found this place fascinating. It’s funny how there are these far flung corners of the Earth and so many interesting and significant events happen there. The expeditions of the North Pole were something else here. I very much dislike taxidermy and interfering with nature, but there was something other worldly about seeing the very polar bear that explorers brought back. What these people saw at this point in time was so fresh to their eyes – we’re exposed to the media which shows us all these incredible images, and not only is it much cooler to witness with your own eyes, these explorers barely had any idea what it was they were witnessing.
We didn’t get to do this when we were there, short on time and it being winter. But there are some excellent bike trails on and off road in Provincetown that even though I can’t personally recommend, they look good. If you’ve been on one or will at some point, contact me about them, I’m intrigued (as I didn’t manage to do them!).
Race Point Beach / Herring Cove
It’s well worth finding a beach that frames the sunset and bringing a blanket to sit and appreciate. Although you definitely won’t be the only one, it’s nice to share the moment with everyone else. People are all taking pictures of each other and asking strangers to take pictures too; and you’re not annoyed by it because you’re all there for the same reason. It’s an odd feeling that everyone’s on the same wavelength. It’s sort of busy, but still peaceful, especially with the surrounding dunes – you feel entirely out in the wild.
The Lobster Pot
I’m essentially only saying this to raise the awareness that this is a seaside town, and there is good lobster to eat. The Lobster Pot looks like a retro diner from the outside, and whether that puts you off or tantalises you further, I definitely recommend it. Why would you not want your own lobster bib, anyway?
Walk Commercial Street
This will come as an obvious one for those who have been to Provincetown. Commercial Street (aptly named) is the main (and when I say ‘main’, I’m refraining from saying ‘only’) shopping/bar/restaurant street in Provincetown. You get everything from here from coffee to sex toys. It’s a quirky little place – for it’s name I want to dislike it, but it really is an interesting place to be, not just your boring, regular street trying its hardest to sell.
Have a picture with Bubbles the whale
There is absolutely no significant reason for this one. It made me smile when I did it, so maybe it will for you too. :)