As we enter the final stretches of summer, it’s rapidly approaching ‘last call’ to start planning the last great escape of the summer. In an ever more homogenized world, there’s one place that stubbornly and proudly clings to its quirky queer side: Provincetown, Massachusetts.
The charming beach town has beckoned LGBTQ (and every other letter of the rainbow alphabet) for decades to its picturesque, safe and welcoming shores.
Here are five things — old and new — you simply must experience to know our favorite gay resort destination. This month’s issue includes the complete round up of P-town musts.
1. A natural (free!) water park.
Of course you’ll dunk in the water at the familiar gay Herring Cove or the more family-focused Race Point, but be sure to zip past Herring Cove on your bike and hit Hatches Harbor to float around the natural “river” created by the interaction between the tides and the dunes. Bring an inflatable to float around. Bonus: the water at Hatches Harbor is warmer than the ocean.
2. Go on safari (clambake included)
Art’s Dune Tours has been operating since 1946 taking thousands of visitors to Provincetown’s majestic, mysterious and misunderstood dunes which feature beautiful fauna and flora, rustic shacks (still available for rental) where writers like Eugene O’Neill drew inspiration, and the remains of the Peaked Hill Life Saving Station, with an incredible heroic history of saving lives. The sunset Land ‘n’ Sea tour with a fresh-caught seafood dinner, is well worth the splurge.
3. Consume calories for less
Let’s face it: P-Town is expensive, especially during high season. Here are a few less expensive options. The Canteen is as close as you can get to an old-fashioned New England lobster shack, though with a chic gay twist. Find amazing lobster rolls, clam chowder and other treats with perfect people-watching benches. Grab some dinner inside the Aquarium Marketplace (informally referred to as Aqua Bar which is the outdoor lounge area in the rear) and eat out at the end overlooking the ocean. The views are unparalleled and the Aqua Bar back there is fully stocked. Or raid sandwich shop Pop ‘n Dutch or market Perry’s and then bike out to Herring Cove or Race Point for a sunset picnic. Check out Friday at Stop ‘n Shop, with 2-for-1 rotisserie chicken if you are looking for a more budget-friendly stay and want to spend on other things.
4. Soak up contemporary art
Located in both a classic 19th-century clapboard house and a new contemporary wing designed by Machado Silvetti, Provincetown Art Association and Museum or PAAM, as it is known locally, is over 100 years old. With a collection of over 3,000 pieces, PAAM remains a professional association of over 700 artists.
5. Burn some green, too
For a tiny little beachside community, shopping in Provincetown is amazing. You will not find an H&M or Target (or a Starbucks for that matter), but you will find one-of-a-kind items at a number of nifty little boutiques. Our favorites are MAP with unique finds, extensive Levi’s collection and occasional discounts, located at 220 Commercial, and Yates & Kennedy for men’s clothing and fantastic home goods, located at 173 Commercial.
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Photo credits via Flickr Creative Commons unless otherwise specified: From top: 2. Pilgrim Monument by Joe (a.truestory); 1. Water Park by Benjamin Scott; Arts Dune Tour by Ray Forbes Photo; Canteen lobster roll by Matthew and Heather; 5. PAAM Museum by Mass. Office of Travel.