Once a sleepy Portuguese-speaking fishing village, Provincetown has reinvented itself over the years, first as an artists' colony and then as New England's gay playground. At the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is a favorite destination for gays from around the country, as well as around the world.
Quiet throughout the winter months, Provincetown's bustle returns at the end of May, when the crowds make their way to the seaside town for Memorial Day weekend. The height of the season is Carnival; an anything-goes festival in mid-August. The pace slackens after Labor Day, but the line- up of special weekends and bargain shopping draw visitors into the fall season. Winter here has its charm for those who prefer the peace and quiet of snowy sand dunes.
During the summer, Commercial Street is the place to be to watch the colorful parade of visitors who descend on this town, from drag queens dressed as Cher to gay men on the prowl to lesbian couples pushing strollers. The relaxed vibe is appealing to many straight families as well. However, they are most often day-trippers, meaning gay people pretty much have the place to themselves once the sun sets.
Provincetown might not be as wild as it once was, but there's still plenty of cruising on the street and in the dunes (keep an eye out for park rangers who regularly patrol the dunes). The benches at Town Hall Square have long been casual cruising grounds - there's even a webcam here. After the bars let out, people gather in the street in front of Spiritus Pizza for general revelry and last-minute hook-ups. The famous outdoor cruising spot, the 'Dick Dock' under the Boatslip's boardwalk, remains the late night place for anonymous thrills in the dark. Cops show up every now and then to shoo people away, but they regroup almost immediately. Check out Squirt.org for more on that.
This small town is only three miles in length, and just a few streets wide. Beckoning nearby are 4000 acres of rolling sand dunes, pine forest, freshwater ponds, and 30 miles of beach. For beach information see our events & experiences/ beaches tab.
Driving is a bad idea. Traffic backs up at the bridges, and the stretch of highway on the Cape is congested all summer, no matter when you leave. Also, parking is a headache once you arrive.
Walking and biking are the best ways to get around, and few drivers will attempt these narrow streets thronged with pedestrians and cyclists, after the first try. Park your car at your hotel and join them. Ptown Bikes and Galeforce Bikes (among others) have rentals.
The Cape Cod RTA Provincetown Shuttle provides seasonal (May 25 - September 23) bus service between Provincetown and the Province Lands Visitor Center, Herring Cove Beach, North Truro, the Provincetown Airport, Race Point, and the Plymouth & Brockton Bus Stop at Dutra's Market. Also you may flag the bus down anywhere along the bus route. The fare is $2, or buy a $6 day pass. Buses have bike racks, but space is limited. See the website for a route map and daily schedules.
It’s easy to figure out the lay of the land. Commercial Street is the mostly pedestrian thoroughfare that runs the length of Provincetown. Bradford Street, running parallel, is dominated by cars. From MacMillan Wharf, the central pier where the ferries dock, the town is divided into the East End and the West End.
East End. Dozens of art galleries line Commercial Street as it runs through the East End. It tends to be a bit quieter here, so many people pick guest houses in this part of town.
Center to West End. This is the heart of the gay scene, and it’s packed with men from early morning to late at night. Most of the bars and clubs are located at the center, as are the biggest hotels. In the West End a more tranquil scene prevails, with easy access to both downtown and the gayest beaches.
Local Media & resources
The local newspaper, the Provincetown Banner has plenty of news about the town’s gay community. It also lists arts events. The Cape Cod Times covers news of the wider local region, with events listings and reviews. Provincetown Magazine is another informative and entertaining read.
PTown.org is the gay-friendly website of the Provincetown Business Guild, with arts, services, dining, lodging and entertainment listings.
See the Ptown Bears website for upcoming events for the guys and their friends.
The Mates Leather Weekend website lists area events of interest to leather/ fetish men all year-round.
The Provincetown International Film Festival, with GLBT films on the schedule, takes place each June.
Fantasia Fair, is a week-long celebration of gender diversity, the longest-running annual event in the transgender world, each October.
For locations and website links to businesses listed below, see our Provincetown gay map & listings pages.
Provincetown's many guesthouses and inns cater to visitors of every budget. From simple rooms to cottages to whole houses, there are many options. Most are open mid-April to late October, but many have joined a growing trend of staying open year-round. Most have refrigerators and internet access; some have kitchens, fireplaces, and rooftop sun decks. A three to five-night minimum stay may be required during high season. Some places will arrange transport to/from the airport and ferry pier. The town is small enough to walk or bike anywhere once you're settled into your hotel.
If you have trouble finding a room at the center, try larger family-oriented motels at the eastern edge of town on Alt. Rt. 6, or those along Rt. 6 in Truro or Wellfleet. This will require driving into town for nightlife and restaurants, and the usual parking hassles. The up-side is cheaper, more flexible rates, and easier access to the amazing Ocean-side National Seashore beaches.
Admiral's Landing B&B (158 Bradford St; 508-487-9665) central location with private bathrooms, fireplaces in most rooms, hot tub, WiFi, near gallery district.
Aerie Guest House (184 Bradford St; 508-487-1197) and Aerie Beach Club (425 Commercial St) provide sterling guesthouse accommodations for any budget, Miller Hill rooms and luxury beachfront apartments, private decks, gardens, sweeping harbor beach vistas.
Ampersand Guest House (6 Cottage St; 508-487-0959) suites, rooms and studio apartment, private bathrooms, private sun deck, water views, secluded English garden, tranquil West End location.
Anchor Inn Beach House (175 Commercial St; 508-487-0432) grand converted mansion on Captains' Row, all amenities, private bayside beach, town center shops, bars, restaurants.
Archer Inn (26 Bradford St; 508-487-2529), tranquil West End year-round rooms, hilltop views, Art Deco style, fireplaces, hot tub, movie DVD library, short walk to center.
Beaconlight Guest House (12 Winthrop St; 508-487 9603) luxury guesthouse, central location, sophisticated and eclectic decor.
Benchmark Inn (6 Dyer St; 508-487-7440) seven rooms, fireplaces, private entrances, all amenities, Jacuzzi, large deck, garden patio, vistas, full concierge, airport and pier transfer services.
Black Pearl Inn (11 & 18 Pearl St; 508-487-0302), year-round rooms, private baths, fireplaces, hot tub, breakfast, parking, easy walk to shops and scene, German and Spanish spoken.
Boatslip Resort (161 Commercial St; 508-487-1669) local gay institution at the heart of the action, huge bayside deck and pool home to the famous Tea Dance; choice of lively Commercial Street or waterfront views.
Bradford Carver House (70 Bradford St; 508-487-0728) relaxed and friendly vibe, comfortable cozy rooms, some with fireplaces and/or private entrance, at the heart of everything.
Brass Key Guesthouse (67 Bradford St; 508-487-9005) spacious complex, high-end accommodations, two pools with decks and lounge, gardens, plenty of sunning space, on-site spa for massage and facials, Shipwreck Lounge bar.
Carl's Guest House (64 Bradford St; 508-487-1650) 14 comfortable, reasonably priced rooms with all amenities and private baths, common room for TV, reading, and mixing, plus clothing-optional private sundeck.
Carpe Diem (12 Johnson St; 508-487- 4242) private back patio with hot tub, bay views, handsome location, quiet atmosphere, French and German style, hospitality and charm.
Carriage House (7 Central St; 508 487-8855) plush carpets, mahogany decks, wind-shielded hot tub, luxurious amenities and an international ambience.
Christopher's By The Bay (8 Johnson St; 508-487-9263) relaxed comfort, sophisticated elegance and style at the heart of P-town, plus breakfast in their sunny courtyard.
Crew's Quarters (198 Commercial St), cabins, shared baths, six common rooms, bar/lounge, breakfast, fireplace, porch/deck, water view.
Crown and Anchor (247 Commercial St; 508-487-1430) plush rooms and suites, cruisy harbor-side heated pool and deck, restaurant, popular bars and clubs, unsurpassed gay entertainment.
Crowne Pointe Inn & Spa (82 Bradford St; 508-487-6767) a work of art renovated Sea Captain's estate house, open year-round, with luxury suites, fireplaces, two hot tubs on deck, restaurant, shoreline vistas.
Enzo (186 Commercial St; 508-4876-7555) West End location, five luxurious rooms, restaurant and bar; wake to fresh pastries, fruit and coffee, Grotta Bar.
Gallery Inn (3 Johnson St; 508-487-3010) low-key guesthouse and apartments, friendly vibe, central with water views, large sun deck, free parking.
Gifford House (9 Carver St; 508-487-0688) 140-year-old classic, wooden stairs and grand lobby, spacious rooms with private baths, water views, piano bar, breakfast all-day restaurant, basement men's leather/cruise dance club.
Grand View Inn (4 Conant St; 508-487-9193) Victorian-era captain's house at center of town, with panoramic views from two decks, moderately priced year-round, pet-friendly and parking available.
John Randall House (140 Bradford St; 508-487-3533) Victorian-style charm at town center, fresh-baked breakfast muffins and breads, fireplace, garden, enclosed porch and deck.
Moffett House (296a Commercial St; 508-487-6615) ten rooms tucked off a private path at center of town, complimentary bikes, sociable common room, in-room internet access, ac, entertainment and fridge.
Prince Albert Guest House (164-166 Commercial St; 508-487-1850) large stately rooms on the main drag, private baths, in-room amenities, courtyards, gardens, private rear sunning patio with hot tub, water views.
Revere Guest House (14 Court St; 508-487-2292) private bathrooms, secluded back garden and patio, home-baked breakfast, common room for music, reading or socializing.
Seasons (160 Bradford St; 508 487-2283) restored stately 1860s captain's home, full gourmet breakfast, rooms with AC, WiFi and media devices, garden patio, free airport and ferry pickup.
Victoria House (5 Standish St; 508-487-4455) private baths and private entrance rooms, steps from restaurants, shops, and beach; breakfast, garden patio bathed with scent of ocean breezes.
The Waterford Inn (386 Commercial St; 508-487-6400) beautiful restored 19th-century home, the former Commons Inn, all rooms with private baths, many with decks; gourmet breakfast served from their restaurant (see below).
Watership Inn (7 Winthrop St; 508-487-0094) fifteen vintage rooms and apartments, all efficiencies, free parking; afternoon sun bathed front porch, yard for barbecue and volleyball, large common room with fire in cooler months.
West End Inn (44 Commercial St; 508-487-9555), four cozy guestrooms, plus three apartments, one a whole floor with private deck; stylish but relaxed, located in the quieter West End close to beaches.
White Porch Inn (7 Johnson St; 508- 487-0592) central boutique hotel with nine rooms, private baths, WiFi, some with views of bay, fireplaces, spa tubs; common-room kitchen, living room and porch overlooking the water.
White Wind (174 Commercial St; 508 487-1526) grand Victorian mansion with great veranda for people watching at busy central location; balcony rooms, some with fireplaces, water or street views, open all year.
Check our lodgings map & listings section for locations and links to the above, and twenty more accommodations options.
Bars & clubs
Provincetown isn’t lacking when it comes to nightlife. There’s everything from open-air lounges to underground leather bars to sprawling dance clubs. Everything closes at 1am, so don’t plan on making your grand entrance too late.
Aqua Bar (207 Commercial St), breezy waterfront patio deck bar at the center, pleasant sea views, special cocktails, relaxed atmosphere, mixed crowd.
Atlantic House (8 Masonic Pl), aka A-House, P-town's favorite gay club for over 25 years. Three bars: dance every night; relax day and night from noon in the Little Bar (with cozy fireplace in cooler months); or cruise the leather/Levi Macho Bar upstairs, seven nights a week.
Boatslip Resort (161 Commercial St), home of "world's most famous tea dance," bayside setting, poolside deck and grill. Bouy Bar here, open daily 4-7pm.
Club Purgatory (Gifford House Inn, 9-11 Carver St) basement dance club, very popular Sunday nights with manly leather cruise crowd.
Governor Bradford Restaurant (312 Commercial St) historic wooden building, busy corner, drag karaoke every night.
Monkey Bar (149 Commercial St), small video bar in the West End, creative cocktails, Asian food menu.
Paramount at Crown and Anchor (247 Commercial St) bayside bar complex, dance club with top DJs, video bar, and cabaret with leading drag entertainers, comedians, singers, and theatrical productions.
Pied Bar (193a Commercial St) bayside bar, men come for the daily After Tea Dance from 6:30pm; mostly women at After Dark in the later hours.
Porchside Bar & Lobby Bar at Gifford House (9-11 Carver St) poolside lounge, small and casual piano bar, friendly weekend crowd throughout the summer months, plus weekends in spring and fall.
Purgatory at Gifford House (9-11 Carver St), cozy basement dance club, Sunday leather nights.
Post Office Cafe & Cabaret (303 Commercial St) restaurant and cabaret, always popular with gay crowd, and packed for Sunday brunch.
Shipwreck Lounge at Brass Key (10 Carver St), chic lounge bar in guesthouse, cozy fireplace, easy conversation.
Vault at Crown and Anchor (247 Commercial St) leather, bear and uniform bar, open year-round, and party-central during Summer Bear Week and Mates Leather Weekend (see events below).
Wave at Crown and Anchor (247 Commercial St) sports bar with big screen and a dozen other monitors; poolside bar in summer months, pool games by the cozy fireplace during off-season
For locations and website links to all bars and restaurants, see our map & listings tab.
Restaurants & Food
Provincetown has a great selection of restaurants, many with harbor-side dining. Most fast-food chains are banned from the center, so each eatery has its own individual style.
141 Bradford Natural Market (141 Bradford St) natural and organic food, produce, fresh baked goods, and specialty groceries.
Bayside Betsy's (177 Commercial St) popular waterfront restaurant and bar serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Bubala's By The Bay (183-185 Commercial St) fun entertainment, tasty homemade food, breakfast through dinner, street-side seating to see and be seen.
CastAways at Gifford House (11 Carver St), full breakfast/ lunch 7am-5pm, sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, soups, salads, shakes, smoothies.
Enzo (186 Commercial St) classic Italian, fresh seafood, good wine list; the Grotta Bar below has ambience of an old speakeasy.
Fanizzi's By The Sea (539 Commercial St) eclectic menu, burgers to elegant entrees, relaxed ambience for lunch or dinner, low-pressure service, nice harbor views from windows lining the walls.
Far Land Provisions (150 Bradford St) groceries, deli and bakery for omnivores and vegetarians alike, with soups, made-to-order sandwiches and snacks to go.
Grand Central (5 Masonic Place) across from Atlantic House bar, good basic meals, ample portions and exceptional service.
Jimmy's Hideaway (179 Commercial St) affordable innovative tavern cuisine with wide variety of starters and entrees, meat, fish and vegetarian.
Lobster Pot (321 Commercial St) harbor-side waterfront seafood restaurant specializing in lobster, with retail fish market on the street side. Also serves steak, poultry, Portuguese specialties and vegetarian meals.
Napi's (7 Freeman St) 'Provincetown's most unusual restaurant,' set on winding flower-lined back street, amidst artworks and stained glass; fine seafood, international and vegetarian cuisine. Open year-round
Red Inn (15 Commercial St) charming guesthouse dining room with fireplace overlooking the bay; seafood and seasonal fare, reservations recommended (up to six weeks in advance).
Sal's Place (99 Commercial St) fine, authentic southern Italian restaurant on the bay, popular with locals; outdoor dining beneath vine arbor, nightly dining April to October.
Spiritus Pizza (190 Commercial St) famous pizza slices of many toppings, premium ice cream and frappes, frisky late-night after-bars spot to stop awhile.
Waterford Cafe (386 Commercial St) open year-round with fresh local seafood, wood-fired pizza, savory meants to gourmet vegetarian selections, casual lunch through late-night dining
Shopping & services
Commercial Street is one long shopping strip, with galleries clustered in the East End and T-shirt shops, swimsuit boutiques, and antique stores in the West End.
FK/ Full Kit Gear (192 Commercial St), leather, rubber, neoprene, skin and sports gear, open year-round; gallery and community space.
MG Leather (338 Commercial St) leather goods and accessories, selection of adult products.
Mooncusser Tatoo (3 Standish St), mixed clientel, professional, fully-trained/licensed artists, summer guests, clean/comfortable shop, favorite during Mates Leather Weekend.
Mussel Beach (35 Bradford St) gym for buff boys and girls; full workout facilities and personal trainers, plus tanning, sauna and showers.
Provincetown Fudge Factory (210 Commercial St) hand-crafted, small batch "butter creme fudge" using real chocolate liqour and fresh dairy products, since 1984.
Provincetown Gym (81 Shank Painter Rd) full-service gym, yoga and aerobics classes, exercise and fitness programs.
Ptown Bikes (42 Bradford Street) Quality bike rentals, comprehensive stock, experienced staff and repairs.
West End Salon (155 Commercial St) total spa for body and soul, latest equipment, innovative techniques; hair cuts, coloring, scalp care, body massage, facials.
Wired Puppy (379 Commercial St) gleaming specialty coffee and tea cafe with free wireless access.
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