Following an endless winter with epic beautiful snowdrifts, Provincetown, Mass., is blooming as warmer days arrive and the town heats up for a spectacular summer season. While the coastal village at the tip of Cape Cod draws thousands of visitors year-round, many locals and loyal visitors will tell you: Provincetown simply is summertime.
Imagine a flawless late afternoon in mid July. The heat of the day has subsided, and a fresh, salty breeze is blowing through scrub pines and rustling the dune grasses. The dramatic sands of Cape Cod’s National Seashore begin to sparkle, and the blue waters of the Atlantic glint in the long light. It is a photographer’s dream come true, and you can live it.
Sunbathers at award-winning beaches like Race Point and Herring Cove – considered some of the best gay beaches in the world – either begin to pack up their things or set up for a sunset picnic or fire-lit clam bake along the shore. Bicyclists can be seen winding their way along magical trails through the dunes, where some of America’s greatest visual and literary artists like Jackson Pollock, Tennessee Williams, Norman Mailer and Eugene O’Neil, among others, found refuge and inspiration.
Back in town, Commercial Street is in full swing. This three-mile stretch of eclectic and upscale shops, renowned art galleries and world-class restaurants, welcomes diverse crowds from across the country and around the world, all drawn by Ptown’s unique personality and the promise of uninhibited fun and unforgettable memories.
As the pool parties and beachside lounges begin to quiet down, swimwear is left to dry for tomorrow and townies and visitors alike don whatever wardrobes they fancy for a night of eating and clubbing out in Ptown’s trendy and legendary bars and clubs. There’s something for every fetish and fantasy here, from raucous cabarets and risqué comedians, to live music and killer DJ’s that keep the dance floors gyrating, and in some clubs, optional clothes checks at the door. Bears and cubs, leather daddies and gear men mix with drag queens and performance artists amid the colored lights and intimate corners of Ptown’s seductive nightlife.
Before Ptown’s Second Summer gets swinging in September, there are memorable events not to miss: one of the East Coast’s best Independence Day parties on July 4th, Ptown Bear Week beginning on July 11, and Girl Splash from the 21-25. Those looking for a different kind of pulse-pounding experience can join the Outriders Boston to Providence Bike Race on June 20.
To cap things off, Carnival is the LGBTQ and community-wide event of the summer, full of flamboyance and a true celebration of individuality that rivals its counterparts in Rio and New Orleans. The origins of the word carnival are literally in the flesh, and Provincetown’s incarnation of this annual festival is a truly fantastic mélange of outrageous costumes and carnal desires. The parties and special events kick off on Saturday, Aug. 15, leading up to a massive parade Thursday, where homes and businesses are decked out along the parade route, a prelude to the fabulous festivities of the Carnival’s closeout weekend. Smart carnival-goers come early and stay late to take advantage of the multi-day events schedule voted the best festival on Cap Cod. It’s a costume zany week under this year’s theme, CANDYLAND!
Provincetown has always been a place of legends hiding out in a truly unpretentious place – and it still is – but it’s no longer only white clapboard houses and quaint seaside inns. The charm remains, but now there’s some swank and swagger rivaling grand destinations worldwide. Guests looking for accommodations will find a range of great options, from classic Cape guesthouses to chic boutique hotels and luxurious resorts with spacious suites and elegant amenities.
Restaurants have upped their game, too, with several new and ambitious entries offering up delicious twists on traditional Cape Cod fare. There’s a renewed focus on fresh, local ingredients and hometown talent, as Ptown’s chefs are beginning to make a name for themselves in the region. None of this, however, has taken away from Provincetown’s casual side, and Commercial Street can still boast some of New England’s best pizza parlors, sandwich shops, ice cream joints and cafés – perfect for a midday nosh, a late-night snack or the best cup of clam chowder on the Cape chased by fresh bean espresso at an open air cafe.
Finally, excitement is in the air this year as we approach Provincetown’s 2020 celebration of the 400th anniversary of the pilgrim’s first landing in Ptown. Plans are in the works to ensure Provincetown 2020 is the celebration of a lifetime. Some are surprised to learn that it is in Provincetown that the Pilgrims first set foot in the New Land and etched the Mayflower Compact. That history pervades a sense of welcoming and freedom, where diversity is celebrated as a great American asset.
Provincetown is the embodiment of summertime fun this year, the first and foremost destination for LGBTQ travel.
Make your plans now and be sure to be in that number for this year when the fun and adventure come marching in with summer.
For more information, please visit ptowntourism.com. And be sure to download the iPtown App, complete with a directory of town businesses and attractions, and a calendar of the year’s festivals events. Available on both iTunes and Google Play.