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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 have the place to themselves a lot more 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 4,000 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 arrive or 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 Gale Force Bikes (among others) have rentals.
The Cape Cod RTA Provincetown Shuttle provides seasonal (May - September) 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, Cape Cod Online and Provincetown.com have listings too.
PTown.org is the gay-friendly website of the Provincetown Business Guild, with arts, services, dining, lodging and entertainment listings. The Provincetown Chamber of Commerce is another gay-friendly resource with lodgings, dining, shopping, art and entertainment tips.
The Women's Innkeepers of Provincetown website lists and links to their group of nine women's inns, plus upcoming events of interest and friendly local businesses.
See the Ptown Bears website for upcoming events for the guys and their friends.
The Mates Leather Weekend website covers their big September/October event, and also lists area events of interest to leather/ fetish men all year-round.
The Provincetown International Film Festival, with LGBT 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, and more, see our gay Provincetown 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.
In summer season things get booked up fast, so plan ahead. 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, along with the usual parking hassles. The up-side is cheaper, more flexible rates, and easier access to some amazing ocean-side National Seashore beaches.
Admiral's Landing B&B (158 Bradford St; 508-487-9665), central location near gallery district, with private bathrooms, fireplaces in most rooms, hot tub, homemade breakfasts, WiFi.
Aerie Guest House (184 Bradford St; 508-487-1197) and Aerie Beach Club (425 Commercial St), sterling guesthouse accommodations for any budget; Miller Hill rooms and luxury beachfront apartments, private decks, gardens, bikes, sweeping harbor beach vistas.
Anchor Inn Beach House (175 Commercial St; 508-487-0432), grand converted mansion on Captains' Row at waterfront, all amenities, private bayside beach, town center shops, bars, restaurants.
Atlantic Light Inn (11 Pearl St; 508-487-0302), six year-round guest rooms, private baths, fireplaces, hot tub; guest cottage, penthouse suite, breakfast, parking, private garden courtyard, easy walk to shops and scene. Former Black Pearl Inn.
Beaconlight Guest House (12 Winthrop St; 508-487 9603), luxury guesthouse, central location, large third floor roof decks, sophisticated and eclectic decor.
Benchmark Inn (6 Dyer St; 508-487-7440), Seven sunlit guestrooms plus penthouse, fireplaces, private entrances, all amenities, Jacuzzi, large deck, garden patio, vistas, full concierge, multilingual service, airport and pier transfer services.
Boatslip Beach Club (161 Commercial St; 508-487-1669), local gay icon 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 guest rooms, video library, 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.
Captain's House B&B (350-a Commercial St; 508-487-9353), affordable range of 12 guest rooms near beaches, just steps from Commercial Street nightlife, shops, galleries and restaurants; private deck.
Carl's Guest House (68 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, DVD library, WiFi, hospitality and charm, off-street parking.
Chicago House (6 Winslow Pl; 508-487-6212), cozy 3/4 Cape converted to guest house, six affordably priced guestrooms, private baths; living room has fireplace, large screen TV, VCR & DVD, and opens to a front porch.
Christopher's By The Bay (8 Johnson St; 508-487-9263), relaxed comfort, sophisticated elegance and style at the heart of P-town; cable TV, DVD player, plus breakfast in their sunny courtyard.
Crew's Quarters (198 Commercial St; 508-487-5900), guesthouse for "active-minded, energetic gay guys" at a prime location; 19 cabins, 3 communal bathrooms, 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, six popular gay bars and clubs, unsurpassed gay entertainment.
Crowne Pointe Inn & Spa (82 Bradford St; 508-487-6767), work of art renovated Sea Captain's estate house, open year-round, with luxury suites, fireplaces, two hot tubs on deck, restaurant, shoreline vistas.
Gallery Inn (3 Johnson St; 508-487-3010), low-key guesthouse and apartments, friendly vibe, central with water views, large sun deck, free parking.
The Gaslamp B&B (97 Bradford St; 508-487-6636), guesthouse Victorian gem, huge backyard deck, clothing optional hot tub, concierge services, parking, A/C, WiFI.
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.
Inn at 7 Central (7 Central St; 508 487-8855), plush carpets, mahogany decks, wind-shielded hot tub, thirteen guestrooms with baths and private exterior entrances; luxurious amenities and an international ambience. Formerly The Carriage House.
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 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.
Queen Vic Guest House (166 Commercial St; 508-487-8425), next to the Prince Albert, 9-room boutique hotel/inn B&B, cable TV, WiFi, large outdoor living area/ garden, afternoon cocktails, front patio overlooking the main drag.
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.
Salt House Inn (6 Conwell Street; 508-487-1911), 15-room Cape Cod B&B, rustic breakfast, WiFi, digital cable TV, parking.
Tucker Inn B&B (12 Center St; 508-487-0381), 1872 historic Victorian Cottage, amazing eclectic/international breakfasts, hot tub, garden, fireplaces, WiFi, Saturday cocktail parties; mostly gay/ straight-friendly.
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.
CLOSED: Ampersand Guest House (6 Cottage St); Enzo (186 Commercial St). Grotto restaurant and bar is now Local 186 for burgers and beer.
Check our lodgings map & listings section that includes locations and links to the above, along with twenty more accommodations options.
Bars and 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. See Show Girls here this summer each Monday, by the Gold Dust Orphans.
Boatslip Beach Club (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.
Harbor Lounge (359 Commercial St), gay/ mixed cocktail bar, big wrap-around windows overlooking pier and waterfront, comfortable leather couches, catered events.
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. Saturday nights 10pm-1am dancing for everyone.
Post Office Cafe & Cabaret (303 Commercial St), restaurant and cabaret, always popular with gay crowd for breakfast pancakes, omelets and eggs benedicts, lunch pizza, pastas, seafood, burgers and sandwiches; 10pm nightly risqué male dance performances; onstage comedy and drag shows.
Squealing Pig Pub & Oyster Bar (335 Commercial St), seafood, kababs, burgers, snacks, dinner entrees; Saturday night live music entertainment.
For locations and website links to all bars and restaurants, see our map & listings tab.
Theater and cinema
Provincetown Theater (238 Bradford St), professional and community theater; drama, musical and dance productions and festivals.
Waters Edge Cinema (237 Commercial St), year-round art house movie theater, digital cinema and sound, home of the Provincetown Film Society and Provincetown International Film Festival.
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.
Ceraldi (15 Kendrick, Wellfleet), local source 7-course prix-fixe waterfront culinary experience, tasting menu, open kitchen/dining; vegetarian and vegan options.
Edwidge Breakfast & Dinner (333 Commercial St), creative Contemporary American breakfast, brunch, dinner, or a bite; hand-crafted cocktails or a glass of wine.
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.
Front Street (230 Commercial St), expanisve Mediterranean-American fusion menu, Italian family treasures and discovered-by-travel recipes; big portions, good prices, delectable desserts, aperitifs, Award of Excellence wine list.
Grand Central (5 Masonic Place), across from Atlantic House, good basic meals, ample portions, exceptional service, indoor and outdoor seating.
Jimmy's Hideaway (179 Commercial St), innovative and affordable tavern cuisine, wide variety of starters and entrees, meat, seafood and vegetarian, plus Thursdays and Sundays tavern menu.
Karoo Restaurant (3 Main St, Eastham), South African cuisine Inspired by diverse European, African, and Indian recipes; traditional chicken, beef, and fish based dishes, plus vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free versions.
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.
Local 186 (186 Commercial St), custom bugers, many topping options, meat or vegan, sides, fried avocado, fresh root beer; cocktails.
Mews (429 Commercial St), seasonal brunch, year-round dinner menu of seafood, steaks, duck, chicken and vegetairan fare; bistro menu, 286 vodka selection. November - May Coffeehouse @ The Mews, open mic for writers, playwrights, poets, singers, songwriters, comedians, etc.
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.
Patio (328 Commercial St), daily lunch, full-time dinner schedule from Memorial Day; American grill and cocktail bar at the center for New England cuisine and cocktails.
Pepe's Wharf (371 Commercial St), waterside patio restaurant and bar at the center; raw bar, seafood, steaks, soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches.
Red Inn Restaurant (15 Commercial St), dining room overlooking the bay with seafood and seasonal fare in charming 3-room guesthouse; scenic views, multiple fireplaces. Restaurant reservations recommended up to six weeks in advance.
Spiritus Pizza (190 Commercial St), famous pizza slices of many toppings, premium ice cream and frappes, frisky late-night after-bars meet-up location.
Wired Puppy (379 Commercial St), gleaming specialty coffee and tea cafe, baked-goods, free wireless access.
See these and another dozen restaurant options at our map & listings pages.
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.
141 Bradford Natural Market (141 Bradford St), natural and organic market, bulk section, vegan and vegetarian meals, vitamins, homeopathic remedies, body care and household products including aromatherapy.
Beach Market and Galeforce Bicycle (144 Bradford St), grocery, deli sandwiches, bike rentals, services and repairs.
FK/ Full Kit Gear (192 Commercial St), leather, rubber, neoprene, skin and sports gear, open year-round; gallery and community space.
Mooncusser Tatoo (3 Standish St), mixed clientel, professional, fully-trained/licensed artists, summer guest artists, clean and 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. Online sales throughout USA.
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, reasonable prices, 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.