Provincetown Gears Up for Summer 2012
Now that Boston Pride is over, it’s time to start looking for your fun a little bit further south. Not too far, though, because Provincetown is just a short ferry ride or drive away.
Located at the tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, P-town, as it’s commonly referred to, has become a massive travel destination for the gay community because of it’s atmosphere of acceptance and a diverse range of gay-friendly hotels, restaurants, shops and of course, nightlife.
Here, it’s Pride Week every week. Almost each weekend has some major celebration from Bear Week in mid-July to Carnival in August and the Women & Men of Color weekends.
Starting on Wednesday, June 13 and playing through Sunday, movie buffs will have the chance to celebrate cinema at the 2012 Provincetown International Film Festival. Besides screenings, interactive events like an opening ceremony and the "Breakfast With..." series, which allows members of the public to meet the filmmakers.
In addition, on Friday, a poolside chat will be held at the 8 Dyer Inn, one of Provincetown’s famous boutique hotels.
Timothy Brown and his partner, Frank, opened the inn almost two years ago and have seen much success since day one. It helps that they’ve taken a different approach than similar accommodations in the area.
"B&Bs are thought of as arsenic and old lace," says Brown. "We are completely the opposite. Completely contemporary; a back wall in the hotel is complete glass. It’s very unusual for Provincetown."
The 8 Dyer Inn, which is named after its location on a street of the same name, has seven rooms, making it small but completely focused on the guests, according to Brown. "We have a very customized service," the owner says. "From creating a social setting to complete isolation, we cater to our guests’ needs and give them what they’re looking for while they’re in P-town."
Another fun fact about the inn is the property’s honeycombs. The bees are kept far, far away from the guests, but produce up to 40 lbs. of honey that is used at breakfast every morning.
Other famous properties like the Crown and Anchor Inn offer a louder setting for guests looking to party it up in one of the resort’s many bars and clubs. The Boatslip Resort offers a tea dance every Sunday that is open to the public, not just the hotel guests.
On Commercial Street (and small side roads) is where travelers can find places to eat, shop and dance (and then some). Places like the A-House and the Paramount offer a place to enjoy the summer’s hottest music. Smaller bars, sprinkled along the street, provide a more social setting than the thumping bass of dance clubs.
Carnival Week, always a big event, will take place August 12-17 this year. The theme is "P-town: A Space Odyssey," so dress in your most fabulous (or outlandish) sci-fi gear. The festivities include pool parties, concerts and a giant parade that always entertains. For info and tickets, visit http://www.ptown.org/Carnival.asp.
Travelers should also make sure they take advantage of the Cape Cod Transit Authority shuttle, which makes getting to the gorgeous beaches on the Cape Cod National Seashore much easier. While the beaches in downtown Provincetown are worthy of a day in the sun, Race Point and Herring Cove are beautiful beyond words and two of the top must-sees in the area.
Also worth visiting are the town’s many art galleries peppering Commercial Street. From landscape paintings to contemporary masterpieces, there’s no shortage of fascinating artwork in the dozens of shops in Provincetown.
Of course, walking into one of the several "toy" stores is an eye-opening experience as well.
And while Provincetown does have a reputation for being naughty, the town’s organizers have successfully transitioned that image into a more family-friendly one over the past few years.
Family Pride Week, held July 28-August 4, celebrates same-sex couples raising children. While the events are tailored to LGBT couples, the events are open to everyone.
Perhaps the most exciting event this year, however, is the arrival of the great Broadway legend, Patti LuPone over the Fourth of July holiday. She’ll perform on July 4-5 at the Art House on Commercial Street. Famous for her renditions of "Don’t Cry for Me Argentina" and "Rose’s Turn," LuPone has been a gay icon for decades.
Provincetown is located at the tip of Cape Cod, which means there’s only one main road in and one road out. From New York and points south, take Interstate 95 to Providence, Rhode Island, and continue onto Interstate 195. This highway takes drivers to the start of the Cape and connects them with Route 6, the main road in and out of Provincetown. From New York City, it’s a 5-and-a-half hour drive.
To experience the ferry, take the Amtrak to Boston’s South Station. From Boston Harbor, travelers can use Boston Harbor Cruises or the Bay State Cruise Company. From Beantown the ride is about 90 minutes.
Cape Air offers daily flights to Provincetown’s Airport from Logan International Airport in Boston. The flight is only 20 minutes and a taxi ride to the center of P-town from the airport costs about $7.
New Yorkers can also take a Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Company, a bus to Hyannis that connects with a local Cape bus to Ptown.
The Cape Code Regional Transit Authority runs a shuttle bus between P-town and the neighboring town of Truro. There are several pick-up/drop-off points along the route, but passengers can flag the bus down anywhere they see the shuttle. Buses run every 30 minutes during the summer season until 12:45 a.m., seven days a week (weekends only until June 17, 2011).
Besides the local shuttle service, there are three main taxi companies: Mercedes Cab, 508-487-TAXI or 508-487-3333); Black & White Taxi, 508-487-7800; and Cape Cab Taxi, 508-487-2222. They all offer friendly drivers and great rates.
For something a little more unique, consider hailing the Funk Mobile, 508-487-0111, a karaoke cabbie that drives around P-town. Rates are a little higher, but all of the company’s fleet have superior sound systems and passengers can choose what they want to listen to (and sing to) during their ride.
But the best way to get around is by bike. Being a seacoast town the topography is fairly even, and most hills in the central town are doable. It’s very easy to get to the beach. And you don’t have to worry about finding a parking space. Check online for one of the several local bike rental shops.
Where to Stay
Whether it’s a quaint bed & breakfast, a modern boutique hotel or a waterfront seaside cottage vacation rental, Provincetown has several options for accommodations. Make sure to book a room in advance during the height of summer, as many hotels fill up fast, especially during the holidays.
Prices are comparable between hotel rooms and vacation rentals on the weekend, but a weeklong stay at a house is likely to be cheaper than a weeklong stay at a downtown motel.
This female-owned B&B is one of the most raved-about guesthouses in Provincetown. With a secluded hot tub in the backyard and a patio that’s great for people-watching on Commercial Street, there’s something for everyone here. Travelers who arrive via ferry or plane can arrange free pick-up and drop-off transportation to the property.
Home of P-town’s famous afternoon tea dance, the Boatslip is one of the most popular destinations for gay travelers. Many of the rooms face the water and guests get complimentary entry to the tea dances, held daily. Don’t forget that skimpy bathing suit, which is sure to draw attention from the predominately gay clientele.
The Brass Key Guesthouse
These accommodations define luxury in Provincetown, providing guests with free Wi-Fi, complimentary poolside drinks, an award-winning infinity pool and a romantic atmosphere. Set among nine guesthouses, the property is breathtaking and relaxing. It’s perfect for couples who have the extra money to spend on a lavish getaway.
Crown & Anchor Inn
If you want to step outside into a party full of hot men, this is the place. Located smack dab in the heart of town, there’s always something going on.
The Outermost Hostel
Since P-town is an all-inclusive destination, accommodations are available for any wallet size. This quaint dormitory-style property is just north of Commercial Street and offers rooms for as low as $35 per night. Prepare to party with other travelers, as the environment encourages mingling (and hooking up).
The Ranch Guesthouse
This men-only guesthouse has some of the rowdiest accommodations thanks to its prime real estate in the midst of P-town’s nightlife scene. Rooms don’t have a bathroom; guests have to share, but that’s all part of the soapy fun.
The White Porch Inn
This gay-friendly B&B is located downtown and offers nine beautiful guestrooms from which to choose. The design aesthetic is contemporary but never lets travelers forget they’re on a beach vacation. Many of the rooms have their own fireplaces, hot tubs and water views of the harbor.
The best way to find a vacation home is online or through a real estate agent. Nowadays, many homeowners put listings on Craigslist or websites like that of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce.
The listings above are only a small sampling of the accommodations available in P-town. For a comprehensive list, visit the local Chamber of Commerce, which also lists last-minute availabilities.
Where to Party
Commercial Street and the surrounding side alleys are where P-town’s nightlife can be found. There’s no direct cruising scene, but with so many bars and clubs in such a small space, it’s nearly impossible to go home empty-handed.
The A-House: This club might be small, but it’s always packed and playing the hottest hits of the summer. Resident DJ David LaSalle has become a household institution here thanks to his ability to get partiers up and dancing late into the night. An outside patio area is great for cruising or getting some fresh air. There’s a leather/daddy bar upstairs, as well.
Boatslip Resort: Held every day from 4-7 p.m., the "World Famous Tea Dance" is one of Provincetown’s most popular parties. It’s not hard to see why: hot guys with washboard abs, a steady flow of alcohol and sunshine make this a great way to start the night a little early.
Paramount: Here, guests will encounter P-town’s biggest dance floor. City dwellers will feel right at home thanks to the thumping bass and laser show that takes place as they get their groove on.
The Wave Video Bar: This nightclub offers a more intimate (and comedic) atmosphere than clubs like A-House and Paramount. The best time to visit is during Hump Day karaoke, a sexy and outrageous singing event.
The Vault: Provincetown’s most popular leather, uniform and bear bar, which overflows during Bear Week in the middle of summer.
The Central House Piano Bar (and Cabaret Lounge): These two bars at the Crown & Anchor Inn offer nightly live entertainment that is a bit more refined than the backrooms of most gay clubs...but only a little.
Shipwreck Lounge: Connected to the Brass Key Guest House property, this lively bar is always filled with customers looking to relax with a drink before heading out to the clubs. Sunset is a great time to sip throw back a cocktail, or two or three...
Pied Bar: Another place popular with the ladies, this is one of the best places to keep the party going after the Tea Dance at Boatslip.
Shopping & Services
Commercial Street is full of art galleries and boutique clothing stores, but there are also some really great specialty shops that sell souvenirs. Skip the tacky T-shirts and grab something really memorable, like a lighthouse keepsake (or a new boyfriend).
Mussel Beach & Provincetown Gym offers travelers the chance to stay in shape with yoga classes, cardio equipment and other fitness programming.
For a break from all the partying, consider a whale watch cruise or renting a bike. Cape Cod Whale Watch offers great tours of the feeding grounds just off P-town’s coast line. P-town Bikes (508-487-8735) has expert staff and great rates for daily rentals. The best places to bike are the trails that wind along the seaside.
In addition, there are several attractions worth visiting including the Provincetown Museum and the Province Lands Visitors Center, run by the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Sun, Sex, Sustenance, Sand, Special Events
The best beaches in Provincetown area are designated as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Race Point is great for body surfing and natural beauty, while Herring Cove is a strip of sand often dominated by the LGBT community.
Travelers who have a car should consider a day trip to Wellfleet, which has some of the best beaches on the East Coast. It takes about 20 minutes to get there from P-town.
The best restaurants can be found on Commercial Street, and no trip to Provincetown is complete without a bowl of clam chowder and a lobster dinner. There are many food shacks worth sampling, but be wary of prices -- if it sounds expensive, it’s probably not worth it. New Englanders know when their stuff is good so they don’t overcharge travelers.
Fine dining restaurants like the Bistro at Crowne Point, the Mews and Napi’s offer unique New England cuisine.
Cruising in Provincetown is a bit difficult, as there’s such a big nightlife scene...but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of places to look. The Pilgrim’s First Landing Park is considered a hot spot for hook-ups, along with the aptly named Dick Dock, located under the Boatslip Resort’s boardwalk. In addition, the benches near Town Hall and of course, the sand dunes are also popular.
Private parties are another alternative to partying at P-town’s nightlife scene, so ask around and see what’s happening. Don’t be afraid to throw your own party, people will come as long as you advertise hot guys and free booze.
Provincetown is popular throughout the summer, but the gays really descend upon Cape Cod during the holiday weekends, Bear Week (July 9-17), Pride Week (July 30-August 6) and Carnival (August 14-19). For more events listings visit the Chamber of Commerce Website mentioned above.
The big weekend of the summer is July 4. Promoter David Flowers’ "Summer Camp" brings in party boys from around the world for cruises and other dance venues featuring world-class DJs.
For more info on Provincetown’s 2012 summer season, visit www.provincetown.com/