Dreaming of an all-American,
bunting and burgers kind of summer beach vacation this year? Then the hurdy-gurdy, loud lewdness of Commercial Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts is for you. Join the throngs of foot traffic that daily battle the throngs of car-laden, lost tourists on the one lane, one way main street that dissects downtown PTown from east to west. The West End beckons the party boys and their boozy BFF girlfriendz, the Bears, the Muscle Boys and yes even some well-heeled Cape Cod Tourists and Boston Ferry Day-Trippers, kids and strollers in tow, sharing some casual West End Herring Cove or Racepoint Beach time with a saucy drag queen in this, the first and original summer beach resort in America.
East End: Galleries, Gardens and Grub
I prefer the tranquil easy, east end of Provincetown, where Commercial Street is less gaudy, less busy but nonetheless inviting, interesting and engaging and mostly inhabited by the ‘locals’. Galleries and restaurants abound; the Harbour Town Beach is perfect for low tide morning or pre-cocktail evening strolls. Once a tranquil, Portuguese fishing village, the only true Portuguese reference in town these days is the Portuguese Bakery which has been a fixture in town for generations. The Bakery is famous for their traditional Portuguese malasadas, (a Portuguese-style fried doughnut), their Portuguese pastries and hearty breakfast and lunch fare. Beach provisions of scrummy sandwiches (Pilgrim Lake: turkey and cranberry, The Ballston: ham, cheddar and bacon), organic coffee, THE BEST breakfast sandwiches (organic eggs if you ask!) on an English muffin, croissant or fresh bagel and lunch offerings: mac ‘n cheese, salads and wonderful take-away deli can be found at Far Land Provisions (my personal favorite and a popular ‘must stop’ in PTown). Can’t get to Far Land’s Bradford Street location before your sunny beach time? No worries: check out their new concession at Herring Cove Beach. They offer a more limited menu selection from their downtown store with fresh and inviting items such as lobster salad rolls, pulled pork sandwiches, cod cake sliders and some of their more popular deli sandwiches and will set you right up for your picnic on the sand dunes of Herring Cove Beach.
Two Meals, a Brunch and a Stroll
Breakfast at the friendly Devon’s closes at 1 pm and then opens again for dinner at this unassuming tiny white cottage. With a dining room that seats just 37, we think they serve up some of the best food in town and judging by the continual crowds that wait for seats, you will need to book early! Lunch at The Squealing Pig, or The Pig, as the locals call it, serves decent Wellfleet Oysters and a very serviceable burger, fish and chips and a yummy fish curry. Pair it with one of their outstanding selections of bottled and pulled beer and you’ll be ‘squealing’! The Pig transforms into a local watering hole at night, offering lively live music on the weekends, the open windows spilling music onto an already raucous Commercial Street. Nice place just to kick back and enjoy a brown pop of choice.
Historic houses and lovely gardens of the East End are certainly worth an easy stroll-by. Grab an early morning iced coffee (strong!) at Angel Foods and shop their great selection of somewhat pricey basic and specialty grocery items, delicious prepared foods, sandwiches, soups, and fresh baked goods for packing a gourmet picnic lunch that includes blackberry sparkling lemonade, and goat cheese yogurt.
Continue your leisurely wander and stop at Suzanne’s Garden, the locally tended perennial garden at the corner of Commercial near Allerton Street. Set among a row of historic houses, this seems to be THE spot for outdoor gay weddings in Provincetown. If your morning continues more like the night before, wander down Commercial and stop for a sizable and spicy Bloody Mary and Brunch at Fanizzi’s , a family run Italian restaurant by the sea that serves classic Cape Cod Surf ‘N Turf and traditional, over indulgent desserts, all with lovely PTown harbour views. If you happen to have your ageing parents in tow on this vacation, Fanizzi’s offers a Florida-like early bird special to get them in early and off to bed so that you can enjoy the rest of your PTown evening!
Late Afternoon and into the Sunset
Peruse the stacks of Provincetown’s newly renovated Public Library, with a replica of the Rose Dorothea Schooner dry docked in its main lobby. While there, take some time to view some local artisan’s work from Provincetown’s Art Collection, housed at the library. A pre-dinner cocktail at the Harbor Lounge is a must with their lovely, breezy sunny lounge and friendly bartender and gad-about Liam. Be sure to take your drink out on their private wharf and enjoy the early setting sun and sea breeze. At least once during your stay, start with a pre-dinner, local mixologist Pingle Bowden-poured Martini (from ‘New England’s Largest Vodka Bar’) at The Mews before enjoying a sunset dinner in their oak, brass and neon trimmed, harbour-facing main room. Fresh seafood and grilled meats make this a perennial favorite with both locals and tourists alike.
Beach Tip: if you are in Provincetown for more than three days, look into buying a Cape Cod National Sea Shore Beach access sticker for your car. Great cost saving, giving you access to all of the Cape’s Beaches and is a lovely little take home souvenir of your time on the Cape!
Provincetown well, my friends! And if you like this followsummer itinerary, then let the good folks at Postcard help you discover the easy, east end of PTown! Click on the map below and start planning!
Provincetown Portuguese Bakery
299 Commercial St Provincetown, MA 02657 508-487-1803 Far Land Provisions 150 Bradford St, Provincetown, MA 02657, +1 508-487-0045
401 1/2 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 Tel. (508) 487-4773Reservations essential. Closed Wed. and Nov.–mid-May. No lunch.
The Squealing Pig
335 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 (508) 487-5804
467 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 508.487.6666
Fanizzi’s By the Sea
539 Commercial Street Provincetown, MA 02657 508-487-1964 Open year round
Provincetown Public Library
356 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657 508-487-7094
359 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 508 413-9527 Open Daily 12 pm to 10 pm firstname.lastname@example.org
429 Commercial St., East End, Provincetown, MA02657 508 487-1500 No lunch. Brunch Sunday only.