If you want a Key West or Caribbean vacation, but have a budget, Provincetown is the place to go. Only a 90 minute ferry ride from Boston, P-town with its pristine, white sand beaches, lively nightlife, eclectic shops and inns, has the feel of being a world away.
The ferry drops passengers at MacMillan Wharf, and from there it is a short walk to the heart of P-town. No cars are needed as most of the accommodations, eateries/bars, shops and art galleries are pleasantly crammed into a small area that explodes with life.
Commercial Street is the busiest street in P-town where almost everything happens. Historically there have been two ends of Commercial Street, the West and the East. Turn right from the wharf to the polished East End and walk to a variety of upscale art galleries, restaurants and quaint inns. Left on Commercial Street is the lively, unique West End where there are piano bars, night clubs and fashionable restaurants and shops. For more info, check out www.Provincetown.com .
From the ferry, walk down MacMillan Wharf toward town and stop in for a quick refreshment at the casual “Surf Club” directly overlooking the harbor. They serve fresh seafood and tavern fare, and mix tasty bloody marys. (508) 487-1367
For those who prefer to stay in more upscale accommodations, there is the “Inn at Cook Street“, a ten minute walk from the ferry. Built in 1836, this meticulously maintained bed & breakfast offers quaint, lovely rooms, all with private baths. www.innatcookstreet.com
The more budget minded traveler could choose to stay in a less expensive bed & breakfast and still be steps away from the heart of P-town. “The Gallery Inn” is a former captain’s house built in 1850. Although not luxurious, this inn offers clean, comfortable accommodations for a modest price. www.galleryinnptown.com
“Ciro & Sal’s” and “Jimmy’s Hideaway” are great dining choices. Tucked behind a courtyard in the East End, Ciro & Sal’s offers delicious northern Italian food in a candle-lit, romantic setting. www.ciroandsals.com On the opposite end of Commercial Street in the West End is “Jimmy’s Hideaway“, offering creative cuisine in a lively atmosphere. (508) 487-1011
There are a myriad of gift shops, clothing stores, art galleries, candy shops jewelry shops, and countless others. P-town is a place where buying something “one of a kind” is the norm. There are even stores for your pets such as “Paws & Whiskers“, a dog bakery and pet boutique.
The quaint and the quirky co-exist peacefully in P-town. Going one block east from the wharf are two shops that are examples of the juxtaposition of styles in P-town. “Shop Therapy” is a colorful, over the top shop that is a hippie mecca, selling hippie items galore. If you dare, walk up the stairs to the “adult section” where there are literally thousands of sex toys, porn DVDs, and smoking implements. www.shoptherapy.com
Going further east is the quiet and upscale gallery district where local and out of state artists showcase and sell their work. Check out “Kiley Court Gallery” which features fine oil paintings by various artists. www.kileycourtgallery.com
In more recent years the East and West ends have become more like each other, both loaded with restaurants, music venues and inns. Characters are abundant and celebrated here, and are the backbone of town life, giving an exciting flavor to the town that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. At the center of Commercial Street you might see a woman (or man…) belting out show tunes in front of Town Hall, or Superwoman riding a bike down the street. Judging by the throngs of tourists crowding the streets, P-town must just make people feel happy.
Two companies provide non-stop high speed ferry service from Boston to Provincetown, in 90 minutes for $79 round trip. www.bostonharborcruises.com and www.baystatecruisecompany.com