Provincetown (a.k.a. P Town) is a mecca for gay men who are visiting from overseas or who live in North America. We couldn’t contain our excitement as we arrived in P Town aboard the ferry from Boston. The ferry terminal was only a few hundred metres from the centre of town. In Commercial Street (the main thoroughfare through town), it was no surprise to see hundreds of gay men of all ages, shapes and sizes, masses of rainbow flags and billboards chocked full of gay events.
The first big street banner to catch our attention was a welcome to the National Gay Pilots Association. They were in town for the long weekend. How perfect, we were ready to fly.
Only a short walk away from Commercial Street was The Gaslamp Bed & Breakfast (formerly known as Romeos Holiday) our accommodation for our long weekend. The Gaslamp is a turn of the century three storey Italianate house which has eight bedrooms. New owners Jeff and Jim gave us a very warm welcome and made sure we had everything we needed for a comfortable long weekend stay.
The B & B has only one star and a few little quirky features like shared bathrooms for three of the bedrooms and a third storey loft bedroom with super steep stairs. However, the place is very centrally located with a clothing optional patio and ‘hot tub’, all adding up to a very comfortable stay. In summer the place is heavily booked. Jeff and Jim have now decided to open all year round and already Christmas and New Year are proving very popular for bookings.
At 4:30pm we really knew we had arrived in P Town when we found ourselves at the legendary Tea Dance at the Boat Slip Beach Club. This is the biggest outdoor dance party in town. Sun or rain the hot and not so hot bodies dance to blends of high energy house and club hits by the pool.
We even found some fabulous Pan Am girls waiting to get up up and away with some eligible gay pilots. The Beach Club is where the ‘fun people’ have been dancing every afternoon in the summer season for the last twenty five years and we are sure for the next twenty five, if the crowds are any indication.
After a little post cocktail ‘nap’ back at Gaslamp we walked one block to Commercial Street and found a highly recommended restaurant called Tin Pan Alley, one of the best finds in P Town. The front bar features a cool white zig-zag bar and each evening there are show stopping vocalists to keep the crowd well entertained. In Tin Pan Alley restaurant we shared a beautifully cooked but enormous Rib Eye steak and salad as well as blue corn coated deep fried calamari.
To finish off our first night we made our way to the A House or Atlantic House. This is one of Provincetown’s most popular gay hangouts.The place has three spaces: Little Bar for very strong expensive ‘little’ drinks, The Macho Bar more for guys needing the company of other men and the Big Room claiming to be P Town’s number one dance club. The aptly named Club Purgatory at the Gifford House also hosts leather and underwear parties. By the way all bars in Provincetown close at 1pm.
The Gay Beach
The next day the sun was out and proud and we thought we would try the beach. The gay beach can be found on the left hand side of Herring Cove Beach which is about a forty minute walk out of town or as we did, you can catch the shuttle bus from the pier in town, costing two dollars each way. Biking to the beach is also a good option and if you do, you can leave your bike at ‘ bike beach’ and walk cross country to the gay section of the beach. But a word of warning, there are extreme tidal variations in Cape Cod Bay and at high tide we found there wasn’t any beach left and using the bike beach route was impossible.
There is no legal nude bathing and at low tide expect to see park rangers. With the high tide we decided to give the beach a miss this time and retired to the ‘hot hot’ tub at The Gaslamp and then a massage by former owner of Romeos, Lenny whose massage was outstanding and conveniently operates out of the massage room in the basement of the hotel.
Provincetown is a sing-along town and there are more than twenty bars and lounges to choose from. We have mentioned the very popular Tin Pan Alley which starts early. There is also the Piano Lobby Bar at the Gifford House but the crowd favourite is the piano bar at the Crown and Anchor. Every night a mixed crowd gathers around the baby grand to singalong to old favourites and tunes from the musicals.
Sick of singing, then a very popular place is Shipwreck Lounge. We had an enjoyable late night drink there on our last night and met a group of guys staying at the Brass Key Guest House which is attached. The bar has two large comfortable spaces one with leather lounges and chairs and a patio area that features a propane circular fire place around which people meet and chat.
Provincetown accommodation is expensive overall and in summer you need to book way ahead. In fact everything in P Town is fairly pricey as one guy said, “I haemorrhage money here”. Drinks in most of the bars are around eleven dollars each and in decent restaurants you pay around $60US a head. Friday and Saturdays are the big days and nights in town. By last ferry on Sunday evening things are getting much quieter and accommodation during the week is more reasonable.
P Town is well known for its artistic community and we counted more than seventy small art studios and galleries. Most feature photography, paintings, drawings, and sculpture by local, national and international artists. One wet afternoon we strolled from one to another at both ends of Commercial Street and we were amazed at the quality of the works.
For some history and culture try a visit it to the Pilgrims Monument and Museum in High Pole Road. The Museum features the history of the Pilgrims and some local artworks.
The Pilgrim Monument is 77 metres tall and is a challenging 10 minute climb to the top. The 360 degree views of Provincetown and the peninsula are amazing and give you a whole new perspective on your location.
Leaving Provincetown was sad but the pilots had gone home and after a hectic long weekend it was now time for us to make our way back to Boston to take the train to New York, New York, another wonderful place.
Know Before You Go
Accommodation is heavily booked in summer, especially on weekends.
Plan your visit to the beach around the tides.
P Town is not a cheap destination but well worth a short stay.
We booked The Gaslamp Bed & Breakfast through Agoda