The Most Exciting Things to do in Provincetown, Cape Cod in 2024

Are you headed to the Cape and trying to decide if Provincetown is worth a visit? At the northern tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is a bit of a drive if you stay further west. I’m excited to share the best activities and things to do in Provincetown, Cape Cod, to help you!

Provincetown’s claim to fame is its beautiful beaches, fantastic art galleries, strong LGBTQ+ community, and where the Pilgrims first landed in the New World. It’s a great blend of history, art, and outdoor activities. If you don’t have time for several days to spend here, it’s a great destination for a day trip.

My husband and I recently spent a wonderful vacation on the Cape. Although we stayed in Chatham, I was determined to check out the very tip of Cape Cod, and I’m so glad we did. It was the perfect place to see more of coastal New England. Follow along as I share the best activities in Provincetown.

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Provincetown, MA

Provincetown’s rich history is fascinating, as it captures many diverse groups that called the community home at some point. Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in England landed here in the early 1600s before moving to Plymouth. 

In the 1800’s, Portuguese immigrants migrated in search of better opportunities. This new group played a vital role in the whaling and fishing industries. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the LGBTQ+ has found a welcoming and safe home in Provincetown artists. These groups created a diverse, tolerant, and unique community.

Activities in Provincetown

things to do in Provincetown, Cape Cod

Regardless of your interests, there’s something for everyone here. If you are in Boston, hop on the fast speed ferry for a day trip. Or if you are staying on the Cape, carve out time to visit one of the best places in the region. You can enjoy the miles of beaches, historic sites, and bike paths, or go downtown Provincetown to visit gift shops and savor fresh seafood at local restaurants.

Cape Cod National Seashore

One of my favorite surprises on our trip to the Cape was the stunning Cape Cod National Seashore on the Atlantic Ocean. In Provincetown, there’s the northern part of the Cape Cod National Seashore with some of the best beaches. 

Cape Cod National Seashore

Race Point Beach

Tips

  • Please pay attention to warnings in regard to Sharks
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Avoid the Seashore on peak summer days or snag a parking spot early.

Race Point Beach

If you only have time for one spot on the national seashore, go to Race Point Beach. There’s plenty of parking space, life guards and bathrooms. You can also check out the Old Harbor LSS Museum, which shares stories on shipwrecks and heroic rescues in the coastal area.

Race Point Beach

Race Point Lighthouse

While at Cape Cod National Seashore, you can see a magnificent and historic lighthouse. Here are some tips-

  • Check the calendar, as it is only open for tours on select days (1st & 3rd Sundays in June, July, and August
  • It is open from 10 am -2 pm
  • There’s no public transportation to the lighthouse. You must walk.

Herring Cove Beach

Although Race Point is a popular destination, I loved Herring Cove Beach. There’s plenty of parking, although less than Race Point. Herring Cove has a great facility for guests with bathrooms, showers to rinse feet off, and a snack bar. There are also some picnic tables where you can pack a snack or lunch!

Next to the bathrooms, there’s a beautiful art installation of a shark. The display was created with trash collected off the beach. It is a beautiful piece that you must see!

Herring Cove Beach

Shark Art Installation at Herring Cove

Province Lands Visitor Center

Province Lands Visitor Center

While exploring the Cape Cod National Seashore, visit the Province Lands Visitor Center. The facility educates guests on the natural environment through 3D exhibits, maps, and artifacts. 

The center has bathrooms and viewing platforms that provide majestic views of the park’s sand dunes. The park is only open from March through October, but the platforms are open year-round as long as the weather participates. If visiting in the winter, check before you drive out!

Province Lands Visitor Center

Province Lands Bike Trail

Bike trails are scattered throughout the National Seashore. You can use the welcome center as your base to explore the beaches, dunes, cranberry bogs, and the rest of the park. It is a fantastic way to see the natural habitat as this part of Cape Cod National Seashore is unique from the beaches further south.

For ease, there’s a 5.45-mile loop around the park. Spurs break off for each beach access. 

bike trails

The Beech Forest Trail

Several great walking trails are within the park. The Beech Forrest Trail is a one-mile loop around Blackwater Pond. It is rated easy, and there are bathrooms at the trailhead. If you visit in the Spring and Fall, bird watching is a great activity.

Check out my guide on how to arrive in Cape Cod from Boston!

Dune Shacks Trail

The Dune Shacks Trail is a stunning hiking trail in the dunes. Unlike many outdoor activities, it is not part of the National Seashore. There’s no designated parking lot, and you have to pull off the side of the road on Route 6. 

The route is one mile each way, but there’s no actual trail. You will follow the sand to the beach. Here are some helpful tips-

  • Wear sunscreen
  • Bring water
  • Remember, walking on sand takes longer than on paths
  • The route is moderately difficult
  • Bring bug spray 
beach walking paths

Biking

If you prefer, rent a bike in town and explore the charming community of Provincetown on the bike. You could park the car and never need it! This is also a great option if you come on the high-speed ferry.

Commercial Street

Commercial Street is the heart of downtown Provincetown. We enjoyed leisurely strolling down the street, peering into shops and art galleries, and appreciating the historic buildings. The lively atmosphere was fun and upbeat. 

We enjoyed the best meal at The Canteen, which offered terrific food, tasty drinks, and a fun outdoor nautical ambiance. I loved my fish tacos!

fish tacos at The Canteen

Fish tacos at The Canteen

Lobster Pot

While on Commercial Street, stop at Lobster Pot, an iconic restaurant on the Cape. This New England classic offers fresh and authentic lobster rolls. If the line is long, check out the Lobster Pot Express.

Lobster Pot Express in Provincetown

Art Galleries

Provincetown emerged as a haven for artists in the early 20th century. Since 1914, when the Provincetown Art Association was established, artists have found a community of like-minded souls in this northern tip of the Cape. 

Art galleries dot the town’s landscape today, and many visitors come for the area’s rich history. Walking down Commercial Street, you will notice several galleries you can pop into. In addition, you can visit the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, fondly known as PAAM. 

an art gallery in Provincetown

Provincetown Portuguese Bakery

While strolling on Commercial Street, stop by the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery for a homemade treat. Founded in the early 1900s, the bakery offers traditional Portuguese desserts such as Trutas and Malassadas, donuts covered in sugar and cinnamon.

MacMillan Pier

Due to Provincetown’s deep water harbor, the pier is the gateway to the northern tip of the Cape for many tourists. You can catch a fast-speed ferry from Boston, sailing or whale watching. If anything, walking up and down the pier is neat, as it shows all the ships docked.

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MacMillan Pier

Whale Watching

If you have time, book a whale-watching tour. Most trips leave from MacMillan Pier, so you can explore the pier and Commercial Street. Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch is one of the most popular companies.

Pilgrim Monument

To learn about the first settlers to New England, visit the Pilgrim Monument. Here, you can learn about the Pilgrims and their impact on representative government. On the journey, the Pilgrims drafted the Mayflower Compact, the first document of self-government in the New World.

The Monument was built around the turn of the century and was dedicated in the early 1900s. Guests can climb to the top or use an elevator. 

Pro Tip- Tickets are sold until 4 p.m. even though the museum is open until 5 P.m., so plan accordingly.

Pilgrim Monument is one of the best things to do in Provincetown, Cape Cod

Provincetown Museum

While at the monument, there’s more to learn beyond the Pilgrims. The Provincetown Museum teaches about the Pilgrims’ time on the Cape and the entire history of the community. The Museum also features temporary exhibits, so check out their website before you visit!

Pilgrim Bark Park

Check out the Pilgrim Bark Park for those who love traveling with their pets. There’s an area designated for dogs under 25 pounds and a second play area for larger dogs.

FAQ: Visiting Provincetown

Is Provincetown worth visiting?

Yes! I spent an amazing day exploring this unique community with a rich culture, tolerance for others, and a magnificent natural landscape. 

What is Provincetown known for?

Provincetown is the first home of the Pilgrims, a refuge for Portuguese migrants and the LGBTQ+ community, and a strong artistic community. 

What is the best time to visit?

Summer is the busy season on the Cape, but fall is gorgeous with fewer crowds. The 4th of July is also a fun and patriotic time to visit.

Can you walk around Provincetown?

You can walk around downtown Provincetown. To explore Cape Cod National Seashore, you’ll need other transportation, such as a bike or car. 

What are other great communities in Cape Cod?

Chatham is a fantastic spot on the Cape for its beautiful beaches, delicious food, and, most importantly, New England charm. 

In Conclusion: Best things to do in Provincetown, Cape Cod

I hope my guide on the best things to do in Provincetown, Cape Cod, helps you plan your next great adventure.

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