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Town of Provincetown

Located at the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is quite the unique town. With a host of coexisting alternative lifestyles, P-town has become a mecca for the arts. Numerous galleries, theaters, museums and stores provide visitors with much to do during their stay. Provincetown is also a great place to take one the famous whale watch excursions. Don’t forget fabulous Race Point Beach. Watching the sunset is worth the trip alone.


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Provincetown History and Information

Provincetown, situated at the tip of Cape Cod, was the visited by the Mayflowers passengers on November 21, 1620. The Pilgrims, drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact, the document considered to be the foundation of democratic government in the United States, while moored in Provincetown Harbor. Provincetown was incorporated in 1727 and by the War of 1812 Provincetown had a thousand residents. During the war these residents remained neutral and after the war, as whaling activities grew, whaling captains, replenishing their crews in the Cape Verdes and Azores brought Portuguese to Provincetown. As the whaling phased out, Provincetown became a center for the Portuguese fishermen whose descendents are part of the backbone of Provincetown’s economy today. While fishing continues to represent a major part of life in Provincetown, today there is another side to Provincetown, which began at the turn of the 20th century when Charles Hawthorne established an art school. As an art colony Provincetown flourished and in 1915 when the Provincetown Players was established, it became a mecca for theater. Eugene O’Neill joined the players in 1916. Art, theater and fishing still exist side by side in Provincetown. As do alternative lifestyles. As a place to visit, Provincetown is popular for many reasons. Want to go whale watching? The MacMillan Wharf is the place to start. Want to people watch? The human parade up and down bustling Commercial Street is an endless opportunity to satisfy the urge. Want to climb higher than anywhere else on Cape Cod and then indulge in some history? Climb the Pilgrim Monument, rising 252 feet above the 100-foot hill it sits on. Its cornerstone was laid in 1907 as President Teddy Roosevelt looked on and President Taft attended its dedication in 1910. For all the details and more of Provincetown’s history, the excellent Provincetown Museum is at the base of the monument.

Points of Interest

1 Race Point – Henry David Thoreau once wrote about Race Point, “here a man may stand and put all of America behind him.” No matter what direction you face at the point, the sky, water and sandy beaches are always scenic. Take Route 6 to Race Point Road.

2 Pilgrim Monument – On a clear day, visitors can catch a glimpse of the Boston skyline from the top of this 252-foot memorial to the Pilgrims. They landed here in 1620 before sailing onto Plymouth. The Italian-designed Monument is the tallest all-granite edifice in the nation, modeled after the Torre del Magnia tower in Siena, Italy. Located on High Pole Hill.

3 Herring Cove Beach – Adjacent to Race Point, the ocean view at Herring Cove gives the illusion that the Earth ends at the horizon. This beach also offers plenty of multi-use trails. Located on Province Land Road.

4 Provincetown Museum – Stepping into this museum brings visitors back to the 17th century. The building offers a large-scale replica of the Mayflower. Ship passengers’ diaries and the signing of the Mayflower Compact are also exhibited. It also holds an eclectic collection of early fishing, whaling and town artifacts including P’town’s oldest fire engine. Located on High Pole Hill.

5 Provincetown Olde Cemetery – A plaque honors four passengers who died aboard the Mayflower during its brief stay at Provincetown Harbor in 1620 in this cemetery.

6 Seth Nickerson House – This home was built around 250 years ago from the wreckage of wooden fishing and whaling vessels by a shipbuilder. The structure is one of the oldest in town and exemplifies colonial architecture. Antiques and rarities fill its nine rooms.

7 Heritage Museum – Housing the largest fishing schooner replica in the world on the second floor, the Rose Dorothea, this museum is well maintained and operated by a dedicated volunteer staff. Vintage paintings, handmade furniture and turn-of-the-century photographs also decorate its ground floor. Located on Commercial Street.

8 Beech Forest Trail – This mile-long trail snakes its way through some of the most scenic sand dunes on the Cape. The trail begins by winding through cool beech forests, past freshwater ponds and, finally, opening up to the desert-like dunes.

Beaches- Beach stickers available at the Town Hall, Ph# (508) 487-7000
  • Herring Cove Beach- The water here is quite a bit warmer and calmer than the water at Race Point. This beach is arguably the best place to watch the sunset on Cape Cod.
  • Race Point Beach- Located at the very tip of Cape Cod, this is a great beach to spend the day at and maybe even catch the sunset. It is not unusual to see whales breaching in the distance.

There are also are numerous access points to “landings” along the main village. A great way to take a break from shopping.