20 things to do for under $20 in Provincetown

The seaside community is bursting with restaurants, shops, galleries, and nightlife.

The Race Point Lighthouse and keeper's house (1876)  at the tip of Cape Cod.
The Race Point Lighthouse and keeper's house at the tip of Cape Cod. –Ken Wiedemann

Register here for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Island Run powered by Boston.com on Sept. 23 on scenic Spectacle Island. Choose between a 5k and 5-miler. Each race wraps up with a post-race celebration including lunch, cold beer, and an award ceremony before everyone cruises home through Boston Harbor.

Provincetown, affectionately known as P-town, is a quaint seaside community on the northernmost tip of Cape Cod. P-town is known for its pristine beaches, bustling art scene (it’s America’s oldest active art colony, in fact), and gay community. Just over a two-hour drive from Boston, it was named America’s top beach town in 2016 by Travel + Leisure, and it’s bursting with restaurants, shops, galleries, and nightlife.

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“There’s tremendous diversity,” said Marian Peck, chairperson of the Provincetown Visitor Services Board and director the Adam Peck Gallery. “[It’s] a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere for people of all stripes. It’s the place on the Cape for fun, adventure, and culture.”

Visiting doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Check out 20 things to do for under $20 in Provincetown.

Food + Drink

A beer sits on the deck of Nor’East Beer Garden in Provincetown. —Nor'East Beer Garden

1. Order suds at the Nor’East Beer Garden

“If you’re looking for a beer in P-town, this is the place,” wrote Food & Wine magazine about Nor’East Beer Garden, where you can sip cocktails and beer among greenery and art. The spot offers an ever-changing selection of American craft beer, as well as diverse and limited-edition bottles. The syrups and bitters on the extensive cocktail menu are house-made, as are the pastas and tortillas. (206 Commercial St.)

2. Try a lobster roll with salsa or pineapple at The Red Shack

Broaden your lobster roll horizons at The Red Shack, where patrons can order The Connecticut (with hot melted butter), The Mexican (with salsa and cilantro), The Moroccan (with yellow curry and pineapple), or The Californian (with avocado and bacon). Traditional lobster rolls are available, as well. They all cost $14.99.  (315A Commercial St.)

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3. Drink coffee with a view at Joe’s Coffee and Cafe

Order a coffee (like the always popular “mocha freezer,” a cold coffee and chocolate drink), and sip it on the terrace at Joe’s Coffee and Cafe. Outside, visitors can gaze at more than just the people. “Between the buildings, there’s a little decent slice of the bay,” said manager Mary Rose. “You can see the ocean and Long Point [Lighthouse].” (170 Commercial St.)

4. Or make that a cocktail with a view at Aqua Bar

At Aqua Bar, visitors sip drinks on a large waterfront deck within outstanding sight of the beach and harbor. The popular restaurant was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor(207 Commercial St.)

5. Savor homemade ice cream at Lewis Brothers Homemade Ice Cream

This ice cream shop, a favorite of locals, according to Peck, is made fresh in the store daily. Choose from flavors such as chocolate, cookie dough, peanut butter, and coffee, or order the flavor of the week. Sugar-free ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, frappes, sundaes, and smoothies are also available. (310 Commercial St.)

6. Eat breakfast for dinner at The Canteen

The Canteen, a casual eatery inside a 200-year-old building on Cape Cod Bay, serves plenty of seafood (see: hot and cold lobster rolls), as well as an all-day breakfast. At the restaurant, which was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, you can eat in the communal dining room, which opens onto busy downtown Provincetown, or in the backyard seating area overlooking the bay. (225 Commercial St.)

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7. Take down all-you-can-eat fish & chips at Mac’s Fish House Provincetown

If you’re a fan of fish and chips, you’re in luck: You can eat as much as you want on Thursday nights at Mac’s Fish House Provincetown, when the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat special for $16. (85 Shank Painter Road)

8. Get a street pie at Connie’s Bakery and Cafe

At this cozy bakery in the center of town, bakers make everything from scratch. Choose from breads, cakes, pies, crostatas, cupcakes, doughnuts, and quiche. Street pies, filled with pulled pork or spinach and feta, are “served warm from the oven and convenient enough to eat while walking down the street,” according to the company’s website(205 Commercial St.)

Outdoor Activities

Race Point Beach in Provincetown. —Flickr / Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

9. Enjoy sunset concerts on the beach 

During the day, Herring Cove Beach, part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, offers sand, sun, restrooms, lifeguards, and a snack shack. On summer nights, the beach hosts a free summer concert series, and you can catch live music at sunset. Bring your own chairs, or sit on the sand. (End of Route 6, on the right)

10. Tour a historic lighthouse

Tour Race Point Lighthouse on the first and third Saturdays of the month between June and October. The lighthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1816 and replaced in 1876 with the current structure. Tours are free, but donations are appreciated. (Cape Cod National Seashore)

11. Explore the city on a rented bike

At Ptown Bikes, you can rent a bike for 24 hours for $18. Explore the city without worrying about parking a car, or head over to the Province Lands Bike Trail, a 5.45-mile loop maintained by the National Park Service that will take you past pine forests, dunes, and cranberry bogs. (42 Bradford St.)

12. Climb the 252-foot-tall Pilgrim Monument

Take the 116 steps to the top of the 252-foot-tall Pilgrim Monument, which commemorates the Pilgrims’ signing of the Mayflower Compact in 1620 in Provincetown Harbor. “You can see the whole Cape from up there,” said Tom Cullen, an administrator at the site. “In fact, on a clear day, you can see Boston. It’s really cool.” Admission is $12 for adults and $4 for kids ages 4 to 12. (1 High Pole Hill Road) 

13. View art with your dog at Pilgrim Bark Park

Take your dog for a playdate at the Pilgrim Bark Park, and enjoy art together while you’re at it. The park, which is open from dawn to dusk, has both a general dog and small dog (under 25 pounds) section, as well as many sculptures created and donated by local artists. Dogs must be spayed, neutered, licensed, and able to play off leash, and no food is allowed. (Intersection of Rt. 6 and Shank Painter Road)

Arts + Entertainment

A Tea Dance at the Boatslip Beach Club. —Dan McKeon

14. Join a giant dance party at the Boatslip Beach Club

Billed as the biggest outdoor dance party in Provincetown, the Boatslip Beach Club’s Tea Dance will take place daily from 4 to 7 p.m. beginning June 9 (though dances do happen earlier, as well; check the full 2017 schedule). Resident DJ Maryalice spins everything from current hits to disco on Thursdays to ’90s-themed music on Mondays. Admission is $5. (161 Commercial St.)

15. Ogle art during a Friday Night Gallery Stroll

Every Friday night in the summer, art galleries stretching from the west to the east side of town stay open late—until around 10 p.m.—so people can make a night of strolling in and out. “It’s a wonderful event, because we have over 60 galleries in Provincetown,” said Marian Peck, director of the Adam Peck Gallery. “The art ranges from historic art in the 1920s up to contemporary art. A lot of the galleries have wine and cheese. It’s a very festive atmosphere. There’s no pressure to buy.” (Various locations)

16. Listen to live music at Bubalas by the Bay

Find a comfy spot on the outdoor patio or sit inside at the bar at Bubalas by the Bay. Wherever you sit, you’ll be able to hear the live jazz and eclectic dance music several nights a week. “There is very rarely a cover charge,” said Julius Rieder, a server at the restaurant. The music begins around 10 p.m., and the bar stays open until 2 a.m. (185 Commercial St.)

17. Take in art by locals at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum

View more than 3,000 works of art by more than 700 artists at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum. Current exhibits highlight local artists: “Marian Roth: On Bended Light” showcases the work of Roth, who has photographed and painted in Provincetown for more than 40 years, and “Emerging Artists” features the work of four local emerging artists. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 12. (460 Commercial St.)

18. Catch an indie movie at Waters Edge Cinema

You’ll find first-run independent and art house films, animated movies, documentaries, foreign language movies, and short films at the 70-seat Waters Edge Cinema. The venue also hosts events such as the Provincetown Film Festival. (237 Commercial St.)

Shopping

Books for sale at The Provincetown Bookstore. —The Providence Bookstore

19. Browse books written by Cape Cod authors at The Provincetown Bookshop

Need some beach reads? Grab books about Cape Cod and by Cape Cod authors at The Provincetown Bookshop, in business since 1932. Visitors can also choose from a variety of best sellers, kids’ books, art books, biographies, classics, and even sheet music. (246 Commercial St.)

20. Buy local products at East End Market

Pick up Cape Cod-made goodies from Centerville Pies, Cape Cod Pops, and nearby Truro Vineyards at East End Market. The store sells pastries, cheese, beer, wine, and various gifts. Hungry right then and there? Pick up a specialty sandwich at the deli. (212 Bradford St.)

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