At the northern tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, crowds swell during the summer — and scatter in autumn. But if you’re among those making their way to the coast in the off-season, the seaside town is still a charming place to be after its moment in the sun: Beaches are often still warm but with more exclusivity, while chockablock streets grow tranquil and quaint. Here’s how to spend your New England escape.
WHERE TO GO
Board an early tour with Whale Watch Dolphin Fleet ($47/adults, $31/ages 5-12, free 4 and under; 307 Commercial St. #1, 508-240-3636, whalewatch.com) to get limited outdoor seats along the deck; trips depart through early October into the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, a protected habitat popular for whale and dolphin watching. For more outdoor adventure, rent bikes and pedal toward Herring Cove Beach, where road signs connect cyclists with the Province Lands Bike Trail — more than 5 miles of paved paths that lead through sand dunes, pine forests and cranberry bogs.
Drawn to its natural light, artists have flocked to Provincetown for over a century, establishing a welcoming destination for creative spirits. In Commercial Street’s East End, go gallery hopping and check out the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (admission $10, ages 12 and under free; 460 Commercial St., 508-487-1750, paam.org), home to a collection of Edward Hopper drawings second only to the Whitney Museum of American Art.
For sweeping views, climb the steps of the 252-foot-tall Pilgrim Monument at the Provincetown Museum (admission $12/adults, $4/ages 4-12; 1 High Pole Hill Road, 508-487-1310, pilgrim-monument.org). The monument commemorates the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims before sailing toward Plymouth.
WHERE TO EAT
Start the day at Kohi Coffee Company (199 Commercial St., 774-538-6467, kohicoffee.com), a cafe with cold brew on tap and views of the water.
For lunch, East End Market (212 Bradford St., 508-487-2339, eastendmarketplace.com) is a year-round store stocked with a counter serving potato salad, clam chowder and sandwiches like warm turkey with a generous helping of cranberry sauce. Find lobster rolls, served hot or cold, at The Canteen (225 Commercial St., 508-487-3800, thecanteenptown.com); don’t miss the owner’s adjacent doughnut shop, Happy Camper.
At the new Strangers & Saints (404 Commercial St., 508-487-1449, strangersandsaints.com) on the East End, dig in to dishes like curried octopus and ham and cheese croquettes, best enjoyed on the buzzing front porch. On the West End, Joon Bar and Kitchen (closed Mondays; 133 Commercial St., 508-413-9336, joonbar.com) is a stylish wine bar with shareable fare.
For drinks, The Squealing Pig (335 Commercial St. 508-487-5804) is known for its wide selection of craft beer; to eat, the gastropub also boasts a raw bar for local oysters and a wider menu ranging from aged cheddar toasties to shepherd’s pie. Another popular hangout is Crown & Anchor’s Central House (247 Commercial St., 508-487-1430, onlyatthecrown.com), where patrons sip drinks as entertainers sing show tunes.
WHERE TO STAY
Bed and breakfasts are the quintessential accommodations in Provincetown. Chief among them, the central Eben House (90 Bradford St., 508-487-0386, ebenhouse.com) has cozy rooms — some with fireplaces — and an included breakfast that ranges from blueberry pastries to decadent quiches. For more pampering, Crowne Pointe Historic Inn & Spa (82 Bradford St., 508-487-6767, crownepointe.com) offers access to its in-house spa.