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An Iconic Destination Reimagined: Provincetown's Charm and Allure, Any Time of Year

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday March 8, 2021

  (Source:Provincetown Tourism)

It's no wonder that Provincetown has, for more than a century, inspired artists, playwrights, and poets (and, in more recent decades, drag queens).

From the vibrant shops along Commercial Street to the sandy beaches and undulating currents at Race Point, the peninsula has become a haven for creative expression and a destination where everyone is welcomed to "just be."

Wanderlust is palpable these days. We've all felt our heartstrings tugged, scrolling through Instagram or having other memories pop up that remind us of our favorite trips and experiences. Many industry experts believe the time has come to create new memories and redefine how and why we travel.

Provincetown is easily accessible by car or ferry from Boston, New York and other East Coast hubs, along with Provincetown Municipal Airport, make it a favorite summertime destination, though we're also partial to spring for the region's legendary whale-watching; fall, when the autumn moon glows bright; and winter for a snow-dusted oasis.

We're asking ourselves not only where we want to travel next, but why. LGBTQ travel site OutThere recently released a travel trends report, which revealed some driving factors behind future travel plans. 66 percent of respondents indicated a desire for experiences and hotels that can offer seclusion. Provincetown's unique array of bed & breakfasts and boutique hotels provide plenty of options to step away from the daily grind with privacy and style.

The survey also revealed that "we are looking for memorable experiences that help us explore more of the local area, expand horizons and aid personal growth." Provincetown's captivating coastal views, authenticity and "all are welcome" attitude make it the ideal locale to rest, retreat and revitalize. Ask nearly any Provincetown local, and you're likely to get an informal history lesson on the destination's 400-year legacy from the pilgrims' first landing and Portuguese immigrants to the presence of legendary LGBTQ icons.

QueerForty Editor-in-Chief and LGBTQ travel journalist Merryn Johns visiting Provincetown during Women's Week.
QueerForty Editor-in-Chief and LGBTQ travel journalist Merryn Johns visiting Provincetown during Women's Week.  (Source: Merryn Johns)

QueerForty Editor-in-Chief and LGBTQ travel journalist Merryn Johns says Provincetown's "X factor" is its intersection of culture and natural beauty, referencing the beautifully preserved New England architecture, seafaring history and LGBTQ culture.

"There are three things I want for an ideal 24 hours anywhere in the world," says Johns. "A cultural encounter. Astonishing natural beauty. And ending the day with damned good food—you get all of that in Provincetown, and how wonderful that there's such a visible LGBTQ presence?"

Johns describes her first visit to Provincetown as a sort of pilgrimage, recognizing its long history as a safe and welcoming sanctuary of self-expression, particularly for LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities. "I'd never been to such a place," she says of her first steps at Provincetown Marina and settling into an outdoor café on Commercial Street. "The weight lifted off my shoulders."

Ivan Quintanilla explores Provincetown's legendary beaches.
Ivan Quintanilla explores Provincetown's legendary beaches.  (Source: Ivan Quintanilla)

Travel journalist and influencer Ivan Quintanilla has visited Provincetown several times over the years, both on assignment as well as for pure pleasure. His last trip was in the summer of 2020. He was impressed with the delicate balance of important safety and health protocols with the vibrant energy of business owners pivoting to al fresco dining, outdoor performances, and limited-capacity at local shops and galleries.

"It's more about the quality of the connections right now rather than the quantity," says Quintanilla of traveling with a partner or small bubble of close friends. "Focus on the specific people you want to spend time with and increase the connection with fewer distractions. Your time together will be more meaningful."

Quintanilla has spent most of the past year with his longtime boyfriend in their New York City apartment. "We've been together 24/7 for almost a year," he says. "We'll sit outside on a 40-degree day. It'd be cheaper to have the same conversation at home, but we need to change location. Changing the setting creates a new dynamic."

A Provincetown getaway—whether it's a long weekend or something more extravagant—can be a mental lifesaver. A walk on the beach, a much-needed spa treatment or an afternoon bike ride can rejuvenate the spirit. And that's something everybody is craving.

Pick Your Pleasure in Provincetown

Provincetown Carnival
Provincetown Carnival  (Source: Provincetown Tourism)

Whale Watching — Even the whales know that Provincetown is one of the east coast's must-visit destinations. A fisherman and marine biologist teamed up in 1975 to offer the region's first tours, which have grown into one of Provincetown's most popular activities. (Whale watching season begins April 17.)

Take a Hike — Hike the dunes, head to the Long Point Light Station or take in all of the topography along the paved Province Lands Bike Trail.

Furry Fun — Provincetown is also a paradise for your four-legged friend! Beaches are dog-friendly (be sure to check time restrictions) or head to Pilgrim Dog Park for off-leash fun. Many accommodations are dog-friendly, too. Just call ahead to confirm.

America's Art Colony — For centuries, artists have flocked to Provincetown for inspiration. The result? Now there are dozens of galleries to explore a wide range of works to give your home a creative refresh.

Coastal Cravings — Lobster, anyone? Provincetown is known for its towering array of fresh seafood, including oysters, shrimp, mussels, cod and more. Don't miss your chance to experience the daily catch at one of the many celebrated restaurants.

Ready to visit? Start planning at ptowntourism.com.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.