Fall Festivals in Ptown (and beyond)

beachPtown

It is no longer high season here in Ptown but that just means there are fewer tourists.  That does NOT mean there is less to do.  The September and October calendars are chock-a-block full with all kinds of festivals, special events, and more.  Check out the Ptown Chamber of Commerce’s Events Calendar or Ptown.org to see what’s happening.  Here are a few events that I am looking forward to this fall:

 

11th Annual Ptown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

September 22 – 25

This festival honors Tennessee Williams by presenting his classic and undiscovered plays, the work of his peers, and new work inspired by Williams’ creative vision worldwide.  In the 1940s, Williams spent summers in Ptown, writing prodigiously while here.  The work he did included ‘The Glass Menagerie’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’  This year, the Ptown TW Fest is juxtaposing Williams with another famous Ptown visitor from a generation earlier, Eugene O’Neill.  Works by both playwrights will be presented.  For more info, visit twptown.org.

 

Monumental Yard Sale

October 7-10

The yard sale to end all yard sales, stretching up and down Commercial Street and at residences throughout the town. Who knows what treasures are awaiting discovery!  For more info, visit Ptown.org.

 

Wellfleet Oyster Fest

October 15-16

If you have never been to OysterFest, you should go.  It’s a scene.  This annual celebration is a great way to enjoy the town’s famous shellfish.  The Main Street comes alive with food, art, music, games, and more for this two-day family festival that brings together locals and visitors.  For more info, visit wellfleetspat.org.

 

Fantasia Fair

October 16 – 23

Fantasia Fair is a weeklong transgender event held every October here in Ptown.  Part conference, part social gathering, the Fair is a “full immersion” experience, meaning that attendees can and usually do spend an entire week 24/7 presenting their gender as they wish.  Running each year since 1975, Fantasia Fair attracts people from the entire spectrum of the transgender community.  Individuals can attend workshops, seminars, banquets, special events and shows. There’s nothing else like it.  For more info, visit FantasiaFair.org.

 

Dead Silence: The Disease Of Astonishment

October 8 – 31

I can’t wait to check out producer David Flower’s newest immersive haunted horror attraction.  It takes place here in Ptown and combines a little bit of theater, special effects, and haunted mazes, all within the framework of a story.  It’s about 30 minutes long and proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Friends and Supporters of the Provincetown Public Library.  For more info, visit deadsilence-terror.com.  Yeah, pretty much that domain name says it all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Need To See Pilgrim Monument

DSC_5751

Pilgrim Monument.  Over the past 100 years, it has become one of the classic symbols of Ptown.  Yes, it is completely touristy—arguably THE most touristy thing you can do on a visit to Provincetown.  But you’ve just got to do it.  Building tall things just so we can climb up and catch a great view seems to be an inherently human thing to do.  There’s something magical about getting up off the ground for a little bit.

Built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the Pilgrims’ first landing in Ptown, the castle-like tower stands 252 feet high—which by Cape Cod standards of elevation (or lack thereof) is gargantuan.  It is also the tallest all-granite structure in the U.S.  This time of year is ideal for a visit.  The weather has cooled down just a bit, making the trek up the 116 steps a slightly less sweaty endeavor.  The climb isn’t bad.  I’ve done it (carrying a toddler) with my 70-year-old mom walking right alongside.  In our experience, people of all ages can handle it.  It’s about 10 minutes up and just as you are feeling like it’s time to stop, it is.

Plus, the payoff is huge!  You get your daily exercise.  You can feel like you accomplished something (you did!).  AND from the top, you can take in a breathtaking 360-degree view. On a clear day, you can see the entire ‘hook’ of Cape Cod, Plymouth, the South Shore, all the way up to Boston in one direction and straight out onto the Ptown dunes, the Cape Cod National Seashore, and the vast Atlantic Ocean in another. Of course, you can also peek down at all of Ptown bustling below you.

Located at the base of the monument, the Provincetown Museum is also worth a stop.  The Museum is a hodge podge of eccentricities, most of which have at least a tangential connection to the town and its history.  The giant polar bear (yes, it’s real!) is my personal fav, followed closely by the antique fire wagon and the furniture painted by Ptown folk artist, Peter Hunt.  I’m also a bit of a history nerd—or at least someone who dreams of living in the 19th century–so I think the recreation of a Captain’s Quarters aboard a whaleship is pretty cool too.

If you go, choose a clear day and bring a hat and a camera.  The Monument is open seasonally, April – November 30.  For more information, go to www.pilgrim-monument.org.

Rest and Relaxation in Provincetown

0005

 

This past week was Carnival Week and it tends to be a little…rowdy.  We may have partaken of a few too many late (or early) nights and a few too many cocktails.  So, if you are finding yourself in need of a little detox and some quiet time, here are some ideas for you.

 

Visit Shui Spa

What could be more convenient than a luxurious, high-end spa located just down the street?  With its private mineral soaking tub, full line of massages, facials, and mani/pedis, and all done with kiehl’s signature skincare products, you pretty much can’t go wrong.  It’s the perfect indulgence and an ideal way to relax and recharge.

 

Mellow out at Shipwreck Lounge

Mondays are #MellowMonday at Shipwreck Lounge.  Comfy lounge chairs, chill music, and a tasty nightcap are my favorite way to unpack the weekend.  Plus, there’s the pool.  Ahhh, the pool.  I love the pool.

 

Visit a Garden

Located at 608 Commercial Street in Ptown’s East End, Suzanne’s Garden is a public garden full of flowers¾one of my favorite places to stop and sit for a moment.  It simply makes me smile.  The story of how the garden came to be is equally as charming and heartwarming, but I’ll leave that for you to discover when you visit!

 

Take a Hike

No one needs an excuse to get moving but a walk sure is a good way to reset your body and soul.  The options are endless when it comes to getting outside for a walk.  The blog at the Crowne Pointe Historic Inn features a list of some of the best hiking trails in Provincetown.  If you in the mood for a treat, venture out to the Great Island Trail in Wellfleet (click here for information on all of the trails in the Cape Cod National Seashore).  In my humble opinion, it is one of the treasures of Cape Cod.  As a peninsula on the outer edge of Wellfleet Harbor, it offers an 8-mile round trip hike along salt marshes, woods, and sandy beaches.  But you can also just take the short walk out and up over the dunes to Cape Cod Bay, where you will most likely have the entire beach to yourself (you may have to share with the gulls).  Solitude on a Cape Cod beach in August?  Treasure indeed.

 

Rain or Shine: Ptown Indoors

Ptown Rain

 

Ok, so we haven’t had that many rainy days this summer-too few, honestly.  But they are bound to arrive eventually.  They always do.  The Cape is an outdoor, sunshiny kind of place.  We do outside really well.  Rainy days?  Inside?  Well, rainy days are a challenge.  So, if the weather outside is frightful (frightfully hot or frightfully wet¾either way) there are some indoor places in Ptown that are definitely worth checking out-as an excuse to escape the rain, or perhaps, to enjoy some a/c for an hour or two!

 

Provincetown Public Library

Housed in a former church, the library is a cultural center for the 21st century featuring programs and speakers, a robust archive and art collection, and a half-scale fishing schooner (the Rosa Dorothea) inside the library (in the children’s room).  If you can’t be outside on a boat, might as well be inside, right?  356 Commercial Street, 508-487-7094.

 

Provincetown Art Association and Museum

PAAM is your local, neighborhood art museum that just happens to show national caliber contemporary art.  Right now, I’m excited to see the new exhibition of Boston photographer David Hilliard.  In their exhibitions, PAAM usually strikes a nice balance between the imported and the homegrown.  Since it’s Ptown, there is plenty to pick from.  General admission: $10, free on Fridays after 5pm.  460 Commercial Street, 508-487-1750.

 

Waters Edge Cinema

Waters Edge Cinema is the home of the Provincetown Film Society (that sponsors the Provincetown International Film Festival every year).  The theater offers a range of films from the mainstream to the indie, including local filmmakers, international art films and more.  237 Commercial Street, 2nd floor, 508-413-9369.

PTown is for (Bird) Lovers!

Piping Plover

Summer is here, the sun is shining, and…it’s bear week!  So, it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy nature!  Come to think of it, does anyone really stay indoors in Ptown anyways, if so, who are these strange people?  The bears are, of course, plentiful this time of year and can be found on the beaches, in the water, even walking down Commercial Street!  It may be a challenge to pull yourself away from the fabulous tiki drinks constantly flowing by the pool at the Shipwreck Lounge.  But if you need a breather from downtown and feathered sky friends are more your style (you get giddy and geek out over terns, plovers, and Wilson’s Storm Petrels, for example), here’s how to see em:

Hike to Race Point Lighthouse

Recently, Race Point has had some of the best birding on the Cape and no wonder.  Located at the very tip of the peninsula and jutting out straight into the Ocean, it is an ideal stopping point for birds on the move.

The old Ptown Fire Road (about 4 miles total), off Province Lands Rd, is not only the best way to get to the Lighthouse (WAY easier than hauling through the sand), it is also a good birding trail.  Plovers are earlier in the season.  Right now, it’s tern season.  Many other bird species, of all shapes and sizes have been sighted.  You’ll want to choose a non-windy day and, as all birders know, get out there early for the most variety.  July marks the tail end of tick season and the mosquitoes are out this time of year, so if you go, pants may be the most practical option, along with a generous helping of bug spray.

Pelagic Birding Trips

When you’ve gotten your fill of shore birds, Seasalt Charters offers four-hour Pelagic birding/ photography trips in July, August, and September, complete with an onboard naturalist.  Shearwaters, Jaegers, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Northern Gannets—an offshore boat charter offers a chance to see rare marine birds up close.  The birding is also amazing out on whale watching trips to Stellwagen Bank.  I have heard that volunteers for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary are often aboard the whale watch boats to do bird counts.  It’s a perk of volunteering: you get a free trip on the boat.

If you are looking for advice and updates on the Cape Cod birding scene, you’ll definitely want to check out the Weekly Bird Report on WCAI, the local NPR station.  Mark Faherty, Science Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, posts a new report every Wednesday, but you can stream or read online here.

Best Cape Cod Day Trips

road trip

Let’s be honest, Provincetown is just about as out of the way as it gets (arguably one of its best attributes) which means it may not be the best home base for exploring the Cape.  Nevertheless, there is much to see and do beyond the town limits.  If this is your first time to Cape Cod and/or Massachusetts, it is definitely worth the wander.  Every town is different and beautiful in its own way and the contrast with Provincetown will be striking.

Wellfleet

The closest option.  Wellfleet has some of the most amazing beaches and hikes.  Great Island (a state park), actually a peninsula jutting out into Wellfleet Bay, is one of my favorite spots on the entire Cape.  The town has galleries, restaurants, a working harbor, not to mention the drive-in, a weekly flea market on Saturdays, and arguably the best seafood bisque on the Cape (courtesy of PJ’s).  Stop at PB Boulangerie, right on Route 6, and pick up a loaf of their bacon bread (only if you like bacon, of course).

Chatham

Chatham is charming, quaint, and picturesque.  It has its lighthouses and beaches but most folks hit Main Street for the shopping and restaurants.  For the more adventurous, a ferry ride to Monomoy Nature Wildlife Refuge offers great birding, walking, and seal viewing.

The Islands

Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are their own little worlds.  Each is worth a visit.  Nantucket, the smaller of the two, is a little more bustling in its own downtown and has excellent shopping and restaurants.  Oh yes, and it’s got the cobble stone streets, the whaling museum, the history and the whole Moby Dick thing, if that’s your style.  Martha’s Vineyard, larger, more sprawling, is a bit more varied in the contrast between the towns such as Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs and the rest of the island, which is quite rural and bucolic.  A bike is a great mode of exploration and transportation for both islands.  There are plenty of ferry options, departing from Hyannis, Harwich, and Woods Hole.  Which one you choose depends on your destination and the time you want to spend in car versus on boat.

Boston

If you arrived in Ptown without checking out Beantown, then you may want to carve out a day for New England’s “big city.”  It is an easy ferry ride away and they run daily.  The best thing about Boston is that it is entirely walkable (assuming that you enjoy some vigorous walking).  Boston does history well, with its meandering, mismatched streets, antique buildings squished in between the newer high-rises and the Freedom Trail, which follows the steps of the American Revolution.  I personally go for the world-class museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium.  Dotted with antique shops and boutiques, Beacon Hill’s Charles Street is one of my favorites for window shopping and walking.  And of course, there’s Cambridge, on the other side of the Charles River¾a city of its own with great restaurants, shops, and its own supply of world-class museums at Harvard University and MIT.

My Favorite Commercial Street Shopping Spots

Brass Key Guesthouse

Commercial Stereet1

If you are a first time visitor to Ptown, Commercial Street is a must-see.  In terms of originality, variety, and beauty, it also offers some of the best shopping on the Cape.  From the upscale and classy to the raucous and rambunctious, there is literally something for everyone.

Where to start?  The scope of this blog isn’t long enough to capture the all of the delicious offerings on sale in Provincetown.  So I will stick to some of my favorites.

Roots Home

This eclectic shop has a vintage, mid-century modern vibe in its offerings of everything from art to home décor, furniture, rugs, and jewelry.  Plenty of color and sunshine here¾a great spot to pick up a beachy, Cape Cod themed gift.

193 Commercial Street, 508-487-2500.

 

Tim-Scapes

This is a go-to for locally themed, great looking t-shirts, sweatshirts, and the like.  Even the locals sport them.

208 Commercial St, 917-626-4052.

 

Kiss and Makeup

Shopping should be a treat and this little gem of a shop takes those words to heart.   There’s a balance of well-known and hard to find skincare, makeup, and bath products for both men and women.  Great products, delightful treatments, what’s not to love?

357 Commercial St, 508-413-9337.

 

Yates & Kennedy

A dash of Dickens and a sprinkle of Melville!  As a modern day cabinet of curiosities, Yates & Kennedy is a must for a good, healthy dose of the 19th century.  Owner Mitch Yates’ exquisite taste is on display in everything from antique taxidermy, leather goods, and custom screen-printed t-shirts.  Eccentric.  Quirky.  Covetable.

368 Commercial St, 508-487-4400.

 

Henry & Company

This is the place to find your next bag/pair of sneakers/hoodie that you’ll wear for months.   You know, the one that everyone will be asking you about when you get back home?  This shop specializes in basic, beautiful casual wear for men.  Or the women who borrow their clothes.

210 Commercial St, 508-487-6215

DeadZone Zombie Tag

Zombie Tag Banner

David Flower Productions
New live interactive gaming experience!
If you are looking for something different to do in Provincetown on a
Friday or Saturday night, try DeadZone Zombie Tag. Everyone wears
a cool high-tech LED device that interacts at a 3-foot distance and the
area of play is spread throughout the center of town. It’s hide-and-seek
on the cutting edge, a scavenger hunt after the apocalypse, and
an escape room without the walls.
There are two ways to play. You can play as a human, scurry around
town while you solve the puzzles, collect the data, avoid the zombies,
and be a winner. Or, you can be a merciless zombie, hunt down the
humans, infect as many as you can, and prevent them from
completing their mission. There are clues, maps, recovery centers,
safety bunkers, and guaranteed excitement!
The game runs every Friday and Saturday night from June 17 to
September 3, 7:30-9:30 pm. It’s a great partner or family
activity. Sign up as a group or form teams ad hoc with other players
you meet at Headquarters, 330 Commercial Street, where the game
starts. Reserve your spot online at
http://www.playzombietag.com/tickets.
Brought to you by David Flower Productions, a local business that
has been synonymous with quality events since 2001.

Provincetown By Boat: Kayaks, Schooners, and Whales—Oh my!

DSC_0053 (2)

You may have noticed that Provincetown has a lot of…water.  Not the fresh water stuff¾although we’ve got that too.  I’m talking salty stuff.  Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean at the end of a peninsula pretty much guarantees that you are surrounded by it.  Ptown has fabulous beaches and a bustling main shopping district well within feet of the ocean.  You can walk to see lighthouses; you can visit the harbor and pier.  But by far the most memorable way to really experience the ocean is to get out into it!  Unless you arrived with your own water bound mode of transportation, you may need a little help.  Here are some of our favorite ways to immerse yourself in Ptown’s great big blue.

#1 Whale Watch

Whales are amazing creatures.  Best seen in person.  There’s only one way to do it: by boat.  Ptown has several different options, from small, boutique boats to larger, ferry trips.  There are dog-friendly options too.  Just be sure to bring warm clothes¾no matter how hot it is onshore, it’s always cooler out on the water.

#2 Sail Aboard a Wooden Schooner

Want to experience what it feels like on a 100-year-old wooden sailing vessel?  I’ll answer for you: yes, you do.  The Hindu, originally built in 1925 as a pleasure yacht, will always be one of my personal favorites (we spent the afternoon of our wedding on it) but there are others too.  There’s a reason these sailboats never retire.  A leisurely sail around Provincetown Harbor is magical and soothing—just about as timeless as it gets.  Plus, today, in the 21st century, the boats are cleaner, rodent-free, and only go out on nice weather!

#3 Kayaking & Stand-up Paddling (SUP)

Whether on your own or as part of a tour, a kayak ride or a paddle around Ptown’s waters offers exercise and scenic beauty, all in one.  No need to lug your own kayak or board all the way out here.  Provincetown Aquasports, located conveniently on Commercial Street, provides rentals, lessons, and tours.  Provincetown Harbor is the safest place for a paddle, as it is on Cape Cod Bay and has calm waters and currents.  For the more adventurous, a paddle out to Race Point offers some of the best whale watching in the U.S. (just make sure you keep your distance¾it is illegal to get within 200 yards of a whale).  Time of year matters for catching the whales¾spring is the best time to see them inshore.  To be sure, the Center for Coastal Studies usually posts recent sightings on its Facebook page.

Provincetown By Bike

Biking on the Beach at Sunst in Oceanside - November 2, 2012

Provincetown’s unmistakable landscape has a wonderful way of transforming even the most reluctant city slicker into a veritable outdoors person. Who can resist those crazy dunes, the classic lighthouses, and the mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets? Despite the fact that many windows in Ptown offer a glimpse of the ocean, it’s still nice to get beyond the village to enjoy Mother Nature to the fullest. Ptown offers plenty of flat roads and trails for casual biking. Just be sure to avoid Route 6 as it has no bike lane and no safe shoulder to ride on. For cyclists of all levels, here are two of our favorite rides:

1) Province Lands Bike trail

The Province Lands is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. For the history buffs out there, the land was originally set aside as a fisheries reserve in the 1600s by the Plymouth Bay Colony. The Cape’s early colonists were keenly aware of the importance of protecting their marine resources. It’s a hilly loop a little over 5 miles, with another 2 more miles of extensions to be added (Herring Cove Beach, Race Point Beach, Bennett Pond). This trail winds through the otherworldly dunescape of the Outer Cape. You can easily bike from town or park your car at the Province Lands Visitor Center. Maps are available at the trailhead.

2) Cape Cod Rail Trail: The Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) is a 25 mile, paved bike trail built over a 19th century rail line. Stretching from Dennis to Wellfleet, it’s the best way to see many of the Cape’s towns, with plenty of places to stop for snacks, shopping, swimming, etc. It’s fairly flat and a family-friendly ride. For those staying in Ptown, it’ll be a little bit of a drive to get to it.

Here are some additional resources for our cycle-minded visitors:

1) Cape Cod Bike Guide (www.capecodbikeguide.com): Easy website with an extensive list of trails/paths (including directions) and bike shops.

2) Ptown Bikes (www.ptownbikes.com): Full-service bike shop on Bradford Street just west of the Brass Key

3) Gale Force Bikes (http://www.galeforcebikes.com/): Full-service bike shop in Ptown with rentals, sales, and repairs. Also offers a convenience store to stock of up sandwiches and drinks. Conveniently located just off the Herring Cove Beach extension of the Province Lands Bike Trail.

4) The Bike Shack (www.provincetownbikeshack.com) Located on Shank Painter street headed into town, it offers biker rentals, repairs, sales, and service.

5) Arnold’s Bike Shop (http://provincetownbikes.com/): Another of Ptown’s full-service bike shop located on Commercial Street, also offers rentals, sales, and repairs.

6)  Provincetown Bike Rentals (http://www.provincetownbikerentals.com/): Provincetown’s newest bike rental store.