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Looking for the best things to do in Provincetown for a perfect vacation? Whether you’re bringing the kids or the furbabies and whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or cultured activities, Ptown is the place to be for everybody.
Located at the very tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Provincetown has long been a haven for artists, the LGBTQ+ community, and anyone seeking inclusive fun and a warm welcome.
The drive from Boston takes 2 hours on a good day, but expect lots of traffic on busy holiday weekends and throughout the summer. Alternatively, consider ditching the car and taking one of the ferries to Provincetown from Boston or Plymouth.
Once you’re there, you’ll be spoiled for choice with fun activities and beautiful views!
Best Things to Do in Provincetown MA
Art & Culture Activities in Provincetown
Provincetown has long been a popular artists’ destination.
With such stunning natural beauty all around and a welcoming, inclusive community, it’s no wonder painters, writers, and other creatives flock to Ptown.
Tourists certainly benefit from the variety of cultural activities to enjoy in such a small destination!
Admire the Best Local Art at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum
For one of the best cultural things to do in P-town, you have to visit the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (460 Commercial St).
The PAAM is the most attended art museum on Cape Cod.
It houses more than 2,500 art objects and shows about 40 exhibitions every year.
Walk around any of the three sculpture gardens on the perimeter of the property, or admire any of the works in the permanent collection, made mostly by artists who worked on the Outer Cape.
The PAAM houses tons of historical works from the earliest days of the Cape Cod School of Art, one of the earliest art colonies in the U.S.
Shop and Eat on the Iconic Commercial Street
When you’re ready to hit the shops, you’ve got to make your way to Commercial Street, the main drag in downtown Provincetown.
With tons of shops, restaurants, bakeries, and art galleries, you’ll never run out of things to do in Ptown.
Don’t miss the murals at Shop Therapy (286 Commercial Street), which are always great for photography.
The most iconic restaurant in town, The Lobster Pot (321 Commercial St), features two waterfront locations, the freshest seafood, and authentic Portuguese cuisine.
You have to try the classic Surf and Turf or, for a bit more adventure, order the P-town Paella.
For a little something sweet, stop by Cabot’s Candy (276 Commercial St) for saltwater taffy, creative fudge flavors, and penny candy.
Check Out Modern Art in the Cortile Gallery
Wondering what to do in Provincetown in bad weather?
It’s always a good idea to see creative works from members of the oldest continuous art colony in the entire US!
Voted the best gallery on the Cape and Islands, the Cortile Gallery hosts the work of some of the best artists in the region.
Featuring almost every possible medium, Cortile especially showcases oils, acrylics, glass, bronze, and wood sculptures.
What to Do in Provincetown MA If You Love the Outdoors
Natural beauty abounds in this part of the Cape.
From the Cape Cod National Seashore to epic sunsets to whale watching, basking in the wondrous outdoors is certainly one of the best things to do in Provincetown!
Hike the Dunes to the Race Point Lighthouse
First lit in 1816, the Race Point Light Station has been guiding vessels safely away from shore for centuries.
The lighthouse is still in operation today, managed by the Coast Guard and the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation.
The history of the Race Point Lighthouse is fascinating and rich, and you can make the most of your visit to Provincetown by spending the night in the Keeper’s quarters!
It has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, deeming it an iconic site worthy of being preserved for its historical significance.
To reach the light station, you can hike about 45 minutes over the sandy beaches, or you can go by dune buggy.
Art’s Dune Tours is an iconic thing to do in Provincetown, having been running since 1946!
Explore the Natural Environment at the Province Lands Visitor Center and Bike Trail
If you visit Cape Cod any time between spring and fall, you’ll be able to check out the famous and beautiful Province Lands Visitor Center.
It is located at the outermost tip of the Cape and features a breathtaking observation deck.
Inside the center’s museum, get a sense of the ecology of the place with 3-D models, artifacts, specimens, videos, and more.
From the observation point, you can see towering dunes, crashing waves, and tons of species of shorebirds in their natural habitat.
Luckily, if you journey to the cape in the winter off-season, you can still enjoy the panoramic beauty of the shore from the deck, which stays open year-round.
Hike the Secluded and Cool Woods at the Beech Forest Nature Preserve
Though Provincetown isn’t known for its hiking, heading outdoors to the Beech Forest Trail (36 Race Point Rd) is one of the best things to do in Provincetown for nature lovers.
This mile-long trail, starting just north of the downtown area, is easy to find and fun to hike.
It hugs the shallow Beech Forest Pond, a wonderful spot for bird-watching all year round.
Lots of seasoned birdwatchers have even dubbed Beech Forest to be some of the best birdwatching conditions on the Outer Cape lands.
Beech forests are very peaceful with their thick canopy and slender trunks, making an almost fairytale-like hiking experience.
Parking should not be an issue, even on the busiest days, as there are lots of parking spots near the trailhead to accommodate lots of visitors.
Splash in the Waves at Herring Cove Beach
If the waves on the ocean side of the Cape are too rough for you or your family, give Herring Cove Beach a try.
With gentle waves, pristine sand, and wheelchair access, this beach is perfect for the whole family.
Everyone will love the snack bar and the concerts every evening through the summer.
The parents will love the changing rooms and clean bathrooms, tons of public parking, and lifeguards posted all along the beach during the summer season.
Soak Up the Sun on All 40 miles of the Cape Cod National Seashore
If you love exploring National Parks, the Cape Cod National Seashore is a perfect place to explore.
Managed by the U.S. National Park Service, the National Seashore features marshlands, ponds, wooded areas, uplands, and more than 40 miles of pristine beaches.
This historic land is well-loved by travelers and locals alike.
There are two visitor centers with restrooms, staff to answer questions, and observation decks.
You might encounter wildlife both on land and at sea; as always, do not approach any animal in their habitat.
Make sure you check the National Park’s website for the current conditions of the seashore before you go.
Kid-Friendly Educational Things to Do in Ptown
While some people believe Provincetown is reserved for the adult gay community, it is actually a lovely spot to bring the whole family.
It is a wholly welcoming community, and tourists and locals alike bring their families to the most popular locations all around P-town.
Bring the little ones for outdoor fun and your older kids and teens will love the diversity of activities and attractions in Ptown, too.
Adventure with the Kids to the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum
One of the best things for kids to do in Provincetown is to visit the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum (1 High Pole Hill Rd).
Take the kids up the 252-foot monument commemorating the Pilgrims’ first landing in the Americas, and enjoy a panoramic view of Cape Cod’s shores.
As of 2022, there is a new wheelchair-accessible pathway leading to the ADA-compliant inclined elevator from Bradford Street up High Pole Hill to the monument grounds.
Read all the accessibility details here.
The Provincetown Museum takes visitors in detail through the complicated relationship between the Indigenous Wampanoag and the Mayflower Pilgrims.
This is the only permanent exhibit in the world to accurately describe the early history of colonization of America through a Wampanoag perspective.
For example, it is not often told that the Pilgrims stole from the Wampanoag and desecrated sacred grounds.
Learn about all this and much more at the monument and museum, teaching your kids to delve deeper into history from an early age.
Stop by Pilgrims’ First Landing Park and Imagine the Pilgrims’ Very First Steps
At the tip of Commercial St, you will find a small and pleasant park with a plaque marking the spot where the Pilgrims first landed in the Americas.
Pilgrims’ First Landing Park is a bit of a hidden gem, secluded by large trees and bushes.
Take Commercial St all the way down, and you’ll come to a small rotary.
You can park near the rotary and take the kids to stand where the Pilgrims first stepped foot on soil, all while enjoying amazing views of the West End Breakwater in the background.
For a kid-friendly place to stay in Provincetown, check out AWOL Hotel (59 Province Lands Rd), also known as the Inn at the Moors.
Families love having access to a swimming pool and free parking, plus being close to lots of fun attractions for kids and kids-at-heart.
Other Provincetown Attractions: Whale Watching, Pirates, Beer & More!
Go Whale Watching for a Seaward Adventure
Whenever you get a little tired of all there is to offer on land in Provincetown, be sure to check out Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, New England’s first and best whale watching service.
These 3- to 4-hour boat trips are guided by expert naturalists and are perfect for families.
With a sun deck and viewing platform, along with tons of seating on the upper and lower decks, you’ll love adventuring out on the open sea, searching for whales.
A whale sighting is guaranteed on every trip, so don’t worry about missing out on these amazing creatures.
Make sure you bring sunscreen, good shoes, binoculars, and a camera!
Parking is not available at the pickup spot, but the closest lot is at MacMillan Pier; make sure you arrive with plenty of time so you can find a good place to park.
Find Pirate Artifacts at Expedition Wydah Museum and Gift Shop
Have you ever been curious about the life of the pirates back in the day?
The Wydah Pirate Museum (674 MA-28) houses the largest collection of recovered artifacts from a single shipwreck in the world.
More items are added to the museum’s collection every year, which means you’ll see something new almost every time you come back to visit.
Learn all about the Golden Age of Piracy and its impact on Cape Cod, and New England at large.
Explore everything the world’s first discovered pirate ship has to offer.
Stop by Captain Parker’s after your visit to the pirate museum to enjoy a cool drink and a warm cup of classic New England clam chowder.
While there is plenty of seating, both inside and on the deck overlooking Parker’s River, be prepared to wait a bit for a table; Captain Parker’s does not take any reservations.
Try the Local Brews at Provincetown Brewing Company
Supporting local establishments is always a fun way to experience a place, and Provincetown boasts plenty of makers and shakers!
Provincetown Brewing Company offers local craft beers and good eats to go along with them.
You’ll also feel good knowing that every beer you buy helps support an awesome cause.
PBC donates 15% of all profits to a variety of organizations doing stellar work, from conservation efforts to LGBTQ+ community support to immigration advocacy and more.
They call it Draftivism and we love it.
Walk Along Macmillan Pier
This iconic pier is right in the heart of Provincetown Harbor Beach and close to all the fun things to do in Ptown.
The pier is a mainstay of Provincetown and a hub of water-based activity.
If you take the fast ferry from Boston, you’ll disembark at Macmillan Pier.
Snap a few pics of this icon and stroll along to see if you spot any whales out in the distance.
There are art shacks to check out, the Shark Center at the end of the wharf, and also a birdwatching spot to enjoy.
Public restrooms are also available on the pier.
You can also find hotels in Provincetown that are close to the pier if you’re planning to spend an overnight.
Go On a Sailing Adventure
There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the water-based lifestyle from Provincetown.
Hop aboard a sunset sailing cruise or venture out for a full-day experience; there are multiple public and private sailing ventures available based on your interests and budget.
When you’re on a tiny stretch of land surrounded by the sea, embracing it with a boat trip is always a good idea!
There are obviously so many fun and educational things to do in Provincetown that you’ll have plenty of options for your vacation! If we missed your favorite sunset spot or attraction, let us know in the comments below.