Despite living in Massachusetts for six years, I’ve never visited Provincetown. I decided to finally make the trip before I leave the state. It’s only about two hours from Boston. Plymouth is an easy stop en route.
But first, a little Pilgrim history. I remember learning that the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and settled there. They actually first landed at Provincetown, on the end of Cape Code. They didn’t stick around for a couple reasons. The first problem was that they didn’t have rights to settle here. To get around this, they signed the Mayflower compact, establishing a government. But they also disturbed an Indian burial ground by stealing corn intended for the dead. Later they got in a firefight with the Indians. Worried about angering the locals, they moved across the bay to a more defensible position. Here they established the colony of Plymouth, named after the city in England from which they departed.
It would be bad for a wooden whip to “land on” a rock, so that part of the story is wrong. The truth is that the small rock was said to be the rock that the Pilgrims first set foot on after stepping ashore. The story was told second-hand by a 90-year-old man, but there is no written proof of this. The actual rock is tiny.
More interesting was Ptown. The quaint town has a colorful history of whaling, Portuguese immigration, art, and diversity. Its main street, Commercial Street, is lined with funky shops, art galleries, theaters, restaurants, and homemade ice cream shops. There’s a beach nearby. It’s a fun place to hang out for a couple day.
Very close is the Cape Code National Seashore, a large area of sand dunes and scrubby forrest. The first stop should be the Province Lands Visitor Center to learn about the area. It was interesting to find out that this used to be forrest, but after years of cutting down trees and overgrazing, the settlers created a desert. You can rent bikes in Provincetown and ride the paved bike trails. It’s an easy ride to Race Point Beach, which is bigger, less crowded, and nicer than the beach in town. Be sure to bring food, a place to sit, and shelter, because nothing is available here. It’s possible to get a permit to drive your vehicle on the beach. A longer ride among the big dunes goes to the lighthouse.
Provincetown is a fun trip I wish I had made sooner.