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.

The site of Plymouth Rock
The site of Plymouth Rock

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.

The Pilgrim Monument and bas relief commemorating the Mayflower Compact
The Pilgrim Monument and bas relief commemorating the Mayflower Compact

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.

A cute cottage next to the Monument
A cute cottage next to the Monument

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.

A shop on Commercial St
A shop on Commercial St
One of Ptown's many restaurants
One of Ptown’s many restaurants

Another funky shop
Another funky shop
An even funkier one
An even funkier one

Waiting for lobster
Waiting for lobster
Faces in the garden
Faces in the garden
An art gallery
An art gallery

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.

Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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