Gay Vacations in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Aerial view of the coast in Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown, Massachusetts (Joe Sohm/Digital Vision/Getty)

Provincetown Highlights

  • There's a god-awful bus ride from Boston that takes more than double the time than one of the ferries leaving from Boston's World Trade Center from mid-May to late September. The boats drop you off right on the town's pier, and you don’t need a car once you get to P-town (bicycle rentals are the preferred means of transport).
  • Although many wax on about how perfectly serene and scenic P-town is during its snowy winters, don’t expect much of a happening scene anytime except summer. Most restaurants, bars, and stores are completely shuttered in the off-season.
  • P-town really does become whatever theme week it is—so if you’re coming with kids, you may not want to come for leather week, or if you're into wearing leather, you may not want to visit during family week! Check with the tourism board for a schedule of theme weeks.

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Who would have thought that an obscure fishing village at the end of the spiral arm of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, would become one of the most celebrated arts centers in America? Provincetown (affectionately referred to as "P-town") has hosted the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Norman Mailer, Michael Cunningham, Tennessee Williams, Sebastian Junger, Eugene O'Neill, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, and even John Waters. Artists have been drawn to the beauty, remoteness, and anything-goes attitude of Provincetown for generations.

And where there are artists, there are gays and lesbians. Since the 1950s, this quaint, intact New England village has been an LGBT getaway for Bostonians and New Yorkers who want to sunbathe in the very queer dunes of Herring Cove, and then want to have a same-sex drink at the Atlantic House, a gay bar that has been around for so long that Oscar Wilde is rumored to have imbibed there. Nowadays, P-town is home to dozens of LGBT lodgings, bars, and businesses, and to thousands of gay tourists and transplants. And it's becoming especially more and more lesbian over time. Longtimers say it's getting straighter and more gentrified, but you'd never know it during one of the town’s theme weeks, of which there are many, each catering to a group such as bears, leathermen, women, crossdressers, queer families with kids, you name it.

And then there are the live comedy and music shows. You'll see performers (regardless of their fame) stopping pedestrians on the main drag of Commercial Street with flyers for that night's performance. No matter: Everyone stops to chat in the street in this village that feels like a neighborhood, where you bump into new friends time and time again. Beyond the beach and the booze (the Boat Slip Hotel's deck being the main outdoor venue for tea dances and poolside antics), there is a lot to see in P-town: four-wheel-drive dune tours, boat trips on old-fashioned schooners, a climb up the Pilgrim Monument tower overlooking the town, or join one of the frequent arts or writing seminars happening throughout the year.


Published: 15 Aug 2008 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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