Provincetown is like an effortlessly entertaining hostess, offering a convivial setting where you can have fun from morning into night. A gathering where you can embrace your inner extrovert in the middle of the action, or indulge your closet introvert and simply people watch — and still feel like you belong.
You can escape to enjoy the stunning natural landscape — soft sand beaches, sea, marshes and dunes — or walk the always-entertaining Commercial Street. These facets of Provincetown’s personality are what draw visitors time and again. It’s what drew me here nearly 30 years ago.
Most everyone who’s fallen for Provincetown remembers their first time on Commercial Street, their first time that feeling of ease washes over their shoulders. For many years, it was one of the few places where gay people could be themselves — hold hands, hug or kiss in public just like straight couples.
Although I still considered myself straight when I first visited Provincetown, for a Swim for Life one September, I wasn’t so dense as to not notice how good it felt to be here. I, of course, attributed it to the fresh sea air — loving to sit on the breakwater and breathe.
On one of my trips to visit, in the early ‘90s, local friends took me rollerblading along National Seashore trails into Truro. (Yes, rollerblading was still “cool” back then.) They took me walking through the dunes and then out along the old fire road to Hatches Harbor. I was hooked by that sense of comfort and open spaces.
It’s what drew me back to make Provincetown my home. I still think it’s one of the things that makes Provincetown extraordinary — the remarkable array of outdoor activities, whether your preference is running, bike riding, kayaking or paddle boarding, walking the streets or the National Seashore trails or hiking over the dunes to the ocean beach. Whale watching never gets old, no matter how many times you go out. Charter fishing, sailing trips, boat rentals — there’s something to entertain everyone no matter their mood.
The summer street scene is also seductive, day and night: Families on vacation. Men in drag. Couples of every shape and style: Women and women, men and men, men and women, and everything in between.
Once the sun sets, Commercial Street beckons with a bounty of entertainment: Restaurants, art galleries, theater, movies, shopping, clubs with music, dancing, singers and comedians — even top Broadway stars in intimate venues — and, still my favorite, people watching.
Although Provincetown is no longer the only place gay people can feel at ease being out, I still think this place is a rare haven, for the recreation, entertainment and sense of wellbeing women especially can enjoy here. It's still a unique experience to discover the total comfort of being able to be yourself with your friends and loved ones.
Here are the events I look forward to every year here in Provincetown:
Single Women’s Weekend, May 19-21, offers a prelude to the unofficial start to the season — MEMDAY Weekend, May 25-29, formerly affectionately referred to as “Baby Dyke Weekend”. Additional women-focused events include Womxn of Color, June 2-4 — which coincides with Provincetown Pride — Girl Splash, July 19-23 and Women's Week, Oct. 6-15. Learn more at ptowntourism.com.
Sally is a Provincetown-based writer-editor who's lived in town since 1994.