Put Provincetown on your bucket list if you have never been.
Fall is a perfect time to visit Ptown ( as it is called ) as hotel rates are half peak season, the weather is still nice, and you don't have to fight the crowds. The town is charming. There are no chains ( like Starbucks or CVS ). There are just two main streets ( Commercial and Bradford ), but they're packed with interesting shops, restaurants and lodging. Did I mention it is the gayest place you will ever visit although everyone is welcome and mingles freely there. It is on Cape Cod, a narrow peninsula filled with charming cities. Provincetown was discovered by the Pilgrims, although they settled in Plymouth.
Actually, I had never been to Provincetown so diverted there after my Boston conference on the Harbor Bay Cruise Fast Ferry to Provincetown ( baystatecruisecompany.com, $59 one way, leaves from World Trade Center-runs through mid-October ).
Take the SL ( Silver Line ) bus from Boston Logan Airport to the Trade Center station ( free going, $2.75 on the way back ). You can also drive there from Boston or fly from the Boston airport. There is also another fast ferry but it leaves further from the airport and there is no connecting bus although you could take Uber or Lyft. ( I took Southwest to Boston since they don't charge for luggage nor to change your ticket. )
Once in Provincetown, you can walk to your hotel. I snagged a room at the Crew's Quarters ( everything else was sold out ), a budget choice with shared bathrooms. I paid $164, but after Labor Day the rate falls to $103.
Other lodging options include The Red Inn ( 15 Commercial Ave., RedInn.com ), the Boatslip Resort Hotel ( rates from $175 in the fall ) and Provincetown Inn ( 1 Commercial Ave. ). The Red Inn is nice and also has a great bar and restaurant plus bay views. Check Trip Advisor or Yelp for other options or the shared housing sites like AirBnB.
The T Dance runs at Boatslip Resot daily until Sept. 10 and weekends after that. It is a must. It starts at 4pm and ends at 7 p.m. We had Madonna one night as a theme and disco-80s hits the next day during the week I was there.
Start your morning at Joe Coffee ( on Commercial ). Breakfast at Liz Cafe ( 31 Bradford ) runs 8 a.m.-2 p.m., and is quite popular.
Ice cream ( homemade ) plus Stumptown Coffee can be found at the Happy Camper ( on Commercial ). After the bars, head to Spiritus Pizza ( 190 Commercial ).
Rent a hybrid bike at Provincetown Bikes ( $16 for four hours, 136 Bradford Avenue ) and enjoy the trails and beaches of Cape Cod National Seashore. Stop at the Province Lands Visitor Center to learn about the natural history of the area which is filled with sand dunes, bogs, and more. The ten miles of bike trails are sometime hilly. Don't miss the beech forest. The winters are windy but they only get 25 inches of snow since it does not stick due to the warming influence of the Atlantic Ocean.
Whale watching is another option, with four types of whales in the area, not to mention the seals. Don't swim alone, though, as there are sharks in the water.
Don't miss Herring Cove Beach. Walk a half mile from the bike parking area before the main entrance. You can take the Beach Shuttle there or even walk to the entrance. Go left for the LGBT section. The Race Point Beach is also nice.
There are other active choices. You can walk up to the top of the Pigrim Monument at 252 feet, work out at Mussell Beach ( $23 for a day pass ) on Bradford Avenue and dance the night away at Club Purgatory ( at the Gifford House Inn ).
You don't need a reason to go but the following fall events make the trip worth it:
Sept. 9 Swim for Life
Sept. 11-17 Afterglow Arts Festival
Sept. 15-17 Lambda Car Show
Sept. 28-Oct. 2 Leather weekend ( matesleatherweekend.com )
Oct. 9-15 Women's Weekend ( womensweekprovincetown.com )
Oct. 27-31 Halloween/Spooky Bear weekend
I also stayed in Boston for a few days at the new and trendy Yotel Hotel ( 65 Seaport-Courthouse Metro on the T ). Check out their roof top bar. ( Rates from $179. ) While in Boston, don't miss Fanueil Hall ( like the French Market in Chicago ). Boston is a very walkable historic city.
For more information on Ptown, check out Provincetown Magazine or the website ptown.org . The new booklet Ptown Hacks also has lots of tips on what to do.
For Boston information, read the Improper Bostonian ( see LGBT event and business listings ), DigBoston.com,the Boston Spirit or Bay Windows.
Coming soon: A column on Saugutuck
Bill Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis who writes for The Midwest Eagle, Windy City Times, All Aboard Indiana and the Broad Ripple Gazette. All or parts of this article may appear in other publications. The views expressed are his own. He does not receive compensation from places visited nor these publications. You can find him on Facebook.