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Harbor LIFE: Provincetown

Commercial Street, Pilgrim Monument

Commercial Street at night, with the Pilgrim Monument in the background. Photo by Josh Shortsleeve

No trip to Provincetown is complete without a visit to Shop Therapy. At street level, you’ll find colorful hippie-style skirts, tie-dye T-shirts and cool postcards (hula-hooping nuns and the Beatles circa 1963). Upstairs—no minors allowed—are cigars, smoking paraphernalia and sex toys.

Other stops on the stretch of road: Cabot’s Candy, where there’s a taffy-pulling machine that produces basic flavors along with amaretto, sour apple and cranberry-walnut; Henry & Company men’s clothing, which sells “handsome provisions for the upwardly casual”; Mystik Moon for psychic readings; and Toys of Eros.

Waydowntown is a bar with live music year-round by local acts, including Randy Frost & The Hurricanes, Steve Morgan & The Kingfish, and Sarah Burrill & Kami Lyle. The 1620 Brewhouse has a large beer selection, a collection of vintage beer cans and a menu of Prohibition-era cocktails, including the Mary Pickford (light rum, maraschino liqueur, pineapple juice and grenadine).

Whaler’s Wharf houses galleries and a movie theater. Go to the end of the first-floor walkway and you’ll find the beach. To the right, you can see the 180-degree curve of the shoreline forming the harbor with the Long Point lighthouse straight in front of you. The soft sounds of the breeze and the waves contrast with the hustle and bustle of Commercial Street. Ross’ Grill on the second floor offers cocktails and a lofty view of the harbor.

Scattered the length of Commercial Street are dozens of galleries—too many to name.

Back at the pier, by the entrance to the marina, a 10-foot-tall blue Adirondack chair towers over the beach. It’s a good place to rest your feet and take in the harbor view one more time. At 9 Ryder Seaside Dining, there’s an impressive selection of pasta dishes, including foriana, caretiera and penne ragu con vitello—saying them is almost as much fun as eating them.

At the far end of Commercial Street is Pilgrim Park, a garden inside a rotary. A marker overlooking the harbor is a reminder that on Nov. 11, 1620, “near this spot the Pilgrims first touched foot on American soil.” A visit to the 252-foot-tall Pilgrim Monument and the adjacent Provincetown Museum will provide the real stories of the time.

On your way out of town, stop at the Province Lands Visitor Center. “Too many people don’t go to the dunes or the National Seashore,” says Herbie Hintze of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce. “That’s the most spectacular thing about Provincetown. It’s a totally different world.”

Hours for many Provincetown businesses change with the seasons, so be sure to check by web or phone before visiting.

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