GET OUTTA TOWN:
PROVINCETOWN, CAPE CODBy Joe Meny
Asian Fusion’s third installment of our ‘Get Outta Town’ series puts us on a road trip up Rt. 95 into the very heart of New England. On the very tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Provincetown is a unique blend of old-fashioned fishing village and hip arts community. Its narrow streets are lined with charming old homes and its main thoroughfare, Commercial Street, is filled with unique shops, top-notch art galleries and inviting restaurants. Provincetown was selected by the National Historical Society as one of the top 12 historic places in the country.
The Pilgrims landed here in 1620, and the Mayflower Compact was signed on board ship in Provincetown Harbor. Commemorating this historic event is the Pilgrim Monument, dedicated in 1910, and rising over 252 feet into the sky. It is an engineering marvel, and the tallest all-granite tower in the United States. The Pilgrim Monument is also home to the Provincetown Museum, presenting engaging exhibitions of our national cultural heritage and the town’s history. A must-see for any first time visitor, you can climb to the top of the tower, where a panoramic view of Cape Cod bay awaits.
Provincetown is famous for its beaches; the town itself is surrounded by the National Seashore. There are two public beaches, Herring Cove and Race Point both astonishingly beautiful any time of the year. Provincetown’s access to the water is legendary. There are seven town landings with access to the waters of Cape Cod bay. Two commercial piers offer access to fishing boats, charters, whale watchers and ferries to and from Boston. First-time visitors can get a wonderful overview of everything Provincetown has to offer by taking a ride on the Mayflower Trolley (www.mayflowertrolley.com), as it takes a 40 minute trip through the heart of Provincetown and beyond.
Provincetown points of interest include:
MacMillan Wharf: Stretching more than 1,200 feet into Provincetown harbor, McMillan Wharf is in many ways the real heart of town, and it’s primary gateway. This where visitors arrive on the ferries from Boston, and where the Dolphin whale-watching vessels are berthed.It is here that the dwindling remnants of the once mighty fishing fleet still land their catch of cod and flounder.
Town Hall: A great Victorian-era structure built in 1886, is is widely recognized as the center of town life. Once inside, be sure to see the murals “Spreading Nets” and “Gathering Beach Plums” by Ross Moffett, confirming that Provincetown’s Town Hall is an art gallery as well. Upstairs, the auditorium is the heart of the building, where Town meetings have traditionally been conducted. There is no mayor in Provincetown; day-to-day administration is in the hands of a Town Manager, hired by the five-member Board of Selectmen.
Public Library: the library in Provincetown is truly a skyline ornament. This Italianate-style landmark was built in 1860 as the Center Methodist Church, and was sold in 1958 to Walter P. Chrysler Jr., who turned it into the chrysler Art Museum. In 2005, the building began its current incarnation as the Public Library.
Atlantic House: The A-House, that’s how this year-round centerpiece of nightlife in Provincetown is known. The hotel was built in 1812, and got its name from Frank Potter Smith in the 1870’s. Acclaimed playwright Eugene O’Neill wrote several plays here, and in the 1950’s the Atlantic House was recognized as a cultural hub with performers like Billie Holiday, Eartha Kitt, and Nina Simone appearing for memorable performances.
Oldest House in Provincetown: Located at 72 Commercial Street, Provincetown’s oldest house was built around 1746 – 1750. It is a full “Cape”, with two front windows flanking a central doorway. That the tops of the windows abut the eaves is a sign of its age. Legend has it that Seth Nickerson, a ship’s carpenter, built the house from material made from shipwrecks.
Recognized throughout the United States and around the world for its renowned art galleries, it was Provincetown’s luminosity, ethnicity, and freedom for anyone to be creative that drew many artists to Provincetown in the early 20th century. Today, Provincetown offers a broad range of artistic styles and genres; from oils to watercolors to photography and beyond. You could spend days just walking and browsing though the more than 50 galleries along Commercial Street and beyond. Some of our favorites include Thanassi Gallery (234 Commercial St.), where you will truly appreciate the amazingly blue Provincetown sky depicted in the gallery’s paintings; Lovinger Gallery (427 Commercial St.) featuring fine art photography by local resident, travel photographer, and workshop instructor Jeff Lovinger; and Egeli Gallery (382 Commercial St.), where artist Arthur Egeli exhibits and sells his colorful and realistic-looking paintings.
With its unique location on the very tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown restaurants are known for some of the freshest seafood you will ever have. Add to that a variety of cuisines, attentive service, and desserts you’ll want to leave room for, dining out in Provincetown will certainly become your most favorite part of the day. Here, Asian Fusion shares just a few of our favorites.
The Mews: Year in and year out, this year-round delight in Provincetown is a “local’s favorite”, thanks in part to the innovative and consistent New American menu, presented by an attentive staff in a beautiful dining room with awesome views of the harbor. We highly recommend the lobster dumplings for an appetizer, and the Lobster risotto simply sensational. The Mews can be a bit difficult to get into during peak summer season, so if you can’t snag a reservation, try the bar (stocked with “many brands of great vodka) or the fun upstairs coffeehouse featuring open-mike nights.
The Lobster Pot: This laid-back landmark over-looking Provincetown harbor is part of a Cape Cod tradition that makes Ptown such a special place. Dine in either of their two waterfront dining rooms, and choose from a menu that features the finest and freshest seafood, Portuguese specialties, steaks, poultry, vegetarian and light fare. We can honestly tell you the Oysters Rockefeller at the Lobster Pot will probably be the best you’ll ever have!
Bayside Betsy’s: One of the best dining and private party locations overlooking Provincetown bay, Bayside Betsy’s happily serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner to locals and visitors alike who return for the superb service and great food. With a lively bar up front and comfortable restaurant in the back, Bayside Betsy’s is a great choice any time of the day! During a recent week-long stay, we can honestly say no matter what the meal, Bayside Betsy’s menu choices do not disappoint!
Connie’s Bakery: A true-to-form home-style bakery located in the center of downtown Provincetown (205 Commercial St.), Connie’s serves breakfast, sandwiches, and salads, along with a selection of sweets that will re-define the definition of “Wow”! We’re talking home-made cookies, biscotti, brownies, fruit bars, cakes, apple dumplings, crostatas, cupcakes, fruit pies, tarts and more. Connie’s Bakery is the kind of place you’ll be telling your friends about. In fact, before you leave Ptown, better stop by and get some goodies for the ride home!
Provincetown is history, culture, art, architecture, food, theater, shopping, beaches, and so much more. We hope our glimpse here of all that Provincetown has to offer has inspired you to perhaps plan a trip of your own. For more information, and to help you plan your trip to Provincetown, be sure to visit: www.provincetown.com. We actually loved Provincetown so much, you just might find a follow-up piece in an upcoming issue. Did we mention there are three lighthouses in Provincetown?