The first sign of Provincetown comes in the form of the Pilgrim Monument that, like a diminutive Statue of Liberty, stands out against the horizon as the ferry approaches land again. The granite tower was designed and constructed between 1892 and 1910 to commemorate the Mayflower’s first landing in the New World. The Pilgrims reached Cape Cod in 1620 and stayed for a few weeks before continuing on to Plymouth, Massachusetts from Plymouth, England.
In 1654, the Europeans purchased the land for a pittance from the Chief of the Nauset, an Algonquin community. Arrivals in Provincetown Harbor are still celebrated with almost as much exuberance as the original historical event. A throng of locals and vacationers gathers on the piers when your ship comes in to welcome you with a wave and a smile – and they’ll give you just as good a send-off when your visit concludes. You’ll also note the eclectic Mercedes taxi service, whose vehicles are as distinctive as their drivers. Although you may need one if you arrive with luggage and plan to stay a while, the town is literally right up the road.
Culture in Provincetown, like the surrounding ocean, is deep. Drawn primarily by the beautiful light, artists have populated the area since 1899, gaining notoriety in 1916 when the Boston Globe featured a headline story about the colony. In the 1920s and 1930s, the gay and lesbian community of the area began to flourish with the continuous waves of writers, poets, and playwrights who washed up on its shores. The acceptance of difference is at the core of Provincetown’s reputation and mystique. For LGBTQ people, it is a mecca.
The area is also sanctuary to wildlife, and much of the Cape is best observed on foot or on a bicycle, which can be rented in town. There are miles and miles of marshes and beaches that can be quietly explored for hours. Everyone seems at home here, and it isn’t uncommon to find both humans and gulls playing in water pools beyond the dunes. And everywhere you go, the salty sea air follows.