The compact fishing village of PROVINCETOWN (or, as it’s popularly known, “P-Town”) is a gorgeous place, with silvery clapboard houses and gloriously unruly gardens lining the town’s tiny, winding streets. Bohemians and artists have long flocked here for the quality of light and vast beaches; in 1914 Eugene O’Neill established the Provincetown Playhouse here in a small hut. Since the Beatnik 1950s, the town has also been a gay centre, and today its population of five thousand rises tenfold in the summer. Commercialism, though quite visible along the main drags, tends to be countercultural: gay, environmental and feminist gift shops join arty galleries, restaurants and bars on the aptly named Commercial Street. However, strict zoning ensures that there are few new buildings in town. Albeit crowded and raucous from July through to September, P-Town remains a place where history, natural beauty and, above all, difference, are respected and celebrated.

Provincetown lies 120 miles from Boston by land, but less than fifty miles by sea, nestled in the New England coast’s largest natural harbour. Its tiny core is centred on the three narrow miles of Commercial StreetMacMillan Pier, always busy with charters, yachts and fishing boats (which unload their catch each afternoon), splits the town in half. East of the centre (but still on Commercial St), are scores of quaint art galleries, as well as the delightful Provincetown Art Association and Museum (508 487 1750, paam.org), which rotates works from its two-thousand-strong collection.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Why California should be your next family holiday

Why California should be your next family holiday

When it comes to kids, the Golden State certainly lives up to its name – California is one paradise of a playground. Go now and you’ll find the sights quie…

19 Feb 2018 • Keith Drew insert_drive_file Article
Los Angeles or San Francisco: which should you visit first?

Los Angeles or San Francisco: which should you visit first?

They’re two of the biggest cities in the United States. They’re two of the most famous cities in the world. Los Angeles and San Francisco have been written…

29 Jan 2018 • Keith Drew insert_drive_file Article
The best national parks in California

The best national parks in California

California has more national parks than anywhere else in the United States; together they protect an area the size of West Virginia. And with such a wealth of …

25 Jan 2018 • Keith Drew insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right