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family travel: Provincetown, MA

Visiting the Cape during the shoulder season–right before and right after the summer months–means the weather is moderate, less crowded, better deals on lodging and most businesses are open. I also love visiting in the off-season from October through May when the weather is colder and the beaches are quiet but still great for hiking as well as during tourist season when everything comes to life on the Cape and the beach is the perfect way to beat the heat.

Rock Jetty - Provincetown

Here’s a list of some of our favorite spots and what we did while in Provincetown, MA over Memorial Weekend. We brought our bikes and except for our trip to the drive-in movie theater, we used bikes as our only mode of transportation.Provincetown Inn

Destination: Provincetown (also referred to as P-Town), MA. Located at the Southernmost tip of the Outer Cape. Distance from Providence: 168 miles. Drive time: 2 Hours and 30 minutes (without traffic).
Time of year: Memorial Day Weekend
Lodging: Provincetown Inn provided beach front lodging for a third of in-season rates. Nothing fancy and a bit noisy from the LATE night party in the room below us but worth the deal and awesome location.

Now that it’s summer and the price of lodging is higher, traffic heavier and a bit harder to park, P-Town is still worth the trip. We have made day trips to Provincetown from Chatham during the summer for years – we just plan on leaving early in the morning to avoid the traffic.

Past posts on Kidoinfo about Cape Cod: A loop around Chatham and Daytripping on the Lower Cape.


Rock Jetty (Pictured above, located next to the Provincetown Inn at the end of Commercial Street):  Takes about an hour to walk the length of the rock jetty to Long Point on the other side. Worth the walk but check the tide first. Some of the rocks will be slippery or submerged during high tide. The walk takes longer than you think – especially with kids– so bring water and snacks. We were surprised at how much poison ivy was growing on the beach on the other side so we stayed  close to the jetty and flew kites before heading back across the rocks.

Hanging out on Commercial Street:


Lunch: I got a delicious sandwich to-go from Relish (Located in the West End) and brought it Spiritus where the boys had pizza slices. Coffee and ice cream also sold here. The lovely back garden has a bocce ball court. We play every time we are in Provincetown.

Spiritus Pizza

Bocce Playing

Serious Bocce Playing

Ice Cream: We chose Lewis Brothers Homemade Ice Cream. Delicious. The friendly owner also shared his favorite coffee and food places in town.

Shopping (All stores located on Commercial Street):

Puzzle Me This, a game and puzzle shop is my sons’ favorite store in town. They always bring their wallets and pick up cards or a game book for under $5. This trip they purchased Indiana Jones Playing Cards for $3.99 and a Movie Trivia book for $4.95.

Puzzle Me This

Our family cannot visit a town without checking out the local book store(s). We browsed Tim’s Used  Books (located down alley off Commercial Street) and Provincetown Bookstore.

Army Navy Store – This place has it all; clothes, shells, swords, fishing gear, games and more. Even if you do not need anything this is a fun place to poke around with kids.

Dinner: Napi’s is a unique restaurant with International Seafood cuisine located on a winding street, a block away off Commercial Street. They have their own parking lot. Their eclectic decor includes works of local artists, antique stained glass and carousel horses. Friendly wait staff is always a plus! This place has been around for years and is still our top pick in Providence for dinner.

After dinner: Wellfleet Drive-In. This  is one of few remaining classic drive-in theaters. It still has the original large screen but now you can listen to the movie on your car radio. Playground, snack bar and bathrooms. Movies start at dusk. My boys were thrilled by the double-feature, Shrek Forever After and Iron Man 2 because they were still awake at the start at the start of Iron Man 2. By day the drive-in parking lot is home to a huge flea market of new and old stuff. Also worth a visit. Cost for double-feature is $8 per adult and $5 per kid.


Bike Trip: We picked up a bike map and bought sandwiches at the Gale Force Bikes and Beach Market (corner of Bradford Street and West Vine Street). This is also a great place to rent bikes if you need them.

The Beach MarketThe Bike Trail - Provincetown

We biked to Herring Beach (via the rode) and picked up the paved bike trail from there to Race Point Beach. This is a spectacular bike ride through the dunes in the  Cape Cod National Seashore.  It takes about 2 hours to complete the 8 mile loop (without kids) so plan your trip accordingly. The trail is hilly and tends to be hot so bring plenty of water. Luckily for every hill you go up there is a hill you can coast down. We broke up the bike ride by spending the afternoon at Race Point beach where there are bathrooms and showers  but no snack bar. On our way home we took the bike trail by the visitor center back into town. The end of the route was on the main road with no bike path. Use caution.

Lobster Pot

Dinner: We ordered take out from The Lobster Pot. Although this a great spot to eat in over looking the water it can be crowded. We opted for take out and took it back to our hotel and ate on our balcony and played card games.

After dinner: Evening walk back to the rock jetty. The best place to watch the sunset. Amazing!

From the Rock Jetty at Sunset


Before Breakfast: Early morning bike ride down Commercial Street before the tourists and traffic starts. It was pretty quiet except for a few other bikers, dog walkers and delivery trucks.

Low tide was 8:30am. We took a walk on the sand flats. Fabulous back view of Provincetown Harbor.

Beach at low tide

Breakfast: By this time we were starving and happy to have the complimentary breakfast (nothing fancy) at the hotel on the back deck.

Beach: Went to the beach on the back side of the hotel. No travel required. After a sword fight with the new wooden swords purchased for $2.50 at the Army Navy Store) the boys got into beach mode and found 14 hermit crabs. They built a sand aquarium for the crabs then observed their behavior before setting them free. We then watched some guys pick up horse shoe crabs by their tales. This did not look like such a good idea.

Building an Aquarium

Lunch: Biked into town for more pizza slices at Spiritus so we could play a few more games of Bocce Ball.

Coffee & Ice Cream: Joe’s Coffee and Cafe (Commercial Street) is an excellent new spot with indoor and outdoor seats. Ben and Jerry‘s located on Commercial Street needs no explanation.

Galleries: There are many places worth visiting along Commercial Street with changing art collections.

Bannister’s Wharf: We walked down the wharf to check out the Whale Watch Tour boats and then watched one of the fishing boats unload their freshly caught scallops onto a truck headed for Gloucester. We peaked into the gift shop for the Whydah Pirate Museum run by National Geographic. Too late for a tour – maybe next trip. Museum Admission is $10 for adults, $ 8 for kids.

What we look forward to on future trips to Provincetown:

– Repeating our favorites from above
– Climb up the Pilgrim Monument on a clear day
– Whale Watch Tour
– Provincetown Art Museum

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  • Great place to visit! Also notable is that for kids with 2 moms or 2 dads it is a great place to see or meet other families like their own.

  • I’ve only been to Ptown for adult getaways. I love this piece and will copy it– just like we copied your mid-cape trip tips!

  • Just learned last week, you should NEVER pick up a horseshoe crab by the tail. Brought my boys to the public library to see a presentation (excellent) by Biomes out of North Kingstown, and Emily the biologist told the kids that if you break the tail off of a horseshoe crab it will die, so don’t ever pick them up by their tails. Good to know!