CAPE COD DAY
2: Provincetown, Commercial Street and Race Point Beach
Start the day with breakfast at the Red Cottage in South Dennis, for one of those dining experiences where the atmosphere rivals the cuisine for top marks. Servings are huge and orders run the gamut from the traditional to the wildly creative, like a peanut butter and banana omelet. The building is, as the name implies, a large red cottage with diner décor that hasn't been touched since about 1955.
After breakfast, head toward the very tip of the Cape, or the Outer Cape as natives call it, for a day in Provincetown. From Chatham, the drive takes about an hour, but if you're traveling in high season, pad your schedule with at least an extra half hour of drive time in case of traffic. You may wish to stop along the way to visit the Truro Vineyards, which is really more of a fun diversion than a serious wine tasting experience. Avid cooks should check out the Atlantic Spice Company, also in Truro, for every dried herb or spice your heart may desire, sold at wholesale prices. Also in Truro is the Pilgrim Heights Area, first tread by the Pilgrims' exploratory committee before they settled just off Cape in Plymouth. The area is still thick with wildlife, though walking trails now mark the way for exploring travelers.
Once you hit Provincetown, park your car in one of the many lots just off Commercial Street, Provincetown's main drag. Commercial Street offers a multitude of choices for lunch. A local favorite, Bubala's by the Bay, offers American fare and a lot of local color. (Provincetown boasts several drag shows and performers often walk the street during the day to promote their evening performances.) For an ocean view, try Ross' Grill on the second floor of the Whaler's Warf shopping arcade.
Shopping Commercial Street is an amusing experience to rival the people watching at Bubala's. On the east side of town, art galleries dominate. But further to the west, the scene dissolves into a combination of tourist markets and fetish shops. Should your taste run more toward the tame, be sure to walk at least as far west as Cabot's Candy to watch the machines pull salt water taffy. Then stroll MacMillan Warf in the center of town to check out the fishermen's catches firsthand. On a clear day, the climb to the top of Pilgrim Monument, the looming white tower in the center of town, is worth the sweat.
Before dinner take a drive to Race Point Beach, a stretch of sand that separates downtown Provincetown from the rest of the Cape and one of the most spectacular beaches in the region. A wide strip of sand framed by dunes, north-facing Race Point receives unobstructed light from sunrise to sunset.
If you find you have more time on your hands, Provincetown boasts more than one great beach. You could spend the day trawling a slew of top beaches, including Coast Guard, Nauset, Nauset Light Beach and Herring Cove Beach.
Unlike much of the Cape, Provincetown offers a wide array of upscale dining options. Try The Red Inn for a traditional, New England fine dining experience. Enjoy those famous Wellfleet oysters, locally caught fish specials or rich meats like lamb chops in demi-glace in the setting of a charming, 200 year-old home. Or on the other side of town, try Edwige at Night to enjoy contemporary cuisine and creative cocktails. For a casual meal and a little local color, hang at Spiritus pizza for the town's best pie and excellent people watching.
If you want to experience nightlife Provincetown-style, hit the Crown and Anchor for "Thirsty Burlington's" celebrity impersonations. If Thirsty's not in town, try the Post Office Cabaret, which offers drag and/or comedy shows most nights.
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