Quaint towns, stellar seafood, beautiful beaches — here’s where to find them on Cape Cod
- Last Updated: 10:34 PM, June 25, 2012
- Posted: 4:30 PM, June 25, 2012
Overpriced, mediocre restaurants, long lines outside thumping nightclubs, $800 hotel rooms — is that really what you want in a summer getaway? We didn’t think so. So skip the Hamptons and head to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, where you can eat well, stay (relatively) affordably and enjoy great beaches — with nary a velvet rope in sight.
At the tip of the Cape is the artsy, heavily gay community of P-town, where your average tourist and your average drag queen might rub elbows at a local watering hole. Fancy B&Bs and tony restaurants have moved in, and Commercial Street swarms with crowds in summer, but the village — with its narrow streets and beautifully tended gardens — hasn’t lost its charm.
EAT: Seafood, ice cream, seafood, ice cream — that’s the constant P-town diet, but you won’t get bored in a place where they’re this good. Our pick is the humble Native Cape Cod Seafood, located in the Aquarium Marketplace, a kind of open-air food court with local fare. We flipped for the steamed clams, served with a toasted baguette slice to mop up the exquisite garlic-and-white wine sauce. Order at the counter, then take your fresh catch onto the shaded deck of the Aqua Bar, where you can enjoy it with a cocktail (205-209 Commercial St.; 508-413-9724).
Vanilla? Puh-leeze. With flavors like Red Velvet Cake and Coconut Almond Bar, the line is always long outside the pint-sized, family-owned ice-cream shop PTown Scoop. (385 Commercial St.; ptownscoop.net).
SHOP: Where there were once stores hawking kinky leatherwear, Commercial Street, is now (mostly) cleaned up. Galleries and boutiques have moved in; the ubiquitous Marc Jacobs even has a storefront. One holdover is Marine Specialties, a hodgepodge of army/navy gear, surplus airline goods, boating supplies, T-shirts and souvenirs: Think of it a big, musty treasure hunt (235 Commercial St.; ptownarmynavy.com). Of the many talented local artists, one in particular stands out: Adam Peck, whose eponymous gallery features his stark, geometric paintings of houses (137 Commercial St., adampeckgallery.com).
STAY: Sleep where the likes of Tennessee Williams and John Waters lay their heads — at Poor Richards Landing, a 1930s-era jumble of cottages alongside the Provincetown Harbor. The stripped-down but comfortable property hearkens back to a time when struggling artists and writers lived and worked side-by-side, inspired by the sea just outside their door (from $1,200-$1,800 weekly; poorrichardslanding.com).
BEST BEACH ADVENTURE: Skip the crowded Race Point Beach and take a vigorous hike to the Cape Cod National Seashore, where the only sign of development is a handful of dune shacks, which still serve as artist retreats. Park on Snail Road, cross Route 6 (carefully) and take an unmarked trail that leads to an otherworldly landscape of undulating sand dunes, scrubby bushes, wildflowers — and not much else. Over the crest of the final dune, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the beach below — and there’s a good chance you’ll have it all to yourself.