Provincetown On A Budget: Summer 2021
Like any tourist destination, Provincetown can be an expensive place to stay and play. But we’re here to tell you—it doesn’t have to be! You can spend a lot of money, but there’s a lot you can do while staying within your budget, especially if your interest is enjoying the natural beauty of the Outer Cape.
Choosing when and where to spend your money is the key to a budget-conscious vacation.
Where can I stay?
In-season, the least expensive option is camping. There are two campgrounds in Provincetown, Coastal Acres and Dune’s Edge, but note that they fill up fast. If you can live dormitory-style with a shared kitchen, Provincetown also has the Outermost Hostel.
While renting a condo for a week can be expensive, if you’re sharing the cost with a group of friends, this can work out even better than more rustic alternatives… and you won’t need camping gear or mosquito repellent! (ptownie tip: We recommend local, family-owned WeNeedAVacation.com—you’ll save money on airbnb and VRBO’s crazy fees, and the customer service is exceptional.)
Where can I eat?
The Aquarium Marketplace/Mall on Commercial Street has a wide selection of take-away foods, from burritos to fish to a bakery to healthy salads and more. Pick up something and take it down to the Aqua Bar at the end of the mall, where for the price of a drink you can sit and watch the harbor while eating your takeaway.
Chach is run by Viola “Chach” Briseño and her partner Sharon Bowes. This local favorite is a new take on classic diner food as well as Mexican food.
The Canteen on Commercial Street offers excellent soups, sharing-sized portions, and side dishes that can truly stand in for a whole meal. (ptownie tip: We love Rob and Loïc at The Canteen, who sustain and support Ptown at all times but were a special community resource during the pandemic.)
Truro Vineyards features a food truck called the Crush Pad that’s run by the famous Blackfish restaurant. For a great afternoon, buy some wine and food, enjoy it all at a picnic table under the trees!
John’s Footlong isn’t just a hotdog and hamburger stand, it’s a town institution… and an affordable one! Try the Portuguese rice for a taste of something uber-local.
The Coffee Pot is a terrific place for a quick breakfast on-the-go—as well as a place to sit and people-watch at the outside tables at Lopes Square—that won’t leave you poor for the rest of the day. The same can be said for Café Maria just across the square, where early mornings see all the locals hanging out and sharing news. And the patio at joe coffee is a great way to feel the sun and enjoy coffee and pastries.
Perfect Picnic will pack up a meal to go that’s both fun and satisfying.
In addition, last year we surveyed our readers and asked about their favorite places to eat on a budget. Here’s what they told us:
What Can I Do?
The best entertainment in Provincetown is free: a saunter down Commercial Street to see—and be seen. There are lots of other places to explore on foot: watch the boats come in at MacMillan Pier, walk the length of Provincetown on the beach (with or without your dog!), and explore the nooks and crannies of the side streets.
Renting a bicycle is inexpensive and opens up lots of possibilities. The bike path through the National Seashore on the Province Lands Bike Trail is a solid workout. Park your bike or car at Beech Forest and have a wander on either of the two loops around the pond.
You have to pay to enter the National Seashore beaches, but they’re free after 5pm. Bring a picnic and some wine (or buy food and wine/beer at Far Land On The Beach at Herring Cove) and watch the sunset!
Check for re-opening after the pandemic: The library is free and often sponsors activities. Plus, it’s a museum in and of itself, with paintings, the famous Lipton Cup, and an impressive half-scale model of the Rose Dorothea.
Park your car or bike on Snail Road and head up the fire road to instantly be in the woods and miles from anywhere. Alternately, cross Route Six and hike into the dunes: you can walk all the way to the ocean. (Whichever you choose, take plenty of water—it’s easy to become dehydrated!)
Another great walk is in the far west end of town, where you’ll find the small park commemorating the landing of the Mayflower in 1620. You can walk out on the breakwater (at any time other than high tide) and hike all the way to Wood End Light to the right or Long Point Light to the left. Take a towel with you and enjoy the beach at Long Point!
Catch the shuttle bus that does the circuit of the Seashore beaches when you want to go to Herring Cove or Race Point—you won’t have to pay a parking fee that way! The shuttle bus charges a small fee each way.
What about entertainment?
Check out Ptown’s art galleries! Friday evenings there’s an official “gallery stroll,” when some galleries serve wine and cheese; but even if it’s not Friday, it’s a pleasant way to see some fabulous art, and most galleries stay open well into the evening.
Far Land on the Beach offers food, wine, and beer—and free concerts by local musicians performing a couple of evenings a week, again with health precautions permitting. Check their Facebook page for details as they become available.
A slice at Spiritus Pizza is an inexpensive late-night must-do.
For a quiet evening, take a stroll down MacMillan Pier, sit on one of the benches, and watch the lights of all the boats at anchor.
There’s more where that came from! Ptownie has more to share about our special town at land’s end. Check out our list of galleries in Provincetown!