It's refreshing that as Provincetown thrives as the East Coast's premier gay playground summer after summer, the town's dining and nightlife scenes remain relatively steady and consistently varied and fun. Sure, every year a handful of last season's hangouts will disappear, but they are soon replaced by others that establish themselves and become just as popular.
(c) Provincetown Office of Tourism
Beyond these occasional changes, the town's favorite spots for romantic dining, late-night dancing, see-and-be-seen tea dances, fabulous lobster rolls, and midnight pizza remain seemingly destined to please the Provincetown masses for summers to come. So, here's a round-up of some of Provincetown's top venues - new and old - for schmoozing, noshing, sipping, sashaying, and cruising.

Front Street, is renowned for its two innovative menus (one of them Italian, the other Continental), which change often. You might sample tea-smoked duck one night, then come back for basil-buttered shell crabs another. This bistro, in the brick cellar of an old Victorian home, is an ideal spot for special occasions - one of the few places you might dress nattily to dine.

The Mews is home to the best margarita in town and great live entertainment, from open-mic nights to drag shows. The pubby cafe upstairs has great lighter fare (burgers, salads, etc.), a piano, and a popular bar. The downstairs dining room is more formal. A favorite here is peanut-crusted rack of lamb with chili-hoisin sauce and roasted-garlic mashed potatoes. Both rooms have great harbour views.

(c) Provincetown Office of Tourism
Opened in the Whaler's Wharf complex, Ross's Grill is an intimate, cheerful cafe with a creative American and Continental menu, plus a great wine list. And, don't leave P-town without the Lobster Pot, a family-style tourist mecca overlooking the harbour and MacMillan Wharf. Come here for the best lobster rolls in town, plus steamers, and dishes like a tuna sashimi wrap.
Napi's has one of the more exotic menus in town, including such tasty world-beat fare as caponata, hummus, Brazilian steak, chicken teriyaki, Syrian falafel melts, and Cod Provencal.

Noted for incredible, filling breakfasts (available all day), Cafe Heaven is a small storefront hangout serving great omelettes, fresh antipasti, or sandwiches like avocado, goat cheese, tomato, and lettuce on French bread. Finally, be sure to stop by the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery to sample the delicious meat pies, pastries, rolls, and breads.

When it comes time to trade in your knife and fork for a mug of beer or a delicious icy cocktail, head for one of the town's historically significant buildings, the A-House, which is also a hopping gay bar. Here you'll find a downstairs bar that dates from 1798 - the hotel half of the building was added in 1812, and Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill used to stay here. It's P-town's hottest men's disco, and it has a small dance floor, a terrace out back that's good for talking, and a cozy lounge off the dance floor.

Purgatory at Gifford House is home to a basement space has a small dance floor with a dark, cruisy feel and a fairly butch crowd. Stairs lead up to the casual Porchside Bar, which is open earlier in the evening and caters mostly to hotel guests.

Locals and tourists love the cabaret and informal atmosphere of the Post Office Cafe, a great spot for a bite three meals a day, with a low-key bar - it's open year-round. Bayside Betsey's is a friendly and campy place to hang out with friends, and another excellent spot for gossiping, drinking, and meeting both locals and tourists.

All summer long, the poseurs and party creatures - mostly men, but plenty of women, too - mingle and cruise during the legendary tea dances at the Boatslip. The party rocks on the long wooden deck, which has great harbour views, but there's also dancing in their enclosed disco. While you are there take in the atmosphere of the harbour itself which is fun and relaxed.
(c) Provincetown Office of Tourism
Rebuilt following a devastating fire in 1998, the Crown and Anchor is back better than ever with several bars. The owners of the Crowne Point resort took over recently and have huge plans for both the nightlife and dining at the Crown and Anchor. One of the bars inside the resort called The Vault is a landmark hangout for the Bear, Leather and Uniform crowds.

Closeby are two other bars - The Red Room, which used to be called The Velvet Lounge, which is a small nightclub that stages a number of shows each week. It's popular but can be quite cramped. There's also the Grotta Bar which is part of the Enzo Guest House, and offers a chance to sing-a-long with friends on a Saturday night.

And don't miss the Brass Key Guesthouse bar, which welcomes guests with open arms for a relaxed and vibrant evening in their Shipwreck Lounge. The lounge is the quintessential place to meet friends old and new and connect over handcrafted cocktails.


But what about the New Year? Well, New Year Provincetown style is certainly not to be missed. First Light happens from December 30 to January 1 with a chance to ring in the New Year on the tip of Cape Cod.
You can also come and watch or ride in the Lite Brite Bike Ride, catch a show, join the Polar Bear Plunge, or eat at one of Provincetown's fantastic gourmet restaurants. The Lite Brite on New Year's Eve is their traditional annual fun event, when tourists and locals take a short bike ride along Commercial Street.

The Plunge is at Noon on January 1, with hundreds of people plunging into Provincetown Harbor to raise money for the The Center for Coastal Studies. The center is dedicated to understanding, preserving and protecting marine ecosystems & the coastal environment. And finally there are fireworks scheduled on the pier around midnight with a chance to enjoy your festive time in one of the most festive places in the world.

Polar Bear Plunge Photo: Trevor Pittinger
Provincetown Business Guild


A-House (6 Masonic Pl.; T: +1 508-487-3821; Website)
Bayside Betsey's (177 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-6566; Website)
Boatslip (161 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-1669; Website)
Cafe Heaven (199 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-9639; Website)
Crown & Anchor (247 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-1430; Website)
First Light (Website)
Front Street (230 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-9715; Website)
Grotta Bar (Enzo Guest House, 186 Commercial St; T: +1 508-487-7555; Website)
Lite Brite Bike Ride (facebook)
Lobster Pot (321 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-0842; Website)
Napi's (7 Freeman St.; T: +1 508-487-1145; Website)
Polar Bear Plunge (facebook)
Porchside Bar (Gifford House, 9 Carver St; T: +1 508-487-0688; facebook)
Post Office Cafe (313 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-3892; Website)
Provincetown Portuguese Bakery (299 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-1803; Website)
Purgatory (Gifford House, 9 Carver St.; T: +1 508-487-0688; facebook)
Ross's Grill (237 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-8878; Website)
Shipwreck Lounge (Brass Key Guesthouse, 10 Carver St; T: +1 508-487-9005; facebook)
The Red Room (258 Commercial St; T: +1 508-487-2588; Website)
The Vault (Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St.; T: +1 508-487-1430; Website)

Revised November 2023.

Andrew Collins authored Fodor's Gay Guide to the USA, the Connecticut Handbook, and six regional gay guides for Fodor's.

Where To Stay in P-town


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