PEND time at the edge of the sea and you’ll be drawn back for more. That’s the hold Cape Cod has on you. Especially Provincetown, at the northern tip, which beckons people for all the right reasons: art exhibitions year round, Fellini-esque tableaux on the street, unabashed camaraderie, gala gallery gatherings and fine food.
Originally a thriving fishing village, P-town has become a vigorously thriving art colony, the oldest in the U.S., with a population of 3,953, swelling to 30,000 in summer.
It is such a fountainhead of creativity that the Provincetown Art Association and Museum has amassed 2,000 works representing more than 600 artists who worked on the Outer Cape since 1900. The organization exhibits their works here and around the country. www.paam.org.
Best way to enjoy all the museums is to get a Passport to the Arts for $5 at the Chamber of Commerce in Hyannis or at many of the banks, or at www.capecodchamber.org or www.artsfoundation.org. Your Passport permits access to some 20 museums throughout the Cape.
Between gallery hopping, you will want to explore the wonder of the dunes at the Cape Cod National Seashore. Preserved as a national park since 196, it extends for 40 miles down the shoreline. It has six protected beaches and two educational visitor centers. You’ll need a full day to really experience the wonders of the dunes.
Art’s Dune Tours will take you there. Call Rob Costa at 508 487-1950, or www.artsdunetours.com. Go at sunset – it’s awesome!
On a one-hour tour, our driver pointed out some of the 18 primitive shacks inhabited by artists and writers, including Norman Mailer’s. Tennessee Williams was also seduced by the dunes – he wrote The Glass Menagerie in one of these shacks. Other dune dwellers included Eugene O’Neill and Jack Kerouac.
The shacks have no electricity or running water. Our driver calls the outhouse the international house: "You’re Russian to go in, European inside, and when you come out you’re Finnish."
See them while you still can. The National Park Service is reassessing the future existence of the dune shacks.
By now you must be famished, but luckily you made reservations at L’Uva where you select from French, Italian, Spanish and American cuisine menu. Chef Christopher Covelli says, "I cook Italian by extraction and French by concentration."
The wine list offers 265 varieties ranging in price from $25 to $600. The most edpensive is Solaia 1997 from Antinori in Tuscany. Try it.
Open 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. with entrees ranging from $18 to $26. Located at 133 Bradford St., 508 487-2010, www.luvarestaurant.com.
Where to stay? Check into the Crowne Pointe Historic Inn, a comfortable AAA Four-Diamond resort.
This mansion, originally built for a sea captain in the late 1800s, is set on a bluff in the middle of town. Tom Walter and David Sanford acquired the prized property and opened the resort six years ago. The resort is connected, through beautiful gardens, to three restored carriage houses.
All 40 distinctive guest rooms and suites have king or queen sized beds, and many have fireplaces, two-person spa tubs and private decks.
Enjoy the experience of its outstanding Shui Spa, featuring an extensive menu of rejuvenating massages, soothing facials, body services and unisex sauna and steam room. www.shuispa.com.
Located at 82 Bradford St. For information call 508 487-6767, or reservations 877 276-9631, or www.crownepointe.com.
Don’t miss the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, which commemorates the Pilgrims’ first landing in the New World at Provincetown in 1620. They wrote The Mayflower Compact, our first constitution, and after five weeks sailed across the bay to Plymouth.
This 252-foot Pilgrim Monument is America’s tallest all-granite structure. If you hike up all 116 steps and 60 ramps to the top of the tower – and your heart holds out – you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent panorama of this colorful town. (Tell me about it. I found the climb daunting.)