The Dog Who Went To: Provincetown, MA
By Jane Turner
Jane Turner is the author and illustrator of The Dog Who Went to Main Street, a children’s book celebrating adventure, a perfectly imperfect dog, and Main Streets everywhere. Jane travels frequently with her Shih Tzu mix, Dozer, and shares their favorite dog-happy destinations with our readers. Dozer is a rescue, a therapy dog, happens to be totally blind, and is always ready to go.
Provincetown is known for its liberal, inclusive spirit – happily, that extends wholeheartedly to dogs. At the tip of Cape Cod, where land ends and water is just about everywhere you look, "P-Town" seems more packed with opportunities to enjoy life (and enjoy it with your dog) than many destinations ten times its size.
The vibe: Freewheeling joie de vivre; a live-and-let-live kind of place. Dozer and I decided there are really two Provincetowns. One is the close-quarters village overflowing with shops, cafes, galleries, and sidewalk traffic that often spills into the narrow streets. The other: wide-open miles of shoreline, protected as part of the National Park System, where you might spot as many birds and whales as humans. But whether it’s high-energy town or serene shoreline, dogs are central to the good life here.
“It’s a dog’s life” cred: You know a place is the real dogcentric deal when it’s easy to include your best friend in your favorite sports and activities. Whale-watching, sailing, sunset cruises? Just call Dog Gone Sailing or Dolphin Fleet. Cycling the national seashore trails? No problem. Gale Force Bikes rents canine trailers with its bikes for exploring in comfort and safety.
Great walks, rides, and dog-paddles
• Village strolls. Your dog can get plenty of exercise wandering with you through stores and galleries, and around historical spots like the Pilgrim Monument (commemorating the actual “first” landing of the Mayflower). Dozer and I were greeted enthusiastically everywhere – even at Wa, a shop where we were drawn by the Foo “dog” at the door (a Dozer ancestor turned to stone?) and museum-like artifacts inside.
• Outer shore stretches. If you feel like expanding your horizons – both literally and in fitness options – you and your dog can walk, swim, or bike the Cape Cod National Seashore. It covers nearly two-thirds of Provincetown’s land area, embracing beaches, dunes, marshland, ponds, biking and hiking trails, and almost more flora and fauna than Dozer’s nose could handle. From Race Point Beach on the Atlantic to Herring Cove Beach and Longpoint on the bayside and points in between, each spot has its own personality, three with lighthouses. Dogs are part of the scene with only a few exceptions; watch for signs at some swimming areas and the protected homes of nesting shorebirds and wildlife.
Dining with Dogs – a few Dozer hang-outs
• Bubala’s by the Bay. The buzziest outdoor spot for watching all of two- and four-legged P-town walk by while you lunch on the freshest fish, exceptional salads, and Portuguese bread.
• Ten Tables. The space is clean elegance and so is the food…local, seasonal, often organic. Your civilized canine can join you on the patio of this restored Victorian home turned white-tablecloth restaurant. Seating limited and sought after, so best to call ahead.
• The Red Inn. Where Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance was filmed and you and your pup can take in the wide-angle harbor views over a cocktail.
Where to Stay
Two inns fit the sensibility of our “two Provincetowns” perfectly– one in the village, one with a big window on nature. Both dog-loving.
• Gabriel's at the Ashbrooke Inn. Owner Elizabeth Brooke, along with greeters Miss Potter and Mr. Pippin, has created an inn that reflects her love of Provincetown and dogs. In the heart of the village with Pilgrim Monument as part of its garden’s skyscape, Gabriel’s is an easy walk from anything you might want to see, eat, or do in town. The Inn’s buildings date to the 1800s, but room comforts are decidedly modern and welcoming: gas fireplaces, latest-feature baths, and, in most dog-friendly rooms, small kitchens. Gabriel’s Great Room breakfast is a hearty, humming start to each day here.
• Land's End Inn. When we first drove to the West End, we felt as though we were entering a different world with sky and sea opening up around us. Walk up the steps to Land’s End, and you’re likely to feel you’re on top of that world, with the Atlantic, the Bay, and Provincetown at your feet. The five dog-welcoming rooms here are as luxurious as the rest of this meticulously renovated inn that features heirloom antiques, Tiffany lamps, and Frette linens.
Next time we need a joie de vivre jolt, Dozer and I have already decided Provincetown is our go-to destination!
Photo Credits: Starting with top right, Dozer hanging out on the beach; Dozer at Bubala's by the Bay; Dozer at Land's End Inn. Photos by Jane Turner.