East Coast Summer—New York City + Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

View from the beach in Provincetown, Massacusetts
The Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Epic Vacation, Part II

This summer, I left the San Francisco fog with kids in tow for an extended East Coast journey. We flew into New York first, straight into a massive heatwave. I sometimes forget that we live in a naturally air-conditioned city here in San Francisco—Manhattan was HOT! But of course it was July. It was a welcome change.

New York state of mind

It was really exciting to show my eight-year-old daughter around New York—”there are so many people,” “so many taxis!” We traveled across  the Hudson aboard the Staten Island Ferry to view that famous femme Francaise, Lady Liberty, found a water park to cool off at in Central Park, bought a funky piece of street art in the Village, cruised through Times Square at night, and watched a fascinating 18-minute film at the Historical Society about the rise of the remote outpost that evolved into the global mecca of New York City. The state-of-the-art theater there is something to behold.

A view of the Statue of Liberty in New York City;
Lady Liberty overlooking New York City.

Full disclosure: It wasn’t all culture and landmarks. We also spent hours at the American Girl Place. What a brilliant merchandising goldmine! I had no idea. They even have a hair salon for the dolls and photo studio. I’ve never seen more out-of-place dads in one place, all on smart phones. Parker loved it.

Hitting the beach on Cape Cod

After Manhattan, we hooked up with the boys (husband and son) and headed to the Cape Cod via ferry out of Boston. Ninety minutes later we were in Provincetown, the bohemian Castro of the east.  This quaint little town on the very tip of Cape Cod is known for its pristine beaches, artist culture, and as a gay destination. We arrived during “Bear Week,” a celebration of (mostly) burly men who “embrace, natural body hair,” according to the New York Times.

harbor hotel, provincetown, massachusetts
Chilling at the Harbor Hotel Cabana Bar in Provincetown.

We checked into the Harbor Hotel that looked out over the stunning National Seashore, a tract of more than 4,000 acres of protected shoreline. It was still oppressively hot, so headed straight for the pool and the adjacent Cabana Bar to cool off. During out stay in Provincetown (P’town as it’s affectionately known) we enjoyed several delicious meals at Harbor Hotel (lobster sliders, Caprese salad, and chicken quesadillas were some of our faves).

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The Harbor Hotel is a stylish, kid, gay, and pet-friendly spot that has been newly refurbished. The spacious lobby doubles as a gallery, showcasing the work of local artists. Just beyond, the Whaler Lounge restaurant opens when the poolside Cabana Bar closes. The Lounge offers entertainment as well. We saw a cool rockabilly band when we were there,  and free movies are screened movies every Thursday. Our room was small but immaculate, located just steps from the pool. Rooms on the other side have lovely ocean views. Hiking from the dunes out to the sand bar  at low tide, we captured a panorama of the Cape’s beauty. One of the Harbor Hotel’s greatest features is the fire pit out front, across from the ocean. We spent lots of time out there under the stars and even met another guest there who lives on our street in San Francisco.

A great feature of the Harbor Hotel —The firepit .
The firepit at the Harbor Hotel in Provincetown.

On our forays into the town center, we stopped daily for ice cream at the popular Lewis Brothers Homemade Ice Cream shop, bought souvenirs at Puzzle Me This, a really cool game shop on Commercial Street, and hiked along the breakwater jetty toward the lighthouse at Long Point on the very tip of the country.

tomatoesInsider Tips

Fast Ferry


Traffic on the Cape in summer can be miserable. If you’re going to Provincetown, do yourself a solid and avoid the whole mess on the Fast Ferry. It’s a delightful ride, one of the highlights of my son’s trip.

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
at (77th Street), New York City
(212) 873-3400

Great museum and gift shop and the film ‘New York Story’ is amazing. Admission is pay-as-you-wish from 6-8 pm on Fridays.

Harbor Hotel Provincetown
698 Commercial Street
Provincetown Cape Cod, Massachusetts
MA 02657

Post was contributed by Lisa Dion of Friscomama.com. I was a guest of the Harbor Hotel.

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6 thoughts on “East Coast Summer—New York City + Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts”

  1. Nice Blog containing nice information about the different destinations and accommodations for the travelers. .

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