The wheels of the borrowed stroller had barely hit the cobblestones before the clanging of the bell caught our attention.
Looking across the crowded street, I met his eyes, twinkling from underneath his wide-brimmed hat. He clicked his buckled shoes together, clanged his bell three times, tossed his cape over his shoulder, and cried out in our direction: “AND ALL IS WELL BECAUSE YOU’RE HERE!”
If you’ve never had life affirmations shouted at you from a pilgrim decked out in his Sunday best, have you really even lived? That alone might be worth the trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Situated at lands’ end on Cape Cod, Provincetown is a quirky mix of history, culture, colorful characters, and sassy charm.
Think Key West meets Savannah, but in the most New England way.
Between the shops, restaurants, farmers market, and monuments, there was more than enough for us to do in an afternoon. We only had a few hours, so we walked the harbor and saw replicas of historical sailing vessels, ferries unloading boatfuls of weekenders from Boston, and whale watching tours departing for guaranteed sightseeing.
Commemorating the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620, Provincetown will celebrate the 400th anniversary next year. So, we gave into peer pressure and a few brave souls conquered the 116 steps and 60 ramps to climb Pilgrim Monument. They were rewarded with incredible views of the cape and the Atlantic Ocean.
From the packed streets of Provincetown, we drove a few miles down the road to Race Point Beach. The entire Atlantic coastline of Cape Cod has been preserved as a national park. The Cape Cod National Seashore is massive and completely full of unspoiled beauty.
(Tip: If you have a 4th-grader, you can get a pass that will grant you year-long free access to all parks within the U.S. National Park Service. Click here for more info and to print your pass! https://everykidinapark.gov/get-your-pass/)
We climbed over the dunes and staked our claim on a few square feet of sand. The kids were mid-dash to the water, when I spotted the purple flag waving high above the lifeguard stand.
I wasn’t entirely sure what the flag meant, but the menacing outline of a shark against the purple background called for a google search at the very least. Sure enough, the flag warned beachgoers that Great Whites were in the area. A few of the more, um, stubborn people went for a swim anyway and gave us the best laugh when a seal surfaced right behind them. They practically walked on water trying to make it to shore.
We had a wonderful time. Cape Cod might be the most quintessential New England experience. Shingled cottages, charming towns, waving sea oats, bonfires on the beach, clambakes. Cape Cod has it all.
No matter what’s going on back home or whatever stress you’re carrying on your shoulders, it all falls away when you make it to the cape. You don’t have to take my word for it. Take it from the life-affirming pilgrim.
All is well because you’re here!