This tiny New England town at the tip of Cape Cod, about a two-hour drive from Boston, has changed over the centuries, but it’s often welcomed the outsider. Nineteenth-century Portuguese immigrants manned the fishing industry here, and it’s been a mecca for artists and writers, including the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Jackson Pollock and Jack Kerouac. Gay and lesbian visitors followed, and have made P-Town, as it’s known, a quaint seaside haven for the LGBTQ community.
The village is colorful, but still quite small, and surrounded by water and a seashore. When strolling Commercial Street’s art galleries, restaurants and creative shops, you’ll spot drag queens in line for gelato alongside whale-watching boat captains and poets. And while the town’s revelry traditionally comes to an apex during Pride Month each June, its celebration of universal acceptance lasts long past summer. “Here, you can be yourself, no matter who you are,” says Rob Anderson, who’s co-owned The Canteen since 2013. “It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, young or old, from New York or Iowa. Everyone is welcomed here, and that’s an incredibly freeing feeling.”
Built in 1776 as a captain’s home and later used as a museum, it’s now a meticulously appointed bed and breakfast (one of the owners is a Rhode Island School of Design grad) that’s simultaneously historic and hip. Meanwhile, its pool is a social scene unto itself.
An easygoing hangout, The Canteen serves a seafood shack-inspired menu with modern twists, including made-from-scratch cod banh mi and crispy brussels sprouts. Hit the communal seating in the 200-year-old building or take it out back, where owners Rob Anderson and Loic Rossignon have built an eclectic hideaway with firepits and mismatched furniture.
Orange Is the New Black actress Lea DeLaria co-owns and has been known to take the mic to do some stand-up and singing between other national acts. Before the show, hit the alfresco tables for libations and plates from the raw bar.
Though things might be a bit toned down this year, The Boatslip traditionally hosts the town’s biggest and most outrageous (and outrageously fun) gay outdoor dance party, held on its gargantuan beachside deck every day at 4 p.m.
The aptly named Harbor Lounge has world-class people-watching, high-octane cocktails such as the blueberry-mint vodka lemonade, and lovely places to enjoy it all, either inside on comfy leather couches or outside on their own breezy pier.