Your Destination Guide to Cape Cod

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Pilgrim Monument

Pilgrim Monument
Pilgrim Monument

© Harvey Barrison

In the seaside community of Provincetown, the tallest all-granite structure in the United States commemorates the arrival of the Pilgrims to the New World. Originally headed for the mouth of the Hudson River and onward towards the territory of Virginia, their plans were derailed due to stormy weather and low supplies, and they landed instead on Cape Cod. With this change came threats of insurrection and the need to establish some ground rules for a new, democratic government.

The Pilgrims remained aboard the Mayflower for three days as it sat anchored in the Provincetown Harbor in the autumn of 1620, giving birth to babies and drafting the Mayflower Compact, a document which aimed to work out all the kinks of a new, self-governing society on paper, before anyone set foot on land.

As tribute to their efforts, the Pilgrim Monument looms 350 feet above sea level, and is hard to miss in a landscape dominated by sand dunes and single story cottages. Inside the structure, 116 stairs and 60 ramps lead climbers up to an unparalleled view of Cape Cod, the Boston skyline, and clear-day peeks of New Hampshire’s mountains in the background.

The attached Provincetown Museum is eclectic and, at times, downright kooky. A whale’s jawbone and mounted polar bears and walruses mingle with the town’s first fire engine and life-sized dioramas of the interior of 17th century Provincetown homes. Artwork depicting the history of PTown is on permanent display; paintings on loan from local curators are regularly featured. Historic walking tours of PTown are offered during the summer season, sponsored by the Monument and museum. Children’s programs, lectures, books signings, and concerts are some of the many other events scheduled annually.

2010 marked the 100-year anniversary of the completion of Pilgrim Monument.

Nearby Commercial Street is densely populated with cafés, taverns, and restaurants.

The Lobster Pot is an absolute institution overlooking the PTown harbor, and should not be missed for its sublime seafood, authentic Portuguese recipes, and award-winning clam chowder. Spiritus Pizza, popping pies out of its ovens since 1971, offers up the usual and the unusual ingredients atop a thin, bendable crust.

Napi's Restaurant cum art gallery is a treat for the eyes as well as the mouth with its huge international menu and overflowing plates of food to satisfy the vegan, the vegetarian, and the omnivore equally.

Attraction Information

  • Hours:
  • July through August: daily 9am to 7pm
  • Off-season daily 9am to 5pm
  • Closed December through March
  • Admission:
  • Monument and Museum: $7 adults, $5 seniors and students, $3.50 children 4-14
  • Walking tour: includes admission to Monument and Museum: $10 adults, $8 seniors and students
  • Two hour parking is free in the Pilgrim Monument parking lot with paid museum admission
  • Directions:
  • Travel east on U.S. Route 6 to Provincetown. Turn left at the second Provincetown exit (and only traffic light) onto Conwell Street. Continue on Conwell Street until its end. Turn right onto Bradford Street. Turn right onto Winslow Street. Proceed up the hill. Turn slight right into the parking lot for the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.
  • Contact:
  • Location: High Pole Hill Rd (off Winslow Street, north of Bradford Street), Provincetown, MA
  • Phone: 508-487-1310
  • Website: www.pilgrim-monument.org
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