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Indian Summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown

In fall, the throngs of tourists die down and locals emerge to reclaim the tranquillity of small-town Cape Cod life. As year-round resident and marine biologist Dennis Minsky puts it: "The whale watches stop, but the whales are still here." Indeed, the view from P'Town in autumn is nothing so much as an endless, lilac-colored expanse of sky and sea. And with the warm temperatures comes a chance to find an empty stretch of sand you can have all to yourself.

What to Do

If you're looking to get your feet wet, rent a sailboat, powerboat, or kayak at Flyer's Boat Rental (131A Commercial St.; 508/487-0898; flyersrentals.com) and explore the peninsula's coast. Later, walk the mile-long Beech Forest Trail (access from Race Point Rd.), which winds through fragile sand dunes. Bring your bike for the 5.2-mile loop between Herring Cove and Race Point beaches (parking and access at either beach).

Where to Eat

Ciro & Sal's (4 Kiley Court; 508/487-6444; dinner for two $75) dishes up Northern Italian specialties like Abruzzese, a sauté of fish, scallops, clams, shrimp, mussels, and squid. Head to Clem & Ursie's (85 Shank Painter Rd.; 508/487-2333; lunch for two $25) for fresh lobster with drawn butter.

Where to Stay

The eight-bedroom Red Inn (15 Commercial St.; 508/487-7334; theredinn.com; doubles from $225) has views of Provincetown Harbor from nearly every window. Among the eight units at the Inn at Cook Street (7 Cook St.; 508/487-3894; doubles from $180), an 1836 Greek Revival mansion, are two garden cottages.

Insider Tip

"I love to take a ride through the dunes to deserted Back Shore; the view over Cape Cod Bay at sunset is unforgettable," says native Rob Costa, owner of Art's Dune Tours (4 Standish St.; 508/487-1950; artsdunetours.com; tours from $21).

—Lucinda Rosenfeld

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