by Steve Desroches
For locals and frequent visitors to Provincetown a small town like this can seem obvious and intuitive when it comes to geography and directions. It’s all too easy to forget that Provincetown welcomes tens of thousands of people each year many of whom are here for the first time or haven’t been to town in years. And on top of that many can visit without knowing much about the town at all and are therefore a bit lost when it comes to what to see and do just along Commercial Street, never mind across Bradford Street and even more so, on into Truro. Add into the mix that what is now Provincetown has a deep history dating back to the Wampanoags as well as a fascinating natural history and a visit to town can be overwhelming as to where to start. For Justine Ives being an impromptu tour guide has been a part of her life for years as a driver for Cape Cab. A Provincetown resident her entire adult life the mother of two knows the nooks and crannies of the Outer Cape well. Now as the manager of Outer Cape logistics for the Mayflower Trolley, one day a lightbulb went on with a fresh idea for a long-underserved population.
“I’d drive cabs for years and would get asked all kinds of questions about the town, and sometimes get hired to just take people who asked me to just take them on a little tour around town,” says Ives. “It all just came together. How about we do excursions for people?”
While the traditional Mayflower Trolley does a loop around town down most of the length of Commercial Street with a swing out to through the Provincetown portion of the Cape Cod National Seashore accompanied by a historical narration the company has this month started special excursion tours with themes that are lengthier and with stops for passengers to explore a bit on their own throughout. With brand new passenger vans that can hold up to 14 people, the company, owned by former Provincetown select board member Raphael Richter, now offers three different excursions throughout the Outer Cape. The first is a two-hour tour of the Cape Cod National Seashore with stops at the Pilgrim Landing and breakwater in the far West End, the Province Lands Visitor Center, and Pilgrim Heights in North Truro. The second offering is a two-hour Lighthouse Tour which takes the scenic route out to Highland Light in Truro where visitors can climb the lighthouse as well as visit the Highland House Museum, house in a former summer hotel, which tells the fascinating history of Truro, followed by a trip back through Provincetown to see the view of the town’s three lighthouses ending with a drop off at the Pilgrim Monument. And the third option is the popular four-hour locally sourced excursion for a day of tastings and learning about local products, which begins by heading out to Wellfleet Harbor for a sampling of oysters, then a trip to Truro to visit Chequessett Chocolate, Truro Vineyards, and the Atlantic Spice Company to sample their offerings, and ending at the Provincetown Brewing Company. All of the tours feature a narration detailing the history of the Outer Cape. In addition, custom private tours are also available, and if the party is exceptionally big, the classic trolley is also available for hire. As Ives details all that’s new she excited at the upcoming season as she feels the interest will be huge with the tourists that pour into town each summer as well as the opportunity to educate visitors about this fascinating part of the world.
“The possibilities are really endless,” says Ives sitting in the sun on a bench outside of Town Hall. “Day trippers in particular I think will be interested as it’s an easy way to see a lot in short amount of time. But even people who think they know the area well can learn something and see something new. I’ve lived here a long time and I learned new things as we put the tours together. It’s also perfect for people who live here and are looking for something to do when they have guests.”
This is just the latest venture for Richter and Ives in a multipronged transportation business on the Outer Cape that also includes the animal print and psychedelic Funk Bus, Cape Cab, as well as Pilgrim Transit, a transportation service for non-emergency medical appointments. All together they provide a vital service for tourists who may not often have a car with them in Provincetown as well as those looking to easily shuttle wedding guests and visitors around town or a comfortable way to see the sites for those with mobility issues. Ives notes that once this season is under their belt the tour company will look into expanding excursions based on other themes, including an LGBTQ history of which an abbreviated component is already part of a weekly trolley tour.
“There’s so much to see and do and learn about here,” says Ives. “Commercial Street can be overwhelming, especially in the summer, so we hope we can make people feel welcome and at home by being their introduction to places out here they might not otherwise find on their own.”
For more information, schedules, and ticket pricing for the Mayflower Trolley and the Mayflower Excursion Tours stop by their set up in from of Provincetown Town Hall, 260 Commercial St, visit maflowertrolley.com or call 508.487.8687.