The Best Way to Get from New York to Provincetown

When I was growing up, there were two places we would go for summer vacation each year:  Montauk, at the end of Long Island, or Provincetown, at the end of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.  Montauk was always a good time, but Provincetown was really special.  Whereas Montauk was only about two hours from our home on Long Island, New York to Provincetown was a good six hour journey no matter how you went.  To go for just a weekend, as we typically would, could be a nightmare.  Of course it was all worth it once you got there, but you quickly forgot that by the time you got home after sitting in six hours of traffic on a Sunday night. For all of these reasons we went to Montauk far more than we went to Cape Cod.

Our little family outside Cape Air's lounge at Westchester County Airport just 35 minutes from New York City.

Our little family outside Cape Air’s lounge at Westchester County Airport just 35 minutes from New York City.

With our baby now nearly 8 months old and the high-season of summer behind us, we decided to take her to P-Town for the first time despite the challenges.  Thankfully I discovered an alternative that promised to solve all the logistical difficulties – Cape Air’s new non-stop service from Westchester to Provincetown.

If you arrive WAY too early for your flight like we did, you can relax in the Cape Air Lounge

If you arrive WAY too early for your flight like we did, you can relax in the Cape Air Lounge

I had never flown Cape Air before nor had I been to Westchester County Airport.  We packed baby and all her things in the car and left Queens around 3pm on a Friday afternoon.  It only took us about 40 minutes to get to Westchester Airport and after parking the car and finding our way to Signature Flight Services just past the main terminal on the right, we realized we had left far too much time before our flight.

Climb aboard the Cessna 402C.  No stair car needed.

Climb aboard the Cessna 402C. No stair car needed.

Although Westchester Airport (HPN) is a normal airport with normal commercial flights like JetBlue, the Cape Air service is anything but normal.  The entire affair couldn’t be more informal.  There’s no security whatsoever.  You just put your luggage on the side and then take a seat in a room.  No metal detectors, no shoes off, no liquid rules, nothing.  The experience is more like if your friend who owned a plane invited you to go someplace.  Just walk in and tell them who you are and then sit and wait for the plane to leave.

Some of Cape Air's planes have Nantucket Airlines livery.  Samara is happy with either.

Some of Cape Air’s planes have Nantucket Airlines livery. Samara is happy with either.

When it’s time to go, you and all the other passengers (nine in total) walk back out of the building the way you came in, through a gate and over to the plane.  Again, there’s no security, no hassles; you just walk onto to the tarmac and over to the aircraft.

If a realtor was describing this plane, they would say it's cozy with lots of natural light

If a realtor was describing this plane, they would say it’s cozy with lots of natural light

A Cessna 402C has just ten seats including the pilot.  We were asked who wanted to sit in the co-pilot seat and then the rest of us filed in one by one up the tiny steps and into the tiny seats.

A small plane for a little lady.  Samara consults the flight safety card before takeoff.

A small plane for a little lady. Samara consults the flight safety card before takeoff.

If I had woken up on that plane moments after takeoff and looked around, I never would have imagined I was in New York. It felt like I was on an African bush plane, and looking out the windows to the right all I could see were lakes, streams, forests and rolling hills.  Looking to the left, off in the distance, you could see New York City – an urban patch that appeared isolated and far away. As we turned east I could soon see I-95 with all it’s terribleness running along the coast.  The hideous smokestacks of Bridgeport soon appeared and I felt grateful for being able to fly away from that awful place and just skip over to the good stuff.  Samara was soon fast asleep and in just over an hour we would arrive. I couldn’t wait.

Which would you rather see out your window?

Which would you rather see out your window?

It was dark now and Chandra was nudging me awake. From my window I could see the top of Cape Cod curving into the sea. We were pulling a big u-turn and coming about to land in Provincetown. As we banked a sharp right turn I could see Race Point underneath us and the landing strip in Provincetown seemingly set among the sands of the Cape Cod National Seashore.  In just over an hour we had traveled a world away from New York City and as we descended it was all ocean and beach in the darkness until the runway emerged and we touched down – Samara remaining fast asleep in Chandra’s arms.  Seconds later we were in front of the “terminal” and Cape Air employee was opening the door and welcoming us to Provincetown.  Much to Samara’s surprise, we had arrived.

I would rather look at this for an hour than six hours of brake lights any day

I would rather look at this for an hour than six hours of brake lights any day

Taxis are available outside the tiny terminal to take you to anywhere in town for just $8/person.  Mere minutes after touching down, we had arrived at the rental house we would be calling home for the weekend.  Come Sunday night we repeated much the same process to get home.  Finally, a place so special to me from childhood is so easily within reach.

Provincetown Airport's terminal looks more like a modest house than someplace planes leave from

Provincetown Airport’s terminal looks more like a modest house than someplace planes leave from

Cape Air operates seasonal non-stop service from New York’s City’s Westchester County Airport to Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts as well as Lebanon in New Hampshire.  Flying time to P-Town is one hour and ten minutes aboard a Cesssna 402C light aircraft and cost about $260/person each way.  It most definitely a “Style Hi” experience.

The stunning Cape Cod National Seashore, a world away from the urban jungle of New York City

The stunning Cape Cod National Seashore, a world away from the urban jungle of New York City

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One Response to “The Best Way to Get from New York to Provincetown”

  1. Trish Lorino
    September 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    Great article David. Cape Air also flies seasonally from Westchester to Hyannis.

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