No offense to Eartha, but Provincetown's best cabaret act happens sometime around Columbus Day, when -- poof! -- like magic, all the sunburnt tourists and hairdressers from Detroit disappear. It's in December that you should visit the old gray girl's winter show, a startling mix of peaceful New England sentiment and pumpin' gay nightlife. Drama queens will love the Lands End Inn, not just for the wintry-bluff part (it's on the highest point in the West End, overlooking the entire expanse of Cape Cod Bay) but for the décor as well. Think Winslow Homer meets Sunset Boulevard -- the musical. Gourmands will feast at the Martin House, where oysters Claudia and braised lamb shank go best with a '96 Cain Five Cabernet Sauvignon. The Christmas shopping? Well worth the Cape Air miles. In town, Map sells the perfect everything (don't leave without a Lexon umbrella), so that come Christmas morning, you'll still be everyone's favorite uncle. Speaking of that -- uncles, we mean -- that's the best reason to go. The seemingly endless population of handsome, rugged locals comes in like the fog to fill the A-House, where house music thumps and shirts slide right off on the dance floor. Trust us -- the tourist-starved residents are plenty friendly. And once you see the way the light from a roaring fireplace hits a disco ball, you will be, too.
Details Lands End Inn, 508-487-0706 (rooms start at $65); the Martin House, 508-487-1327; Map, 508-487-4900; Cape Air, 800-352-0714; A-House, 508-487-3821.