Chatham is a quaint town on the elbow of Cape Cod and the perfect spot for your weekend getaway. With the Atlantic Ocean lapping at her shores and barrier islands mitigating the surf, Chatham, Massachusetts, is a desirable summer vacation spot. Home to a charming downtown, luxurious resorts, an assortment of beaches, and wonderful restaurants, it will be one of your favorite Cape Cod vacation getaway destinations.
The town of Chatham is centrally located and a great vacation base to explore the rest of Cape Cod.
Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
Things To Do In Chatham
Sunning and swimming at the beaches, strolling historic downtown, hiking, and museum exploration are just a few of the wonderful activities at your fingertips.
Chatham’s beaches come in different styles, so there is a beach for every taste and purpose. Parking, permits, and hours of operation information can be found on the Chamber of Commerce Chatham Beaches page.
Cockle Cove Beach is a small and protected, sandy beach. With views of Martha’s Vineyard and features calm water: This is a great family beach. The Cockle Cove has a small parking lot, so you need to arrive early if you want to secure a spot.
Chatham Lighthouse Beach is the largest and very popular among Chatham beaches. Located just a half-mile from downtown, Lighthouse Beach is a favorite for its proximity to Monomoy Island and seal viewings. There is no lifeguard on duty here, so be careful when swimming. Due to the large, protected seal population on Monomoy Island, sharks may be present in the waters. Lighthouse Beach is best for walking, while there are other beaches that offer safer swimming conditions.
Harding Beach is a perfect spot to settle in for a full day. The calm waters, ample parking, lifeguards, restroom facilities, and food trucks make Harding a popular option for beachgoers. Arrive early to stake out the best, non-tide interrupted spot in the sand, and spend the day soaking up the warm sun and beachy vibes.
There are six other beaches to explore in Chatham. Ridgevale Beach is a small local beach. Oyster Pond Beach is a family beach on a saltwater pond, within walking distance of downtown, and perfect for a toes-in-the-sand picnic. Pleasant Bay or Jackknife Beach are two of the few beaches where dogs are allowed (before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.). Forest Beach and Pleasant Street Beach are small, local beaches that appeal to families. Schoolhouse Pond offers freshwater swimming, however, you need a resident parking permit to access the parking lot.
Strolling Chatham’s downtown streets provides access to quaint shops that offer beachy attire, locally crafted gifts, delicious dining options, and sweet treats. Festively decked in bunting or seasonal décor, the clapboard and gray shingled storefronts are picturesque and summon memories of classic New England shopping.
There is ample free parking by the downtown shops, however, on a cloudy day, the lot fills up quickly.
Whether you want to get in a quick 9-hole round or a full 18-hole game, there are several golf options available.
Chatham Seaside Links is a classic links style, 9-hole course nestled just outside of downtown. It’s the perfect spot to get in a quick round to keep your swing in shape.
The Captain’s Course in nearby Brewster sports two 18-hole courses. Both the Port Course and the Starboard Course offer tree-lined fairways and challenging greens for a great day out on the links.
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is well known as part of the coastal flyway for birds to rest along their migratory journey. Along with the protected piping plover, you may spy American oystercatchers, red knots, and roseate terns.
Harbor and gray seals are now thriving in the refuge due to the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Their population rebound from near local extinction has made their protection a success story, but their major predator, the great white shark, has also increased its presence in the area’s waters.
Chatham Marconi Maritime Center
On January 18, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt sent the first transatlantic wireless message to King Edward VII from South Wellfleet, Massachusetts, to Poldhu, Cornwall, England. This was the beginning of Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless history. The Chatham Marconi Maritime Center is home to the Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum.
With the permanent transmitting station built in Chatham, ship-to-shore wireless communication thrived. During the 20th century, the radio station was responsible for keeping ships and their onshore partners in unprecedented business and safety communication.
A visit to the museum amazes guests with hands-on exhibits demonstrating the history of telegraphic exploration.
A beautiful, working lighthouse that is occasionally open to visitors during the summer months, Chatham Light is best viewed from Lighthouse Beach.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers tours of Chatham Light on Wednesday afternoons between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The tours are free and are held weekly during the summer months and every other week during spring and fall.
You can explore the history of Chatham and her former residents at the Atwood Museum. Home to the Historical Society, the Atwood is a repository of historical artifacts. Collections of glass, china, textiles, books, furniture, and photographs are available for viewing. The Atwood is open for escorted tours Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a nominal entrance fee.
Whale Art In The Park
When you encounter a park full of painted whales you know you have landed at the Chatham Art In The Park display. Whales created by local artists depicting Cape Cod themes are on display throughout the summer season. They are auctioned off to the public and the proceeds support the Chatham Merchants Association. To view all these lovely artisan creations or join in the bidding process, visit Bidding for Good.
Best Restaurants In Chatham
The restaurant options in Chatham, and the Cape in general, deliver fresh, locally sourced seafood paired with locally grown produce. Lobster rolls made from the catch fresh off the boat, are perfect for lunch or dinner. There are plenty of options to dine casually, Alternately you can enjoy a vacation celebration at a charming, fine dining restaurant.
Gorgeously plated, chef-driven, four course dinners are the hallmark of Cuvee, the Chatham Inn’s onsite restaurant. The seasonally inspired menu offers starters like East Coast Oysters dressed with fruit and trout roe. A perfect second course is the Iberico Pork Belly with chanterelles and clams. Following along the coastal-inspired fresh catch options is the New England lobster with asparagus. For a more turf-inspired plate, select the A5 Wagyu with gnocchi. Leave room for dessert, the Dark Chocolate S’more is divine. Add perfectly paired wines for a luxuriously celebratory dining experience.
In the heart of historic downtown is The Chatham Squire. Fondly referred to as The Squire by locals, They have been serving up classic bar food since 1968. Grab a draft from a local brewery like Cisco, Cape Cod, and Sam Adams to enjoy with some stuffed quahogs, clam chowder, and a lobster roll for some great coastal pub grub. The Squire is always the perfect spot for a casual lunch or dinner.
Every beach vacation needs a trip to the local sweet shop and the Chatham Candy Manor is the spot for a special sweet treat in Chatham. Its hand-dipped confections and silky smooth fudge are created with the same fine craftsmanship as they were when it was founded in 1955. The Candy Manor is a must-stop along your main street Chatham stroll.
Best Hotels In Chatham
Chatham offers some of the most classic and luxurious stays on Cape Cod. Choose from sprawling, oceanside resorts, cozy historic inns, or private home getaways. There is a perfect stay to meet your accommodation needs.
Chatham Bars Inn
Step into the grandeur of the past with a stay at the Chatham Bars Inn. Everything you want in a classic luxury resort is available for your surfside enjoyment. Stroll the soft, sandy beach before breakfast and relish the peace and tranquility of the early morning. Exquisitely appointed rooms and private, oceanfront cottages are the answer to a hectic lifestyle. This beautiful oasis with tennis courts, a water view pool, boating, golf, and fine dining makes a stay at the Chatham Bars Inn the perfect weekend getaway.
When you need a luxury getaway that offers guests personal attention, choose the Chatham Inn. This historic, boutique inn is just steps from the downtown action. The staff pampers their guests and caters to their every need, creating a personally crafted, luxury stay. Plan on dining in their spectacular onsite restaurant, Cuvee.
When you are taking the entire gang to the ocean for a fun family getaway, a homestay is a great option. With lots of space, water views, walking distance to downtown and the beach, this Waterfront Chatham Home sleeps 12. Gather everyone on the deck to watch a beautiful Cape Cod sunset while enjoying a family-style, beach feast. Relax on your own private deck with gorgeous views, as you sip your favorite beverage and enjoy the moonlight dancing on the water.
Pro Tip: Once you visit adorable Chatham, you will want to explore the area over and over again. Plan to arrive for a beach visit early in the day. The parking lots can fill up quickly, particularly during the weekends.
Luxurious resorts, an assortment of beaches, and wonderful restaurants welcome visitors to Chatham, Massachusetts.