by Maria Allen
Few things are more soothing
than gazing out at the ocean
and listening to the waves crash
on the shore.
Chatham has arguably one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline found on Cape Cod and if you visit in the springtime, you’ll likely have the entire beach to yourself. Locals refer to this as the “shoulder” season—a time of year when the streets are quiet, the room rates are deeply discounted, and you’ll never have to fight for parking. Just remember to pack a warm jacket to keep you cozy when cool sea breezes are blowing.
FRIDAY 4 p.m.
Located on Shore Road and offering panoramic ocean views, Chatham Bars Inn is the ultimate home base for a relaxing getaway, no matter the season. A grand dame of timeless elegance, the inn has been serving up warmth and hospitality to guests since 1914. The Main Inn is reminiscent of a stately seaside mansion, with cozy sitting rooms where guests relax in heavy leather armchairs, play board games, and cozy up to one of several working fireplaces. In addition to the guest rooms in the Main Inn, there are multiple seaside cottages on the property that offer special accommodations. At Whaler’s Watch, for example, guests can enjoy a picturesque vista outside their front door. Brightly colored fishing boats, glow in the late afternoon light and the deep-blue water of Aunt Lydia’s Cove appears like a watercolor painting come-to-life.
FRIDAY 6 p.m.
Take advantage of CBI’s Friday night cocktail-making classes led by a master mixologist. Then pop into the Sacred Cod to sample a dish off their sophisticated tavern menu. If you’re up for a maritime adventure, beginning in April CBI offers chartered boating experiences on its private fleet, including whale-watching and shark-sighting expeditions (make your reservations early, as these sell out).
SATURDAY 9 a.m.
For a quick, delicious breakfast, head to JoMama’s on Main Street. Try one of their signature New York-style bagel breakfast sandwiches or order a refreshing fruit smoothie. This is also a great place to fuel up with a cup of organic coffee, espresso, or tea.
SATURDAY 10 a.m.
Stroll along Main Street and discover a mix of local boutiques and luxury brands tucked within antique shingle-style buildings. One of the coziest spots is Where the Sidewalk Ends, an independent bookshop that occupies a rustic two-story barn. Sunlight pours through the windows and on the chilliest of days they crank up the fireplace. The stacks are filled with a mix of bestsellers and hard-to-find gems—from biographies and cookbooks to young adult titles and early readers. There’s also an adjacent children’s annex with games, puzzles, picture books, and more.
If you’re looking for stylish, easy-to-wear women’s and men’s clothing, head down the street to Chatham Clothing Bar, and if you have children to buy for, be sure to pick up one of the popular shark-bite printed T-shirts at Chatham T Kids. Not far away, Fisherman’s Daughter sells eco-conscious apparel and accessories that are designed on Cape Cod. Unique finds include fingerless gloves, cozy wrap scarves and headbands.
No trip to Chatham would be complete without stopping by Chatham Candy Manor for a sweet treat. New owners Robbie Carroll and Paige Piper are continuing the legacy of this local landmark, which has been operating for more than 60 years. In the spring, the shop displays are dominated by pastel-colored boxes of truffles and rich, foil-covered cream eggs (the Oreo variety is so popular that it’s now offered year-round). Homemade fudge is a specialty. Ask one of the friendly staff members to let you sample the Fantasy Sea Salt Fudge. This smooth, chocolatey delight is sprinkled with local sea salt from 1830 Sea Salt Company and the flavor is decadent.
SATURDAY 1 p.m.
For lunch, head across town to Mom & Pops Burgers. This casual, counter-service restaurant takes its burgers very seriously (the beef is butchered, ground, and pattied in-house daily). Owners Pelinda and Thomas Deegan run a friendly operation and keep their restaurant open year-round, which has earned them a loyal following. A wall-sized chalkboard menu features a mix of East and West Coast-inspired specialties. Favorites include the California Burger, which is topped with pepper jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, avocado, and Mom’s Sauce (a creamy spread with a kick of fresh lime), all-beef hot dogs, and unexpected surprises like a Filipino pork burger that’s covered with papaya slaw and chili-garlic mayo. Wash it all down with a craft beer, old-fashioned frappe, or a refreshing Snowy Owl cold-brew coffee.
SATURDAY 2 p.m.
Fine artists from across the United States flock to Chatham each year to capture the town’s breathtaking seascapes on canvas. One of the best places in town to experience high-quality local art (or test your own talents) is at the Creative Arts Center. A community resource for 50 years, the center features a gallery as well as artist workspaces where painting, pottery, and jewelry-making classes are held year-round. The arts center also hosts exclusive workshops with well-known artists, classes for kids, and public exhibitions.
SATURDAY 6 p.m.
Home to a small-but-mighty fishing community, Chatham is a fabulous place to enjoy a seafood dinner. Visit The Impudent Oyster and order the clams casino, which consists of Chatham littleneck clams broiled on the half shell with butter, sweet peppers, garlic, and bacon. Afterward, go across the street to The Chatham Squire for a cocktail and live music. You’re likely to meet one or two members of the local fishing fleet while you’re there.
SUNDAY 9 a.m.
Enjoy a relaxing morning and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at Chatham Bars Inn’s white-tablecloth restaurant, Stars.
SUNDAY 11 a.m.
Head down Shore Road and make a stop at the Lighthouse Beach overlook (30-minute parking limit). Here you can snap a selfie in front of Chatham Lighthouse and the Coast Guard Station and gaze out at the shifting sandbars and churning seas. If you’re feeling ambitious and the weather is favorable, continue your drive down to Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge and take a nature hike. With nearly 3,000 acres of sand dunes, ponds, and marshlands, this is a popular destination for bird watching and it’s a great place to experience a more untamed side of Chatham. Breathe in the salty air and pause to appreciate the serenity and stillness—summer will be here before you know it.