When you’re ready to head to the Cape, don’t be afraid to go a little outside the popular area. Chatham, MA is on the Southeastern tip of Cape Cod and is set apart from the main tourist areas a bit. You’ll still find the old fishing town charm and coastal beauty of Cape Cod while avoiding some of the large crowds. Check out a quaint bed and breakfast for a unique stay, enjoy trips to local museums, do some East Coast shopping, and make an escape for a day trip to popular tourist spots, like Martha’s Vineyard.
When visiting the coast, one tourist attraction is always the local lighthouse. The Chatham Lighthouse, once called Twin Lights, has been around since 1808. Today, the lighthouse is a National Coast Guard station and living quarters. It was also the setting of Hollywood Movie The Finest Hours, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. Tours of the lighthouse are typically available on Wednesdays, but times and days vary depending on the season, so be sure to check ahead. Visitors are asked to wear appropriate footwear since there are 44 steps and an 8-foot ladder to reach the top of the lighthouse. Admission for the tours is free.
37 Main Street, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-3830
2.Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Ready for some non-screen time? Head outdoors to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge to check out an area that has been restricted for migratory birds and animals. Established in 1944, just outside of popular Cape Cod, this 7,604-acres of land includes both fresh and saltwater areas for animals. As of 2019, five species of birds on the endangered species list can be found nesting at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. On top of this, an additional 35 species are under protection here at the refuge. One of the most popular attractions are the 30,000-50,000 seals that come to shore to rest and give birth.
30 Wikis Way, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-9559
Once a larger part of Chatham, windmills were a big part of Chatham and working with the saltworks. There were once eleven windmills, yet there are now only two still standing. The only one that is accessible to guests is the Chatham Windmill. Old Grist Mill, as it was once called, was built in 1797, and today, efforts continue to keep the old building restored. Tours are offered over the summer months, though poor weather can cause tours to change or be canceled. Certain times of the year, the mill is put into use, and it grinds corn just as it did in the 1700s and 1800s. Admission to the windmill and tours is free.
125 Shattuck Place, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-5175
4.Steve Lyons Art Gallery
© Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
Born in Portsmouth, OH, Steve Lyons is a Chatham artist that is a current artist that uses the technique known as sculptural painting. Check out Steve Lyons Art Gallery to see some of these 3-dimensional-like paintings. Lyons work is known and showcased around the world. While in Chatham, you can check out his gallery to see some of his most popular works, including his work with digital paintings. You will also find other up-and-coming artists’ works throughout the gallery. Currently, there is a poured resin collection on display for those who go to the gallery in person.
463 Main Street, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 617-529-1378
5.Chatham Village Market
In today’s environment, there are many chain stores where patrons can buy food, often at “discounted” prices. Chatham Village Market is run by four Chatham lovers, who want to provide a full-service grocery store to the locals. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it at Chatham Village Market fresh and ready for you. Organic produce and meats can be found freshly packaged in their departments. This is the perfect place to go to stock up your pantry for your vacation. If you want to grab a quick bite, there are plenty of French bread pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and more prepared and ready to take with you.
20 Queen Anne Road, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-9783
6.Chatham Railroad Museum
© Chatham Railroad Museum
For those who love the rails, a fun place to visit during your stay in Chatham is the Chatham Railroad Museum. This museum opened in 1960 but is held in a restored 1887 railroad depot that was once a real depot for Chatham. Over its years, the museum has gathered several wonderful antiques that are unique or important to the history of the railroad in America. The star of the museum is a 1910 wooden caboose, which has been restored to its original state. This caboose traveled over a million miles between NYC and Chicago during its service.
153 Depot Road, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-5780
7.Caleb Nickerson House
© Caleb Nickerson House
One of the oldest homes in the area, Caleb Nickerson House has been around since about 1829. Open only during the warmer months, this homestead can be toured at your leisure. Take a look at the working beehive oven to see what’s being made, check out the kitchen garden to see what local produce that is grown, and chat with the period volunteers, who have made this homestead their passion. Since the land dates back to a 1664 settlement, check out the archaeology display that shows off some of the great artifacts found on the property.
1107 Orleans Road, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-6086
8.Chatham Marconi Maritime Center
The Chatham Marconi Maritime Center looks at the history of wireless communication. Today’s wireless communication typically refers to phone’s and the Internet, but those who worked on the waters were familiar with it long before cellphones. This museum looks at the history of and current trends in wireless communication. Learn all about the Chatham Radio WCC, interact with the Morse Code station, and check out the WWII Enigma cipher machine. Along with the museum exhibits, Marconi Maritime Center also offers programs and STEM special topic talks throughout the year for children and adults. Make sure to make a stop in the gift shop for shirts and hats.
831 Orleans Road, North Chatham, MA 02650, Phone: 508-945-8889
9.Chatham Chamber of Commerce
© Silvia Truessel/stock.adobe.com
The Chatham Chamber of Commerce is the place to go if you want to know about any events, festivals, or fun facts during your stay in Chatham. The Chamber of Commerce works to provide residents and visitors with a comprehensive list of businesses, hotels, restaurants, and shops in the area. When you’re ready to plan your trip to Cape Cod, or better yet, Chatham, be sure to check out the Chatham Chamber of Commerce website for information and advice. You may even be lucky enough to spot one of the hidden gems or unknown events around town that only the COC and locals could tell you.
2377 Main Street, South Chatham, MA 02659, Phone: 508-945-5199
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10.First Congregational Church of Chatham
When you’re on vacation, you still like to keep up with your traditions and routines that are important to you. When you’re looking to get to church for services, the local First Congregational Church of Chatham could be a wise choice. Though the current building was built in 1866, the history of the church dates back to the founding of Chatham in 1665. Church school and worships are offered Sundays at 10 a.m. for those interested. They open their arms to anyone who wishes to attend, not concerning themselves with restrictions of faith and location. After service, Fellowship Hour allows you to get to know some of the locals over a cup of coffee.
650 Main Street, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-0800
11.Captain House Inn
© Captain House Inn
While hotels are abundant in the Chatham area, consider a luxury bed and breakfast for your stay. Captain House Inn guarantees a restful and memorable stay at their resort. Captain House Inn has four buildings that provide 16 different guestrooms for you to enjoy. Each night’s room comes with gourmet morning breakfasts and an evening wine reception. Each room is unique, some including jetted tubs or fireplaces. All rooms come with a welcome basket, terry robes, and luxury toiletries. Spend some time outdoors in the gazebo, gardens, or at the heated outdoor pool. The location is prime for a quick trip to Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown, or Nantucket.
369 Old Harbor Road, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-0127
12.Eldredge Public Library
© Eldredge Public Library
When you’re ready to hit some historic area, check out the Eldredge Public Library. Built in 1895, the building currently holds over 105,000 materials in circulation. Though the land and building are owned by the town of Chatham, a private board of trustees manages the library and its budget. Each year, programs are offered for young adults, children, and adults. There are several writing groups and classes offered throughout each month, so be sure to plan ahead. Finally, if you’re interested in looking at some of the genealogy resources, hours are available Tues, Thurs, and Sat.
564 Main Street, Chatham, MA 02633, Phone: 508-945-5170
12 Best Things to Do in Chatham, MA
- Chatham Lighthouse, Photo: MISHELA/stock.adobe.com
- Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: capic/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Windmill, Photo: lightningboldt/stock.adobe.com
- Steve Lyons Art Gallery, Photo: Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Village Market, Photo: kowit1982/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Railroad Museum, Photo: Chatham Railroad Museum
- Caleb Nickerson House, Photo: Caleb Nickerson House
- Chatham Marconi Maritime Center, Photo: ianachyrva/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Chamber of Commerce, Photo: Silvia Truessel/stock.adobe.com
- First Congregational Church of Chatham, Photo: encierro/stock.adobe.com
- Captain House Inn, Photo: Captain House Inn
- Eldredge Public Library, Photo: Eldredge Public Library
- Cover Photo: haveseen/stock.adobe.com