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.
We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
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
3.Chatham Windmill, Chatham, Massachusetts
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
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4.Steve Lyons Art Gallery
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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, Chatham, Massachusetts
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
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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, Chatham, Massachusetts
© 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, Chatham, MA
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, Chatham, Massachusetts
© 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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© Atwood Museum
A great place for people of all ages to learn about life in coastal New England, the Atwood Museum in Chatham, Massachusetts features more than a dozen different exhibits, over ten galleries, a garden, and a gift shop. Nearly everyone can find something of interest at the museum, whether their interest is culture, fashion, art, or history. Exhibits at the Atwood Museum include the Double Take Exhibit, the Fishing Gallery, Main Street Cape Cod, the Life Saving Services Exhibit, the Alice Stallknecht Mural Barn, a Native American dwelling, and the Old Atwood House dating back to the 1700’s among many others.
347 Stage Harbor Rd, Chatham, MA 02633, 508-945-2493
11.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
12.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
13.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
© Mayo House
The Mayo House of Chatham, Massachusetts can be found on Main Street and stands as a fine example of the traditional Cape Cod house style. Built back in the year 1820, the historic house is an antique home that now acts as the Chatham Conservation Foundation’s headquarters and is used for regular meetings. The Mayo House has been carefully restored and undergone extensive renovations after having been donated by the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank to the foundation. It is now open to the public during the summer season, typically in the afternoons on certain days of the week.
540 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633, 508-945-6098
15.Chatham Pier and Fish Market
© Chatham Pier and Fish Market
Chatham Pier and Fish Market offers a classic and authentic New England menu thanks to the Chatham seawater that pumps directly through its tanks. Guests can watch the nearby fisherman unloading their catch for the day as they dine on a delicious, fresh seafood meal. The menu at the Chatham Pier Fish Market includes a wide variety of seafood rolls and sandwiches, lobster bisque, clam chowder, an artisanal house salad, and seafood baskets that include shrimp, scallops, clam, fish & chips, and more. The availability of different types of seafood depends on the catch from the ocean for that day.
45 Barcliff Ave, Chatham, MA 02633, 508-945-3474
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16.Ducks in the Window
© Ducks in the Window
One of Cape Cod’s most memorable toy stores, Ducks in the Window is home to the largest rubber duck selection in the world. In addition to the countless rubber ducks available for sale in the store, there is an array of baby gifts, candy, and other todays available at Ducks in the Window as well. Located in Chatham Village on Main Street, this unique shop introduces new designs for their rubber ducks every year. Ducks in the Window offers ducks for nearly any favorite pastime, personality, and occupation. The ducks are also eco-friendly, 100% organic, toxin free, and biodegradable.
507 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633, 508-945-0334
There are several ways to get over to Monomoy Island, with regular ferry services and private boat tours among the options available to you. The island, which is also a wildlife refuge, is home to long sandy stretches, ideal for sunbathing and relaxing strolls. There are also various scenic trails to follow around the island, with lots of different animals to be spotted, including birds, seals, and crabs. If you find yourself in Chatham on a Cape Cod vacation, you definitely don’t want to miss out on a trip to Monomoy Island. Couples and families will especially appreciate the calm, relaxed atmosphere of this island and the stunning views all around.
18.Oyster Pond Beach
© Micha Trillhaase/stock.adobe.com
Oyster Pond Beach is named due to the small saltwater pond beside it. On the shores of the pond, this beach offers some of the best swimming conditions in the Chatham area. Some of the waters out in the Atlantic Ocean near places like Monomoy Island have seen a lot of sharks in recent years, but you won't need to worry about anything like that at Oyster Pond Beach. The waters are calm, warm, and welcoming to all, and you can even rent rafts to set off across the water and sunbathe in the middle of the pond. A great spot for families, Oyster Pond Beach can get quite busy, so it makes sense to arrive early and get a good parking spot.
19.Cockle Cove Beach
Step out onto the soft sands of Cockle Cove Beach and admire the beautiful views of the Nantucket Sound from this lovely coastal spot just a short drive away from the center of Chatham. This beach is very easy to access and has a lot to offer, being a lovely spot for people to simply walk along and admire the views or snap some vacation photos. There's a romantic atmosphere at this pretty beach that makes it a nice spot for couples to chill out, but it's strongly recommended to families as well due to the calm, gentle waters.
20.Chatham Lighthouse Beach
© Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
One of the main touristic beaches in Chatham and an unmissable spot for anyone in the town or local area, Chatham Lighthouse Beach is named after the iconic Chatham Lighthouse found right by it. The lighthouse is still operational and used by the Coast Guard for navigational and safety purposes. It's usually closed, but does open up to public visits in the summer months and entry is totally free, so it can be a nice little attraction to check out during a day at this Chatham beach. The sands of the beach are soft and welcoming, and it’s very conveniently located near the amenities and eateries of the town center.
20 Best Things to Do in Chatham, Massachusetts
- Chatham Lighthouse, Photo: MISHELA/stock.adobe.com
- Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: capic/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Windmill, Chatham, Massachusetts, Photo: lightningboldt/stock.adobe.com
- Steve Lyons Art Gallery, Photo: Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Village Market, Chatham, Massachusetts, Photo: kowit1982/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Railroad Museum, Photo: Chatham Railroad Museum
- Caleb Nickerson House, Chatham, Massachusetts, Photo: Caleb Nickerson House
- Chatham Marconi Maritime Center, Chatham, MA, Photo: ianachyrva/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Chamber of Commerce, Chatham, Massachusetts, Photo: Silvia Truessel/stock.adobe.com
- Atwood Museum, Photo: Atwood Museum
- First Congregational Church of Chatham, Photo: encierro/stock.adobe.com
- Captain House Inn, Photo: Captain House Inn
- Eldredge Public Library, Photo: Eldredge Public Library
- Mayo House, Photo: Mayo House
- Chatham Pier and Fish Market, Photo: Chatham Pier and Fish Market
- Ducks in the Window, Photo: Ducks in the Window
- Monomoy Island, Photo: ead72/stock.adobe.com
- Oyster Pond Beach, Photo: Micha Trillhaase/stock.adobe.com
- Cockle Cove Beach, Photo: ValentinValkov/stock.adobe.com
- Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: haveseen/stock.adobe.com
Home to 'America's Hometown' of Plymouth and countless other historic sites and cities, many of which were established by the first pilgrim settlers back in the 1600s, New England is one of the most fascinating regions of the United States and a must-visit place for any American at least once in their lives. The area, comprised of several states including Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts, is filled with heritage sites and quaint little towns, with a unique charm that separates it from the rest of the country. There are also plenty of very beautiful little beaches to be found all around New England, especially in the Cape Cod area.
If you’re planning a beach trip to New England, it makes a lot of sense to visit a Cape Cod town like Chatham. The cape stretches out for many miles and is one of the most unique geological features in the region, attracting large numbers of visitors each year. Chatham is one of the prettiest towns on Cape Cod, located on the southeastern edge and also including Monomoy Island. Well-known for its soft sandy beaches and unique landmarks like Chatham Light lighthouse, which is still operational to this day, Chatham is a must-visit Cape Cod town for visitors of all ages.
There are lots of beaches to be found in the many towns and villages that make up Cape Cod, with Chatham being blessed with some of the cape's finest sandy spots. Both on the mainland and over on Monomoy Island, Chatham has a lot of lovely beaches for sunbathing, swimming, beachcombing, strolls at sunset, and more. Read through the guide below to learn all about the best beaches in Chatham.
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